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Embracing The Malaysian Creative Community with Gentle Rice

Here, at Crunch, we are always happy and excited to share the work from our community like how we feature our Writers' Community's talented work on our website.

And we believe that the courage to take on the road less travelled and pursue creative work, especially out of your day to day job, is incredibly admirable.

Today, we'd like to share with you an amazing creative community through the team behind Gentle Rice, particularly John Kam and Benjamin Wong.

We recently had the chance to visit their latest photography exhibition, MEMBAWANG at ZHAN Gallery, Jaya One PJ which is running from 14th June - 23rd June 2019 (Free admission).

This exhibition strives to bring together creative Malaysians alike and to serve a reminder of the cross-cultural sense of community that is instilled to all of us as Malaysians - regardless of race, age, gender or social background.

So, you might be curious - why the name, 'membawang'?

To those unfamiliar with the term 'membawang', it simply means - gossiping in a group of people. The main essence, however, was to share the names and faces that has influenced both of John's (main photographer) work and my creative process as a photographer in a tangible way.

MEMBAWANG is an homage to celebrate the kinship, brotherhood and sisterhood, and above all else, John's friends, and a purpose to unite Malaysian creatives alike.

We got the chance to interview John and to know more about his passion and work:

1. How did Gentle Rice begin & the inspiration behind it?

Gentle Rice was founded during discussions between me and a friend concerning the prospect of expanding our freelance branding work, with aspirations to help bolster the awareness of local brands, faces, and places that would be of interest to a more informed millennial audience today.

Much of what you see and read on Gentle Rice takes cues from publications such as Kinfolk, Cereal, The Gourmand and Monocle, but simplified and localised to suit the needs and wants of our regional audience. We pay a heavier emphasis on creating narratives that lead our readers along a journey, be it through the conception of a new fashion label, restaurant, or social cause.

2. We love that MEMBAWANG celebrates & resembles 'togetherness', regardless of any background a person comes from.

Collaborative work has been very encouraging in Malaysian creative scene. What are your thoughts on seeing this scene grow?

I think the uptake in collaboration between creatives in Malaysia is leading to the generation of newer content that may truly be fresh and unique in a way that we have never seen within the regional arts scene.

It is me and my team's belief that creativity is a truly collaborative effort, and that this confluence of different ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints helps prevent stagnation within the creative sphere. I'm truly very happy to see how we are beginning to inspire one another, and look forward to being a part of it!

3. What do you think aspiring creatives alike should do get their work out there?

I think there is no determinate one-way to go about getting yourself and your work the exposure you think it deserves.

For me, the process has always been a challenge in going up to different publications, personalities, and hoping that they would give me the time of day to showcase my abilities and creativity. Even today, I'm still trying to actively put my work into the public consciousness and mount larger projects.

Its all really just trial and error, when it comes down to things.

Given that experience, I really think that platforms like Gentle Rice are incredibly crucial in helping promote local talents from within all fields of art, and empowering them with the necessary publicity to gain momentum through their work.

4. As the current content-sphere is rather competitive, how do you keep yourself & momentum going and learn not to be afraid of failing?

I think the most important things that have helped me keep going within this field is to be very realistic about my goals, and to go into a project with absolute faith in our ideas, my team, and my process.

When it comes down to it, content creation is really about finding the right formula that works with your vision, and your audience's interests, then perfecting it. Being realistic and knowing where your limits are will most certainly help perfect and refine your work, and will help you maintain a firm awareness of what you can aspire to create without biting off more than you can chew. And if you do fail, the fall from grace wouldn't be as scathing.

On the other hand, faith will give you the necessary fortitude to put up with naysayers. I've been told that my techniques aren't orthodox as a photographer, and that my process doesn't conform to what most photographers would subscribe to.

In fact, MEMBAWANG was photographed entirely on a portrait lens with natural light only, which has been criticised by some of my peers as being an amateur setup.

But I stuck to my guns regardless, and for the most part, the audience reception has been incredible. So like I said, have faith, and persevere. Within reason, of course!

How inspiring! We love what Gentle Rice stands for and we hope that this article inspired you to get yourself and work out there. This is just a mere reminder to us that if it's only with perseverance and consistency is when you will eventually see results.

All the best!

*Photos by Gentle Rice.

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