Angela Hijjas is perhaps one of the most distinguished movers in the Malaysian art scene. Married to renowned architect Hijjas Kasturi, the high profile couple has been a prime mover of the Malaysian art industry, having developed and nurtured artists from the country and Australia for more than 2 decades through countless art programmes and events, most notably through the Rimbun Dahan Artist Residency programme.
Hijjas studied architecture in Australia and married Angela upon returning home where they both are very happy with both the countries and through their art programmes, they are able to give something back to the community and this is where the residency programme comes into play where one artist from Malaysia and another from Australia are funded to work at the prestigious art space for a duration of a year and an exhibition is held after that.
Angela is very passionate about art and nature and through Rimbun Dahan, one can see numerous types of trees and plants which are well preserved and labelled. It is said that Angela knows each of the species that are planted and growing in the 5.5 ha land in Kuang in Selangor.
The former chairman of the Selangor branch of the Malaysian Nature Society said that it is more effective to know the plants by their names instead of remember them through memories or their unique smell and this passion has driven her to grow numerous types of plants that include trees, spices, herbs and vegetables.
And this, Angela says creates the sense of belonging in Malaysia where she calls home. Her passion for plants and nature started from an early age and that is one thing that Angela really loves. As the sense of belonging goes, Angela was used to the British plants in Australia but began to grow flowers that were indigenous to Australia.
This is the very same approach that she adopts, which is to plant Malaysian species here. This will allow her to be part of the local landscape and to learn more about the unique traits that makes Malaysia so beautiful and rich.
In Angela’s garden, she has provided a natural eco-system which not only consists of trees and vegetations but animals have also created their natural habitat here too. Hence, it is common for one to see the likes of civets, the long-tailed macaque, leaf monkey, monitor lizards, squirrels, tens of different types of birds and even otters.
With such a remarkable place, it is common for artists to come here to enjoy the diverse landscape, rich vegetation and natural surroundings which are ideal for them to draw inspiration from. Certain artists who like it so much here has applied to be part of the residency programme and if successful, they will enjoy the generous hospitality of Angela and Hijjas where they will spend a year or a few months to produce art.
The artists will then be given a solo exhibition at the end of the programme in exchange for a few art pieces which will then propel them to further advancement in their art careers.