Borneo Art Forms Pioneer
Alena Murang has learnt the traditional art forms of the Kelabit, Kenyah and Penan people since the age of six, including dancing, weaving, design, singing and playing music instruments. Presently she is a full-time practitioner and pioneer of art forms from Borneo, seeking to learn from tribal elders in the Ulu Baram (the upper Baram river near the Malaysian – Indonesian border) villages.
Some of the songs she learns are remembered by only a handful of elders from her grandparents’ generation. Alena is also one of the first and few women to play, perform and teach a traditional lute instrument, the sape’, and started Kelas Sape’ KL in 2015 with the support from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Her artwork is also inspired by the indigenous communities and the natural environment of Borneo, where she grew up in. Using paint and music as her main mediums, she seeks to tell the stories of her ancestors, who hold the knowledge of the rainforests, age-old myths, and a simple and honest way of life, as well as the stories of the hardships they face today.