Despite moving countries once in every two years ever since she was born, Sharina Shahrin never lost touch with her origins and in fact, learnt how to appreciate and embrace Malaysian culture throughout her growing-up years.
Thanks to her dad’s job in the oil and gas industry, some of the countries that Sharina and her family had the chance to live in were Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, England and India. Although they had called many countries their home, Sharina’s mother made it a point to deliver all her children (Sharina and her three sisters) in Malaysia, making sure that they gained knowledge about Malaysian values and customs. “My mum always taught us how to be a Malaysian and how to appreciate the culture in terms of clothes because she’s a patriotic person herself,” she says.
While Sharina was completing her degree in Creative Direction at the London College of Fashion, she came back to Malaysia during her break and on a whim, decided to open her own art studio, Everyday Studios in 2015. That was the same time that she also introduced her clothing line, Baju, before moving to Prague to continue her studies in fine art and experimental media a year later.
“Most of my artworks revolve around women, and especially for my clothing line, I didn’t want to use foreign models. That was also the reason why I started Baju, my batik line, as I wanted to photograph women of all sizes, ages and ethnic groups to represent the Malaysian community. Inclusivity is important to me and all my paintings, photographs and campaigns have always been about people in their truest selves,” she explains.
Having led exhibitions in various countries – the latest being in Istanbul, Turkey last December, Sharina’s amazed that despite not showcasing her paintings, the crowd was impressed to see the images that she extracted from her batik line. “Moving forward, I hope to host a solo exhibition in the near future. Upon settling down in Malaysia, I’ve realised that I’m passionate about community building and playing a role in the local art scene. I also wish to change the mindset of the people who perceive art to be a backup plan when a student can’t excel academically in school cos arts and academics are equally important,” she concludes.
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