At first the judges were not sure why someone had painted on an old enamel tray and entered it into the competition.
When, on closer inspection, it was clear the entire object was an oil painting on a flat circular canvas, they were impressed by the technical skill required for the success of this “trompe de l’oeil” or “trick of the eye”. The artist had taken pains to mimic the familiar painting style of the chrysanthemum flowers, including subtle details of wear and tear, and even a smudge of white painted to look like someone has tried to repair some damage. “It fooled me!” exclaimed Chief Judge Juhari Said.
Yet it was Nurain’s simple introduction to this “playful” and “thought-provoking” work which won them over:
“This is my grandmother's tray and we call it a “dulang”. Back in my childhood, we used this tray to bring food and serve it to our guests. We normally used it on special days such as Hari Raya, Tahlil and so on.”
Juhari explained that “Opah” was what some people called their grandma in Perak. The work made Shahrul reminisce “the memories of our mothers and grandmothers cooking and using the tray to make desserts (kuih)”.The judges understood that this simple object carried many stories, of collective family traditions and values of celebration, remembrance, and hospitality, passed down and still treasured.