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A community of more than 16,000 Pembroke old scholars live in 56 countries around the globe.

30 November 2020

Many were boarders at the School and, although they may have moved back to their home country, we love hearing about what they have been up to since graduation. With the magic of Zoom I caught up with charismatic Malaysia-based artist Marini Ramlan (1995).

Marini, or ‘Nini’ as she is affectionately known by her friends and family, was a boarder at Pembroke for her senior schooling years. Daughter of King’s old scholar Ramlan Harun (1968) and art professor Fatimah Ismail, Marini has had a colourful career in the media and arts industry working as a television producer and content creator. With a degree in Visual Communications, Marini started her career in sports production. ‘I originally wanted to be a visual graphics designer for MTV, but back then with my degree I was told I could only be a production person and my options were entertainment or sport! So, for years I was a television producer for Formula One, MotoGP and wrestling.’ After her stint in sports media Marini moved from producing to creating and developing a wide range of shows in television from reality TV to game shows.

Although Marini loved working in the media industry, her true passion, right to the core, was always art—a passion that took a back seat to her corporate career for many years.

Vibrant, expressive and inspired by nature are words that come to mind when Marini describes her art style. When asked where her passion for art began, Marini reminisced on her mother’s influence. ‘My mother would always give me tools. She would come home and give me a giant brush and say, “See what you can do with it”. The idea of that freedom and just letting me do what I wanted nurtured my confidence to start art.’

This confidence only grew stronger at Pembroke with the encouragement of her teachers. Marini fondly remembers her time at boarding, especially her weekends spent painting in Angove House. In particular she recalls the influence of one of her favourite teachers, ‘Jan’ (Mrs Jan Lloyd-Jones, Head of Art at the time), and how she used to organise trips to the Adelaide Fringe and life drawing classes. ‘I was a C or B student when I was in Malaysia, but I became a straight A student at Pembroke because they (the teachers) gave me such a confidence boost and I began to understand who I was and what I was about.’

Fast forward to now and the sentiment of freedom and confidence is something Marini hopes to instil in others through art education. Throughout her career she has dabbled in teaching and encouraging people to be ‘brave on paper and express themselves through art’, but it was through a program for underprivileged youth called Play and Make where she saw the impact that art can have on the community. ‘It’s not enough to just give them free art stuff and food and say I’m helping. Time is more important and intention is more important; whatever you can give, you give.'

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, it has certainly not stopped Marini pursuing her passion. A recent partnership with Airbnb allowed her to teach a T-shirt weaving class to a global audience via Zoom. It’s her way of connecting with people all over the world but also figuratively ‘getting out’ of Malaysia for a short period of time.

So, what’s next for Marini? Following her recent marriage to Malaysian Rapper Joe Flizzow, as well as being named in the Tatler Malaysia 300 list (a list of Malaysia’s most influential business leaders, entrepreneurs, royals, philanthropists and fashionistas), Marini says it’s time to recalibrate and start work on a pattern-making business and her next art exhibition. But it’s her strong sense of community that continues to pull her in the direction of art education, something she hopes to build upon in the coming months. ‘I have a strong need to teach adults now. Apart from teaching kids, I want to teach adults to play and make. I’ve created these workshops where they can come and forget that they are adults for a second and just create. I teach them to play so they can teach their kids to do the same.’

Candace Cox-Tuck
Manager, Old Scholar Engagement