About the Artist
Ilse Noor’s intimate etchings are windows into a world immersed in history, culture and traditions of Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia.
Born in Germany, studying graphic fine art and intaglio in Bonn, Cologne, and Munich, Ilse moved to Malaysia in 1974 to be with her Malay prince. In 1985, she was commissioned by Shell Malaysia to create 24 exquisite etchings on historical buildings in Malaysia, which fuelled her love for ancient relics. These print works were later compiled in her book Warisan Nusa published in 1991, and reprinted in 2019 by MPH.
In Ilse’s Samudra (“ocean” in Sanskrit) series, the ocean conceives of mystical underwater civilisations. Seashells morph into forms and shapes reminiscent of Hindu-Buddhist relics, intertwining architecture with the cosmology of the divine, drawing connections between Man, heaven and earth.
Cenderawasih is a mystical bird similar to the Phoenix – the golden Bird of Paradise. It soars eternally, glittering like a star, a manifestation of beauty and phantasy.
Cenderawasih, Bird of Paradise
lives constantly in the air
and never descends to earth.
Its egg is allowed to drop
and as it nears the earth it bursts
and the young bird appears fully developed.
Its note may often be heard by night
but never by day and it is lucky
say the Malays to halt at a spot where it is heard calling.
(Adapted from W. W. Skeat, Malay Magic, 1900)
In The Jewel of Hang Li Poh, H. L. P. veers between the real and unreal; her existence is in dispute by historians. Here she appears like a glowing jewel from the ocean, an embodiment of refinement and culture.
All artwork images courtesy of the Artist. Profile image courtesy of Soraya Yusof Talismail.