Wan Jamila Wan Shaiful Bahri​​​*

“Nothing will be beautiful anymore when nature is gone.”

What is your art about?​​
I love to draw my experiences, my daily activities and the things I like. This can be anything, from people dancing to animals, beauty, travelling or simply a memory. Everything I paint has a meaning. I have not had any formal art education so what I create comes purely from my soul.
I also like doing portrays, but I like to make people look like dolls, with many colours and full of expressions. I use vibrant colours because it gives off a happy vibe, and that pleases me. ​

How has art helped you?
Painting is a way of healing. Art to me is as therapeutic as music. It makes me happy. When I draw my hands and brain are focused on an activity that is not stressful. This allows me to drift off into a meditative state that calms me.
Painting is also a communication tool for me. I have been communicating with this method since I was four years old. Art helps me to express and reveal my feelings of happiness, sadness and anger. It helps me making my feelings heard.

What is your favourite piece?​
My favourite piece is Fish Mosaic Series 10 (see image below). It reminds me of Langkawi Island, where I travelled by boat through the world heritage geopark with my family and got to see all kinds of interesting fish.

What is the artwork you are most proud of?
The Fish Mosaic in the Wave of a Polluted Sea, Series 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D piece (see image below), because it was the first one I have ever done combining oil, plastic pollution, and both sad and happy fish. I am proud I have tried something new.​​​

What did you like the most about creating the pieces for ViaTalenta on Water & Pollution?
To be able to do these pieces I had to learn about what is happening in our seas, about the state of the oceans and what pollution does to the fish. I now know what happens when sewerage water, oil and plastic are disposed of in the rivers and sea, so I am more aware of what we throw away and where.

Why is nature important for you?
Nature is important because without it there would be no beauty in the world. Without nature, there would not be flowers in the garden, no butterflies to watch as they flew into the sky, and it overwhelms me to think there will be no more fish in the sea. Nothing will be beautiful anymore when nature is gone.


This interview has been written by Jamila’s mother, Assoc. Prof.(R) Ar. Noorhashimah Noordin, and edited by Jamila’s sister, Jemima Shaiful, using Jamila’s input and way of thought.
Wan Jamila was diagnosed with autism in 2006 at the age of four. At that time she had a non-verbal IQ of 80 based on Leiter scores, putting her between the 9th to 24th percentile of peers in her age group; while her ‘fluid reasoning’ score was at ‘very low and mild delay level’, which meant she found learning new things significantly harder than other children her age. Wan Jamila also presented symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
Intervention programs have helped Wan Jamila to improve her verbal communication, and the personalised care given by her mother with a focus on developing her emotional and social skills made it possible for Wan Jamila to pass her primary school exams in 2015.