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Art Rhetoric: Debating History, Nation, and Art. The Ontological status of the forgotten Malay Weaver​ 2015

A Performance Debate: This House argues that Halimah, a Malay female weaver who participated in the 1924 Empire Exhibition in London (Wembley) should be seen as one of Singapore’s earliest female cultural ambassadors and that she and her work should be symbolically repatriated and incorporated into the developing canon of Singaporean Art.


Key Facts: (that we know)

  • She was from Johor

  • She was an expert weaver – most probably of textiles

  • She lived with 19 other Malayans in a 60 x 20 ft long ex-army hut placed within the Malayan Pavilion.

  • She demonstrated her crafts and possibly also sold them and other goods to audiences.

  • She contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized in Willesden Green Hospital where she died.

  • She was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, in the ‘Mohamedian’ section. 7th May 1924.

  • She was around 60 years old, with no children.

  • She was Muslim.

  • Halimah Binti Abdullah - contracted double pneumonia and died, 1924, Willesden Green Hospital. Buried with full Muslim rites in a cemetery belonging to Woking Mosque – deed allotment No. 189,343. Her funeral was arranged by the London Necropolis Company

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