Two COFA graduates will conclude their year-long residency in Kuala Lumpur with an exhibition inspired by Malaysia's culture and environment.

Sydney based artists' Monika Behrens and Rochelle Haley have spent the last twelve months living in Rimbun Dahan, a unique artists, residence set in a 14-acre tropical garden in Kuala Lumpur.

Haley, who completed her PhD Fine Arts in 2009, said the "beautiful and unique" natural environment at Rimbun Dahan provided the perfect foil to Kuala Lumpur's urban landscape and inspired the theme of the artistic collaboration.

"We wanted to explore the roles of artificiality and decoration in the relationship between Malaysians and their built and natural environments," she said.

The site-specific installation, Pleasure Garden, staged within an early 20th century colonial Anglo-Malay house relocated to Rimbun Dahan, explores the fabric of Malaysian kitsch and nature in both colonial and contemporary culture.

Within Pleasure Garden, Plastic Flowers uses sprays of Bougainvillea made from colourful plastic bags, while suspended birdcages containing glittery ornithological fakes make up the installation, Songbirds. In Mace Lace an abundantly decorated room is papered with wallpaper designed by the artists displaying nutmeg mace in the shape of tulips.

"The length of this residency has given us time to experiment with new methods of developing and producing art and to immerse ourselves in Malaysian culture," said Haley.

Behrens, a Master of Fine Arts graduate, will take up the Art Gallery of NSW studio residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris next month, and both artists will take up artists in residence positions at the Performing Arts Forum in St Erme, France later in the year.

To view Rochelle Haley discussing her PhD research, please visit the Generation Next website.

Media contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 |