Please note that the Hotel Penaga residency program for 2016 is now full and we are no longer accepting applications. We will be reopening applications for 2017 soon – please follow Rimbun Dahan on Facebook to find out about calls for submissions.

Sept 2015 - Bridie Gillman

Bridie Gillman’s practice is grounded in her experiences of living in Indonesia when she was younger and further experience of being ‘in-between’ places and cultures since. Her work explores ways in which experiences of awkwardness and the ‘unknown’ can be translated through found materials, installation and photography.

Gillman is an emerging artist based in Brisbane, Australia and completed her Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours at Queensland College of Art in 2013. Since graduating she has conducted a residency in Indonesia and exhibited nationally and internationally.

During her time at Hotel Penaga she’ll be researching the transient space of hotels, tourism and souvenirs in our increasingly globalised and transnational world.

June 2015 - Nina Rupena

Nina Rupena is a project-based artist currently located in Melbourne. She works across mediums and practices using both visual art and design as tools for communicating ideas. Painting and drawing are her passion and she has a great interest in collaborative work. Since 2008, Nina worked on numerous collaborative projects with artists, designers, filmmakers, organisations and communities.

While in Penang Nina started a project ‘FACE IT’:
“What do you wish you had known when you were younger? For the duration of my art residency I posed this question to the guests and staff at Hotel Penaga, trishaw drivers, backpackers, food vendors, people I met on the streets and bars. Then I drew their portraits, often on the spot or later from a photo.
FACE IT is an ongoing project. The aim is to create a meaningful interaction and a space where people let their guards down and show their vulnerabilities.

Portraits and answers are uploaded daily at or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

June 2015 - Omar Musa

Omar bin Musa (born 9 January 1984) is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. He won the Australian Poetry Slam in 2008 and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2009. He has released two solo hip hop records (The Massive EP and World Goes to Pieces), two self-published books (The Clocks and Parang) and a self-titled album with international hip hop group MoneyKat. His debut novel Here Come The Dogs was published in 2014. Here Come the Dogs received praise from novelists Irvine Welsh and Christos Tsiolkas, was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award and Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

Musa is the son of Australian arts journalist Helen Musa and Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran. He studied at the Australian National University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Musa has combined hip hop music and poetry throughout his career. He was runner up in the 2008 Australian Poetry Slam, before winning in 2009 at the Sydney Opera House. He went on to win the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2010. In 2010 he also did support for Gil Scott-Heron in Munich, Germany. In 2011 he was a guest panellist on ABC’s Q&A. In 2013 he received a standing ovation at TEDxSydney at the Sydney Opera House.

He has been a guest at numerous international writers festivals, including Jaipur Literary Festival in India and the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in Indonesia, as well as touring extensively in Asia, Europe and Australia.

He has collaborated with numerous musicians and hip hop artists, including Akala, Soweto Kinch, Impossible Odds, The Last Kinection, Hau Latukefu from Koolism, Candice Monique, The Tongue, Lotek, Koolta and Geoff Stanfield.

Interview with Omar

Omar started to realise that he likes writing when he was 9 years old. He said his mother trained him to be a person who always likes to ask ‘why?’ in everything that he does. We should always want the answer for everything that we do and with that we will be developing ourselves to have more imagination. He even realised that many of us in this modern society are afraid of being imaginative.

Writing poem and novel has been part of my life after he had been in Ubbud, Bali, Indonesia where he met many writers in the Writer’s Festival, 2008. He learned from many writers and most of them said that people who love to be a writer has to work hard and have to keep on writing in order to improve in writing.

Omar will be in Penang and stays at hotel Penaga for 2 months to complete his latest novel. The novel that he is writing is about a sea captain who travels from Darwin, Australia to Indonesia – Malaysia archipelago and Omar is still using his imagination to write a novel that will give impact to people thinking.

Omar mentioned about one of his poet ‘parang’ or knife in English. This poet is actually telling us about our “words” that could be like ‘parang’ that will hurt and also will help us depending on how we use our words. The poet also mentioned about people who live between two cultures.

Omar stayed in Hotel Penaga 5 years ago and he came back to Penang this time because he believes that Penang could help him in his imagination to write his latest novel about the ‘sea captain’. Penang has her own stories and the development of Penang and the reviving of the old building has something to do with our leader’s direction and plan for the future of the island. He would like to study about the connection between history, reviving of the heritage building and the future plan for the island that will give impact to the value of the people here.