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Image by Sean Pollock



“Drinking coffee while appreciating art,” this is the belief of Senso Art Gallery Café. Located on the old streets of Johor Bahru, a two-storey café with different features from other cafés. The first floor is mainly a dining area while the second floor is used as an art gallery and event space to showcase the works of various artists and to organize workshops from time to time. When you open the door, you will be greeted by varieties of environmentally-friendly handicrafts such as dried flowers, hand-made soaps, postcards, bracelets, charms and other goods made by local artists. 


From an early age, the interviewee Catherine Chai (49 years old) loves pure art. Unfortunately, her family did not support her to study pure art,  so she had to choose Graphics Design design as her major, but she did not give up in her original dream. After graduating, she used five years of her youth in attempt to keep up with the pace of the majority. 

From planning to other preparations, she took all matters of opening this business into her own hands. Even though her dad passed away during this period of time (which was a huge blow to Catherine), she did not  give up because of this but instead continued to pursue her dreams so that she will make her dad proud. 


Catherine hope that she can be a role model that encourages and motivates more young people to chase their dreams or follow their passion when they're still in their youths. As the saying goes: ''If you don't experience the wind and rain, you can't grow into a big tree. If you don't go through thousands of training, it's hard to become as strong as steel''  When you hold onto things you love, you will not give up easily even if you face setbacks in the process, When you become successful, you will gain a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Mei Yin said: ''Because it is your choice, it is your favorite thing, so you will stick to it.''

''I added workshops as an element because I firmly believe that from an early age, we should cultivate the appreciation of ''beauty''. In addition to appreciate the beauty of things, we are also sharing the knowledge on creativity. She hopes to pass on and demonstrate the importance of art through Senso Art Gallery Café. The reason why she supports creative industries is because she hopes that the elements of design and creativity will be more exposed and valued by the world  Learning how to appreciate an objects' 'beauty' from a young age, does not necessarily mean that you will end up with a job from the arts and designs field in the future but instead use this creativeness in other aspects of your life or in other professions.

Through managing the art gallery, she had abundant opportunities to reach painters from all over the world. She realised that there were always so many talented painters, but she didn’t know how to 'sell' or 'promote' these art pieces herself. There were no suitable platform to help these painters. Therefore, Catherine decided to create Senso Art Gallery Café, which combined three main elements that is workshops, galleries, and cafes, in hopes that she could help these artists ''sell'' themselves.

Craftsmen and artists will introduce Senso Art Gallery Café to their friends, so that they can also have their own stage for more people to appreciate their work of art. ''A painter's satisfaction is fulfilled when he or she sees a stranger buying their work out of admiration. My sense of accomplishment is to see the achievements of painters and even also their future plans. They don't only plan to hold a painting exhibition, they're planning to hold a chain of exhibitions, one followed by the other.'' said Catherine. Follow your heart and mind no matter where you are and do your best to help more people in need of it.


Residence Artists

Artist-in-residence programs provide artists the opportunity to live and work outside of their usual environments, providing them with time reflect, research, or produce work. During residency, artists can communicate with other artists,and explore new locations, different cultural, and experiment with different materials. Our mission: Residence Artists, is to support and enhance the creativity of artists by providing uninterrupted time for work, reflection, and collegial interaction in a setting of great natural beauty, and to preserve the land on which the Program is situated. Senso Art Gallery Café is open to Malaysia and international contemporary art practitioners in the beginning of their career with interest in art & installation art, providing them the opportunity to live and work in Malaysia for one or two month. If interested this programs and for more information please contact Program Managing Director - Catherine Chai, drop by Senso Art Gallery Café, email address:

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