Datuk Tom Abang Saufi

August 30, 2020

The National Visual Arts Gallery (formerly known as the National Art Gallery) has a new Chairman with effect from 1 May 2020 – Datuk Tom Abang Saufi, 56, an established Malaysian fashion designer who resides in Kuala Lumpur. She will plan the post MCO direction of the National Visual Arts Development Board (NVADB) and will oversee NVADB programmes and direction. One of the latest initiatives of the NVADB was the launch of www.gogallery.my the free digital platform for all art lovers and the Malaysian art industry to connect, share, sell and buy art.  

Datuk Tom Abang Saufi set up her fashion business in the capital in her early 20s after returning from London. Datuk Tom’s fashionable garments, bags and various accessories were heavily influenced by her Sarawakian roots. She grew up close to nature, with wild orchids and kingfishers in her garden, and the vibrant colours of the textiles and clothing of the various ethnic tribes in Sarawak. Datuk Tom captured the essence of it all and married her ideas with her contemporary designs. People simply loved her artistic creations. With more than two decades of fashion linked to cultural ethnic influences, Datuk Tom now brings her experience and creativity into her role as the Chairman of the National Visual Arts Gallery which falls under the wider purview of the NVADB which she also chairs.

It was in the 1950s that the late Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard and Frank Sullivan initiated the idea of a National Art Gallery for the nation. The first Prime Minister, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj officiated the launch of the National Art Gallery in 1958 as a recognition by the government towards the national arts. The National Visual Arts Gallery replaced the National Arts Gallery in 2011 to include any art form that appeals to the visual senses and exists in permanent forms such as photographs and other interesting technology instead of paintings only. Further, the operations of the Gallery has been expanded outside of Kuala Lumpur to the other states.


Read more

  1. About NVADB. Logo, Vision, Mission and Objective. https://www.artgallery.gov.my/?page_id=3456&lang=en
  2. The Star. 16 September 2011. Fiona Ho. Fashion Designer upholds her heritage. https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/features/2011/09/16/fashion-designer-upholds-her-heritage
  3. The Star. 3 January 2010. Rubin Khoo.  All in the Family. https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/women/fashion/2010/01/03/all-in-the-family
  4. The Designer. www.tomabangsaufi.com
  5. The New Straits Times. 13 June 2018.  Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup. Tom Abang Saufi’s tailored take on heritage patterns. https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/flair/2018/06/379561/tom-abang-saufis-tailored-take-heritage-patterns
  6. Zalora Thread. 24 April 2017. Aini Shah. Interview with the talented fashion designer Tom Abang Saufi. https://thread.zalora.com.my/home/2017/4/interview-with-the-talented-fashion-designer-tom-abang-saufi
  7. New Sarawak Tribune. 27 March 2019. Vicky Fong. A Preview of Raya Fashion for 2019.  https://www.newsarawaktribune.com.my/a-preview-of-raya-fashion-for-2019/
  8. Borneo Today. 30 October 2019. High Demand for Malaysian Handicraft. https://www.borneotoday.net/high-demand-for-malaysian-handicraft/
  9. Press Reader. 22 May 2020. Rouwen Lin. Adapting to a new landscape. https://www.pressreader.com/malaysia/the-star-malaysia-star2/20200522/281638192403361