British Malaya: Art from the Heart on a Mission
article by Maré Brennan | photography by Abbi Berry
Tim McIlveene is a man on a mission. “I’ve always wanted to start a foundation to continue the work my sister loved as a way to honor her memory. Aimee, my sister, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 23 from a virus that attacked her heart,” says Tim, who recently founded Aimee’s Heart Foundation.
Aimee McIlveene loved helping others, especially children and teenagers. She worked as a lifeguard for many years, played basketball for ULM and went on multiple mission trips around the world, working with women and children, and had determined that a life of service was her calling. Her mission travels led her to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Central America. Says Tim, “Aimee had a heart to serve, and that’s where the name of the foundation comes from.”
Says Tim, “When I was forming my company, British Malaya, I thought this would be a great way to fund a foundation. Our first donation by the end of the year will be to ministries dedicated to helping migrant workers and their families in Southeast Asia. These workers are usually undocumented, have no legal protection and are often exploited and mistreated by their employers. We think Aimee would be right there loving these people, and we love the thought of continuing the work she so loved.”
Tim’s company, British Malaya, is a purveyor of fine art prints based on the art, photography, maps and vintage postcards Tim McIlveene began collecting when he worked for a non-profit based in China. After getting his MBA from ULM, Tim worked for US Congressman John Cooksey in his Monroe office for two years before wanderlust led him to China to work on humanitarian, education and hunger relief projects with rural peoples. Tim lived in such exotic locales as Chiang Mai, Thailand, Penang, Malaysia and Hong Kong. After three years abroad, Tim moved back to the States to work in Washington, D.C. for Congressman Cooksey as his legislative aide on the East Asian International Affairs Committee and as a speechwriter. Following his tenure with the congressman, Tim returned home to Monroe and has worked in various positions with CenturyLink, including Investor Relations and Chief of Staff to the Chief Operating Officer, as well as working with the Cloud/Colocation sales group for the Fortune 500 company.
While working in Asia, Tim began collecting vintage postcards and maps, printed from the 1890s to the 1940s. Some postcards depict typical street scenes and colonial architecture, and many employ beautiful photography and soft, watercolored images that take you back to the era in which they were created. “I think what I love about these images the most is the historical aspect,” says Tim. “We live in such a throw away society. When these images were created, the British were colonizing this part of the world. At that time, Christians were welcome. Now they are often persecuted in China.”
Reflecting on his time spent among the people of Southeast Asia, Tim describes Hong Kong as “New York City on steroids and Singapore as a little island with no natural resources except for an amazing harbor and its millions of incredibly smart people. According to Tim, Singapore’s strict laws are designed to make life with so many people crowded together more beautiful, modern and clean. “Penang is very beautiful as well with a slower pace and a melding of cultures,” says Tim.
During his tenure with Congressman Cooksey, the congressman insisted that Tim attend a meeting with him to discuss trade with high level Taiwanese legislators visiting the nation’s capitol. Although Tim was nowhere near fluent in Chinese, the congressman informed the group that Tim spoke fluent Chinese and would translate. Tim summoned his best Chinese and turned to the group and said, “‘This is my boss. He thinks I speak Chinese, but I don’t. Please be kind.’ And with that the entire delegation burst into laughter. Thank goodness, right at that moment the event got underway.”
Tim’s interest in working with people from Southeast Asia came from his father, a pastor at Community Baptist Church and his mom who is a reading specialist at Robinson Elementary. His parents led groups from their church on mission trips to China and volunteered at a school for underprivileged kids.
To create British Malaya, Tim looked to technology and the Internet to reach the most people who might be interested in fine art prints with a distinctly British colonial feel. He has launched his website, www.britishmalayashop.com, which is populated with beautiful photography of his products by good friend Abbi Berry, who had been a member of his sister’s youth group.
Whether hand tinted or rich in sepia tones, the fine art prints are locally, custom reproduced on buyers’ choices of paper or canvas, with options that include a standard matte paper, bamboo matte paper, a premium fine art paper or canvas, in sizes ranging from 4” x 6” to 11” x 14” with many sizes in between. Buyers also have the option of having their print framed by British Malaya.
To learn more about Tim McIlveene’s company or to peruse his collection of vintage postcards and maps, please go to www.britishmalayashop.com.