MY FIRST SCULPTURal PROJECT.
KUCHING CITY CENTRE location
I instinctively knew that things weren't going to happen for me quickly in Malaysia. I needed to be patient before I could return to working in the wilds of nature again. Everything is very different here, as you would expect. What was quite a surprise was how few people had ever heard of 'Site Specific Art' or Artists that worked 'in' Nature! Land Art or Ephemeral Art was a mystery to them. This was certainly going to be quite an interesting challenge to introduce people here in Kuching to something that I was about to bring to the city.After giving this problem some thought, I realised what I was going to need, was an opportunity to show local people exactly what I do in the form of a demonstration of how my structures were built. Most tribes people in Sarawak have great skills working with their hands, using natural materials. I hoped that a workshop demonstration, might be the best way of introducing what I do, and take it from there.So basically......I came to the city of Kuching (Sarawak, Malaysia) to live. I realised for many obvious reasons it was going to take a little while before I could get to work in the jungle! For example there was the problem of the heat and the daily heavy rain fall most afternoons. Transport was an issue and how would I get around? Getting actual permission to work on government land and locating sites etc. So before venturing out into the wild, I searched for possible opportunities actually in the city, which holds many parks and stretches of open land.Great atmospheres in dense, lush jungle terrains only a few miles outside the city.
My first project was affiliated to 'The Rain Forest Fringe Festival' which was held at the Old Court House, Kuching Centre. I received some assistance from them to allow me to start making in the city it's self.I took 5 separate trips into the jungle during a period of one month, with my assistant and friend Wadell. We drove from Kuching to a town called Bau, about 45 minutes from the city where most of Wadell's relatives lived. We explored many jungle locations, where we had permission to gather materials. On each trip we gathered materials for about four hours. It was really tough work,, and it didn't take long before I was exhausted and had to take water breaks in order to keep going.
The jungle was not easy to penetrate and because of the daily rain fall, the ground was always very boggy, which made walking in it tiring. We didn't have to go too far in before we were surrounded by all kinds of amazing materials either high up, within reach and or on the ground. Much of it was very loose and not difficult to gather. No snakes or scorpions at this point but plenty of vicious red ants.Once we had collected enough materials to fill our truck we had to drag it through the jungle often along steep tracks to the road where the truck was parked. We were trying to be careful not to damage the materials so it was important to tie them into bungles so they stacked and transported easier.
Once we had collected various materials to fill our truck, we had to drag it through the jungle, often along steep tracks to the road where the truck was parked.
Above are some samples of the vines which I came across. We needed to be careful and watch out for hornets nests. Disturb one of those and you would need to run.... very fast! Red ants were a constant menace because they could really bite. There are a host of menacing insects as I have found out but if you move carefully and cautiously they will leave you alone providing your not destroying their nests.
Once transported back to the city, the materials were separated, so that half the materials went to my home studio and the other half went to the city workshop.
Everything was given a thorough washing down, so that I didn't bring insects into the workshop.
Within a few days three structures slowly began to take shape. I had found three locations that were the inspiration for each sculpture. I got to work on them quite quickly often working late into the evening. Mid day was the busiest time time at the city studio as many local people came to look in at what I was doing. Many asked questions and I could see that everyone seemed fascinated and children were particularly inquisitive. It was fun to have local students to help on occasions. These are is 2 students Nabila Norshuhadah and Farhana Arip who continued to help me now on other projects.
I spent one month at the studio and completed three sculptures. This opportunity to work in the centre of the city worked out very well. I was able to demonstrate what I do normally in the wild. I made a few friends and contacts and just had a great time.
RAIN FOREST FRINGE FESTIVAL at The Old Court House, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.So my first sculptural experience in Malaysia was in the very centre of the city of Kuching. It was surprising because I hadn't envisaged this happening for a moment. But it felt right. It was the first time I had constructed with natural materials, in a studio, in a city, in front of hundreds of local indigenous people.Below is a selection of finished works for this project.More photographs of these sculptures will be presented on my Website.