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30 Local Artists Turned An Abandoned Lot In Sabah Into An IG-Worthy Art Display


30 Local Artists Turned An Abandoned Lot In Sabah Into An IG-Worthy Art Display

Local artist Red Hong Yi is internationally known for her ability to create art with simple objects one might find at home.

Recently, she traveled back to her hometown of Sabah to co-organise an art project with her friend and local filmmaker Jared Abdul Rahman, in conjunction with Malaysia Day, called “Pillars of Sabah”.

Speaking to The Star, Red said “Jared and I were planning to create something during the election (that took place on 9 May).” Their initial plan was to paint a wall at the Sabah Street Art Gallery bright yellow, but when the results of the election came out, they came up with a better idea.


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@mainemenu painting at #PillarsOfSabah

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“When the results came out, we wanted to do something great and meaningful to celebrate Malaysia, and that was why we decided to do this project and launch it on Malaysia Day.” Red and Jared contacted artists, graphic designers, illustrators, architects, photographers, and cartoonists–30 in total, and each person was allocated one pillar each at the area.

According to Red, the artists were asked to paint faces of people that they have come across in Sabah, who have inspired them.

“The portrait does not necessarily have to be that of a Sabahan. It can be someone who contributed to Sabah in a big way, or someone who was born in Sabah, but has already left the state,” she said. Red created a portrait of Penny Wong, an Australian politician who lived in Sabah for eight years.

The freshly painted pillars were actually the pillars of an old building located in the centre of downtown Kota Kinabalu. The Land and Survey building had burnt down in the 1990s and was left abandoned after the fire.

Here’s a before picture:

And this is what it looks like now:

In a media interview, Red said, “We did this so it would encourage the art community in Sabah and Malaysia. Jared and I wanted the pillars to be an open portfolio for the artists, so they can be contacted for work and supported by the community (their contact details are on the pillars).”

The art project was launched on Malaysia Day, 16 September. More than 200 guests attended the launch, including the mayor, and the icons whose portraits were painted.


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Happy Malaysia Day everyone 🇲🇾🙌💕 #MalaysiaDay #SayangiMalaysiaku #Sabah #PillarsofSabah

A post shared by Wanderlust Tambunan (@wanderlusttambunan) on

“We hope this will become a major tourist attraction in Sabah, one that will encourage the arts and educate people about our unique heritage.”

We hope so too!

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