Malaysian flavours: Two Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman students ‘manning’ the stall created by Lee (below) at the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia at Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur.
KUALA LUMPUR: Everyone wants to pose with the “food stall” made entirely out of shaped iron rods; they happily handle the wok to prepare char kuey teow and grip the mugs to make teh tarik.
This happens every time patrons at the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia (BAFM) see artist Lee Siang’s artwork on the second floor of Wisma MCA in Jalan Ampang.
And it is exactly what Lee envisioned – people having fun interacting with his work, which he calls “wire art”.
“My artwork requires the participation of its viewers, which sets it apart from the other wire art in town,” said the 42-year-old Penangite.
Lee got into wire art in 2012 when he was commissioned to recreate drawings, using wires and steel bars, to be installed at heritage spots to tell the stories of Penang.
With years of experience as a welder, he breezed through the task and was inspired to keep creating more of the unique art pieces.
When Malaysian Chinese Culture and Arts Consultative Council president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun was planning this year’s Blossom Arts Festival, she was introduced to Lee’s work and invited him to take part.
Four of Lee’s creations are on display at the month-long festival. Next to the food stall on a tricycle is a mini stage with a grand piano, drum set, cello and microphone.
Outside at the main entrance, a giant rooster challenges visitors to a game of arm wrestling while the Monkey King greets passers-by with a longevity peach.
Lee uses wires and rods with diameters of 3mm to 18mm.
He prefers to twist and shape the bars by hand, only using tools occasionally as an aid.
The elaborate food stall – complete with charcoal stove to boil water, crate of soft drinks and roaring fire beneath the wok – took him three weeks to complete.
“The most difficult part was the little cabinet to store tins of beverage, glasses, condiments and ingredients. It is complicated.
“I always start with the most complex part first, so that in case I get frustrated during the process, I can tell myself that the toughest part is already done and what’s left is easy,” Lee said.
BAFM 2017, held throughout this month at Wisma MCA, also features performances and exhibitions by local and international virtuosos.
For more details, go to https://www.blossomartsfestival.my/