Wednesday January 23, 2013
Art teacher inspired by murals at heritage site in Penang
By FONG KEE SOON
IPOH: Along a back lane near Jalan Sultan Idris Shah here, murals of Malaysians performing various dances are slowly taking shape – thanks to the efforts of art teacher Eric Lai.
The 37-year-old, who is leading the work with help from his students, said he was inspired to paint the murals on the back wall of three shops here after seeing similar paintings by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic in the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site.
“The murals in Penang have become a popular backdrop for photographers and tourists, and I wanted to do the same for Ipoh. The opportunity came when I was introduced to the owner of an optical shop, who also admires the works in Penang.
“Not only did he invite me to paint the back wall of his shop, he has offered to pay for the materials as well,” said Lai, who declined to reveal the costs involved.
When completed, Lai’s murals will depict various people engaging in, among others, a lion dance, a kuda kepang dance and a traditional Indian performance.
“We hope to complete the four paintings before Chinese New Year. At present, my students and I can only spend about five hours daily on the murals due to our work and study commitments,” said Lai, who is using acrylic paint for his murals.
He said he was also considering urging the Ipoh City Council to install streetlights along the back lane to deter vandals.
Wong Siew Kheong, 63, whose hardware shop was included in the project, said he decided to chip in after getting wind of the project, which started last week.
“Hopefully, the murals will boost the state’s tourism and become a pride of Ipoh,” said Wong.
Although the murals are yet to be completed, they have already caught the attention of passers-by, including senior citizen Wong Weng Litt, 73.
“I think the murals are timely as Ipoh is lacking in artistic expression.”