With Sabah still recording the highest new Covid-19 cases in the country, contemporary artist Sharon Chin reckoned it was time she offered a helping hand.
“As an artist based in Semenanjung, I wanted to show my solidarity with Sabahans,” says Chin, who lives and works in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan.
Her answer is a small-scale, online DIY initiative on her Facebook page.
The Ma (Hang) In There, Sabah! initiative by Chin, 40, offers handmade bandanas featuring her original Mahang tree design.
Chin, who works on prints and fabrics, says she chose bandanas since they are a "multipurpose art medium”.
“You can display it on the wall, or wear it. It’s quite a personal item – you express yourself by styling it in different ways.
“I feel that people don’t want more clothes or unnecessary stuff these days. A bandana is something small, easy to DIY. And they can become collector’s items,” she explains.
Each bandana is being offered for a minimum donation of RM50. The design is printed by Studio Chincarok (Chin’s printmaking and art studio) on four different coloured (50cm x 50cm) fabrics (light blue, medium blue, white and red) to reflect the colours of the Sabah flag.
“Like the Mahang tree, each of us plays an important part in healing the damage brought by Covid-19 and its after effects. We are being called to do this in all the ways we know how,” she offers.
Nicknamed the nannies of the forest, the Mahang (Macaranga) tree is an old world tropical, recoloniser tree that grows in disturbed or damaged lands.
All proceeds will go to Borneo Komrad, a Sabah-based student-led grassroots social organisation, now providing Covid-19 aid to marginal communities there.
Set up in 2017, Borneo Komrad runs Sekolah Alternatif, alternative schools for undocumented and under-served children in Tuaran, Tawau and Semporna.
While Sabah battles the pandemic, Borneo Komrad is distributing essential supplies to communities in need across six districts in Sabah, namely Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu.
“We need all kinds of responses right now. The virus is not following a human schedule. We are the ones who need to adapt to the changing conditions.
“So I hope this encourages other individuals or corporations to start their own initiative,” concludes Chin.