How would you document your life story? Malaysian artist KC Lee decided to record his life journey with his own sketches and compile them into a book.
His journal – The Faith, The Dream – has been recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR) for being the “Longest Life Journal Sketchbook By An Individual” in February this year.
Lee's book is 17.4m long when fully opened.
That's not all. His life journal is part of a 88m journal which has also been recognised by the MBOR as the “Longest Sketch Journal By An Individual”.
Lee, 60, says the journal doesn't just tell his life story but also covers “the heritage, culture and food of (he has encountered) both locally and overseas”.
The journal has more than 200 sketches with descriptions, in English, telling the ups and downs of Lee's life.
“It's titled The Faith, The Dream: The faith relates to the story of me reuniting with my biological family and the dream refers to my career in which I worked hard to achieve my dream, ” he explained.
“I had a childhood filled with sorrow. I was taken away just 11 days after birth, and I reunited with my biological family 54 years later, ” Lee said, adding that the reunion happened months after he'd made a wish in the Guan Yin temple on a trip to Tainan, Taiwan in May 2013.
Through the reunion, Lee discovered the story behind his adoption.
“My father gave me away to clear his debt. My father was a gambling addict and I was inspired by him to be a much better person, ” Lee added.
He revisited the places that are meaningful to him and created sketches to be included in the sketchbook. He started with his birthplace which is Buntong, Ipoh in July 2018. “It was done under the hot scorching sun, ” said Lee, who took 18 months completing the sketchbook.
“Things became more challenging for me when I was in my late teens. I had to work part-time in this restaurant in Jalan Pudu named Kum Leng Restaurant due to financial difficulties when I was studying at the Malaysia Institute of Art, ” he said.
In the restaurant, he worked alongside his biological father, without either of them realising it.
“Can you imagine a father and son meeting every day but not recognising each other? It’s a small world, ” said Lee.
To Lee, his life “from day one, has been quite extraordinary”.
He decided to publish his journal to"share valuable life lessons" through retelling his life story.
“Initially, the journal is meant to be shared with my family as a legacy, ” he explained.
Things got better for him in his adulthood.
“My life after became much more heartwarming, with my family”, said Lee, who met his wife, who he describes as the "missing puzzle piece" in 1980. They share three children together.
Lee hopes to inspire other sketchers to pursue their interest in art and he hopes his MBOR recognition will prove that sketching is a hobby and passion worth pursuing seriously.
“With the recognition, I hope it would encourage those who are interested in sketching to record their life in a similar way. I believe that a life journal with sketches can capture the attention of the reader better, ” he said.
“Words are important, but I’m sure sketches can relay emotions and stories just as well, ” he added.
Lee founded a community group called Kuala Lumpur Urban Sketchers which now has about 5,000 members.
“This platform enables our members to network with sketchers globally who all share common interest, “ Lee said.
As a graduate of the Malaysia Institute of Art, Lee sees sketching as an essential skill, especially for those who work in the field of architecture and design.
“Instead of spending all their time on our gadgets, it will be great if youngsters grab a pen and paper, observe their ever-changing surroundings and record it, ” Lee encourages. "We should all learn to live in the moment."