Paying tribute to respected personalities

(From left) Pitcher, Hun Chin and Dr Anwar posing with portraits of Dr Wu and Rabindranath.

PENANG’S plague fighter and an Indian poet will be immortalised as murals by an artist from Britain.

Gabriel Pitcher, whose artwork already graces Penang’s streets, has been commissioned by Hu Yew Seah Association to paint murals of Dr Wu Lien-Teh and Rabindranath Tagore.

The portraits, 6m-tall and 3m-wide, will be painted on a wall at SJK(C) Hu Yew Seah in Madras Lane. They are estimated to be finished by early March.

Both legends played a role in the founding of the school and the school board’s vice-president Tan Hun Chin said he learned of the role they played only recently from Think City chairman Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, who visited the school earlier.

Hun Chin said he wanted the murals done so that the story of the two famous figures could be shared with the public.

Hu Yew Seah Association was formed in 1914 to bridge ties between the Chinese-educated and English-educated Chinese.

Dr Anwar said Rabindranath was a renowned poet from India and the first Asian to be awarded the Literature Nobel Prize.

“He even wrote a poem about Penang,” Dr Anwar stated at a press conference.

He said Dr Wu earned the reputation as a plague fighter after saving countless lives from the Manchurian pneumonic plague that devastated China in the 1930s.

“Dr Wu wrote to the Emperor of China, explaining the need to burn the bodies and wear breathing masks. Soon after they started to do this, the plague stopped.

“The breathing masks he prescribed were so effective that they were called ‘Wu Masks’,” said Dr Anwar.

Balik Pulau International Art Village adviser Tan Chor Whye, who was at the conference, said a few artists were considered but Pitcher was finally picked because his art had a lively and colourful touch.

Pitcher’s murals in Penang include the Bearded Face in Muntri Street and The Musician in Logan Heritage, Beach Street.

“It is my first time getting the chance to paint historic figures,” said Pitcher.

“I plan to make the murals lively and dynamic rather than have them be still and plain portraits,” he added.

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