Malaysian chosen to create sculptures for Battersea project

PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian artist is one of two winners of the first-ever commissioned outdoor sculptures for the Battersea Power Station development in London.

Kuala Lumpur-based Haffendi Anuar (pic) was among 30 artists shortlisted from around the world, including Britain, Switzerland, Japan and Denmark.

When contacted, Haffendi said he was “pretty excited” about the project although he was initially unsure due to its scale.

“It seemed like a big commission for an emerging artist, especially for a project in one of the main cultural centres in the world.

“I was nervous, but I just had to give it a go,” said the 32-year-old arts graduate from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.

He works on sculptures, painting, drawing and installations, and is known for his object-based works.

Haffendi’s work has been exhibited locally and abroad, including in Venice, New York, Singa­pore and Hong Kong.

He has been involved in many group exhibitions, including “I Am Ten-229” (2015) and “Malaysian Art – A New Perspective” (2016).

His first solo show, “M13”, was at the Richard Koh Fine Art gallery in 2015.

Haffendi previously worked as a model maker at architecture firm T.R. Hamzah and Yeang in Kuala Lumpur, studied Chinese in China, worked in art galleries in London and Kuala Lumpur, and assisted artists in studios in London.

The artist said he was approached by the Cass Sculpture Foundation in Britain, which asked him to submit a proposal for a site-specific work for the Battersea Power Station.

“The whole process started in March this year, so it’s been quite fast paced,” he said.

Haffendi added that his work was being created in a fabrication studio in North London.

It will be based on the four chimneys of Battersea Power Sta­tion, which will be translated into four columns in his art piece.

For his commissioned sculpture called Machines for Modern Living, Haffendi will create a site-specific series of pilotis, traditional architectural columns that lift a building above ground or water which are commonly found in stilted dwellings, such as fishermen’s huts in Asia.

By installing them at ground level, their presence will be anchored to the site, bringing the distant chimneys of Battersea Power Station within grasp.

“I look at them as four modernist sculptures, like (Romanian sculptor) Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space which I saw at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Benice.

“It’s a form that is reaching to the sky,” Haffendi said.

According to him, the work referenced the pilotis used in modern Western architecture and traditional Malaysian houses on stilts.

The other winner is British-born sculptor Jesse Wine, who is based in New York.

Both artists were chosen by a prestigious panel that included Jude Kelly, director of the Southbank Centre, Britain’s largest arts centre.

According to The Guardian, the artworks were created in partnership with the Cass Sculpture Foun­dation and will be unveiled at the Thameside site of the Battersea Power Station in September, where they will be in position for three months.

The Battersea Power Station, first built in the 1930s, is now a decommissioned coal fire power station that is one of the largest brick buildings in the world and a famous London landmark.

It is currently being converted into a luxury accommodation and leisure development.