BALIK PULAU: It is the hobby of nearly every kid at some point in this kampung side of the Penang island: rearing fighting fish.
Drawing on his sweet memories, an artist born here has given the bland walls of the Hardcore Poor Housing Programme (PPRT) at Lily Garden Flats in Jalan Bukit Penara an artistic touch that will take every kid’s breath away.
Nasrul Hisham Jamaludin, 43, painted two of the most well-known fighting fish species and even added a tiger barb – a popular local ornamental fish.
On one external wall, Nasrul Hisham painted a 5m-long Half Moon fighting fish, its splendid tail opening up like a billowing gown.
Around the corner, adorning the corridor leading to the stairs of the walk-up flats are a 2.5m-long Plakat fighting fish and a tiger barb that stretches about 3m.
The end result is cheery PPRT flats that reflect the rustic nature of Balik Pulau.
Nasrul Hisham said he remembered trudging through the old padi fields here looking for fighting fish.
“There was a shop selling ornamental fish at Titi Serong and sometimes, the shopkeeper would release fish into Titi Teras River.
“This was in the 1980s. As children, we would walk around the fields when it was flooded and catch the fighting fish as a hobby,” he said.
The Penangite said he began work on the mural on July 15 and completed it two days later in a collaborative effort with fellow local artist Amir Andhar Abu Samah, 25, from Kuala Lumpur.
Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the fighting fish art was one of the newly painted murals at four locations to mark the three-day Balik Pulau Festival 2019, which kicked off yesterday.
“The artists were commissioned by the National Art Gallery and the Culture and Arts Department.
“The murals are to beautify these areas and create inclusiveness among the locals through art.
“We have also organised an art workshop for the children in these areas during the festival,” he said.
He said the commissioned artists were free to find their own inspirations, as long as their works of art create a public awareness of the local culture.
In a press release, the gallery said the initiative was also to promote Kuala Lumpur Biennale 2020.
“The murals in Balik Pulau are themed fighting fish and doodle, eating durian and bread seller, nutmeg and durian shell and crane,” it said.
Resident Aziean Aida Watty Mohd Asri, 32, said the mural brightened up the area.
“I am happy to see it,” said the housewife.
The festival runs until tomorrow, mainly at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex and other locations here.
The closing ceremony will be held from 4pm to 6pm at the complex.
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