Sabah's 'underwater world' art installation aims to WoW visitors

Japson Wong (left) and Rosmaini Sunarjo (right)

KOTA KINABALU: Large-scale marine life and the underwater environment will "come to life" in a 3D art project here.

"The idea is to display the beautiful intricate connection between humans and the ocean in Sabah by creating large-scale marine life and its environment.

"The 3D sculptures will be lifted mid-air, and the pillars will be painted and decorated with coral replicas.

"The ruins site will be set in trails, giving visitors a sense of 'swimming' through the underwater world."

Such is the vision of artists Japson Wong and Rosmaini Sunarjo, who are project leaders for the upcoming public art project "Wonders of Wilderness – The Ocean (WoW 1.0)", which is replacing the Pillars of Sabah (POS) initiative at the colonial building ruins downtown.

The ruins site, which is a Sabah Art Gallery (SAG) art space, recently courted controversy after the third edition of POS artworks were covered with white paint without notifying coordinating teams and artists.

Wong said the project, which would be broken into three parts (mural, 3D sculpture and community art), will also engage fishing communities' participation.

"Rosmaini will be in charge of the mural while I will be in charge of the 3D sculpture, where we expect to involve five to eight fellow artists.

"For the community art, we will head to four villages and have a couple of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) tag along to educate them on the importance of marine life.

"This will be followed by workshops and each village will form a small group to construct their respective heritage fishing boat, which we will collect from them afterwards to install at the ruins site," he told The Star.

Wong said they have identified potential participants from coastal villages in the district of Kudat (Kg Karakit in Pulau Banggi), Semporna (Kg Selakan) and Papar (Kg Beringgis), and are looking for another participating village.

However, Wong noted the lack of funding might derail and delay the project, but remained hopeful that it could proceed as planned.

"Funding from the government (SAG and National Art Gallery) is not much, but a few companies have approached us," he said.

SAG curator Jennifer Linggi said POS1 to POS3 participants are encouraged to get involved in the WoW project and liaise with the two project leaders.

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