Amicable solution reached in ‘Pillars of Sabah’ artworks incident, says Culture Minister

KOTA KINABALU: The recent incident where artworks at the ruins of a colonial building downtown were removed should not dishearten local artists, says Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin (pic).

“I hope this incident does not break the spirit of local artists. They are always welcome to propose ideas to the Sabah Art Gallery to ensure that art in Sabah continues to thrive, ” he said.

Sabah's online community was abuzz when the artworks called the "Pillars of Sabah", were completely removed and covered with white paint.

He said the issue was due to a misunderstanding and added that amicable solutions had been sought among the various stakeholders in the state’s art and culture industry.

During the meeting, Jafry had called all parties including the ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Jamili Nais, Sabah Arts Gallery director Jeniffer Linggi, co-founder and co-organiser of Pillars of Sabah 3.0 Jared Abdul Rahman, Professor Dr Ramzah Dambul, and several other artists to discuss on the matter.

In that meeting, Jennifer admitted that there were weaknesses on their part and apologised to all those affected, especially the artists who had been not notified earlier before their artworks were wiped off.

In response to this apology, Jafry said there was always room for improvement.

“This is a lesson learned but it’s time to move forward for the upcoming WOW (Wonders of Wilderness) Project, ” he said.

The disappearance of the paintings on 31 pillars by 31 artists over the weekend also caught Pillars of Sabah coordinators and artists by surprise as they were not informed of any changes.

Pillars of Sabah is held annually and features 31 themes, one for each pillar.

The latest installation was Pillars of Sabah 3.0, and it was aimed at spurring unity during the pandemic.

It was unveiled on Dec 20,2020 and featured artists from diverse backgrounds.

The Pillars of Sabah project was also a brainchild of world renowned artist Red Hong Yi when it was first started in 2018.

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