School turns to mural to project its mission

A night shot of the mural by local artist Leonard Siaw spanning over four storeys high on the walls of SJK Chung Hua No. 2.

KUCHING: A Chinese primary school here uses a mural to project its mission- to educate and inspire – as it believe that a picture is worth a thousand words.

The massive mural entitled ‘Pride of SJK Chung Hua No. 2’ is painted on the wall of the school’s four-storey building that fronts the main road.

WP Perancang Sdn Bhd, a planning, landscape and development consultant company, chief executive officer (CEO) Dato Sri Bartholomew Wong initiated the project and commissioned local artist Leonard Siaw to paint the mural.

A close up picture of the ‘Pride of SJK Chung Hua No. 2’ mural which will catch the attention of anyone who drives past the school at Jalan Stutong.

The bright and colourful mural shows five people doing different things: playing ping pong, singing, swimming and scholars holding books and the flags of Sarawak and Malaysia with a trophy etched high up the wall next to the words ‘Great Minds Think Alike’ and books stacked on the bottom.

Siaw explained that the mural projects the school’s discipline, determination, dignity and achievement in sports and studies.

More importantly, it spreads a simple, inspiring message to the students to dream big, strive towards their ambitions and reach for the trophy with knowledge as the strongest foundation and stepping stone to take a leap to success.

Wong emphasised the mural at SJK Chung Hua No. 2 is an artistic impression that carries a strong message on the importance of balancing academic with co-curicular activities.

“Murals or paintings or any works of arts are an amazing and effective tool that can influence, communicate a message, promote or raise awareness of something, convey emotion and even create an atmosphere,” he told the sundaypost yesterday.

“I hope that the strong image reminds the students of the value the school tries to inculcate in them,” he told.

Wong pointed out that murals can brighten a dull spot, enhance the attractiveness of the school’s surrounding and uplift the spirit of the students.

“The wall is at such a good, eye-catching location to utilise the painting to interact, inspire and influence not only the school and students but also members of the public, our diverse community and anyone who drives past the school,” he said.

“ I hope sharing the important message in an innovative and creative way can create a positive impact, ignite the students’ passion and urge them to strive, to pick up a sport, to enjoy learning and gain experience,” he added.

Wong hopes that the initiative will inspire other schools to follow suit and encourage the development of urban art scene in Sarawak at the same time.

Siaw is not a stranger in the art scene after winning the grand prize of the ‘Make Your Mark’ challenge at the Melbourne Street Art Competition in Kuala Lumpur in April this year.

Siaw appreciates the opportunity to deal with his fear of heights.

He will be representing the country at the ‘Wall to Wall Benalla Festival’, which is Victoria’s first regional street art festival in March next year.

“This is the largest mural I have done so far. It took two months to complete and was handed over just last month. Using quality paint, the mural can last for up to seven years,” he said.

“It was a huge honour to be able to do this. I took the challenge following the invitation from Dato Wong and I feel obligated to accept and contribute a small part to Chinese education where my root is,” he said.

Siaw, a graduate of Limkokwing University and a former graphic designer, took mural painting seriously only a few years ago.

His works which can be seen in several places in the city including The Borneo House Musuem, VivaCity non-halal Kuching Flavours Foodcourt and Metro 360 Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Through the project, Siaw had the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone and overcome his fear of heights having to paint while standing high on scaffolding.

“It was a good experience and my first time to climb so high up. But thankfully I managed to get the work done despite the unfavourable weather conditions,” he revealed.

On the development of the urban art scene in Kuching and Sarawak as a whole, he said that the culture is still new and growing but slowly.

“The urban or street art scene is still picking up as not everyone can appreciate yet. I hope more people can learn to appreciate arts, not just making comparison between beautiful and ugly… it goes far deeper and beyond that,” he said.

“An art piece allows people to stand still, look at it and think about what story and message it is trying to tell, convey and express,” he added.

Moving on, Siaw said he will continue to improve his skills and also play his part in beautifying Kuching city.

Wong, who is an old boy of Sibu’s SMK Sacred Heart, disclosed that he intends to commission Siaw to paint mural for the school pending approval from the school board.

“It is one of our ways (graduates of 1988) to give back to the school which will also coincide with our 30th anniversary reunion next year,” he said.

Siaw also hinted that he will be painting the entire Singgahsana lodge building as part of the What About Kuching (WAK) 2017, a festival that celebrates the arts, cultures and lifestyles of people Kuching.

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