Inspired by what has become a global movement, Kuching authorities are supporting selective street art.
It is a recent development here, which started around 2014. Several murals have been created by talented international artists. Among the first, and still the most iconic in town are the orang utan paintings by well known lithuanian-born outdoor-art painter artist Ernest Zacharevic on Jalan Power (beyond India Street and facing the old open air market).
After two years, these murals show signs of fatigue, probably because of the poor quality of the original coating of the wall on which they were painted.
Several new commissioned works have been added to Kuching’s landscape of late.
Well, now… there is street art and street art…
A long wall at the end of picturesque Kai Joo Lane was used as a support for a community art work initiative in early February 2016. The public was invited to contribute. Kuching VIPs also put some strokes. Here’s the result :
And, if you exit Jalan Bishopgate towards Wayang Street (Lebuh Wayang), this is what you now run into:
Also, facing Bishop gate, on the wall supporting the section of Wayang street leading to the padang, a line of weird creatures watch you.
Needless to say, for heritage conservation-minded spirits these graffitis around Bishopgate are mere unsympathetic tags on that location; they may have a place somewhere, but not there. (*)
(*) For a framework on how to look at street art, see following article on public art spotted recently by Friends of the Sarawak Museum (thank you friends!). Street art murals are one form of public art. The author, Lilliana Ramos Collado, from University of Puerto Rico, raises questions such as: Do you see the object as an art work? What identity does it reflect? “Is (it) appropriate to the space it occupies (…) ? “. Interestingly, she also raises the issue of the ‘operation and and maintenance’ side of public art works: “Who shall assume the ownership of the patrimonial work and be responsible for its explanation and esteem, defense, custody, maintenance, restoration, and permanence?“
We don’t know if these tags have been authorized. Hope is that they are not seeds of a large scale disfiguration of Kuching old town built-heritage and that the concerned authorities will continue to provide street art with the regulation and enforcement capacity it deserves. And that maintenance provisions are in place for the art works that the community validates.
The graffiti on Bishopgate ought to be removed and the original, authentic look of the gate reinstated.
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