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KUANTAN, March 2 — The mural paintings of Pahang identity and folk tales have transformed the back alley of a row of old shophouses in Jalan Besar here, previously dark and gloomy, into a colourful, vibrant street with lightings that liven up the night atmosphere.
The surroundings have been given a new lease of life by 13 Pahang-born individuals, aged 26 to 52, with “Projek 06” (the number being Pahang birthplace code), working hard daily since last December to complete the “Kuantan Art Street” project to attract more tourists to the area.
A member of the group, Mohd Amer Farouk, 31, said the 200-metre mural was part of Kuantan’s preparations to be upgraded into a city, but luck was not on their side due to the continuous rain early this year, hence they were unable to complete it before the proclamation ceremony on February 21.
“The artwork began with re-painting the (two-storey and three-storey) buildings white so that the paintings would be more prominent, but the rain hampered our work for almost a month. Besides that, we also needed to use a crane to paint the three-storey buildings, which was difficult during such a weather condition.
“Although it is yet to be completed, visitors have started to visit the street and we are delighted to see them taking photographs. We hope they will be more excited to see our final product, which is expected to be ready in a month,” he told Bernama, here.
With a smile, Mohd Amer said one of the things that touched his heart was to see people in action with the ropes on a buffalo painting pulling a cart containing sea products, inspired by the fishing community in Pantai Beserah, here.
Buffaloes were used to transport fish to the market in the 70s.
Another painting that has gained attention is a batik one with bright colours, indicating the popular tie-dye method used in Cherating, besides on surfing since Pantai Cherating is well-known for this extreme sport as the waves could be five-foot high.
The group also painted a man in a turquoise, black and white striped shirt making burgers, known as “Lan Burger”, believed to have opened the first burger stall in Kuantan in 1977, as well as cobblers working along the five-foot ways of shops.
For Ahmad Fadzril Abdul Ruzsnan, 27, the most challenging task was painting a green dragon on a three-storey building, which took three days to complete. The painting was inspired by a folklore on the Sri Gumum dragon which inhabits Chini Lake in Pekan, about 84km from here.
“The bonus of drawing the dragon was that the building has a spiral staircase at the side which enabled us to use that as the body of the dragon. However, we had to be careful with the position of the staircase so that the movement of the dragon would not look awkward, apart from the details of the dragon scales.
“Another painting is on elephants. It is incomplete to describe Pahang without elephants as this mammal is part of the state’s identity,” said Amad Fadzril, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).
Meanwhile, Azril Azahar, 31, said the themes on the shop lots reflecting the identity of Pahang and Kuantan were discussed with the group members before being submitted to the Kuantan City Council for approval.
These included 25000 in black and white as the postcode of Kuantan district, the picture of a giant cockle depicting Taman Kerang, a recreational area near the Sultan Ahmad 1 State Mosque, which is popular among locals.
“I am happy when the traders here say that the back alley is more alive now because of our paintings. In fact, some say the place is now cleaner and safer at night as the area begins to light up at 7pm.
“I hope these paintings will help traders affected by the Covid-19 pandemic earn a better income with the arrival of tourists. I also hope that these artworks are appreciated and not vandalised,” he said. — Bernama