By Wilfred Pilo
AT first glance, 55-year-old “kopitiam” owner Andy Sim Kwong Yung, with his rugged looks and spotting a ponytail, might just be another businessman making a living.
However, Sim is actually a gifted sculptor whose works can be found all over Sarawak.
In the past decade, the father of two has been making many eye-catching sculptures and statues, as well as landscaping, to enhance the beauty of public place and individual homes.
“I’m actually an accidental statue craftsman and artist,” he told DayakDaily when sharing about his work recently.
Sim revealed that after finishing school in Kuching, he went to Singapore to study tailoring, as well as working there for a while as a tailor.
He later moved to Kuala Lumpur to expand his career in the profession before coming back to Sarawak to open a clothing shop. He then went into the landscaping business.
“I have been involved in many trades to make a living and it was the landscaping business that my craftsmanship in statue sculpting emerged. I learned that it was cheaper making your own statue. Off course, I took the challenge and taught myself on how to make these statues. In the end, it comes naturally,” he said.
Sim said in life, one must dare to take the challenge and find their inner soul in seeking for answers and solution.
Despite his experiences in sculpting statues, Sim treated it as a hobby rather than a full-time job.
“It is not a full time business as I have my cafe and I do it as per client’s order and request,” he said.
Sim had made various statues of fruits, animals, marine life, human figures and some of his works can be found in small towns across Sarawak as icons and landmark to present the identity of the place.
“I can’t remember the statues I had made for some of the towns but to me, a place with just a beautiful landscape is not enough and complete.
“It has to have a form of landmark or symbol to add up to the aesthetic value of the area and I believe one or two statues or sculptures will make the place more far more intrigue and distinctive,” he said.
On a more recent work, Sim revealed that he was the artist who sculpted a silver durian statue for a new hotel in Serian.
“I got the idea for the durian-like statue out of a Musang King that I bought for RM200.
“The sculpture is seven-and-half tonne, almost 20-feet high and 13-feet wide. It took me almost two months to complete for my clients, who is also a well known developer from Kuching.
“This is probably the biggest durian statue or sculpture in the country to date. Every detail is measured to scale and if you look at the thorns, there are all different sizes. The silver colour is my client’s request,” he said.
Explaining his sculpting process, Sim said he uses metal frame covered with wires to hold the cement plaster. The intricate part of the job was to shape the moist cement to give a three dimensional image of the object.
“I worked with cement and the material can dry fast. You can’t sculpture the object when the cement is too wet or already hardened. It must be moist, so it would be easy to work on,” he explained.
Sculptures, landscape and tourism
Sim cited garden landscape and sculptures in Bali, Indonesia, as the ones he admire most. The arts, building, culture and the people inspired his own sculpting work, he said.
“Kuching needs some landscape attraction and we must have something extraordinarily unique in our statue or sculpture that have picturesque memories for visitors and tourists.
He cited the ‘Merlion’ statue in Singapore and its aesthetic landscape that really symbolises the greatness of a country.
Sculptor and craftsman in Sarawak
Sim said that there are many talented artists in Sarawak but many of their works are not recognised, or that people or authority doesn’t know how to appreciate it.
“I am in the craft as a hobby but we must do something to help these talented artists, or else they will feature their work to be appreciated and recognised elsewhere. We don’t want these artists to showcase their artwork, talent and ideas in other places, they should excel here,” he pointed out.
In addition, Sim had just completed a work, which will be unveiled in a week’s time.
“I have something coming up for a town in the northern part of Sarawak but I can’t reveal it yet,” he said.
The next time you passed by a statue in Kuching or towns across the state, it could be a work of Sim’s. — DayakDaily