The Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) together with the National Art Gallery launched the introductory program for community-based tourism to anchor underwater sculptures in Pulau Pasir, Langkawi. The event which was held at the Pengkalan Kubang Badak saw the attendance of many including, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), YBhg. Datuk Hajah Saraya Arbi, Langkawi Development Authority Chief Executive Officer, Encik Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib, Director-General, National Art Gallery, Encik Amerrudin Ahmad, nine sculpture artists, members of the media as well as the general public.
Commenting on this impactful initiative, Encik Nasaruddin said that the event was in line with LADA’s direction of supporting more green and community tourism activities. “There has been a global rise of more environmentally conscious travellers, with most of them looking for ways to reconnect with nature and seek new sustainable experiences”.
He added, “Bearing this in mind, we felt it was an ideal time to collaborate with the National Art Gallery to bring this project to life. We are extremely delighted with this initiative and look forward to these beautifully carved sculptures being placed at Pulau Pasir, near Pulau Jemuruk today. As we progress further, we hope to continue partnering with more organisations that are aligned with us in terms of our goals and objectives.”
The program had first begun in January 2022 and saw the participation of nine experienced artists producing unique and aesthetically pleasing sculptures, to encourage marine life to take hold and flourish. The statues that will be placed anywhere from two to six meters to being partially submerged in the water, will act as a stable base for reefs to form.
To further add to this already enchanting and magical island, all artists were encouraged to use the myths and legends of the Langkawi Island as their main point of reference when producing their artwork.
While this story may already have a beautiful tale of its own to tell, both LADA and the National Art Gallery felt that it was only right to include the local community consisting of fishermen, scuba diving operators and local artisans to create this attractive yet distinctive underwater masterpiece.
Among the materials used were treated concrete cement to ensure it was safe and friendly to the marine ecosystem and ecology. Besides that, the statues were also left with rough patches of texture to help coral larvae gain a strong foothold. The artists were also sure to include curves when shaping their artwork to allow fish and other types of marine life to duck in and out of their new marine homes. Finally, the
installation’s locations were carefully chosen in order to catch coral larvae and other marine life floating by.
“We are extremely honoured to be able to work with LADA to not only highlight the potential and creativity of our local artist but also play our part in conserving marine life. We are always looking at ways and opportunities to collaborate with different parties and bring about positive change in the local community. Through all that we do, we place the needs of the community as our main priority,” said Encik Amerrudin Ahmad, Director-General, National Art Gallery.
Encik Nasaruddin shared that the idea of this activity had come about by both parties after witnessing a huge number of coral reefs having disappeared in the last decade, due to the skyrocketing levels of human-made carbon emissions. He said, “If those number were not alarming enough, scientists have warned that 80% of the reefs could be gone by 2050.”
“The production and physical structure of the sculpture is not just a mere work of art. In fact, it also serves as a host to the various fish species as well as other marine ecology. The presence of these sculptures will further enrich the marine habitat, which will provide an abundance of sustenance to the local community and will be a catalyst for new eco-marine tourism,” added Encik Nasaruddin.
Low Chee Peng was among the sculptor artists present at the event to showcase his work of art. Originating from Penang, he has been in the industry for more than 20 years. “Having worked on this project for about three weeks, my artwork was inspired by the Legend of Mahsuri and the curse of the seven generations. This would be my first time participating in an event as such and I decided to do so because of my passion and interest to bring about change.”
For full-time artist, Umi Baizurah Mahir @ Ismail, her artwork for the program was titled, Permata Hinggap to represent all the valuable items on the island. “I was drawn to be a participant of this project when I found out that the artwork would be submerged into the water. It would be the first for me hence, I could not resist the once in a lifetime opportunity.”
She added, “My artwork is closely related to the local community, especially for the iconic eagle at the top and the lifebuoy that represents balance. Additionally, I have also included children’s toys within my artwork to represent the future generation.”
In 2007, Langkawi was awarded UNESCO Global Geopark status, the first Global Geopark in Southeast Asia and it is also one of only 177 worldwide to date.
About Langkawi Development Authority (LADA)
Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) was set up by the federal government to plan, promote and implement development on the island of Langkawi. It was officially established on 15 March 1990, under the Langkawi Development Authority Act 1990 (Act 423) and placed under the authority of the Ministry of Finance.
Through all their efforts, LADA is committed to continuously support the noble efforts of all parties in restoring the heyday of Langkawi’s tourism sector for collective prosperity of the island and its dwellers. Ultimately, the goal of the organisation is to position Langkawi into a world-renowned tourism destination.
For more information on LADA, please visit https://www.lada.gov.my/en/