Friday, July 18, 2008

Entry 010 : Jailbirds in action!

Update 24 July 2008 : To all that are participating in this project, lets complete all picture taking by the July 30th, edit them down and send me a CD of your photos by the first week of August. Email me for postal address. Can?

The Pudu Jail mural project is underway. Li Ling and Jerrica and I met up early on Sunday morning last weekend at Berjaya Times Square's Starbucks and walked to Jalan Pudu/Hang Tuah to begin photographing the mural.

I worked on the 64 panels along Jalan Pudu starting from the far end, whilst Li Ling photographed the walls on Jalan Hang Tuah. Jerrica, using her Canon point'n'shoot photographed the grafitti and stains more closely along that flank and the 'padang' elevation also. All in, we shot for over an hour and a half, amongst the bemused pedestrians and onlookers going to work or shopping at Imbi.

The mural can reveal its layered past when one looks closer into it. I discovered beautiful paintings of birds, streams, rivers, and willow trees, fields and forests, hills and mountains that must have looked breathtaking when the paint was still fresh. No doubt there must have been some 'botch-up' repair work throughout its lifetime of some 30 years or so. These can be clearly seen in the significantly different style of brushstrokes and colours in some sections from the remaining backdrop.

I read somewhere that the inmates often used their fingers to paint the scenes under the watchful eye of the prison warden, and under the hot Malaysian sun for weeks on end during the early 80's. I have yet to track down Mr Khong Yen Chong the inmate who headed the painting. It would be a treat to be able to interview him and get his portrait. Leads anyone?