A master of craft

Albot Gudang, Preserving traditional art 

Met recently at the Borneo Craft Festival Sarawak 2019, the friendly Albot shared that it has always been his passion to hand paint prints. “I used to do it as a hobby, but after I stopped working, I work on this full time.”

The Bidayuh lad who originated from Bau, Sarawak first dabbled in hand-painting artworks in 2005. He recalled painting on a huge piece of paper — one he felt extremely proud of. “I became active after 2010 as I realised that I have talent in this,” he explained. It was then that he saw a market in hand-painted motifs as souvenir pieces.

Using natural resources found in the jungle of Bau, Albot regularly paints on woven sago, wood, tree bark, bamboo, seeds, stone, glass, leaf, fibre, shell and almost anything he can get his hands on. He regularly uses fabric cloth paint to produce his artworks.

With his talent imprinted on each and every piece, there is a definite feel in his art that embodies the essence of Sarawak. The pieces smoothed by Albot revamped into not only a piece of remembrance, but with the materials originating from the jungles in Sarawak, it is the epitome of ‘Ibu Pertiwiku’.

To him, his focus is not on the financial aspect. Explaining that it was his passion that drives him, he wants to immortalise Sarawak’s ethnic motifs for generations to come, “And I am not planning to stop until I am unable to continue.”

Albot also paints on walls and pillars. “Every piece that I produce is drawn free handed. To me, each one is a masterpiece.”

When asked what the challenges that he faced were while producing, he said: “Finding the raw materials for the products is a big challenge for me as I have to go into the jungle myself and face difficult terrain to get what i wanted.”

He disclosed that there are times when he will get lost in the jungle, “When it happens, I try my best to find my way back. I would navigate along the river and try to remember and recognise the surrounding that I have walked through.” Besides that, Albot also faces challenges in searching for seasonal raw materials, adding that “I have to wait for it to grow.”

He also lamented that it is hard to expose and gain the interest from the public to immerse themselves in traditional art, “Especially the younger generations. Therefore, I would do more exhibition to expose to the public.”Albot stresses the need for the younger generations to realise the importance of traditional and cultural art so that both can be continued for years to come. “It is important especially when it comes to understanding the natural resources and the ways of preserving, promoting and turning it into a handicraft that represents Sarawak.”

Albot can be contacted via Facebook Abot Gudang or Whatsapp at 014-9900295. He is also available for call at 019-8890169.

Albot’s hand-painted motifs on a ring.

Albot Gudang at work.