Shahrol Haziq, an independent artist, aspires to have a full-time career in the arts. Also known as M Sahzy in the local art scene, he creates sculptures out of discarded woods in an effort to discover his roots.
The love for nature inspired art
It was fascinating to meet the sculptor Shahrol Haziq at his recent exhibition at HAUS KCH, where he displayed twirling wooden structural arches.
His finest works focus the use of discarded natural resources as his medium. Shahrol, also known as M Sahzy, creates work that is more than just a visual representation of ideas; each exhibition has a tale to tell.
Shahrol, a naturalist, appreciates being in nature since it helps him learn about his origins.
“I have been living on Borneo island, and amidst the rainforest. My ancestors are Iban from Sebuyau. Even though I am a Muslim, I want to learn more about my ancestors, and where my family come from.”
The artist went on to say that modernization and religion had deterred him from learning about the original culture and traditions from a long time ago.
“Some were pushed away as it was thought to be obsolete but to me, it is not. It is our culture, so I want to acknowledge it. And I did so through my art. It is my identity, and doing it is a way I can recognise who I am.”
A display of nature
Shahrol said that learning to build wooden structures from an expatriate sculptural artist from Europe changed his life.
“I learned for three years from Spencer Byles who visited Kuching. He inspired me to use discarded materials from the jungle to create art. Then, once he is done, he will return them to the jungle.”
Like Spencer, Shahrol would take his masterpieces back into the woods where they came from after finishing them. The ideology behind this was what piqued his curiosity in moving forward.
“The process of how you can use anything and make it into an artwork is something beautiful. The idea of putting it back into the jungle to interact with nature is a great ideology.”
Shahrol would gather the necessary materials from the jungle or trees by the side of the road whenever he felt inspired to create a sculpture. He occasionally drove around Kuching in search of recently cut trees.
“And there are times when I would visit the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) to obtain from them.”
His work typically begins with a sketch of the structure as he envisions it. Usually, it takes a year to three years for the sketches he creates in his workshop to come to life. This resulted from the time pressure he experienced while managing his full-time job and interest in the art.
According to Shahrol, once he has the materials and ideas, he’d knot them when they were freshly chopped.
“I’ll make the shape of the structure using a cable tie accordingly. I’ll let it dry out for two to three months before I cut off the cable tie. This ensures they stay in the shape I want them to be.”
When it is finished, Shahrol will take the structure back to the woods, where it belongs.
Challenges as an independent artist
Challenges don’t present themselves to the 25-year-old when he is working on his upcoming project in his studio. In fact, the challenges he encounters are all related to how society perceives the worth of art.
Shahrol, a self-employed artist, has to look for additional sources of income to ensure sustainability.
“Opportunities are scarce. So, I could not depend on my artwork alone. Hence, I used my skills in filmmaking, photography and graphic designing as my source of income.”
“I am responsible for my family. I came from a background where I was never taught how to earn money. My family encourages me to get a stable job to sustain myself,” he added.
Shahrol said that he does not intend to use natural resources as a source of materials for his own benefit.
“While I need the money, I hope to earn it differently. If there are people who want to buy my art, I would like to know their background. I want someone who appreciates art, who appreciates independent artists, who enjoys nature and wants to preserve it.”
Shahrol works hard to create art despite the challenges in order to support himself in the future. With his enthusiasm to express himself through the medium of discarded materials, he is taking things one step at a time.
“I would like to do art in the future. To do so, I need to get out of my comfort zone and learn how to sustain myself while doing what I love. It is very important because I want to make a change in my life. It was a significant step for me to choose this path,” he said.
Shahrol continues to devote his attention to art, planning new sculptures in his studio and sketching some out-of-this-world brilliant ideas. Even though he juggles his passion in art with his full-time job, he does so in the hopes of one day being able to pursue it whenever he wants.