Iron Dragons of Malaya (Project IDoM)

KLPac Installation of the Iron Dragons of Malaya, 2008
KLPac Installation of the Iron Dragons of Malaya, 2009

“One of the major interest on the Malayan Railway is the Sentul Works. Situated two miles to the north of the Kuala Lumpur Station. Here are to be found paint shops, boiler shops, the foundry, main stores, signal stores, carriage shops, and everything else associated with the running of the railway…

 An area of 100 acres, is a production facility that is totally self-supporting to even the chroming of the door handles of the steam locomotive repairs, are done here.”

Stanistreet, J.A., The Malayan Railway, pp.44 (1973)

A century had passed, The Sentul Works or the Workshop was born in 1906, whereby it was once a great district of a locomotive community, an area of the KTM, Malayan Postal, the LLN (now known as the TNB) & various other government agencies of blue-collared workers & families that had lived in the land known as the “City of Locomotive”.

Many shared cultures had certainly made their way into the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur. What more could be said of a place that was once hosted as the biggest locomotive workshop in South East Asia? It is true that we are moving progressively in time towards a modern facade for the convenience of our future needs, but never for an instance it would be so aggressive to dismembered our past… there is too much at stake to ignore & to forget the ones that made our lives richer.

 “the strength of fire that was once fury now goes cold,

The searing heat of the foundry felt no more of the cold steel,

The noise, the chatter, all that is left echoing these walls,

That once served countless magnificent beasts

The heroes, toiled many thousand days & dark,

All for the land i was born into…

You shall guess our business, grave or grey,

Learn now of our names & go,

To hoist, only to pull away our sighs & woe,

For the sun once before has chased my shadows

 K. Azril Ismail, from the book of IDoM, 2009

IRONDRAGONSOFMALAYA, history in the making

Composition no 1
Composition no 1

Whenever one find spatial artifacts from the past; its documentation in form of visual imageries would play as a great reference in imagining the depictions of the era.

The artworks presented here are by no means to be a blockade of urban progress, but as a form of awareness & acknowledgement in the placement of this country’s past heritage.

These machines, contraptions, tools, and its environments, became a fascinating game for us to have a various forms of imagination. Utilizing our visual tools, whether in a form of photography, sound or experimental videos; we began composing narrative experience, which had taken us a great deal in editorial balance between the commitment of the process, from pre- to post editorial, which most had taken weeks to have even one desired composition.

As this process that had given us a personal experience & attachment to see them forming into a narrative structure for the locomotive as what-once was known as the massive force that once roamed these land. These artifacts; the locomotives and the remnants of the structures, had given us the imaginative brilliance to the adults, or even towards a child, as much as those of the prehistoric dinosaurs in the museums.

'Morning', Sentul Workshop
‘Morning’, Sentul Workshop

The locomotive is the passage of past culture, it had carried the burden of dreams, hopes, & yearning of the people. It had left its marking significantly through the history of our time. To ask of our fathers before us in regards to this mode of transportation, each would have their own telling of their thoughts and experience with the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (The Malayan Locomotive). Such experience became the relative element relative medium for us to initiate this project.

Living & working in this city, being a KLite, had given us a sense of belonging. To reflect it in a form of sentimental depiction of this city was not an easy task, the love-hate relation do kick in many frustrating occasions. Yet, it was the sharing of emotional pictorial imageries, no matter which background one belongs to, the awe to look at these magnificent transcends itself from the petty differences of modernization to its acknowledgement.

'Condemn... Rites'
‘Condemn… Rites’

These artworks had resulted a new way in perceiving one’s own backyard, a hidden trove of what many would assume as the unpolished mirror of the city we live in. Though it was neither the intention to depict them just simply a mere form of “documentations”, it has now become a significant “markings” of our presence. Acknowledging its existence in the very dark shadows it dwells, it had etched deep into our world.

Welcome to the heart of the “City of Locomotive”

The Boy
The Boy
Enchek Saderi
Enchek Saderi
The Desk
The Desk

Other Reference to the Project:


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