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Malaysian Sculptor Turns Scrap Metal into Art

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Nizam Abdullah, a 43-year-old award-winning sculptor, finds artistic potential in discarded items from junkyards and scrap metal shops in the Klang Valley. Nizam believes every piece of scrap has the promise of a new life.

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Photo Credit: https://www.thestar.com.my/

“Recycled art is more than just repurposing paper or waste. It’s about using objects from scrap metal shops to create unique artworks, turning discarded items into expressions of art,” Nizam explains from his studio in Shah Alam, Selangor.

In 2022, Nizam entered the Malaysia Book of Records for the Tallest Hanging Sculpture (150m high, 2,000kg) in a residential building. He advocates for sustainability in the art world, emphasizing our collective responsibility to the environment. “Sustainability is a crucial part of my artistic process. I want to contribute positively to the environment,” says Nizam, who has collaborated with a hotel in Kuala Lumpur to turn salvaged materials into sculptures.

Nizam is among a few local artists working to reduce their carbon footprint. For instance, sculptor William Koong in Klang, Selangor, also uses discarded metal for his artwork, while in Penang, installation artist Tan Lay Heong incorporates reusable waste like used cardboard and plastic bags in her projects.

Nizamsculpture Studio, founded 12 years ago in Kampung Subang, Shah Alam, is a hub of creativity nestled among furniture and welding shops. Large metal sculptures greet visitors at the entrance, hinting at the caliber of Nizam’s craftsmanship. Inside, the studio is filled with stunning art pieces made from recycled materials, like orchid structures from recycled metal and whimsical metal fishes crafted from washers. The studio also features a barn door made from recycled items like washers, steel netting, and cast iron grilles.

Nizam incorporates 60% recycled metal in his artwork, using items like old bolts, nails, and steel discs. “I select items that inspire a vision, bypassing typical scrap metal. I sketch my ideas, then gather materials from the junkyard and hardware store. The challenge lies in finding items with impactful significance,” says Nizam, who won the 2022 Malaysia National Business Award for Arts and Lifestyle.

Nizam values metal for its durability, versatility, and unique aesthetic. “Sometimes we don’t see the beauty of things until we assemble them into a cohesive artwork. By breathing new life into discarded scraps, we can increase the value of ordinary objects,” says Nizam, who holds a Fine Art diploma from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

His interest in sculpting began in childhood, fueled by curiosity for dismantling and reassembling toys. This early fascination led him to pursue fine arts, where he majored in metal sculptures. Nizam has been working with metal for over 20 years, creating many Instagram-worthy sculptures in public spaces across Malaysia.

By showcasing the diversity of handmade creations, including recycled metal items, Nizam aims to broaden the appreciation for local artistry. “Creating personal artwork is challenging but requires introspection and authenticity. I enjoy the creative freedom in art, which fosters innovation,” he says.

Nizam aspires to leave a legacy that transcends artistic impact, contributing to a broader appreciation of sustainable art in Malaysia.

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