Using old tyres to create works of art

Last update: 28/10/2019

TUARAN, Oct 28 -- In 2003, tyre dealer Mohd Firdaus Lee Abdullah came up with an innovative way to dispose of hundreds of used tyres - he transformed the rubber into works of art.

Starting with a flower pot, Mohd Firdaus who is also known as Lee Fook Soon, 51, has created over 300 sculptures, particularly animals, such as snakes, orang utan, mosquitoes, elephants, cows, monkeys, birds, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, dolphins, fish, seals and jellyfish.

A coconut tree, the Rafflesia flower, a motorcycle, desk and chair, are his best creations yet.

Mohd Firdaus, who works on his sculptures at his workshop, ‘Uncle Lee's Creative Art Tyre in Tuaran´, located near Kampung Barus here, said his interest in art, especially painting, began in school which he attended as far as Form Two at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tamparuli from 1982 to 1983.

He did not receive formal training in sculpture-making, becoming a self-taught artist.

"It all started when a friend and I started a tyre business in Lok Kawi town (in Putatan) about 16 years ago. It was difficult to dispose of used tyres on our premises and then, the idea to create a sculpture using the waste sprang to mind", he told Bernama here.

Mohd Firdaus, who was born in Penang and moved to Sabah in 1982, has mastered his art so well that he can create four chairs a day, 10 birds a week and a rafflessia in five days, with his supply of used tyres coming free-of-charge from a number of tyre shops around Tuaran and Tamparuli.

The cost of his designs ranges from RM5 to RM1,000 each.

His proud moment came when his works were appreciated and used as garden decor at Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (SJKC) Kok Wah in Talibong, Tamparuli and a tourist centre in Kota Belud in 2018.

He also came in second for a sculpture and waste materials competition held in conjunction with the launch of the ‘Kota Kinabalu Bersih´ programme at Taman Awan Teluk Likas on Aug 25 this year.

Using old tyres to create sculptures helps towards disposing of the material properly and preventing environmental pollution, he said.