A friend tipped me off about a new attraction in Ipoh Old Town, Miniature Wonders Art Gallery, that exhibits dough sculptures. However, it was only yesterday, two months after its opening on 4th Nov 2017, that I managed to drop by for a visit.
Miniature Wonders Art Gallery along Jalan Market, is owned and managed by Phoon Lek Kuin and his wife. Phoon and his father-in-law, Xu Shi-Ying, hand make these dough sculptures upon receiving orders from customers.
Xu is a Beijing-born third generation master dough sculptor and is well known around the world for his skill. Living in Beijing, he produces the figurines, about 5.5cm in height each, while his Ipoh-born son-in-law Phoon takes care of the landscaping.
In the early days, these dough sculptures were just children’s toys or display art. When Xu’s and Phoon’s talents are combined, these dough dolls tell a story in their respective 3D dioramas.
I remember visiting a similar dough sculpture exhibition at Kinta City exactly ten years ago. You can check out my post HERE, by the same partnership of Xu and Phoon.
Strangely, since then, I did not come across similar craft in Malaysia, let alone in Ipoh. However, when I was in Beijing, I saw artisans creating similar figurines by the road side.
Miniature Wonders Art Gallery is a double-storey exhibition centre. To map out his ideas, Phoon took two years of research and planning, followed by five years to manually create these exhibits. Needless to say, dough sculpture is an art form that requires plenty of patience, time and resources.
Visiting this gallery, one can’t help but marvel at how ordinary flour, mixed with water and then poster colour, can produce such works of art. That’s a lot of heart and creativity put into the ingredients, I must point out.
The process of preparing the dough is tedious enough. Flour is first mixed with water. It is then steamed until the flour is cooked. To reduce the elasticity from the dough, this steaming process is undertaken a few rounds.
Once satisfied, the dough is mixed with poster colour, to become colour dough. As you can tell, these figurines are not coloured over with poster colour. After the dough is shaped, it is left to air dry. Again, it is not as simple as that, because it is still a long way to completion.
If you have been wondering, exhibits at Miniature Wonders Art Gallery are not for sale. Those who wish to buy something similar may place an order, though.
The highlights at Miniature Wonders are the 56-foot 3D diorama of the painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” by Song Dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan (1085–1145), as well as a walnut shell with 100 tiny dough figurines in it that depict the story of the Monkey King causing havoc in the Heavenly Palace.
Other exhibits of note are the Tang Dynasty Royal Banquet, Once Upon A Time In Beijing as well as The Making of the Terracotta Army, including the warriors and horses.
There are many more interesting exhibits, of course, and totally worth spending time to go through them to admire the craft as well as learn about cultural history.
Admission to Miniature Wonders Art Gallery is free-of-charge, but visitors who head upstairs pay RM5, a minimal amount to help upkeep the gallery.
Let me know if you are interested in such craft, or if you have seen dough sculptures before. Does this rock your boat?
Miniature Wonders Art Gallery
Facebook: Miniature Wonders Art Gallery
Add: 49, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Perak.
Opening hours: 8.30 am – 6pm (daily)
GPS Coordinates: 4.595816, 101.078282
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