Some of you might remember Lat’s iconic 1979 graphic novel, The Kampung Boy, or maybe the animated series of the same name. The idea for The Kampung Boy came when Lat got back from the United States, where he realised that not many know of Malaysia. Inspired by his childhood, the comic and animated series tells the tale of one boy, who as you guessed it – lives in a typical kampung. One thing that stands out from both the printed comic and animation, is Lat’s beautifully illustrated kampung house – which is now being brought to life.
The actual house, located in Kampung Lalang, Kota Bahru, Perak has been long gone but a reconstructed version – which is located some 30 minutes away from the village Lat grew up in, will be open to the public at the end of this year, as reported by The Star. It was initially planned to launch in July, but like everything else, the coronavirus pandemic put the project to a halt.
Rumah Lat Dan Galeri, located on the outskirts of Ipoh, will offer visitors an intimate look into the life of renowned Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, better known to Malaysians as Lat. The project is a personal one to him and one supported by the Perak government.
“I drew the house from memory for The Kampung Boy. When you are nine, you remember every single detail and I have very fond memories from those times. There was no electricity and no water but to a kid, it was a big treat to grow up in the kampung,” he says.
The house sort of serves as a time capsule, with decor, furniture and various oddities from his childhood, mostly from the pre-World War II era, including a dressing table, a set of table and chairs “so heavy that you need two people to lift each one”, a framed mirror, a rack for hanging clothes and a cupboard that Lat remembers from his childhood, which he ended up using as storage for his vinyl and shirt collections at age 19.
“I put a lock on that cupboard because my housemates would look through my records and even wear my shirts when I wasn’t home,” he said in an interview with the news outlet.
“These were among my prized possessions at that time, you save up for ages to buy records and my shirts were really very nice because I believed in looking dashing at that age,” Lat continued, laughing as he recalled the memory.
Fans old and new can see a selection of Lat’s work spanning decades from 1964, with signature drawings and illustrations depicting the everyday Malaysian life. He says he’s very excited to show this to people, which will be a familiar sight to the older ones, but something new and interesting to the younger generation.
“As much as I am enjoying putting this project together, at the end of the day it is not for me – it is for the future,” he says.
The kampung house is scheduled to be completed and opened to visitors by the end of the year.
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