Meet The Malaysian Artist Preserving Life In Miniature Form

Meet The Malaysian Artist Preserving Life In Miniature Form

Meet Eddie Putera Noordin. A mysterious, eccentric man who lives on four acres of land in a remote area, away from the city (we don’t know where exactly and that just adds so much more to this mysterious air, TBH).

Eddie doesn’t sleep much, cooks his own meals and shies away from humans. As a person whose nearest neighbour is 700 metres away, he spends his time sipping coffee, smoking tobacco and… creating the most stunning diorama sets we have ever come across!

Eddie with his diorama, for scale. Eddiezilla! Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

I came across Eddie’s work during an art bazaar recently hosted at GMBB mall where he, true to his mysterious air, wasn’t present at his exhibition hall – but had his work on display. Various versions of shop lots, old townhouses and familiar-yet-nearly-gone days of the kampung life were preserved in mini form, for all visitors to get literally, up close and personal with the almost microscopic detail work.

Here’s what we mean:

Nostalgia-inducing imagery. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

Isn’t that just amazing?! Here, have another pic just in case you wanted to get the scale right:

All that authentic rust and texture, painted by Eddie. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

Thankfully, I managed to get in touch with the masterpiece maker himself, and got to pick his brain…

“I lost everything in 1998.”
Two major things happened that year. The economy crashed, and Eddie lost everything – his business, his family and his heading in life. Eddie was doing very well before that, so when everything fell apart, he found himself lost and taking up the most attractive option: travel.

“I packed one suitcase and went travelling. I went to the Philippines, Thailand, Iran and UK. I did so many things and realised I used to think too much about tomorrow,” he said.

Balik kampung scenes. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“I did many things and failed.”
Eddie graduated from the University of East London with a Degree in Architecture and started many different businesses once he graduated, but in doing so, opened himself to many failures. He then discovered and decided to do visual art – paintings, sculptures and photography – about 20 years ago.

“I am a professional photographer who’s been doing corporate, sports and commercial photography since 2000. I am also the ambassador for Sony Alpha photography products. Now I am slowly progressing into diorama and miniature art. This is an extension of my visual stories from 2D to 3D,” he explained.

Spot the hardworking mak cik. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“I found inspiration and passion through telling stories visually.”
Through paintings, sketches, photography and now miniatures and dioramas, Eddie specialises in preserving memories and thoughts – from buildings and cars to residential buildings and landscapes. He captures the story of people’s life through realistic renderings of the world, preserved within the small world of miniatures.

A friendly dog greets you in front of an old school house. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“I am self-taught.”
While Eddie does have skills with colour and painting and carving, he started experimenting with new materials and techniques, which he picked up from books or by searching on the Internet. The most difficult process he says? It’s carving food and plaster. Very delicate materials.

We may or may not have dreamt of having these cool small things for our dolls and toys back then. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“I mostly built memories of things from the past.”

It could become a historical archive for future generations, so Eddie tries to replicate the materials and the effect of weather on buildings, vehicles and landscapes so that they be as realistic as possible. That is the reason for the rust and rustic look.

“I travel a lot and have a collection of pictures from many places,” said Eddie, “These are my references. I take pictures of details like doors, windows, broken walls, rusted vehicles and such. They become my inspiration to create.”

One such example of that ‘rust and rustic look’ Eddie talked about is this:

It’s all not very rusty to Eddie, is it? Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“Nature has the most exciting forms, shapes and colours.”

According to Eddie, nature excites his design senses, and he loves to replicate landscape, seascape and sceneries. The most difficult part to recreate is water. “Sea water, especially. The colours are unique, and different weather conditions and geographical influences affect the colours. Waves are also difficult to be realistic.”

Here’s Eddie in action:

With a wave of his magic paintbrush, Eddie’s works come to life. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“In miniatures and diorama work, there are various disciplines involved.”

Here’s what you’ve got to master: wood cutting, paper cutting, sculpting, shaping and forming clay, metal work, plastic work, painting and finishing. That’s a lot, right? Some projects may involve all of them, some not. But for Eddie, his projects take about four to 12 weeks to complete, and he could be working on three to four projects at the same time.

The longest one he’s had to do took about six months – it is was huge 4’x 3’ diorama, consisting of different houses and buildings in a village to tell the story of racial harmony in a Malaysian village.

Another beautiful nostalgic piece. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“The strangest piece I’ve built is of a dead Iron Man.”

It is a strange subject matter, but for a Marvel die-hard, this could be the holy grail! This particular ‘dead Iron Man’ piece was completed in 2017, and it had Iron Man face down in a river bank. It is now sitting on a mantelpiece of a fan in Sweden.

Here’s a photo of it:

Spoiler alert! Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“My work is about presenting a three-dimension visual feast inspired by memories of the past.”

Eddie takes inspiration from places with rich architectural features and also beautiful landscapes. When a scene strikes him in the heart, when he gets that heart-pounding moment filled with excitement, then he knows that is what he is going to be creating soon.

Love Lane, Penang. Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“It’s my responsibility as an artist.”

An artist isn’t just around to make pretty things for people to see. It’s more than that. For Eddie, he feels the need to preserve. “I feel a responsibility as an artist to preserve some elements of the history of civilisation, based on the buildings they made, especially the dwellings,” said Eddie. “The methods of building, material and form tell a lot about a civilisation at a given period of time.”

Spot the Malaysian icon? Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

“The least we can do is to appreciate things around us that might not be around in the near future.”

“Everyone carries a cellphone with a camera!” exclaimed Eddie. “Take lots of pictures for the coming generations to ponder upon.”

He explained further, “The way we live now, more or less depicts the past; how we develop our technology now using methods and knowledge learned from the previous generation. There would not be peace if not for lessons we learned from the wars of yesteryear. What we preserve now and the stories we tell is crucial for the advancement of human civilisation in the future.”

So, kids, next time you do it for the ‘gram, remember that it is also for the future generations. Make sure it isn’t just all about #ootd or #potd or #selfies! Make it all about culture, art and a celebration of civilisation!

When was the last time you saw place like this in the city? Image: Eddie Putera Noordin.

Eddie now has followers throughout the world and receive commissions from Europe, Middle East, America, Asia and Australia. He has 280,000 + fans on his Instagram and has risen to be an icon among art lovers in Malaysia.

*His artworks can be seen on his IG Some collections are for sale and viewing at his gallery at GMBB Mall KL.

Professionally a journalist, personally a lover of all things fried chicken, Gogorn (her big black German Shepherd) and ice cream.

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