Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Sabah Tanah Airku
Sabah Tanah Airku

Sabah-based community art collective Pangrok Sulap’s large-scale diptych Sabah Tanah Airku presents contrasting visions of Sabah. The first is an idyllic vision of a prosperous and peaceful state, with smiling figures appearing in a landscape featuring Mount Kinabalu, together with the state anthem’s final line, “Sabah Negeri Merdeka” (Sabah, an Independent State). The second panel addresses some of the issues that the state has had to face such as corruption, illegal logging, environmental crises, and migration.

Woodcut, offset ink on block-out blind
414.5 x 300 cm (each)
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Pangrok Sulap
About Pangrok Sulap

Pangrok Sulap is a Sabah-based art collective, which formed in 2010 and currently has 15 members. “Pangrok” is a colloquial term for “punk rock” and “sulap” means “hut” in the local Dusun language. The group first came together in 2010 to conduct charity work in rural schools, orphanages and homes for the disabled. They began woodcut printing in 2012, making banners and posters to raise awareness about social and environmental issues in Borneo’s regional communities. Today they create lively and moving works that are impressive in scale and seductive in detail, depicting narratives relating to pertinent issues in Sabah — from illegal logging to official corruption.

Learning Section


  • The artwork, consisting of two distinct panels, confronts the diverging realities of Sabah. Compare and contrast them.

    1. Observe the first panel which depicts the idyllic Sabah. Describe what you see in detail. Try pinpointing notable Sabahan iconographies and imagery. Explain why you think they are representative of Sabah.

    2. Now, observe the second panel which is contrastingly darker in theme. Identify the elements which suggest the concerns over the unjust treatment of Sabah’s land and communities resulting in environmental issues and corruption. 

    3. The inclusion of the state anthem’s final line, “Sabah Negeri Merdeka” (Sabah, an Independent State) in the first panel paints the formidable Sabahan pride and spirit. How does this element of the first panel inform your viewing of the second panel? Why is the inclusion of the state anthem pivotal?

  • Looking at the artwork as a whole, why do you think the artist has chosen to portray two opposing versions of Sabah as a single artwork? Why not create them as separate artworks? Explain this significance.


  • Show the two contrasting sides of your city or neighbourhood through your own art. Include prominent imagery and symbols that represent your chosen place. 

  • Create your own artist statement explaining the meaning behind your artwork.