Actor Edmund Chen completes world record attempt for longest drawing

SINGAPORE - For five hours each day, local actor and children's author-illustrator Edmund Chen drew tirelessly on a giant roll of paper, stopping only for a short lunch and a bathroom break.

At the end of eight days, he had decorated the 606m-long paper sheet - six times the length of a standard professional football pitch - with drawings of lotus flowers and koi fish.

Chen, 50, was attempting to break the Guinness world record for the longest drawing by an individual.

On Tuesday, his artwork surpassed the current record of 411m held by Mexican artist Filemon Trevino that was set in 2005. Guinness World Records will be sending an official here on July 28 to certify that a new record has been set.

His project ended at about 4pm at event partner ITE College East, where Chen put the finishing touches to his final elaborately- drawn koi fish.

"I was so wiped out. The ink was drying, there's no more paper left... It was truly the end," he told The New Paper.

He had fought intense pain in his back, right hand and shoulder as well as mental stress to achieve the feat. "I've been taking very strong painkillers. I pasted four heat plasters on my back until there wasn't space left for any more," said the former MediaCorp artist.

Family and friends present broke out into cheers at the last stroke of his marker.

His wife, actress Xiang Yun, tried to help him relieve the pain by pampering him with massages, but her efforts proved futile. "His back was already too stiff and I didn't have the strength to make it better," said the 51-year-old Channel 8 actress.

She was there with her father-in-law and two children - Yixi, 22, and Yixin, 13 - to support her husband. Friends and fellow actors Nick Shen and Abigail Chay were also present.

Determined

"I didn't know if he could do it. But I know him - no matter what it takes, he will do it in the end. But I still can't help feeling stressed for him," Xiang Yun said.

"When I initially heard that he was attempting this challenge, I just kept quiet. In my head, I went 'Oh my God, don't'."

Chen had also been plagued by sleepless nights. For him, the stress started as early as April, when he was supposed to start the record attempt.

"I (delayed it) because I was scared, nervous and sceptical. All of a sudden, I started doubting myself... Wondering if I would have enough material for the art piece. It was very worrying," he said. The record attempt was part of Chen's personal yearly goal.

"Some years back, I wrote and illustrated children's storybooks, then I made a film, and last year I designed the Panda stamps. Since I did one of the smallest drawings last year, I thought I should do something really large this year," he explained.

"These goals are my way of freezing time, otherwise the seconds just slip by with nothing achieved."

In preparation for the challenge, Chen would practice various drawings on various mediums, including a roll of toilet paper.

Xiang Yun said that even though he was tired, it didn't stop him from waking up early every day to take their daughter to school in the morning. To him, it was part of family bonding. The close-knitted family also worked as a team during the challenge, passing Chen materials and helping to keep time.

On average, Chen's goal was to draw on 1.5m of paper every 10 minutes, but as the days went by, his timing improved.

Too much

But by the seventh day, the challenge started to prove too much for him.

"I had surpassed the minimum required length by Guinness World Records of 500m on day seven, so when I was told by (the project coordinator) to finish the (rest of the) roll, I was stressed. Earlier today, we got off to a slow start because mentally, everything stopped on Tuesday for me," he said.

"I was so reluctant to continue."

Nevertheless, he shrugged off his fatigue to make it to the end.

On whether he considers this his best achievement to date, Chen said with a laugh: "For now it is!"

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