It’s Art if it Touches Your Heart


Hello, it’s been a while. And I feel like asking how have you all been, knowing fully well that the answers are limited and the medium here, quite public. Yet, I ask.

How have I been, you ask (or so I assume), so let me tell you. I have been sitting here, watching the world, doing all sorts of wonderful things, learning, reaching out, and breathing in life. Living. Living well. I have filled my world with colours, and with things that I like. And each time, I find myself deflated, I gather few more beautiful things. It’s my kind of art if it touches my heart. Offering you all a glimpse of my kind of beautiful.

On a personal front, presenting my version of Hygge 

A flower presented to me, rather shyly by a 6-year-old, my work desk where I create, I design, I write, I imagine, and I learn (doing an online course that deals with colours currently), and the last one is a picture from a fashion house that I am consulting for. All in all, it’s my happy mix of colour palette.

Next, I would like to present to you, one of my favourite artists, Ziyue Chen. There’s just something so wonderfully warm in her work, that I keep coming back for more.

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She can’t use her words, but art is heart, so just feel. Watch her here

And finally, let me introduce you to a special 2019 calendar by artist, Manas Arvind

Manas is a 17 year-old budding artist, who plays tennis, is a quiz enthusiast, and also the one who faces challenges typical to those who have Down’s Syndrome. Though painting is difficult for him (due to cognitive challenges that limit his ability to imagine or translate), he has mastered quite a few water- colour strokes with the help of his mother. This calendar (above) is a proof of his mother’s tenacity and his determination. Manas’ mom will be donating all profits from this calendar towards charity. Please pre-order now and pick the calendar (location: East Singapore) from Jan 1, 2019. This calendar can be mailed to you too (in Singapore). If you wish to support this initiative, contact +65 9617 8524 before 30 November. Please note: payment is by Pay lah! Price of calendar is $10. For local postal delivery, please add $3. 

If the art touched your heart, please support the artists.

Breathe. Feel. Live.

P

 

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Once Upon a Time


Once upon a time, I starred in the school play, called Cinderella. And that’s where the fairy tale ends. What happened next was part comic and part reality check (not the fancy, magical tale that I expected it to be).

So, this was at the time when I had messy hair, scrawny limbs and a pronounced slouch. But they said, that I could be this character. So, I felt immensely gorgeous (in my head). After all, who doesn’t want to be Cinderella at 15 going on 16! I certainly did! I was looking forward to the glass slipper, the ball, the gown, the prince, and the importance of being the princess, and that too in a school play!  However, it turned out slightly different to what I had imagined it to be. (See below)

 

For starters, it was a spoof, and a deliciously wicked one at that. But unfortunately, my starry-eyed younger self was dim-witted enough to have missed the intended satire entirely.  I felt lost. This particular Cinderella was supposed to be a scheming, conniving, opportunist, whose ultimate aim was to snatch the prince (in a wig), from another woman (her own lovely step-sister). Oh, the devious, devious Cindy!

Anyway, then came the second shock. We performed the play for the junior school, a day before the opening night. And these little righteous people were out and out indignant. Their faces fell when they saw the play. Part of it was probably my bad acting, but the other part was my deviousness. I was a wicked Cinderella! I had single-handedly maligned a good and beautiful character for them (perhaps forever). They just wouldn’t forgive me. “Bad Cinderella,” they taunted me as I walked down the corridors. This went on for many days. So, as you can see, this fancy idea of being Cinderella was not that fancy after all.

On the brighter side, I got to convert my mother’s beautiful orange and white chiffon in to a flowing skirt. I also got to borrow my friend’s billowy white blouse (which I adored), and I got to say that atrociously clichéd but sweet line, “Of course, I will marry you!”

The truth is that I enjoyed this bitter sweet, comic-tragic play. So much so, that I re-enacted it for my Trinity Guildhall Exam performance much later in life. The memory of that first fairy tale remains though. As an adult now, I look at the lessons learnt from that. Lesson 1 is that life turns out differently to what is expected. Lesson 2 is that people will judge you. I also learnt that I don’t need shoes, prince, and a ball, as much as I need a fairy god ma with a sympathetic ear. But to be on the safer side, I always return home before my carriage turns back into pumpkin.

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Photo by Francis Seura on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Conversations with the Teens


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As a facilitator and a mentor, I get to speak to the most interesting minds of all: the teens! Conversations with them are always interesting. Strangely though, they are guarded with those they love the most, however, that should not stop anyone from knowing what’s going on in their minds. Here’s a compilation of things that teens wish their parents would know about them.

Dear parents,

We want you to know that…

* Times have changed: You keep telling us  about what you did when you were our age, but everything is so different now. We just can’t relate to that. So, please don’t expect us to behave the way you did at our age. We have to move with the times.

* We need help to manage the stress and pressures in our lives, even if we show that we are very independent and capable. Do check in on us from time to time.

* Give us space to be ourselves. We do need help sometimes, but that does not mean that we need constant monitoring.

* Trust us and give us few responsibilities. We might fail at times, but we will try real hard to stand up to your expectations.

*  Even “good” kids act out every once in awhile. That does not mean that we have turned “bad” now.

* We need to unwind. Please allow us some personal time to do whatever we wish to, or to ‘do nothing’ if that’s how we unwind.

* We want you, our parents, to be proud of us and accept us for who we are. Please don’t compare us to others.

* We hate to see you fight. It shakes our faith and scares us a lot.

* We do care what you think of us. Even if our peers influence us, what you think of us, matter a great deal to us. Sometimes, even more than our friends (though we may not show this to you).

* Please understand that the internet plays an important and positive role in our lives. It’s not always a bad influence.

* We will make mistakes – but you can guide us through this.

* It’s hard to fit in with people and that’s why we act out sometimes.

* We have a lot going on at school, sometimes more than you realise.

* Sometimes we can’t express our feelings when we are hurt or upset, and that’s why we find ways to release our anxiety (sometimes in ways that you do not approve).

* We love you. We may pull away so that we can establish our own identity, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love you.

(This is a teenspeak section. For mentoring enquires, contact sequelsingapore@gmail.com)

Stories of Art & Inspiration


Once in a while, you find inspirations when you least expect them. These little stories remind you that life is full of possibilities. All you need to do is notice.

I have always been fascinated by people who express through words, colours and artistic forms. Their stories, if inspirational, have that additional beauty, which the others may lack. This story is of Singaporean artist, Ziyue Chen, and it is indeed one of those stories that is enriched by both the person and her artistic creations.

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Community colouring of Ziyue Chen’s poster. Source: Little Events

I stumbled upon Ziyue Chen’s work while looking for a coloring piece that would bring people together for our Little Events community event. Ziyue’s work on Singapore fit the bill just right. (Available on Scribolo)

However, that piece was not where I stopped, I ventured in more to find many heart warming and endearing illustrations. Ziyue works with challenging situations, and not being able to hear is one of them. But that does not change the fact that Ziyue is an artist first and foremost.

One must look at art without bias, and the truth is that I got to know of Ziyue’s challenge much later (when I was writing an article about her in The AsianParent Magazine). Read the article here.

I would like to judge her as an artist. And that’s all. She stole my heart with the vulnerability and the warmth that make her art. I agree though that her story is indeed an inspiring one, one that needs to be told to inspire many others. It is also inspiring because her art reflects nothing of what she can’t hear. It’s about what she can see and what she can feel that matters. It reflects only of possibilities.

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Self Portrait by Ziyue Chen

And so I present to you,  Ziyue, who would like you to know that her name is pronounced as ‘Zzz yuair’ or you can call her Angeline.  Ziyue is a Singapore based Illustrator and a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. She works mostly on Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print. See her work here

Her life goal is to have an emotional connection with those who view her work. Well, it certainly connected with me! She is an inspiration, not only to those who are faced with challenges in life, but also to those who would like to follow their hearts, Ziyue Chen makes it seem possible. So from all those she touches through her art (including me), a big thank you!

Stories connect people. If you wish to connect through stories or art, do write in to me. Meanwhile, Here’s another event where art broke barriers.image1-3

Being part of the Bukit Timah Community Club volunteer’s committee has been an exciting journey for me. I would like to thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Sim Ann for always being encouraging and for connecting me to wonderful people in the community. This time, it was to Jiaman who organised the community gathering at Clementi.

Inspirations, they are everywhere. Look around and find them. And if you do, don’t forget to share those beautiful stories!

Celebrating Partnerships & Human Links


India’s mega diaspora show, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, was held in Singapore on January 6-7, 2018. A joint effort by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the High Commission of India in Singapore, the event celebrated 25 years of ASEAN-India Partnership, and explored centuries-old cultural, social, and human links. The theme of the PBD was “Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN India Partnership” and was aimed at promoting closer ties between India & ASEAN and deepen the diaspora’s relations with India.

It was exciting enough for me to be part of the official ‘Ancient Route, New Journey’ writing team, but what made it even more exciting was the fact that I could (with this writing piece) have my own little symbolic celebration of partnership and human link. As ASEAN, India and Singapore celebrated their long term partnerships, I celebrated my own long term collaborations with Sunmedia and Chitrakala (Chitra Shankar of Chitrakala is featured in this article through sheer coincidence, thanks to our photo editor, Mr J).

Partnerships, collaborations and friendships are not just words that sound nice in theory, but they according to me, form the very core that sustain human success, both professionally and personally. This piece remains an ode to that.

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This article was first published in Shikhar