How has living in Korea, New Zealand, and Singapore impacted your practice?
As an artist, it is a privilege to be able to experience different cultures and values. Although living in Auckland as a teenage female Asian immigrant wasn’t really smooth sailing, it made me a very determined and persistent person. This experience also enabled me to notice and identify with many other ethnic minority groups wherever I go.
This interest in racial issues has led me to create a vast body of work on Asian immigrants in Auckland, foreign workers in Singapore, and children of a mixed race from Southeast Asia in South Korea.
Could you expand on how you first incorporated printmaking techniques into your works?
I was introduced to screenprinting in my first year of university in 1995. It was a love at first sight; I actually changed my choice of major from painting to printmaking after a single session.
Screenprint was a perfect tool for me as I could combine the approaches of painting, drawing and collage. I liked the fact that I could print repeatedly and create large-scale works. I often work on the floor due to the sheer size of the work, walking around and over the print to compose it.
Are there any reasons why you decided to adopt screenprinting over other printmaking techniques?
I like every single stage of the screenprinting process very much! And I really appreciate the accidental and experimental side of it too. During the printing, so many things can happen (or go wrong!) depending on the thickness of the paint, humidity, pressure used on the squeegee, and so on.
Most of my prints are unique, like that of painting. What I love about my style and method of screenprinting is that I can’t determine or know the final result until the very end, unlike the more traditional approach of screenprinting editions. Once the image is printed, it can’t be removed, reversed, corrected or erased. But I don’t try to control it. I just continue printing to reach a stage where I feel satisfied.
You have participated in various residency and fellowship programmes around the world. Tell us more about how they enhanced your art-making process.
They were really valuable experiences from which I could expand my art practice, from purely printmaking to other disciplines like installation and sculpture.
Especially in Seoul, where I could access various manufacturers directly, I got the opportunity to work broadly with furniture makers, framers, signage designers and a ceramic factory. This actually opened up my perspective to three-dimensionality, and my style also resultantly became bolder.
Could you share your thoughts on the printmaking scene in Singapore?
Printmaking often requires a long list of expensive equipment and tools such as a press, acid bath, washing bay, limestone, roller, darkroom and so on. Living in Singapore, it is not easy to have a proper printmaking studio or even to continue printmaking after graduating from art school.
I hope the Singaporean government and printmaking institutions like STPI can continue to offer more affordable and accessible facilities for Singapore-based printmakers, and also more opportunities to showcase our talent such as the newly-launched Printmakers’ Assembly 2020.