What's Inspiring Our Creatives And Artists In These Tough Times?
byKENG YANG SHUENApril 20, 2020
All of us have been reading terrible headlines and statistics that have clouding our feeds for months on end. You'll get enough of those in the news. Instead, we'd like to provide a small window for you to remember to hope, dream and be inspired again through our community of hyper-talented individuals across various creative fields. Some of their answers may surprise and delight in new and peculiar ways, while others will remind you of the simple pleasure of precious things, rediscovered. Because while it is crucial to stay safe and indoors, it is equally important to stay inspired during bleak times. Here's hoping you find something with resonance.
Joy Song, filmmaker and photographer
“I’m finally able to watch my old, dusty DVD collection from my school years. From adolescence angst to corny indie flicks, each one captured a moment in my life, which I’m now able to revisit and explore again. I even get to cross each one off my scribbled watch-list circa my 2008 teenage diary. It’s great feeling 17 again. Or better yet, the chance to get inspired by things forgotten.”
Check out Song’s works here.
Read more on Song here – we interviewed this rising name for our November issue last year, where she shared with us what drives her enigmatic narratives. Weish, musician and one half of indie electronic duo .gif
“I’m currently re–reading Amanda Lee Koe‘s Ministry of Moral Panic – I’m such a big fangirl. Seriously, (this book) is a literary masterpiece. It’s breathtaking; some pages make me cry, some make me laugh out loud, some keep me up at night. It’s so raw and real and vulnerable, yet somehow fantastical and absurd all at the same time. I can read it a hundred times over. I’m also halfway through Exhalation by Ted Chiang, a sci-fi wizard. Really rich and detailed world–building and incredible storytelling. He’s the writer of the story behind Arrival, which focuses on linguists deciphering an alien language directed by Denis Villeneuve in 2016.”
.gif’s highly anticipated sophomore album, Hail Nothing, drops this Friday, April 24 – stay up-to-date with the duo here, and read more about Weish’s thought process behind the album. Christopher Sim, photographer
“This is a photo of my parents, who have taken to the abrupt lifestyle change with so much optimism. We don’t see each other often because our regular schedules are very different but being able to spend time with them recently has been unexpectedly uplifting.”
Check out Sim’s works here. Stephanie Jane Burt, artist and educator
“This book (What A Time To Be Alone by British-Nigerian author Chidera Eggerue, a guidebook for women with a heavy focus on self-love) has had a profound impact on me and no matter how many times I return to it, I’m constantly amazed at what I learn from it. Eggerue essentially talks about how your individual company is golden and is worth everything.”
Check out Burt’s works here.
Burt recently staged her second solo show, ‘What is the current that presents a behaved waist’ at Yeo Workshop gallery. Read more on her thoughts about her next exhibition – a joint effort with fashion educator Daniela Monasterios-Tan – that seeks to examine fashion’s place in society. Kimberly Kiong, photographer
“Lately, I’ve been using scrap leaves and leftover dye to dye scarves. Engaging in the physicality of taking great care and observing colour changes keeps me anchored and busy enough to stay away from the clamour in virtual spaces. It has been a very soothing and nurturing process learning how to make better use of waste and being patient through the trial and errors.”
Check out Kiong’s works here. Kin Leonn Ho, electronic composer and producer
“I think the most meaningful thing to me right now is observing this unprecedented show of altruism through the Internet. I’m talking about the outpouring of genuine concern over migrant workers, the homeless, and other vulnerable groups. Not just surface-level attention, but a deep growing interest in deconstructing the systematic/structural influences and sparking conversations about how to start solving them as well. It sort of gives me hope that there’s a reason for this whole thing maybe – that we can come out of it with a new sense of compassion and connection.”
Check out Ho’s works here.
On how he translates childhood memories, dreams and personal experiences into a beautiful, cohesive album, here’s our interview with Kin Leonn.
Elsa Wong, photographer and a member of the Youths In Balaclava collective/fashion label
“I made a sketch with my father’s images; he picked out the ones he liked the most and I placed colours around them. A little backstory: While being stuck at home, I started spending more time with my father and he shared with me some macro images he had taken of insects and plants. I always knew he practiced photography, but I was never home enough to explore his take on a camera.
I was completely mesmerised – he told me more about the story behind each photograph, how long it took him to focus on the flowers and insects and what he had to do better next time. I really admire his drive and that he took the photos purely for fun and for himself. I found inspiration in being stuck in one space – sometimes the most comfortable space is the one we take granted for but it is also where there is so much left unexplored, especially the stories of the ones closest to us.”
Check out Wong’s works here. Rachel Loh, photographer and art director
“I currently find being able to watch people from the window of my room inspiring and a breath of fresh air from the confines of home. While watching people, I also sometimes put on Dawn Chorus by Thom Yorke – a song a close friend sent to me as a comfort in these uncertain times. Here’s to sending love to anyone who doesn’t have the privilege and access to do any of this.”
Check out Loh’s works here.
Read more on why you should be paying attention to Loh’s newly launched photobook, Grey is the New Black (Unseen Singapore), which celebrates the individual styles of Singapore’s elderly population – with all proceeds going to non-profit organisation Happy People Helping People. Rachael Cheong, fashion designer behind independent label Closet Children
“So I recently discovered (Italian artist) Guglielmo Castelli’s paintings and they really make me miss drawing and painting. I especially love his (earthy) colour palettes and textures in the paintings. Definitely very inspired by them!”
Check out Cheong’s works here.
Allysha Nila, fashion stylist and writer
“As a visual person, my definition of freedom is to rid the over-reliance of already-made images when producing shoots. I try to find structures in other forms of media so that I am not bound by pictures. It’s important for the process to be translatable to my collaborators and for the work to retain some level of organicism.
Musicians have found many solutions to this need – one of them being through the use of graphic notation (the art of translating music into visuals). Two different mediums are bridged together – that is, two senses are engaged – in this process, and the use of symbols welcomes interpretation, which in turn causes organised chaos. These visuals are not random – it’s still a roadmap but allows for freer forms of music and ways of playing. Nothing is right or wrong.
This (pictured above) is an interesting piece called Mycenae Alpha by Iannis Xenakis, the French-Greek composer-mathematician-engineer-architect. He created UCIP, a computer program that renders drawings into sound, and Mycenae Alpha was his first piece made using it. What I like about this one is that you can immediately see something supernatural and grotesque, and the song is exactly that. Simply from looking at the shapes in the score you have an idea of what you’re going to be listening to. What I see is that the visuals denote the sound, so perhaps the sound can (also) denote visuals instead. I’d like to try this out for my work, and that’s why I’m always looking forward.”
Check out Nila’s works here.