“Connected” was a series made to represent the Earth. Compromising six paintings, the story starts from Mankind and the beauty of love. Then, other beautiful things that exist in the world are shown. One of the interesting thing about this series is that each painting is a continuity of the previous one, and if you put the last painting in front of the first, they, too, will connect. Thus, it's a never-ending flow, where everything eventually connects.
A man and a woman dance about. They love each other and it feels as though nothing else exists except for the two of them. The man is symbolised with an angular pattern; the woman is symbolised with a floral pattern.
And so they dance. On and on.
So from the whirlwind of love, flowers blossom.
The artist imagines this painting to resemble the canopy of a forest... and also a open field with the setting sun in the horizon.
Where there is water, there is life.
Through just a few simple lines, the artist hopes to convey the fluidity of water.
The sun and the moon.
Yin and yang.
Here, we see an echo of the love we'd seen in “Humanity”. The artist believes it to be poetic to imagine the sun and the moon to be lovers. In real life, they cannot be together- when day arrives, the moon is gone; when the sun sets, the moon will not see the sun. Yet, in this drawing they are the perfect pair for each other.
Do you believe that love will overcome all odds?
Micro-organisms can look quite beautiful under a microscope. Just like snowflakes, there is an endless variety to them. Also, they mark the beginning of life.
With that, the series goes back to “Humanity”.
Because eventually, everything connects.
Illustrated Poem Series
All the paintings in this series is accompanied with a quote or a poem. I believe they add another dimension to the paintings, and I hope you would take the time to read the accompanying texts.
Sun and Moon
I fell in love with a quote from Game of Thrones.. “Moon of my life... My sun and stars..”.
The moon was originally planned to be female, while the sun was male. However, my significant other mentioned that I am much more like the sun- shining bright and the fact that I enjoy the limelight, whereas he is like the moon- a soft glowing presence that comforts in times of darkness. I liked the idea so much that I changed the art work to what it is now.
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
I used an ink wash as the basis of this art work. I then added details with various pens. The bottom half of the drawing shows Earthly elements... The ground, the ocean with some animals in it. Up above, rain clouds roll in, and the heaven is filled with well wishes for mankind in Chinese characters.
Your Heart Is An Ocean
“Someday someone won't be afraid of how much you love. They won't stay on the shore; they'll meet you in the depths. You weren't made for shallow waters. Your heart is an ocean.”
Just like how the ocean is beautiful, it is intimidating too. That's how my love feels like.
I feel too deeply. I love too hard. It is not a flaw, though. It is part of who I am as a human being. And I refuse to be made to feel sorry for who I am.
“People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place that they ever needed to search was within."
This art work was done in a very stream-of-consciousness manner and I think it well represents the happiness I was feeling when I made it.
“Set your goals high and don't stop till' you get there.”
The circles represent the many choices and goals that we have in life. The black lines represent the obstacles along the way. You are represented by the arrow. Where will you go?
Planets and Stars
The circles reminded me of planets and stars, which made me think about destiny.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; It's a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; It's a thing to be achieved.”
-William Jennings Bryan
I wanted to portray that death is beautiful in the sense that we should celebrate what each person accomplishes during their life.
“There is beauty and darkness in everything. Sorrow in joy, life in death, thorns on the rose.”
"Hatred paralyses life; Love releases it. Hatred confuses life; Love harmonises it. Hatred darkens life; Love illuminates it."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
It's easy to see hate. Can you find the love, instead?
Circle of Life
Life asked Death, “Why do people love me but hate you?”
Death responded, “Because you are a beautiful lie whereas I am a painful truth.”
Flower In Bloom
“Nature finishes every little leaf, even to every little rib, its edges and stem, as exactly and perfectly as though it were the only leaf to be made that year. Even the flower that blooms in the mountain dell, where no human eye will ever behold it, is finished with the same perfection and exactness of beauty as though it was made for royalty in the Queen's garden.”
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
The poem that inspired this drawing is titled “Caged Bird” and was written by Maya Angelou. I encourage you to find it online and read it.
When I was younger, I drew a literal representation of the poem- a bird locked in a cage that was singing. In this drawing, the cage doesn't seem to exist. You could imagine the pattern surrounding the bird to be the cage. Or you could imagine the bird to be free and for you to be looking at it through a spyglass. I have my own explanation of a deeper meaning within this drawing, but I'm leaving it up to you to look for your own.
An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. In Japan, the crane is considered a holy creatures and is said to live for a thousand years. That is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. In some stories it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end.
The thousand origami cranes were popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was 24 months old when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Sasaki soon developed leukemia and spent a significant amount of time in a nursing home. At age 12, she was inspired by the legend of the thousand paper crane and began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand. In a popular version of the story as told in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, she folded only 644 before she became too weak to fold anymore, and died on 25 of October 1955. Her classmates felt sorry for her, and agreed to complete the rest for her in her honour .
If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”
This was another stream-of-consciousness drawing.
I felt that it turned out to be a good representation of one's imagination. The fragments of various thoughts... How they intertwine or blend with one another...
“Was it summer when we first started talking to each other?” he asked.
She glanced at the floor... smiled, then blushed in reply.
This is a drawing of love, of good memories, and of future possibilities. It is not a perfect drawing. It is not meant to be.
Even though the butterfly more commonly represents change, I have taken inspiration from the Chinese story of “The Butterfly Lovers” as inspiration for this drawing.
The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers. The legend of the lovers, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, is set in the Eastern Jin dynasty (265-420 CE). The story is so popular it is now counted as one of China's Four Great Folktales. It's a beautiful story and one you should definitely read if you haven't done so already.
Cats are revered in many different cultures.
The Celtics believed that cats were guardians of the of the gates to the Otherworld, guardians of their treasures and also bring to the people the wholeness, as a spiritual link between humans and the universe.
In ancient Egypt cats were considered to be sacred and killing a cat (even accidentally) would incur the death penalty.
Japan popularised the “beckoning cat” or what they know as “Maneki Neko”. The cat figurines are believed to draw good fortune and ward off evil spirits.
Next to the Phoenix, the Crane is the most favoured all Chinese bird symbols. The Crane is the ancient symbol for longevity because of its exceptionally long life span. In many legends, the spirits ride on cranes to the heavens. Cranes are also believed to be harbingers of wealth and good luck.
The elephant is considered a symbol of responsibility because it takes great care and responsibility of its offspring as well as their elders. It also represents strength and patience.
To the Hindu way of thought, the elephant is found in the form of Ganesha who is the god of luck, fortune, protection and is a blessing upon all new projects. Ganesha in all his magnificently vibrant elephant glory, is intent on bulldozing obstacles on your behalf.
The Celts believed the fox to be a guide in the spirit world, and honoured it for its wisdom.
In Japan, the fox was considered one of the rain spirits, and a messenger of Inari the rice god. Here, the fox also symbolised longevity and protection from evil.
With its head lifted as high as the treetops it loves to snack on, the giraffe's vision is focused on the horizon. It's fascinating that the giraffe has not two, but three horns (they're called ossicones). The third horn is situated right between and just above its eyes. This is symbolic of the "third eye" which talks about intuition, delicate perception, and heightened sensory awareness.
The term “lionheart” exists for a reason.
In ancient Greece, lions were identified with Dionysus, Phoebus, Cybele, and Artemis because myths indicated that lions drew the chariots for these gods and goddesses. Here, the symbolic meaning of lions revolved around protection. Thus, the lions were viewed as guardians of the dead as well as guardians of palaces, doorways, shrines and thrones.
The word rhinoceros is a combination of two Greek words – “rhino” (nose) and “ceros” (horn). One of the top three largest land mammals, the rhino's physical presence is formidable. Although rhinos are known to display aggressive behavior, for the most part it is a passive creature - preferring to roam its wide-open grassy spaces in contemplative solitude.
Even though the rhinoceros' large size brings to mind strength, three of the five surviving rhino species – the black, Javan and Sumatran - are Critically Endangered. This means there is at least a 50% chance that these species could become extinct sometime this century.
Tree of Life
“Tree of Life” was created with an acrylic background, and with countless saga seeds and pieces of crystals. This painting was a labour of love done by both artists, Joni Toh and Stephanie Jennifer. As the centre piece of “Building Bridges”, it is the only painting in the exhibition to be fully coloured.
The tree is made with thousands upon thousands of little pieces of crystals that were then toned with acrylic paint. It grows tall and strong, with its roots firmly in the dark, earthy ground. The tree holds many bright red fruits (the saga seeds). Traditionally, saga seeds were considered to represent love due to their bright red colour and heart-shaped likeness. An interesting thing to note, also, is that all saga seeds used in this project were hand-picked by the artists over the years. The bright rays of the sun that act as a backdrop for the magnificent tree, represent the start of a new day and of the opportunities to come.