Let Her Go by Passenger [official video of Let Her Go here]
I think everyone has a chapter or two in their life that they want to write about. A declaration of a very important stage in our life that immortalises the reason of our existence in this world. However we wish to write it is entirely subjective and creative.
I would have love to write a book. It would be called, “The Year I”. But it is a book that I could and would never write. Yet the chapter of this wretched life of mine etches deeply in my mind every single day. The words I breathe and the creative work I made carry the fragments of these memories. I cannot create things that doesn’t come from my heart; a painful yet beautiful process.
I haven’t been spending at much time as I like in the studio. Here are some snippets from the past few weeks.
1. A roll of paper
2. Screen printing
3. Speedball frame
4. Photo emulsion from screen printing
5. Sewing design
I don’t remember when I was first drawn to the elegance of terrarium but the fascination has never gone away. Unlike bonsai, which of course is an entirely patience-testing art form on its own, there is a million creative ways one can do for a terrarium. It’s like a mini-jungle of endless possibilities, combinations and of course, creative fun.
I’ve been trying to develop a daily creative routine for myself lately to ooze some brain juice to help develop the next design project. The routine hasn’t been very much a routine so far. So I’m in dire need to jump-start the under-performing brain.
Over the last few months, I’ve been so inspired by conversations with a few close friends about succulent plants. I have a few succulent plants which has been exposed to the elements, not watered frequently or replanted in any form since April this year. Yet, it’s thriving and flowering with the brightest of yellow petals. How baffling. It’s time to do something about it. Armed with two vases and very little knowledge of planting, I played around with what I have and came up with something simple. This is the something.
For all the legendary things I hear and know about coffee, it couldn’t keep me awake during those long nights of chasing assignments. You would think that a child born into a clan that is well-known for their coffee would have an intrinsic link to it by default. I’ll say that the smell of freshly grounded coffee is heavenly though. Long black or double macchiato is the only effective poison for the occasional late-nights.
So, I stopped drinking coffee for a few months now and switch to tea instead. I’ve taken a special liking to chai. Well, I’ve always drank chai latte anyway, much to the disappointment of all my barista-nespresso-coffee loving friends. There is nothing more soothing for a morning start than the whiff of spices, honey and milk.
Coming out shivering, fresh from the saltwater of Lifou, I said to the Melanesian man and woman at their makeshift ticket booth of a folded table and colourful umbrella, “Merci. C’est magnifique!“.
For a second of what seems like an eternity, he stared with amusement at the face of an Asian girl with snorkel and fins, dripping wet from head to toe. The place was crawling with tourists, mostly Anglo-saxon, white, polynesians and a sprinkle of Asians. French words spilling out from an Asian tourist on a remote island must be rare.
“Tu parle Français !??” He quizzed with a huge smile on his face. I love the Melanesian smile that I noticed throughout my short trip to New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Wide, genuine grin that flashes a set of white teeth. Never hesitant.
“Un peu…. a little,” I replied with a smile.
Amused, he laughed and I followed suit. I received similar reaction at a pâtisserie the day before so I could only guess that locals are glad to hear a foreigner uttering more than a few twisted syllables of bonjour and merci.
Beyond, it was a breathtaking view with no barrier between me and the Pacific Ocean of Lifou. It was clearer than turquoise, aqua, sapphire or any ocean colour that words could describe. I was in paradise. This is how I fall in love with Nouvelle-Calédonie.
A thought of a lasting seconds,
Crosses each other,
Launching a thousand
secrets of endless desires.
When I travelled to Singapore and Malaysia this year, I started writing poems again. It was an exercise that I’ve been doing over the years but not as extensively as I have done like this year. And I make it a habit to write on paper with a pen. When travelling on the road, it was easier and quicker to jot down a few lines with a pen than attempting with a tablet.
I’ve never fully appreciate the therapeutic importance of poetry until recently. Writing poetry is the quickest, shortest and cheapest therapy in replacement to a long journal entry. I still keep a private diary but find freedom in burying secrets in short sentences and stanzas because sometimes, that is all I can say; in secretive codes of diminutive chunks. I’ve written the occasional poems between the years but for a short few months this year, I fell into an affecting spell. The only effective antidote was literature. So I wrote and wrote and wrote to yield a large collection of poems that pours over the same sentiments told a hundred different ways. It was like a leaky tap that drips an endless stream of unresolved emotions.
A selected few will be published here over the next few weeks. Some are first and only draft, some will need to be expanded while some has been reworked. Many were written during a period of time circling around similar and connecting subjects.
Sun can be harsh in Australia. I love the sunlight but sometimes I rather avoid it like a plague. However, there are moments in between on mornings and evenings when the lightness that streamed into my studio becomes bearable. I kept finding things caught in between the softness and the shadows, unnoticed corners became unhidden and kind colours illuminating the forgotten.
I love my work. I love creating something with my hands. I love the versatility of fabrics. The colours fascinate. I love the feel of fabrics. Designs already dancing and forming inside my head even when it’s just a piece of uncut cloth. A flat piece of fabric fashioned into a big mess before turning into something that makes sense.
I love every minute of it even when there are times I know my eyes should rest, when I accidentally poked my fingers with needles and when my neck hurts from tilting down too often at the sewing machine. I cursed when I hit a road block with a stitch. I cursed even more when I spent one afternoon falling into the unproductive rhythm of stitching and unstitching. Getting one design right before it even hits the sewing machine can take a day or two. There are times my motivations fell flat onto the carpeted floor of my studio. My screen print turned out to be a disaster. I have to be innovative and creative when I’m short on materials and budget. I freaked out often when I thought I’ve wasted a good fabric with inaccurate measurement. Fabrics, after all, are just every bit as temperamental as myself. It takes a few attempts to understand the intended function of each fabric.
I can sit in an office typing out letters and telling people what to do. I’ve led projects. I’ve held management roles. I’ve swallowed pride and copped wraths. So you see, I know I can sit in an office typing out letters and telling people what to do. Instead, I choose to become a glorified tailor. It will take me to where I want to go. I know it will be a while before you and I can see. But I love what I do.
In addendum: Working alone in the studio also means that every little detail is magnified. Senses are heightened. Every minute detail has to be observed. It’s an occupational hazard (not counting all the accidental stabbing with needles & scissors). If there is swear jar, it would be full by now. It can drives you crazy at inappropriate times unless you can find little moments and little things to distract and fascinate. I am thoroughly fascinated to discover that every needle threader has their own profile image. I did say my work can drives me crazy.
Sitting in front of my laptop for the past hour, I tried carving out some thoughts but it refuses to find a place within this entry. It has something to do with conventions, goals and happiness. Perhaps I was trying too hard. I want to speak of the conventions that has been subconsciously entrenched into my life and possible every middle class Asian child with hopeful parents or relatives. I want to speak of the goals I have which is unfortunately not in alignment with these conventions. Then, I want to speak of the happiness I know I will find for chasing these goals. Unconventional every step of the way, of course.
It is challenging to speak of things that only a fragment of the population can understand and accept. It is difficult to explain to the wider population that failure is just a process, not the defining characteristic of a determined mind chasing what some may like to term as fool’s dreams. If Edison succeeded in the first experiment, we would not have great tales of perseverance to relish in history books.
While I go off collecting my thoughts, here’s a great clip shared by a wonderful friend I fondly call Sweetie Pie, about people who break conventions to pursue a little piece of their dreams and happiness.
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