Re-opening of National Library Singapore 22 July 2005
Picture: LEE Hui Lian presenting her work to Miss Lim Soo Hoon, Chairman of the National Library Board, Singapore, at the reception of the Re-opening of the NLB on the 22th of July in appreciation of NLB’s support to her solo art exhibition which was also launched on the 22th of July and continued till the 24th of July, 2005 at the Central Lending Library of the National Library Singapore. Next to Hui Lian is Madam Kang Sai Mui, Senior Head of Scholarships at the Ministry of Education Singapore.
(photo courtesy of The Star Malaysia .20th July 2005)
coach jerked so abruptly that I fell back on the bed and bumped my head against
the wall. Feeling sore, I sat up again, careful to avoid the ‘ceiling’ of
the bunk centimetres above me, and peered through the window on my right to
catch a last glimpse of KL city. The
city was engulfed in darkness except for the spotlights that illuminated the
skyscrapers like a lit Christmas tree. Looking at my watch, I realised it was
journey to Singapore by train was about to begin…
four years being in Singapore is akin to taking a ride on a train, or at times,
a roller coaster. There were times when the roads were bumpy leaving me
nauseous, yet there were times when cabin crew came by to lend a helping hand to
ease that discomfort; there were times when I saw many strangers from all walks
of life passing by my bunk, yet more often than not, they would give you a
welcoming smile; there were times when the train would go for hours on the rail,
yet once in a while, it would stop for a rest; there were times when life seemed
like a roller coaster – the agony of climbing up the steep track and then
experiencing the split seconds of a heart stopping journey, yet at the end of
it, I would look back and smile at the amazing experience that I had gone
I be able to fit in?’ were the immediate thoughts that came to my mind just
four short years ago when I first stepped into Singapore to pursue my secondary
school education under the ASEAN scholarship at a tender age of fifteen. For a
moment, I felt so lost and forlorn in the midst of a sea of students in blue
tunics when I set foot in the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (Toa Payoh),
fresh and new. This feeling did not last for the reticent girl within me
blossomed through various extra-curricular activities that I undertook while at
the National Junior College and at CHIJ (Toa Payoh). Despite encountering
setbacks that frequently left me on the verge of relinquishing all hope, it was
through sheer determination and support from my peers that helped me through the
challenges. It was also through these times that I truly appreciated the value
of friendship and the meaning of starting small.
to hostel life can be quite remarkable, having to live in a community comprising
of people my age from all parts of the world. Although at times the sheer amount
of academic work had us inventing various innovative albeit masochistic ways to
stay awake, nevertheless, I had the time of my life turning dull hostel life
into a carnival complete with disastrous cooking episodes and late night
showings of horror films that had my fellow housemates reeling.
late night supper cum movie event organized by the boarding house, formal
dinners, festive celebrations, water polo games were but some of the many
experiences which I will never forget.
there were the memories of working long hours in the art studios, having to
creep down spooky corridors and climbing over the school gates when we students
got locked in for staying in the studios for too long, not to mention missing
dinners most of the time. Nonetheless, the joy of engaging in such humorous
escapades kept my spirits high. I had friends who would bring stacks of oddly
flavoured instant noodles or re-enact scenes from Romeo and Juliet with the
limited art studio props, spicing up what may seem like an agonizingly long
period of time spent on our art coursework.
in oil, watercolour etc have become an integral part of my self-expression.
Unlike other kids my age, pastel chalks, plasticine, colour pencils replaced
conventional toys of Barbie dolls, as my parents would watch me create
extraordinary works of spaceships akin to crabs, dogs swimming underwater on
paper or even houses built on wheels. At times, the immaculately clean walls of
our home were subjected to scribblings of houses or human faces painted in green
like those of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’.
in Singapore, I loved spending my weekends out of the hostel: I’d hop from one
art gallery to the other, museums to museums with my fellow boarding mates or
school mates, embark on food hunting sprees at Chinatown, where the heavenly
food and architecture never failed to amaze me, watch musicals such as
‘Oliver’ and ‘Miss Saigon’, cycle at the beach, or merely sit by the
Four years in Singapore, away from home, has developed my skills to adapt
to a new environment, as I grew to be more independent in many different ways.
As a whole, the experience of living in a culturally diverse community as well
as the exposure to the different Asian cultures has helped enrich me as person.
As Michelangelo has it, “I saw an angel in the marble and I carved it until I
set him free”. Living in Singapore has had a similar effect on me and I hope
to continue growing as a person as I seek out fresh endeavours.
This is a journey I will never forget for it has truly laid a mark in my
passage through life.
LEE Hui Lian, April 2005
…The road snaked along the plain into the horizon. The high sunlit
clouds drifted across the clear blue sky. I peered up, squinted my eyes a little
under the blindingly hot sun, trying hard to make out what seemed to be at the
horizon. Tiny, ant-like huts peppered the vast land. Feverishly, I transposed
what caught my senses onto the uneven surface of cold-pressed paper, oblivious
to the inquisitive eyes of passer-bys who stood around.
Akin to a photocopier of images and the soul, my right hand, gripping a brush firmly, worked miraculously to compose a picture that effectively captured the instantaneous feeling and atmosphere, the window of the outside world as seen through my eyes. What may appear to be a pure white sky is infused with my personal touch of delicate strokes and emotion, churning out colours of violet merging with a tint of grey. A picture does not speak a thousand words, it speaks a million, as it encapsulates even elements as intangible as sensation, as complex as consciousness.
Klang, a small port town where I grew up just fifteen miles south of
Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is truly an artist’s delight.
from one end of the town to the other, capturing details which
are often taken granted for, inevitably became an undying quest which I seek to fulfill. During the weekends or the school holidays, the afternoon sun would
often find my family squatting under trees or by the port, crediting the
splendour of Mother Nature and intricate facades of buildings with paintings…
My name in Chinese means lotus. I guess that’s where my infatuation
with the lotus flower comes from.
I have always been fascinated by the beauty of the lotus plant – a
plant so pure yet so charismatic as it stands singularly and gallantly among the
widely spread leaves that surrounds it. The flawless layers of petals that
appear silky with a gradual tone of pink or off-white coexist harmoniously with
the pastel green leaves, leaving me nothing but admiration for it.
Thus, I decided to embark on my ‘Lotus’ series where I sought
to, and still seek to, define the sophistication of the lotus plant.
Special Thanks to
Education (MOE), Singapore