Tell us a bit about what inspires you and your art. What was it that initially inspired you to pursue a career in art first of all, and since then, where have you drawn inspiration from in terms of the individual style you've developed and your subject matter? Are there any art historical references in your art?
Your own background and upbringing are integral to your practice; can you tell us a bit more about that and how you draw on it?
Describe for us how you work in your studio, do you work from photographs or with live models? You often work with large sheets of paper, do you work horizontally on the floor or vertically on the wall? Do you find this affects your work?
I find models who are first and foremost reliable, and we arrange a photo session either at my place or theirs. I take lots of pictures of them in different outfits, eating, and pretending to be drunk and happy or confused. A lot of it is improvised on the day although I do have several images of artworks and sketches at hand for inspiration. I then work from these photos, sometimes making composites involving other imagery (either from other photos of mine or from online images). I don't really do preliminary sketches and just dive right in, working things out as I create. I do use large rolls of paper for my pastel drawings (specifically photographers' backdrop paper which comes in different colours and very large sizes) and tape them to a wall. I once tried working on the floor, but it's hard to see what I'm doing.
We love the scale on which you work - large! Can you tell us about the role of scale in your work and why you opt for larger canvasses for many of your works?
Working large comes quite naturally to me. I have a way of drawing that's very loose, gestural, and clumsy and a small canvas or piece of paper only restricts that kind of mark-making. In East Asian art images of women have traditionally been dainty and delicate like the women portrayed. There's a lot of control in the execution that mirrors the decorous behaviour of the women. Since all my images depict drunk, disheveled, gluttonous women, I want these qualities to be reflected in both materiality and scale. I sometimes like to think of the large canvas or sheet of paper as a large empty stomach waiting to be filled.
Your works are depicted in bright, bold colours. Tell us about your choice and use of colour?
As mentioned previously, I associate bright, saturated colours with Asia, particularly Southeast Asia - the temples, the street markets, the buildings, the textiles, even the food. So my practice is to some degree a way of bringing the heat and colour of Asian cities into my work. But colour for me also more broadly connotes playfulness, pleasure, and excess, as opposed to the elegance, simplicity, and sometimes austerity of monochromatic images. I recently came across David Batchelor's Chromophobia, which talks about the West's historical othering of colour as childish, emotional, feminine/effeminate, foreign, and queer. My works are, in a way, about celebrating and enlarging these 'negative' or lesser qualities, trans valuing them into positive ones.
What element of your work or your practice do you typically find most challenging, and how do you work to develop these elements?
I think scaling down has been challenging as I'm so used to imagining things as 2m x 2m canvases! Having said that, I have been able to make an ongoing series of small 8" x 10" drawings called Hungry Women, many of which have sold and are very easy and quick to make.
At the risk of bringing up the C-word, how has the pandemic and the various lockdowns affected your work and practice? Did it have a significant impact or were you able to work as normal?
I was quite lucky in this respect as my studio is in the basement. So I was able to lock myself away as usual and make quite a lot during the lockdowns. The only challenge was not being able to work with models so I was looking through old photos and resorted to using found images which ultimately became the basis of my Hungry Women series.
Do you have any unrealized projects that you can tell us about (perhaps because of financial reasons, a "no" from somewhere or time constraints etc)? Are there any that you'd like to go back to and pick up where you left off?
A lot of ideas I have involve making ridiculously big things, like giant scroll paintings that would cover an entire room, but I'd only be able to do that if someone commissioned me or gave me the space to do that. I also don't know if it'd work but that's a dream project of mine.
You've just finished your MA at City and Guilds, what are some of your upcoming future plans?
This year is a busy one. I am part of Open Space Contemporary's fundraiser I have eaten it - a series of art and food-related events raising money for Refettorio Felix; in March I'll be in another food-themed group exhibition at Quench Gallery in Margate and then a two woman show at Indigo+Madder in May; in June I'll be exhibiting with New Normal Projects again and a group show organised by Premier Art Solutions and Daniel Raphael Gallery in July. I will also hopefully have a couple of shows in the Autumn.