Day 18

30 Days Of Art With NAC: Capturing pandemic emotions on clay

To inspire and uplift readers as the country emerges from the Covid-19 circuit breaker, The Straits Times, supported by the National Arts Council as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign, has commissioned 30 works by local writers and artists on the pandemic and what it will be like when all this is over

Artist Fyon Cheong creates a ceramic piece for the National Arts Council and The Straits Times' 30 Days Of Art series.
Ceramic artist Fyon Cheong (left) hopes to convey the gamut of emotions people are feeling during this pandemic with a trio of vases titled Put An End To (above).
Ceramic artist Fyon Cheong hopes to convey the gamut of emotions people are feeling during this pandemic with a trio of vases titled Put An End To (above).PHOTOS: COURTESY OF FYON CHEONG
Ceramic artist Fyon Cheong (left) hopes to convey the gamut of emotions people are feeling during this pandemic with a trio of vases titled Put An End To (above).
Ceramic artist Fyon Cheong (above) hopes to convey the gamut of emotions people are feeling during this pandemic with a trio of vases titled Put An End To.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF FYON CHEONG

Ceramic artist Fyon Cheong's pastel-shaded pots are populated with quirky faces - bulging eyes, pert noses and pursed lips.

For her contribution to the National Arts Council and The Straits Times' 30 Days Of Art, she has created a trio of vases titled Put An End To. The process of creation, from shaping the clay to glazing to the airbrushing, is captured in a video which can be seen on the Straits Times website (str.sg/30Days).

The 26-year-old graduate of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts says she hopes to convey the gamut of emotions people are feeling during this pandemic. "We veer from one mood to the next - at times enraged and others peaceful. This volatility gives rise to a certain beauty in impermanence, as each emotion is fleeting and cannot be locked down for too long."

Clay, she says, is the perfect material to express this fluidity. "The medium of clay also captures this aspect - shifting from a wet to dry medium, at first malleable, then hardening into solid structures."

Cheong's work was showcased in the Visual Arts Development, Singapore's Untapped booth at last year's Affordable Art Fair and her pieces, priced between $600 and $800, are available via her website.

As a sculptor, she has had to adapt to the circuit breaker period. She says she missed sculpting in her studio: "Sculpting with clay at home is not a good choice as I have seniors at home. It may be a health hazard to them."

This commission has allowed her to return to her studio and challenged her to present her work in a video format. "The greatest challenge was to prepare the artworks in different stages for different scenes during filming. Ceramic-making is a long process and involves various stages. Time management was very crucial. For example, I have to make sure the sculptures are carefully dried to a certain hardness for sculpting."

But as Singapore exits the circuit breaker, she is optimistic about returning to work. "As many art fairs and exhibitions have been postponed to a much later date, I am challenging myself to work faster within a shorter time frame as we exit the circuit breaker."

She hopes her work will help people understand "the process of using ceramic as a medium to convey a message, as well as the passion I have for fine art as a young Singaporean".

• Watch Fyon Cheong's video at str.sg/30Days.

• For more local digital arts offerings, go to a-list.sg to appreciate #SGCultureAnywhere

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2020, with the headline '30 Days Of Art With NAC: Capturing pandemic emotions on clay'. Print Edition | Subscribe