06/12/2021

THAILAND DAILY

NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE / PUBLISHER

artist-belinda-liew:-connecting-through-calligraphy-and-watercolour

Artist Belinda Liew: Connecting Through Calligraphy and Watercolour

Singaporean artist Belinda Liew elevates the common calligraphy experience with her own touch of finesse.

Berlinda Liew, artist
Image: Juanmoley Fotologue

Calligraphy is an art form that has recently gained prominence among many novices. Its therapeutic qualities have helped many to cope with the stress of living under the shadow of this pandemic. For Singaporean artist Belinda Liew, calligraphy is more than just being a stress reliever, it is a medium for her to connect with people on a more intimate level. Her art form doesn’t only confine to calligraphy but also watercolour, and she hopes to bring her viewers on a journey of discovery with every stroke she takes. To Liew, art is a medium for her to express herself and to share her emotions with people around her.

Ahead is a short catch up with Liew, where she shares her journey in the arts and her upcoming projects.

You were born in Singapore, you studied calligraphy as well as watercolour, tell us about your background and where your creative journey began?

My creative journey goes way back to when I was four years old. My mom was very far-sighted and believed one should also be skilled in something other than studies. So she signed me up for an art class. Art classes were also the most affordable option in those days, compared to music. But sadly, life and practicality came into the way and I stopped creating for many years. I only started picking back my brushes seven years ago. London re-ignited the fire when I took a long leave from work and took up some short courses at Central Saint Martin. That was when my journey took flight again and did not stop since.

In the age of Internet where our life is turning all-digital, what is the importance of calligraphy?

artwork by Berlinda Liew

In the age of digital and technology, everything can be mass-produced efficiently. While it brings convenience to life, the warmth of human touch is lost. Calligraphy takes time and it can touch one’s heart when one receives a handwritten note or letter. Calligraphy connects people at a very intimate level, which a system-generated document cannot replace. 

You accept commissions from major companies, what is the commission process and how specific do the pitches need to be? 

Branding is the core and identity of all companies. Hence, it is essential to understand what the company or brand represents. It is not enough to solely rely on information online. A visit to their brick-and-mortar stores, if they have, is absolutely necessary. It is important to experience the brands with our senses, so we can create artworks that resonate with the brands’ values and their target audiences can relate to and identify with.

What’s your favourite memory working with a large corporation? 

Berlinda Liew, artist
Image: Juanmoley Fotologue

My favourite memory was working with Johnson & Johnson. It was a charity initiative with KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The drive was to help families — with children receiving treatment in the hospital — who have exhausted their savings. While profitability is sustenance for any business, it is also important for every corporation, regardless of scale, to utilise the platform we have and lend a voice.  

What’s your most vivid memory of working with a couple preparing for their wedding? 

Many weddings were either pushed forward or postponed during this pandemic. There was a wedding that was put together in three weeks last year, due to the health of the bride’s father. It was a day meant for not just the couple, but also her father. There was a swell of bittersweet emotion when the father held the hand of his daughter & marched down the aisle. Everyone in the hall from family, friends and even the team, knew the significance of the march and teared. 

Where do you find inspiration for your work? Nature seems to play a large part in your life as an artist, tell us more about it?

Berlinda Liew with plants at the foreground
Image: Juanmoley Fotologue

I find inspiration from anywhere. From my son, travels, books, food and even Netflix shows such as André and His Olive Tree — a documentary about a Michelin-starred chef’s journey of reflection after the closure of his restaurant. Inspiration is not just about creation. It is also about inspiring us to be better artists in terms of attitude and appreciation. Be thankful and be appreciative of the opportunities that we are blessed with. Take every wins as a humbling experience to be better and not to rest on our laurels. Take every failure as a chance to come back stronger. I have never seen my life as an artist as natural. I see it as a blessing from the faith I believe in and there is a purpose I need to fulfil when the right time comes. 

What emotions do you hope the viewers experience when looking at your art? Can you also tell us about your major projects and highlights across 2021? 

A wilt rose painted by Belinda Liew in reference to a photo taken by Sevak Babakhani.

2020 was one of my darkest times. Many of my projects were affected, so there was a strong urge to keep working else my own guilt would swarm over me whenever I took a break. It was like I did not deserve rest. Fear and anxiety burnt me out. It took me some time to find my mojo.

2021 is the year I told myself to take a step at a time. It is also a year I realise what my creation is about and acknowledge it. And I hope I can bring the viewers through this journey with me when they look at my art — the experience of discovery.

I returned to the root of my creation, which is Fine Arts, and started a project series named A Life | Alive. It is a series of wilted flowers, painted in the style of realism. This series is a channel for me to express something that strikes a chord in me and that is very hard to vocalise at the moment. Wilting is a continuation of life that many deem not. It is beauty with an embodiment of unique characteristics that gives the space where it is in an exquisite touch. And when you look deeper, it may stir emotions, a joyful one or not…

I also have plans to explore NFTs and bringing my work to a bigger market as we are about to enter a new year, 2022.

Who is your favourite contemporary Singapore artist? 

My favourite Singapore artist is John Lim, the founder of This Humid House. He does botanical design and I see his floral creation as a form of art. He embodies characters that I look up to — experimental, fearless and fine artistry. 

Which is your favourite museum in Singapore?

The Peranakan Museum. I was told my grandmother was a Peranakan but the heritage was lost because my great grandmother passed on really young. Hence, the museum gives me an avenue to reconnect to that part of my root. I have always been very captivated by its rich culture, colours and food, and I did my O-level Art project based on it. Also, the facade of the building is so charming. It teleports one back to the old world once we enter the space. 

If you were to name one mentor who has inspired you in your life and path as an artist, who would that be?

Berlinda Liew, artist
Image: Juanmoley Fotologue

It has to be my secondary school teacher, Mr Bentley Williams. It was an ordinary afternoon in school. He pulled me aside and encouraged me to apply for an Art school after completing my O-level. He saw the fire, that I did not see in me. While most teachers focused only on our grades, Mr Williams focused on our passion and dreams even today. We reconnected last year and he is still very concerned if we are on our track of pursuit. If not for his relentless belief in me, I would never believe in myself that Arts is a path that I can actually take, despite many twists and turns in my career prior. That fateful afternoon was never ordinary for me. It shaped me. 

To view more of Belinda Liew’s artworks, do follow her Instagram: @artandwanders.

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