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Third Space:
Bunga Jari kuku [Fingernail Flowers]

Chinese ink and water-based mediums on paper

The ‘Third Space’ (series) is my personal sanctuary where black ink cuts through the toughest skin and ‘Fingernails’ regenerates on a ‘clearing’, an experience that is affective and transformative. 'Fingernail flowers', as my mother would call them, came from a distant memory of being placed in a foreign environment when I was a child. The flowers were helpful for me as it marked the location where I stood and waited for my mother at the end of each school week, at the foot of a wall covered with 'fingernail flowers'. I remember them as small hardy looking yellow flowers with ridiculously long tongues sticking out from its centre. My mother is Peranakan, so she would refer to them as 'Bunga Jari Kuku' in Malay, simply because she didn’t know the real name of the plant. This series features two distinct florals from two distant geographical locations, UK and Singapore. I grew up in sunny Singapore, and bougainvillea was one of those plants that was always in the background. They had gnarly branches and papery flowers, though not native. I now miss them. Recently, I chanced upon a bouquet of cascading Sage, its meandering vines crawling all over the stone pavement in the middle of Cambridge. They appeared so free and wild. I realised I was anthropomorphising them; they looked so full of rigour and conviction. They seemed to know where they were going.  Can Bougainvillea and Sage coexist in the real world? What sort of environment would allow their co-existence? together. Now the ‘fingernails’ have also been transplanted into clusters of small flowers wrapped around that big tree in my garden, right above the Bougainvillea. As much as I long to see its gnarly, sinewy branches and papery pink flowers, I’ll make do with its shadows for the time being.

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Bunga Jari Kuku [Fingernail Flowers]

142.3  x 61.8 cm 


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Bunga Jari Kuku III [Fingernail Flowers]

150 x 56 cm 


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Bunga Jari Kuku II [Fingernail Flowers]

56 x150  cm 


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