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Third Space:
Bunga Jari kuku [Fingernail Flowers]

Chinese ink and water-based mediums on paper

I often begin my work with a question, sometimes many questions. These questions may or may not result in answers, but that's okay. I needed to see my questions visually. '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. The two main components in the compositions are flowers from two distant geographical locations, UK and Singapore. One probably wouldn't know unless they care to ask. I grew up in sunny Singapore, and bougainvillea was one of those plants in the background. I painted them a lot when I was younger, and I honestly didn't appreciate them at that time. They had gnarly branches, papery flowers , not native, and no more than a decoration in my opinion. I now miss them. I love the plants in the UK too, plants which I had never seen before. I chanced upon a bouquet of cascading Sage, its meandering vines crawling all over the stone pavement in the middle of Cambridge. They appear so free and wild . I realised I was anthropomorphising them .. they look so full of rigour and conviction. They seemed to know where they were going, somehow, and trying their very best. Putting Bunga Jari Kuku and Sage together was fun as it was challenging, with a fair share of possibilities and struggles. Can they coexist in the real world? What sort of environment would allow their co-existence? I am no gardener, and I rely on the nature around me and their memories for inspirations, but I believe there are ways to bring them together. The world is a strange place, maybe they think so too. Perhaps they may find a way to navigate this strange world, together.

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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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