Tanya Amador of Amador Arts Projects met up with Affordable Art Fair Singapore Young Talent Programme 2016/2017 winner Leow Wei Li, at her studio in Joo Chiat to hear about her artwork and experience of the competition. Read on to find out how the successful programme, a collaboration between Affordable Art Fair Singapore and ION Art, supports emerging artists, plus how to apply!
The East Coast community of Joo Chiat is one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in Singapore. Filled with hipster cafes, beauty salons, eclectic retail shops and temples, just to name a few, all sandwiched together in a hodge-podge of colonial shophouses and conservation houses…it is possibly my favourite area on the island.
I was delighted to find out that some of these charming shophouses contain the studios of several talented artists from the local art scene. One such emerging artist is Leow Wei Li, a graduate of LaSalle who is inspired by sounds and architecture and is one of the three winners of the Affordable Art Fair Young Talent Programme 2016/2017.
Wei Li’s journey in the Young Talent Programme started in 2016 when she applied for the programme online. Created by Affordable Art Fair Singapore and ION Art the popular programme champions young and emerging artists, since its creation in 2012.
Standing out from over 90 other applications, Wei Lei was first shortlisted to exhibit her art along with eight other emerging artists at the Affordable Art Fair Singapore in Fall 2016. I can see why her artwork grabbed the attention of the judging committee with its organic and architectural themes inspired by Wei Li’s father, a building contractor who brought home blueprints from work. Fascinated by the architect’s process of taking 2D blueprints and using them to bring 3D spaces to life, she reproduces these forms and shapes along with everyday sounds in her artworks which she calls her own “blueprints”.
Following her exhibition at the Affordable Art Fair, Wei Li, along with two other winners, Vietnamese artist, Le Thuy and Singaporean artist, Tay Ining were then chosen from the shortlist to participate in a nine-month long apprenticeship working with Programme Curator, Tzi-Yan Seah.
Their journey culminated last month with the artists’ three solo-exhibitions running in parallel at ION Art Gallery. Wei Li’s solo-exhibition, titled Entering Out, Exiting In featured oil paintings, and her first-ever sculpture; inspired by moments in her everyday life. The artworks were partnered with audio recordings of the street hubbub heard from her studio; cars driving past, dogs barking, the sound of a train, the fan in her studio, the breeze through her open window, all become the soundtrack to her work.
Wei Li describes each artwork as a “mini-story” documenting her daily experiences, like gazing out of her window at the moon, or thinking while in the bath. I love that she brings this to life using everyday materials such as bubble wrap and wires, and then layers the materials with paint – all presented in combination with the audio recordings.
Talking about the Young Talent Programme, Wei Li said “I am hugely appreciative of the experience. Over the past 9 months I have felt such a sense of liberation, having the time to create my work without boundaries and being guided by Tzi-Yan Seah.” It is a testament to what a programme like this can do for an artist. When I asked her what she sees herself doing next, she told me she would like to explore digital art, further marrying sound and painting in her works and I look forward to watching her journey.
The Affordable Art Fair Singapore Young Talent Programme 2017/18, in collaboration with ION Art, is now open for applications.
Camilla Hewitson, Regional Managing Director of Affordable Art Fair Asia and one of the founding Selection Committee members said “The programme is the ideal platform for young talented artists to be recognised by galleries, art institutes, members of the press and of course the thousands of art-loving attendees at Affordable Art Fair Singapore and ION Art. If you, or a young artist you know, would like to be in with a chance to participate in a supportive and developmental programme – apply today!”
Leow Wei Li in her studio.