This lovely lady gave me the most adorable smile and giggle. She sat quietly amongst the rubble left by the fight on one of the main routes near the town of Ichnya where Russian forces had surrounded an agricultural community of 10,000 and used to gain ground towards the capital – Kyiv.
The extraordinary kindness of a curator friend who took the time with all the artists she curated for a large exhibition she was instrumental in setting up. She gave a huge amount of time to each participating individual, and ensured that everyone had sufficient exhibition space in what was a very busy gallery off Brick Lane.
She showed great consistency in all subsequent support and interest for those artists who shared her commitment to a high standard of work presentation and engagement, and has gone on to offer all kinds of support in subsequent years. I think it would be fair to say her contribution to the lives of the artists with whom she has worked closely have been enormously enriched by her very kind attention and interest.
I discovered my own style, thanks to the kindness of all artists and designers who helped me along the way, especially these three: Khipra Nichols, Gaetan Jouen and Christian Azolan.
When I was a student at Brown University, I cross-registered for Industrial Design at Rhode Island School of Design, taught by Khipra. Without any artistic education, I was so nervous in the beginning, and could not even draw a design draft without making numerous basic mistakes. Fortunately, Khipra understood my difficulty, taught me the basics of drawing and helped me build a solid foundation in art and design. Looking back, I am amazed at how far art has taken me, thanks to Khipra’s kindness and encouragement from the start.
Gaetan is a friend of my colleague and a fellow self-taught artist who also came from a scientific research background. When he reviewed my urban landscape paintings, he gave me sincere advice on adding a personal touch and leaving some space for imagination, such as using only a few colours, instead of filling in the entire painting. Now I have turned this advice into a new series, exhibited and published a few times, and most importantly, I enjoyed the process of consolidating my style.
I met Christian at his solo exhibition at Fitzrovia Chapel, and he kindly invited me to visit his studio. I have learned so much from him, especially how he develops an abstract concept into a coherent series. Now whenever I have an idea, I would conceptualise and experiment extensively, and have developed some of my favourite series since then, such as Hundred Schools of Thought.
There are so many other artists and organisations, especially ArtCan, Assemblage Collective and The Piece Palette, who welcomed, encouraged and supported me on my artistic journey. Thank you all for your kindness!
When I started making artwork with used fabric scraps a wide range of friends, family and neighbours offered me their used clothes and off-cuts. I always think of these people when I include their donations in my work, the history of the scraps adding to the meaning of my art. Some have particular meaning: such as my son’s worn, patched and outgrown trousers, my cousin’s towel handed down from his parents and now too threadbare for another use, or pieces which friends have carefully selected and stored for me, knowing they would be a fit for my art.
My work is inspired by a quote from Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca: “We are waves of the same sea”. It’s a phrase that I came across via the initial outbreak of Covid-19 when it was written on boxes of face masks delivered to Italy by the Chinese company Xiaomi. These were sent as an act of kindness to the Italian people from the Chinese company for making their staff feel welcome and at home when they opened their offices there in 2018.
In an age when politicians and media openly describe refugees and asylum seekers as “swarms”, “waves” and an “invasion”, my series of one-off screen-prints seeks to portray an alternative, kinder vision, using abstracted waves of positivity to represent a collective humanity not defined by place, origins or borders.
This post is in collaboration with ArtCan.