Housewife Christine Teoh, in seeking inspiration during the movement control order (MCO), began depicting the everyday lives of ordinary Malaysians impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic through art.
The 58-year-old found joy in drawing sparrows to represent Malaysians and how they went about their daily lives during the MCO.
“The sparrow is commonly seen, just like.
“I wanted to express how Malaysians were dealing with the crisis by using this bird as my objct,” she said.
Titled “Quarantine”, the series features 40 artworks of Chinese ink on paper, which were completed within six months from the start of the MCO on March 18.
One of her earliest pieces shows a sparrow locked up in a cage, not unlike Malaysians who had to stay at home during that period.
Another painting sought inspiration from the Cantonese drama The House of 72 Inhabitants, depicting 72 sparrows in a multistorey apartment.
This also captured how low-cost housing residents were confined to small spaces during the MCO.
“Although the topics of Covid-19 and quarantine are rather grim,
I wanted to show there is still hope for people.
“The element of hope is represented by a few colourful blocks in the painting with 72 sparrows.
“I painted several sparrows looking at the sun as though its warmth is something to look forward to after months of staying indoors,” Teoh said.
She also used Chinese characters in her paintings.
One painting has tian, the Chinese character for padi field.
“I drew sparrows a little fatter, reflecting the views of some who claimed they had gained weight during the MCO.
“It also means that the sparrows are staying safe at home with enough to eat,” she said.
Another painting incorporated the character ji, meaning good fortune.
The bottom part of the character is drawn like a “0” to represent zero infections, with a sparrow leaping out of it.
“This is what we hope for, that the virus stops spreading and we are able to get out of this crisis,” she said.
Teoh has been learning Chinese ink painting and Chinese calligraphy for 10 years.
With this series, she wanted to convey how this virus had done much harm globally.
“As humans, we are just guests in this world and a small creature in this vast universe.
“There is nothing really much for us to brag about as our lives will eventually end.
“So, we must value the things we have and do the things we want to do,” she said.
The exhibition, her second solo showing, is being held at Gan Association Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan, 2nd floor, 18B and C, Jalan Kapar, Klang.
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