Going on a journey via mandalas

Lily posing with a pieced titled ‘Yugen Mandala’ which was inspired by the gorgeous colours she sees during meditation. Her solo exhibition is being held at Viva Victoria in George Town until June 15.

PERSONAL growth may be uncomfortable or even painful but that is nothing compared to stagnating and losing purpose in life.

That is the central tenet which Penang dot mandala artist Kong Lily – better known by her industry name LoveLeeLily – hopes to convey through her unique works.

Each is made up of hundreds or thousands of little dots, representing the many steps one has to take towards achieving wholeness and balance.

“The best part of creating a dot mandala is not knowing what it will look like until the very last dot. Every piece is a surprise in its own magical way, ” Lily shared at the opening of her first solo exhibition aptly titled ‘Growth’.

Held at Viva Victoria, a cafe, bar and restaurant in George Town, it features 38 pieces done with acrylics.

Each took between one and five weeks to complete, depending on design complexity and number of layers.

The one titled ‘Aspire’ is perhaps the most intricate. The artist reckons it contains around 100,000 individual dots. Though the process appears tedious, she actually finds it therapeutic.

Lily typically starts dotting late at night and will often lose track of time and keep going till dawn.

She does not plan her pieces and simply goes with the flow.

“Each dot mandala is a story of wholeness despite being beautifully broken and perfectly imperfect.

“I hope my work imparts a sense of happiness, empowerment, energy and purpose, ” she said.

This is especially pertinent with the challenges people face due to the pandemic.

The artist believes that in adversity, there is space for growth.

“It’s okay to feel depressed or not all right.

“There will be stages in life when you know it’s time to start a new journey. So just let go and trust the magic of new beginnings.

“We’re not meant to stay the same. Change is good and a fundamental of life.

“Allow yourself to explore deeper. It’s part of the journey and what you go through will help you grow, ” she added.

A Penangite who studied interior design, Lily enjoyed a high-flying career as an air stewardess before quitting to settle down and start a family.

With her son grown up, she found more time for herself and rediscovered her passion in art, dabbling first with calligraphy and floral watercolours.

She stumbled on dot mandala art in 2017 and immediately fell in love with it.

Starting with dotting small items like keychains, seashells and stones, she eventually moved on to larger boards and canvases.

Toothpicks, chopsticks, pens and other everyday objects with circular tips were initially her tools of choice but she now uses purpose -made dotting tools.

On her chosen style, she explained, “It’s a combination of aboriginal art that made extensive use of dots to tell stories plus mandalas which are complex circular geometric designs found all over the world.

“First appearing in India through Buddhism, mandalas spread to places such as Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, China and Japan.

“Ancient Mayans and Aztecs also used mandalas to represent calendars.”

Viva Victoria owner Tina Lee said the exhibition was originally supposed to have been part of the Open Studios Penang event in March 2020 but had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

Lily’s works were eventually put up last November but the pandemic prevented an official opening taking place until now.

The exhibition continues until June 15. The restaurant is open daily from noon to 10pm (closed on Mondays).

For more information, call 04-261 0000.

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