21 Creatives for #SGABF2018 — Teresa Lim
SGABF: If we talk about being multidisciplinary, you really are the epitome of it. You draw, paint, sew, design, write, photograph, and you even play the piano and violin well enough to be an instructor. Does being endowed with these different creative abilities help to propel your main practice forward?
Teresa Lim (TL): What is my main practice? I feel like there’s no one main thing, they’re all together. Like a solar system. Creativity is like the sun and all these different elements of art are like the different planets. So, I can be inspired to write or paint, but they are all the same to me, just different channels revolving around the same thing. Music inspires my art and art also inspires me to play music, so they go hand in hand, it’s not just one.
SGABF: You seek inspiration from designers like Tsumori Chisato and Eley Kishimoto, and your personal style is also full of colours and patterns, which typically gives the impression of optimism and joy. Yet you mentioned in another interview that "drawing happy things is boring, [because] you create things when you’re upset." What do you typically seek to express in and through your art, and what does art mean to you?
TL: Art to me is a form of self-expression and self-understanding. I feel that sometimes, words are not able to express your emotions fully and the only way to let something out is through colour, music or shades. In a way, through understanding myself, I hope to create artworks where people don’t feel so alone. For example, from one of my works, “The Twelve Rooms”, it’s inspired by different phases of life and especially more so for difficult times. It covers topics like gender, body issues etc. So when I created that, it was actually created because I wanted to have a conversation with my past self. It was more of a self-healing as well as creating an inclusive world where people who identify with these issues will know that they’re not alone. So yes, understanding myself is what I’m trying to achieve but also in the process to create an inclusive world.
I also feel that music is my form of escapism. My family’s quite musical so when my mom made me take violin classes, that started to be my outlet whenever I’m feeling sad. And that helped a lot. Music means a lot to me.
SGABF: Your various artistic interests and pursuits mean that you have experience in different industries - from fashion to fine arts. In your opinion, what is the climate of the arts and culture like in Singapore?
TL: I do feel that there have been changes to the arts in Singapore. There are a lot more programmes as compared to ten years ago. There’s the Singapore Night Festival, the Singapore Art Book Fair as well as the Esplanade that supports many local musicians. There are so many, I cannot keep up. The arts scene in Singapore has definitely grown.
SGABF: You have exhibited in various countries – Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong – and you have been featured in a great number of magazines and online platforms, especially for your project, Sew Wanderlust. Have you achieved your definition of success? And what do you think of social media diluting the meaning of the arts?
TL: I feel like you can never reach success. It’s always a continuous journey. If I compare myself now with myself ten years ago, I think I’ve gotten somewhere but I won’t say it’s my definition of success yet. Success is a never-ending chase and I don’t want to know whether I’ve arrived at the destination of success. If you are contented being successful then you don’t push yourself anymore and I don’t want that. I don't want to just be comfortable and lose inertia.
Imagine you’re climbing a mountain, you just climb and enjoy the scenery from different levels. But once you reach the peak, you see another mountain that you want to climb so you go climb that mountain. It’s really a never-ending journey, I feel. Every step you climb you will go higher but if you take the wrong path then maybe you go lower. But you’re always moving, so just keep moving.
I feel like focusing on just the social media image is not art, it’s just social media. But Instagram has surely helped a lot of artists get out there because it’s now an international platform where you can connect with someone who is on the other side of the world. Or galleries, even. They can export artists who are not in their country. Social media is like a double-edged sword.
SGABF: You have strong opinions on gender and womanhood, and it had inspired many of your projects, like your fashion collection back in 2013, Lenina Gone Wild, and two other collections, Pistil Thoughts and Etiquette. What do you eventually hope to achieve with your art?
The end goal of my art is changing someone’s opinions on something. If I managed to do that, even if it’s just for one person then I think it has achieved its purpose.
Teresa graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts with a First Class Ba Honours in Fashion Design and Textiles. Her personal design philosophy is to fuse three of her interests together: Illustrations, Embroidery and Surface pattern design. Her designs seek to blur the lines and boundaries between being an illustrator and a textile designer. She gets inspired by themes revolving around gender and womanhood. In her free time, she loves to read and play the violin.