An exhibition of 25 repeating patterns based on short stories about plants from Creatures of Near Kingdoms by Zedeck Siew. 23 June to 27 July 2017 at Chan + Hori Contemporary.

Each pattern is represented by:

  • a set of working drawings showing the process of composing the pattern (much like the manuscript for composing a piece of music)
  • an original ink drawing of the final pattern tile
  • the pattern silkscreened on a piece of used fabric by Bogus Merchandise

The used fabrics are salvaged from my daily life, including bedsheets, sarongs, and other scraps. Bogus Merchandise picked the colors and matched each pattern to the fabric. This collaboration explored the process of trust and authorship, of giving space and yielding to what exists. Old fabrics imprinted with new patterns – is there a way such that the new addition does not displace the old, and the old does not dominate or dictate the conditions of the new? Is there a way for the patterns of old and new to compliment and enhance each other? This question is especially urgent in Asia, where modernisation and development have given rise to immense social tensions and contradictions.

You can see more photos of the works here and here.

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Text by Guest Curator, Sharmin Parameswaran

Malaysian Sharon Chin works across a variety of media, developing narratives on environmental and political issues in her home country. Currently living in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan (and some distance away from urban life), Sharon has developed 25 patterns as illustrations for a book of short stories by Malaysian writer Zedeck Siew.

The book, Creatures of Near Kingdoms (published by Maple Comics, forthcoming end-2017) features fantastical stories about animals and plants set in South East Asia. By translating the plant stories into images with an applied function, the patterns in Local Flora explore how fiction and visual culture weave into the everyday sense of familiarity of shared imaginations. Resulting in a series of patterns sensitive to the background and effects a story creates, sidestepping the loudness of characters or plots.

For this exhibition, Sharon collaborated with Syahida Nawar Ibrahim and Syahnan Anuar of Bogus Merchandise, an independent screen-printing outfit from Kuala Lumpur. They worked together to print Sharon’s Local Flora patterns on used fabrics, resulting in the repurposing of the material and their original patterns.

Sharon is also known for her strong opinions and ideals, which she meticulously translates into her visual and performative art. She has made all kinds of things in all kinds of places. She has hung a suite of sails across the lobby of an embassy, listened to strangers’ hearts on the streets of Sydney, tear-gassed while wearing a costume of yellow flowers, painted on political party flags, and had a public bath with 100 people in Singapore.

Her art has been shown at home and abroad, at institutions like Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, National Art Gallery of Malaysia, Galeri Petronas, and Incheon Culture and Arts Center, Korea. It has also sent her on residencies, festivals and adventures around the world, including Hanoi, Yangon, Sydney, Berlin, Birmingham, Tokyo and Sapporo.