As continued from my previous post on my first artwork entry
Here was my second artwork piece that I submitted for the 39th UOB Painting of the Year 2020.
Artwork Title: Keep My Head Above Water
“When COVID-19 first hit all around the globe, when we became confined to the four walls at home during circuit breaker, when job opportunities were lost, every day was a constant battle against the unknown to save oneself from drowning too deep emotionally and mentally. There were times when it felt suffocating. There were times when it got harder to stay afloat. But it was also during this time that I witnessed and experienced the strength of solidarity. Virtual helping hands are always there to lift my spirits up when I see positive, encouraging messages shared on social media and other online platforms cheering each other on. There are also more “human” helping hands when I meet kind people who do not hesitate to give me a little pull in our day-to-day physical interactions. It is no longer a lonely struggle because we are all in this situation together to help each other out, regardless of race, religion and nationality.
This artwork is a portrayal of me on the verge of drowning but as I reach my hand above the water for help, there are eager hands, both virtual and realistic ones and of different skin colours, reaching out to the rescue. Thanks to these helping hands, I am able to get lifted and keep my head above water. The artwork is done entirely with papers using cutting and pasting techniques.”
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions that year, all submissions of entries were done via an online portal conveniently and safely, minimising the need for physical contact. However, I encountered an issue when submitting my artworks through the portal. Even though I was shown the thank you page after pressing the final submit button, I never did receive any confirmation email acknowledging my submissions for the competition no matter how many times I tried re-submitting it. Feeling very insecure and even suspecting some sort of foul play involved, I had to call up the competition admin support to check if my submissions really did go through successfully. He assured that my application was received on their end although he said a receipt of confirmation email should normally be expected for successful applications. But just to make sure that nothing was amiss, he got me to fill up my submission details again manually offline on an excel sheet and send him via email instead as a backup.
Despite the little hiccup, there went my first time participating in such a large-scale prestigious art competition in my life. Although the results did not turn out to be a fairytale miracle for me (as expected for a novice artist wannabe like myself), thinking back about it now, these two artworks that I made at that time were a test of how far I was willing to push my limits and up my paper crafting skills to a competitive standard and became invaluable additions to my artistic portfolio now. This experience also made me reconsider what it is exactly that I want to make out of art – is it to compete and gain wider recognition on the professional level? Is it to sell my craft to the general public and make money as a business? Or is it simply just purely done for passion, hobby, enjoyment and self-healing?