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Self-healing through Art

05 Apr 2021
ART heals both the creator and the viewer. True to these words, Alicia Lau finds a sense of healing throughout the creative process of making her abstract art and fascinating sculptures.

Art is a perfect medium for self-expression for Lau, whose artwork reflects her inner emotions.

“I like the idea of being able to express myself and my very personal thoughts through the journey of artistic creation,” she said.

In her artworks, Lau accentuates vertical and horizontal lines, gaps and colours on the canvas to communicate her emotions, feelings, point of view and her state of mind through artistic expression, using mediums such as strings.

“Through my art practice, I have learnt to identify and accept my inner-thoughts and emotions, which help me achieve a therapeutic effect,” said Lau, a fine art degree graduate from Middlesex University, London.


Inspired by what was happening around the world, Lau created the Mind, the Gap artwork to represent her personal views, while she was at home during the movement control order (MCO).

“My first impression on the MCO was about the “gap”, the one-metre distance or social distancing we were required to follow as part of the standard operating procedures. The feeling of adapting to a new practice inspired me to make an artwork that shows the equal distance and gap to symbolise the situation,” said Lau. 

Another of her works, the sculpture Time Tunnel, speaks about her vision and hope.

“During the MCO, I wished that time could be fast-forwarded and I hoped that things could get past quickly. Thus, the thought of a time tunnel came into my mind as it provided a route to another side or to turn back to the starting point,” she said.

To date, Lau has participated in the 5th Bangkok Triennale International Print and Drawing Exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (2019) and Watch This Space at the Beaconsfield Gallery in Vauxhall, London (2017). In 2020, she had her first solo exhibition From Lines to Gaps at the G13 Gallery in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Isolated yet connected.

How did your journey into art begin?

In 2013, I joined a Fine Art course at Dasein Academy of Arts in Kuala Lumpur. I chose this path due to the influence of my parents, who were involved in music and creative design. My sister has a background in graphic design and fine arts.

What is the main subject of your artworks?

My work is related to a mark-making process. It involves a controllable and uncontrollable factor that is similar to our past experience that some things are beyond our control. This mark-making process is inspired by the tension between two elements such as the interaction of people. However, through the action of repetition to make the marks and splashes, a therapeutic effect is achieved, and also a symbol of freedom and release. My practice begins by creating the mark-making process on two-dimensional surfaces and I have also further explored my artworks in three-dimensional form between several disciplines such as sculpture and installation.

A Conversation Between the Wind and Rain (2019).

Tell us about your artworks during the MCO.

During the MCO period, one of my artworks was inspired by having to stay at home continuously without stepping outside. I had more time to look at the space within my home.

However, the curiosity and eagerness to see the surrounding environment also deeply influenced my daily routine. I noticed that I was standing at the balcony and door to observe the neighbourhood more than usual, which has become a habit now.

Hence, I executed a project titled ‘Captured Within the Box’, for the K[otak]ku Virtual Art Residency organised by HAUS KCH, by using a camera to capture images from my balcony with a row of string installations tied along the area.

Tell us about your art process.

It varies for different pieces of artwork. For example, in the painting series, I first stretched elastic strings across the canvas, then I applied acrylic paint on the strings and begin snapping it onto the canvas surface, almost like playing a stringed instrument. The paint will then be splashed on the canvas, forming dots and lines of colours. Most of my works take a duration ranging from three weeks to three months to complete.

Time Tunnel (2020), made of acrylic and adhesive material. - Picture courtesy of Alicia Lau

Tell us about your most challenging artwork.

The most challenging piece was an artwork titled Isolated, Yet Connected that was completed in 2019. As the overall weight of this artwork is 307kg, I had a challenging experience due to having my previous studio on the fourth floor of a building without an elevator and a Scoliosis condition. It is a large-scale installation with 10 standing sculptures, each of them different in height but stacked with many layers of one-inch medium-density fibreboards. Every layer was carved with lines, connecting each of them.

Tell us about a future project that you are excited about.

I am planning a project that involves public participation. As it would be my first time exploring a theme with the public, I am looking forward very much to the outcome.

Lau is an artist and a part-time lecturer. - Picture courtesy of Puah Chin Kok
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