The Cradle of the House

Solo Show, ION Art Gallery, Singapore

Time cannot be halted. It’s unwavering, persistent, and often indifferent. It lives lodged inside my journals, turning the pages yellow with mildew, spreading in blotches and stains. It hides beneath the skin and bones of my loved ones. I ignore it willfully, even when I notice a few more strands of silver hair at a loved one’s temples.

Peering into the terrifying vastness of time, that gradually envelops everything in its path, I draw the window blinds, lean against the familiar patterns on a bedroom wall, and take refuge. The solidity of the walls around me give me comfort, but I know time is still in here with me. The wallpaper by the window and the photographs left out lying on the kitchen table will continue to become sunbleached.

Time lurks within us. We can take photographs, write in our diaries, and carefully put away treasured memorabilia in cupboards or boxes, but the accumulation of seconds, days and years clouds over the clarity of our memories easily, wearing away the intensity and sharp ridges, just as a whirlpool churns a rock fragment into a smooth pebble.

I try to record what I can. I paint the shadows of furniture onto the wall, seal the stains on the coffee table, record the scents in every room – Lux soap, my father’s potted water plum flowers, anise, stale mothballs. I make memorials from architectural fragments and the residue of living to try to hold back the tide of forgetting. Memories that are housed and fixed securely in space are better protected from the erosion of time.

Even these fragments that I make, one day, will without a doubt, be swallowed by the hours. But for the time being, they provide a safe refuge for my mute tumult of memories.