SINGAPORE – Photographs often make the best souvenirs, but when Ms Ho Ming Xia spots a beautiful scene abroad, she pulls out her sketchbook and draws it instead.
So it was only natural that, even while stuck at home because of the coronavirus, she began seeking new vistas once more.
A month ago, she embarked on a project called The Window Experiment, sketching and painting window views from photos taken by friends in Singapore and around the world.
More than a month into the circuit breaker period aimed at reducing coronavirus infections, many in Singapore have turned to passion projects to stave off cabin fever.
Some draw, paint or take photos, while others sing in virtual choirs – a new type of music gaining traction around the world.
In a time of stress and isolation, making art can be cathartic, says Ms Dorothy Lim, a programme specialist from the Singapore Association for Mental Health Creative Services. "The creative process fuels individuals' imagination and provides them hope beyond the four walls of their homes or their situations."
LEARNING NEW SKILLS[hhmc]
Ms Ho, 25, who works as a project manager for hostel chain Draper Startup House, got the idea for The Window Experiment while watching the sunset at Labrador Park about a week before the circuit breaker measures kicked in.
"When passers-by saw my friend and I appreciating the view, they also slowed down to look. It sparked the idea of how I can rediscover curiosity in Singapore," says Ms Ho, adding that her sketches help people see familiar surroundings with fresh eyes.
The project also lets her practise skills such as watercolour painting, of which she is less confident.
"Although I feel that my drawings look better as a sketch, in black and white, I wanted to gain a better grasp of how to mix colours and recreate the colour palette I picture in my head," says Ms Ho.
She has done 44 ink and watercolour paintings so far, taking between 10 and 40 minutes for each one.
Ms Teo Xin Yee (@xin.illus), who graduated in January this year with a business administration degree from the National University of Singapore, has also taken the chance to hone her drawing skills.
Although she had dabbled in illustration before, it took a backseat to other interests such as rock climbing.
But, with time on her hands during the circuit breaker, she has challenged herself to draw something new every day.
The 24-year-old will start a marketing job in July. For now, drawing every day offers structure to her routine.
"It helps me feel productive and at the end of the circuit breaker, at least I'll have something to show for my time," she says.
ART ACROSS BORDERS[hhmc]
With people around the world stuck indoors, there is no better time for cross-border collaborations.
Full-time artist Reza Hasni (@reza.hasni), who usually does illustrations and motion art, is working with a sound designer in Greece, an illustrator from Indonesia and a local Web developer for his first virtual reality (VR) exhibition, which will take place online next month.
Titled Centre for Altered Togetherness (c-a-t.world), it will showcase digital drawings in Reza's signature psychedelic style, brought to life by interactive studio Screensavers.
The exhibition aims to bring viewers into pockets of Reza's mind and explore alternative worlds to escape reality.
The show may sound unconventional, but Reza says it is based on the current global situation of isolation.
"Since we are all experiencing the same thing in different countries, we decided to collaborate. I enjoy working together, trying something new, figuring out how to meet and share ideas online," says the 38-year-old.
Reza, who splits his time between Singapore and Berlin, was inspired by virtual exhibitions in the German capital last year.
Even before the pandemic, artists were already using them to reach a wider audience.
"Unlike illustrations or murals, VR lets me showcase work in a new way. It is more experiential and there are many possibilities in this area," he says.
Meanwhile, Ms Eng Jia Ling, 29, who is head of business at education technology start-up Tueetor, has caught up with former bandmates with whom she performed while on student exchange in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, in 2013.
She plans to duet with a Brazilian friend on the acoustic guitar, and to experiment with electronic sounds and instruments with another in Poland.
Ms Eng has also reconnected with former schoolmates, singing in two virtual ensembles comprising alumni from the Victoria Junior College (VJC) choir.
One was an eight-member rendition of Italian protest folk song Bella Ciao, which was featured in Netflix's hit drama series Money Heist.
Another was a rendition of VJC choral anthem No Man Is An Island, sung by more than 100 members from the choir's 30-year history.
Ms Eng says: "Singing as a group, you feel more confident because there are so many people supporting you, while recording alone is a bit scary.
"You have to be more precise with the tempo, hitting the right notes and coming in on time. But when the song comes together, it sounds so full.
She adds: "We are joyful listening to the songs and I hope people will be too."
For some, the pandemic has offered a unique opportunity for family time – and a chance to capture these memories for posterity.
When her grandmother, Madam Chiang Ah Loi, turned 86 last month, marketing maRead More – Source[contf] [contfnew]