Unconventional. It best describes these five women who are going against the grain by adding an alternative voice to Singapore’s creative scene with their talent and wit. From crocheting figures in the likeness of wild creatures, to capturing the beauty of the world one stitch at a time, they’ve also shown that there’s greatness in being a little rebellious.
She’s transformed the likeness of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra personas into illustrations bursting with kaleidoscopic vibrancy, and reimagined Singapore’s cityscapes into vivid works of art. One part tongue-in-cheek,many parts memorable, Melson’s intricate illustrations have been featured by Uniqlo, Facebook and more. Now part of a team called Lunch Money, a collective that injects life into co-working spaces through visually-arresting murals, the 35-year-old also
spends her time dabbling in some aspects of fashion—her illustrations have adorned sneakers and bags, while her graphic t-shirts, iron-on patches and metal pins are worn by those in the know like a badge of honour.
You may have seen a giant billboard advertisement of her peering down on you as you criss-crossed a busy intersection along Orchard Road, but that isn’t the only thing unforgettable about Lim. Going by the moniker Kelly Limerick, the 27-year-old has woven a persona that is as colourful and irreverent as the wildly whimsical crochet objects she is renowned for. Lim picked up the skill when she was seven years old and there’s no looking back—it has brought her on a path where the craft form has become an integral part of her identity. She has been commissioned by the likes of the National Heritage Board, New Balance and Muji to create special pieces that not only showcase her unique point of view, but celebrate individuality. “Don’t try to be anyone else and you’ll be giving the world what it’s been waiting for,” she said.
Fashion Designer; Founder of r. y. e
If you’re yearning for a change from fashion’s recent predilection for streetwear and a maximalist aesthetic, then look no further than the pared-back sensibility of r.y.e, the brainchild of 29-year-old Ye. “Finding serenity and the pursuit of holistic well-being are essential elements that inspire the way I live and approach design,” Ye said. “I am drawn to things that have a quiet elegance and sensibility to them. I appreciate the beauty of details and refined craftsmanship.” The homegrown label’s inception was also a result of Ye taking a stand against the fleeting nature of fashion, which explains why Ye’s functional garments all come imbued with an elegance that is timeless.
“Trust” is a key word that is at the core of what Sim does. As one of the few marquage artists plying the trade in Singapore, the canvases the 31-year-old works on are the luxurious leather goods that her clients entrust her to customise. Sim’s paintings have found their way onto Hermès and Louis Vuitton bags; her renditions of pop culture iconographies adding an unexpected lease of life to the formality of the accessories. The Fine Art graduate from University of London applies each brushstroke with razor-sharp precision because there is zero room for error. No detail is too small for Sim: “It’s often the overlooked ones that I find inspiring, and they are usually the most crucial components that make something perfect.”
In 2015, Gucci approached Lim to conceive a series of embroidered artworks for a digital initiative, #GucciGram. It shone the spotlight on the world that Lim creates—one that is best described as a Technicolor dream that seems tailor-made for social media. Lim, whose foray into embroidery began amidst the advent of Facebook and Instagram, says social media has changed the game for artists like her: “It really opened the market and the scene. It’s so easy to get out there and connect with an audience,” the 28-year-old offered. The downside? “It has become too saturated. You really need to have a very strong story, personality and creative style.” Meanwhile, Lim has utilised her talent to create conversations around issues close to her heart—her latest project is a textural creation that deals with the issue of excessive plastic waste.
Photographer: Wee Khim; Stylist: Sharon Tulasidas; Makeup: Elain Lim using Dior; Manisa Tan/PaletteINC