A young Singaporean is in the running for an international craft prize organised by Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe.

Artist Ashley Yeo‘s series of two paper works is one of 30 pieces shortlisted from nearly 1,900 submissions from 86 countries. The 27-year-old is the first Singaporean chosen as a finalist since the annual award’s launch in 2016.

Arbitrary Metrics II (2015), a series of two intricately cut paper pieces in the shape of a cube and cylinder, invites the viewer to slow down and reflect.

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Yeo’s work, the Loewe judging panel writes, is “outstandingly cut in paper”, yet “feels closer to the woven techniques of crochet”.

“Filigree – traditionally done with precious metals – is done here with the simplest material, paper, made precious by her action as a craft-maker.

“The result is an ethereal work made as much of air and void as of paper and skills.”

In some ways, the quiet, subtle pieces are a reaction to how over-stimulated people are in modern society.

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Ashley Yeo
Singaporean Ashley Yeo (above) took weeks to come up with Arbitrary Metrics II, which comprises two paper works. ST Poto: Khalid Baba

“On social media, we are constantly overwhelmed with news. Everything is very shocking, very instant,” says Yeo, who deleted her Facebook account six years ago.

She designed her pieces in a sketchbook and on Adobe Illustrator, printed out the nets and cut out the intricate designs with an X-Acto blade before gluing them into shape.

The painstaking yet meditative process took her weeks.

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Ashley Yeo
Singaporean Ashley Yeo took weeks to come up with Arbitrary Metrics II (above), which comprises two paper works. ST Photo: Khalid Baba

The Loewe Craft Prize is open to anyone above the age of 18 working in a craft-based profession, and aims “to showcase and celebrate excellence, artistic merit and newness in modern craftsmanship”.

The winner will be announced on May 3 and will win a cash prize of €50,000 (S$81,120).

All the finalists’ works, ranging from welded steel pendants to a wall hanging woven from fragrant rice straw, will go on display at the Design Museum in Kensington, London, from May 4 to June 17.

One of Yeo’s handcut pieces in the series has already been sold to an art collector for $1,700.

During her interview with The Straits Times at Telok Kurau Studios, where she is based, Yeo, who teaches at her alma mater Lasalle College of the Arts, says she feels students can be too passive.

“They want to please other people, they want to make what the lecturer likes,” she says.

“The students are so young, but so tired.”

Yeo, not one to create “in-your-face” works that pander to a certain audience, suggests with a nod to the title of her series that all standards are ultimately arbitrary.

She trusts her works will speak for themselves, but adds: “What I find valuable might not be the same to another person. To someone else, it could be just paper.”

This article originally appeared on The Straits Times.