Ly Yeow

Multidisciplinary artist & art teacher

I’ve been to Ly’s home a couple of times now and with each visit, I spot something new – new cabinets, new plants, newly framed photos. All within a span of a month. I feel like it’s a good way to show how Ly is – she is spontaneous and experimental. Even dare I say, a little whimsical?

Her walls are filled with framed photos and sketches, her shelves lined with vintage knick-knacks in various shapes and colours. Look around her home studio and it is undeniable that Ly is intent on creating a space that helps her cultivate her craft.
But even more than that, she strives to mould her home studio space into one conducive for teaching. Ly runs Lyttle Space out of her home studio, and through her art classes she inspires 4 to 12 year olds to think outside the box and view art as a language to express themselves. Her students are taught not to seek perfection, but to savour the sheer enjoyment of creating something from scratch.

When I ask Ly about significant milestones in the evolution of her art, she is quick to cite her residency on Lanyu 蘭嶼 island (also known as Orchid Island) as a turning point. Her time there reshaped her views on sustainability, specifically regarding her merchandise. Since then, she has ceased to sell anything other than prints. “There’s nothing like seeing your art in someone else’s home.” Her only other exception is postcards, because let’s be honest, isn’t nice to receive something handwritten in the mail?
Beyond that, Ly also spent her time on Lanyu Island watching the blue hues of the sea, and this inspired a body of work that recently culminated in a solo exhibition at Homeground Coffee earlier this year. I got the chance to capture her opening night - click here to see how it went.

“I wish I had 48 hours in a day,  then I could sleep 8 hours
and use the other 40 to do everything I want to do.”

I find it difficult to believe that Ly only started drawing in 2011, as an outlet to express overwhelming emotions. Her first exhibition, ‘Catboy’, was about unrequited love. As she says: “I’m not inspired by just one single thing. [My art] is all driven by feeling. The drawings just flow out of me.”
In a cupboard by her work desk, Ly graciously shows me her sketchbooks, neatly labelled by year, lined up on a shelf. They contain black and white sketches of people she saw on a train during a trip to Japan as well as 2 metre-long accordion books that reveal Ly’s wanderlust for whimsical and imaginary landscapes. These are her visual journals, her way of expressing herself on paper.

Q: Does she feel that she is drawing versions of hersef in her art?

“It’s not intentional, it’s subconscious. I see myself in the mirror everyday, so I guess that’s what comes to mind. Likewise, my husband is the only guy I ever draw. I tried drawing other people but they just don’t turn out as well.”  
As I watch Ly paint another seascape, I realise that the sea could be a great symbol for Ly and her art. Its waves are fierce yet calming to watch and it is always in a flux. I can’t wait to see where the tide takes her.

Ly Yeow

Visited multiple times since 2019, published April 2019.