Artist Dawn Ng's new work about motherhood is her most personal one yet

Dawn Ng with her new work “Perfect Stranger”. (Photo: Dawn Ng)
Dawn Ng with her new work “Perfect Stranger”. (Photo: Dawn Ng)

You are probably familiar with her work, even if you do not know the Singaporean artist by name. Dawn Ng is the creator of Walter the rabbit, the enormous white rabbit that dominated the Singapore Art Museum lawn at various intervals over the last decade.

When asked how she feels about her most iconic work, Ng said that Walter has taken on a life of its own.

Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore, Ng said, “Walter was a work that involved a giant rabbit, but the work was not about that rabbit, which ultimately became an icon with its own legion of fans.”

“It was about the beauty of everyday and ordinary local landscapes, which the enormous rabbit was placed in, that would otherwise be invisible if not for something so warped and surreal situated in its context,” Ng added.

Dawn Ng’s Walter. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)
Dawn Ng’s Walter. (Photo: Singapore Art Museum)

The graduate from Georgetown University and the UCL Slade School of Fine Art has been profiled in Prestige, Billionaire and Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.

Ng, 36, is married to Wee Teng Wen, co-founder and managing partner of The Lo & Behold Group, which owns eateries including The Black Swan and The White Rabbit. They have a one-year-old daughter.

Referring to her current affluent lifestyle, Ng said, “The idea that any artist should lead a spartan or ascetic life is a rather tired cliche, don’t you agree?”

In spite of shying away from talking about her personal life during the interview, Ng’s upcoming solo exhibition “Perfect Stranger” – which runs from 17 Jan to 22 Feb at art gallery Chan + Hori Contemporary – is an assembly of words, notes, messages and poetry which began as private revelations from a would-be mother to her first-born child.

Born from a year’s worth of daily responses to questions from a psychologist and friend, the 48 bodies of text lie on vast sheets of paper of various hues on the freshly painted white gallery floor. Visitors can walk amongst the manuscripts barefoot or observe it all from a specially constructed podium.

Ng admits this is her most personal work to date.

“It began as a slow-burn project I wanted to work on every day over a year. I had intended to let its content rest for an indefinite amount of time and perhaps gift it to my daughter when she turns 35, the age I was when I created it, whilst pregnant with her. In this way, she would have this incredibly personal narrative time capsule of us, right here and now,” she said.

According to Ng, motherhood has made her hyper-efficient with her time and even more dogged in her approach towards art-making.

Ng is not fussed about living up to the expectations of an audience influenced by Instagram and other social media platforms.

“I never make work with an audience in mind. I create things that are compelling to me, or rather, are led by my own compulsions,” She said.

On the new generation of Instagram artists who get their break by posting their work online, Ng said, “I think that’s exciting for them. Instagram is not a medium, it’s a platform. It’s the most democratic form of gallery of the future.”

Asked about her future plans, the artist said she is looking forward to “more work”.

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