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DTVM student's art piece to be enlarged as display at Changi Airport

When you next visit Changi Airport, you will soon see huge art pieces on the 800-metre hoarding that covers the construction site of the new lifestyle complex called Project Jewel.

One of the pieces is the creation of Vera Sng Wei Na, a Year 2 student from the Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media (DTVM). She is the youngest winner in the Open Category of the prestigious art competition. Her submission was selected as one of the 15 winners in the Changi Airport Project Jewel contest which took place from January to March 2014.

Why it’s so grand

Project Jewel is an iconic centrepiece of the airport when it’s ready in 2018. It will be built at a cost of over $1.4 billion on a 3.5-hetare surface car park in front of Terminal 1. Developers say it “will offer a range of facilities for airport operations, indoor gardens and leisure attractions, retail offerings and hotel facilities, all under one roof.”

Participants were encouraged to imagine what Project Jewel can be. Members of the public were invited to share their vision via photos, drawings or sketches. If selected, their work would be reproduced as art exhibits for display at Changi Airport or as souvenirs for visitors.

It’s the Vera we know

For Vera, who sees pretty much everything as a canvas, she created something magical. Like writing, Vera sees her art as a means to convey ideas. She may be a first-timer at winning art competitions but her family, friends and lecturers are not surprised because this is a girl who transforms the printed logos on her bag by adding intricate designs and colours. She even invents characters and paints them on plain bags.

We speak to Vera and found out what was the source of inspiration for a piece that will soon be curated into what the organisers say, is a “larger than life creative interpretation” of Project Jewel.

Vera Sng from DTVM

1. What made you decide to join the competition?
My art at that moment was in a slump and I couldn’t seem to come up with anything nice to draw, so when I saw the link to the contest, I thought, hey, maybe drawing with a theme would be a better idea than sitting around trying to come up with ideas. But mainly, I have never really won (or entered) any art-related competition and thought it would be cool to.

2. Where did you get your ideas? Who/What inspired you?
I got my inspiration from a few artists across platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr. Some of their works I came across while brainstorming about my piece and some I was already a fan of. The whole idea of having splashes of colours was a technique I wanted to try for a long time and thought it would be a great opportunity to experiment with it. The things included in the piece were inspired by the theme of the contest.

3. What did you want to achieve by making the submission?
Fundamentally, I wanted to get my art out there. I feel that drawing is very much like writing, except it conveys ideas in a more visual way. Art isn’t supposed to be kept in your drawer or in a folder on your computer, it’s meant to be shared with everyone, so this submission was a great platform to do that.

4. How did you feel when you were told that you won?
I got the call in the middle of my Astronomy Freshmen Orientation Camp. It was noisy and I had to ask the caller to repeat herself a few times to make sure I heard her correctly. To be honest, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t win. On the contest page, there was a section where they displayed submitted works and no matter how long I waited, mine didn’t go up. I even re-submitted, thinking maybe it was because they didn’t receive it, and still, nothing. Turns out, all that worry was for nothing, because they received over a thousand entries and it was impossible to put them all up. The feeling after the call was disbelief, really. And it just cleared all the doubts I had about my art. I was hopping all over the place after that.

5. What are some of the challenges in completing the piece? How long did it take?
I finished the piece in about 4 hours,  but the ideating took a few weeks. I have to take breaks when I draw, so that my hand doesn't cramp up, so I spread my work out. I didn’t really face many problems, just that the colours didn’t seem to turn out like I expected them too, so I had to tweak certain parts of my initial idea to make it work.

6. What materials (if any) did you choose?
I chose watercolour paints. Many people say that watercolour is the ‘unforgiving medium’ because it is difficult to control and requires a lot of practice. That was my third time using watercolours and I was pretty nervous about it, but it turned out well, much to my relief!

7. What prize did you win? What will you do with that prize?
I won Changi Airport vouchers. Before I submitted my piece, I promised my family that I would bring them to eat good stuff at the Airport if I won, so that’s what I did!

Artwork by Vera Sng