Author: Toh Ee Ming

It’s Monday morning and Mary Monterio is having a ball of a time. While laying out flowers on cyanotype paper, the 78-year-old exclaims that the flowers appear to be saying hello to her. A stray flower escapes the arrangement and she chides that it’s getting “naughty”. She uses bold brushstrokes to coat the print with a special light-sensitive solution and gives a final flourish. 
Nur Rabiatutadawiah Binte Mohamed Rafi (‘Rabia’) feeds a strip of yarn over the latch-hook, pushes it through the canvas backing to create a small, even loop. She pulls the string taut, brow furrowed in concentration. It’s a delicate process which requires steady hands and plenty of patience. Rabia repeats the process over and over again, until a bright yellow sunflower slowly forms. 
Seated on a wheelchair beside her is young mentee Tamimi Pohan, born with brittle bone disease. The 14-year-old works slowly, carefully using a lino cutter to cut out the shape of a durian. The afternoon rays of the sun fall slanting on their table, casting a honey-gold hue over the scene. Working with marginalised communities and giving them a voice has always been a guiding philosophy of Mary’s artistic practice. 
Intricately molded dragons perched atop the rim of a ceramic bow, fashioned after the characters in How to Train Your Dragon. A cheery-looking miniature train inspired by Thomas the Tank Engine. Troll figurines that stand stiffly like sentinels. These tiny, delicate marvels are just some of 19-year-old Ang Shuhao’s clay creations made during his free time, offering a tiny glimpse into the rich inner world of his imagination.