so when i learnt about the project brief, i was abit stunned because i’m not a person who necessarily remembers what I watch/read/learn. (i somehow have quite terrible memory). movies that i remember are the ones that i watched as a kid/when i was in primary school, or very recent ones.

one movie i immediately shortlisted is MEAN GIRLS (2004). the movie revolves around a girl who had just moved from south africa, and is joining the public high school for the first time. she realises that the rule of the jungle applies to the high school too, and she tries to fit in with the popular girls before realising that that isn’t who she is. there were a few quotes that i shortlisted, eg. ‘watch out please! fresh meat coming through!’, ‘that’s so fetch!’, ‘on wednesdays we wear pink’, ‘you smell like a baby prostitute’.

i eventually settled down on the quote ‘ that’s why her hair’s so big. it’s full of secrets.’ who was said by damian in the movie, who is the new girl’s first friend in school, when he was explaining to her about the social hierarchy in the high school.

I started off with a lady with long hair that i grabbed off the internet. and began sticking things in her hair (because it’s full of secrets), but i figured that the hair is not very obviously shown. this is because after threshold or halftone, the hair becomes either patches of black or white, and the texture of the hair is lost.


Gaia Ikebana Final


SOooooooOOoo we need to have a twig, a sphere, a cone, a cylinder and another random object. (when Cheryl first talked about the cone thing I immediately thought of an ice cream cone which I eventually used in my final!)

When I researched about ikebana, the first article i found was on the principles of Ikebana

  1. Silence
  2. Minimalism
  3. Shape and line
  4. Form
  5. Humanity
  6. Aesthetics
  7. Structure

The principles that stood out to me were MINIMALISM and HUMANITY. I wanted to insert my own story when it came to my final work, which was what I think I struggled with the most (that and finding the perfect branch. More on that later.) The aesthetic point was easier to deal with once I got my concept down.

My theme was WINTER and the first word that comes into my mind is COLD. I was wondering who I could relate this season to… I looked through old photos at home to get inspiration :’)

I had photos of my many family trips overseas over the years, and one of them was a trip to Australia Gold Coast during one of my June holidays. My maternal grandparents were with us on the trip (they were in their late 70s, early 80s at the time) and my grandfather doted on me (I am the 3rd youngest grandchild in the myriad of grandchildren that he has). However he thought it was a good idea to eat most of my ice cream cone????? So I was very heartbroken after that as a result. and that event has stuck in my mind ever since.

Another thing that stuck in my mind is my yearly tradition during 冬至 of making 汤圆 with the aunt who has taken care of me since I was born. It started off with me thinking it was playdoh, then realising that I could make SNOWMEN with the glutinous rice flour. My snowmen never really cooked evenly, but it was a fun childhood memory. My mom never failed to pack a container of the 汤圆 for my grandparents, mainly my grandfather. Even though he doesn’t have any more teeth, he still takes the effort to thank me for the 汤圆 every year, and tries his best to finish the bowl of it. Here’s a video of my tangyuan that i made in 2016!

So these are the reasons behind choosing the individual elements, and now comes putting it together!

One of the problems I found was finding a suitable/appropriate twig/stick for this project. I was restricted to the grounds in NTU since I stay in hall, but since NTU is a forest there are plenty of sticks. This particular one called out to me because it has a algae/fungus thing growing on it that makes it have a white tinge, which I thought was appropriate since it is WINTER! I abandoned all other sticks after finding this one.

The next part was the 汤圆.

the flour I bought to use!

the 汤圆 that I steamed in my portable steamer in hall. don’t have a pot to cook 汤圆 the regular way

I experimented with cooked 汤圆 vs uncooked 汤圆. I soon realised that uncooked 汤圆 was very veryyyyyy fragile, because once it dried it was prone to falling apart. I realised it was a metaphor for my grandfather, because my grandparents were headed to rural China (they are currently there now) against doctor’s advice because my grandfather wanted to visit one last time before he passed on. The cooked 汤圆 is for all the times he has been able to enjoy, and the uncooked one is for the times that he may not be able to enjoy anymore. The fragility of life with my grandfather could be reflected in the uncooked 汤圆. He may wither away in China for all I know, and I won’t have the chance to give him my 汤圆 this 冬至 (which is a sad thought to think about).


Top view of final

There is a slight circular direction that I was going with, kinda with the circle of life concept.

front view of final

side view of final

I was going for the minimal look. The clean lines, the uncluttered look that guides the eye through the work. The colours were kept monochrome to depict my solemn view towards my uncertainty of grandfather’s life. (Winter is also the end of the year… when everything is dead. Reflects my mood perfectly.) Even though my ikebana doesn’t have a pot like most are supposed to, after all winter is dead so theres no need for the soil to sustain life anywayyyyy.

Overall, after seeing everyone’s work I did feel abit demoralised because everyone’s were so out there and vying for attention, whereas mine was simple and minimal which I thought it was supposed to be. Looking back, I do think that minimalism is more my style, just that my works will always pale in comparison with others (which sucks.) I’m just not sure whether I should continue with my minimal style or try doing more crazy stuff like other people. Oh well.