I first encountered No. 80 about five years ago in 2006. It was a dilapidated and an unoccupied house. Throughout the years, many plans and dreams were made for it; still, it resists to host permanent inhabitants. I am not sure if this time we can succeed in seeding some roots at No. 80 and growing something concrete and with great multiplier impact out of this space, but it does feel like this is it!

The name and vision for an artist’s house crept about when we had to close down charKOL at Mandai Orchid Garden and we had to resolve where to keep our things for our giftshop, our gallery, our cafe and our dreams. We shipped everything back to Ipoh since the closure in June 2009 and till this day, much remains in a warehouse; some have been reused and some are just squatting in borrowed homes. It took me a good two years to step out of the sense of great failure and the despair that comes from this same sense of great failure. Now, I’m ready, once again, to live and fully encounter the artist in me.

The art, we hope can find a home.

The artists, we also hope can find a home, to make art.

Not many artists remain in the charKOL journey, so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to call this The charKOL Artists’ House (which was the name and vision in 2009), but simply The Artist’s House. The Artist, the lone artist, being me.I still feel very alone in my art journey and frankly, lonelier than I have ever been since I started my art journey in 2000. But plough on I must, as I know there is nowhere else I can run and nothing else I must do, if I were to live a morally courageous and authentic life. Many people say authentic is an over-used word; the other dirtier word being… artist. Well, all I know is I have to continue to make art and I don’t know how to describe what I do and I don’t know how to live otherwise, nor would I want to choose to live differently. Making art is an integral part of me – just like being a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a finance consultant. When one part is missing, I feel a huge vacuum.

“So…what exactly are your plans for The Artist’s House?” – this reverberates more than from my parents who own the space and my brother who helps run the space. It rang ever so loudly in my head the morning I picked up the phone and made a call to my brother and parents and requested for The Artist’s House to take form and in September 2011. I am grateful for their support for another of my many projects which are continuations of other projects that have yet to bear fruit. It is simply impossible for me at this state to join the dots between these projects.

The dots are seeds of visions, of futures – not yet named. All I know is my task is to continue to strive for a kinder humanity, and whatever moves me and is within my being to take form, I will do my best for it to come into being.

In any case, visit this site, both virtually and literally, and often too – I’m sure we’ll both be equally surprised at where The Artist’s House will take us!

The Artist’s House will come into being this September; it must.

for the living artist,
Poet-Artist Forestkeeper PEK
July 2011


After I wrote the above, nothing happened for a while; nearly a year to be exact. Sometime at the end of 2011, an opportunity came up. My mom agonised over whether to purchase the house next door, No.78. It was not that she had excess resource. It was that she was moved in her own way, that till today, she still hasn’t really articulated. She would name about 4 reasons – her sister, her grandchildren, safety & security, me. Then sometime at the beginning of 2012, she bought the house. In June 2012, The Artist’s House came into being, after a 3 week frenzied renovation of No. 80 and No. 78. It is still pretty much a shell. Further exterior renovations are still being considered. There is still uncertainty about what to do with the garden, the balconies, the front porches – on my mom’s part. This time, I know better. We work as a team. I let her lead the way; I have learnt to allow her to unfold as she has me.

It is interesting that as I am planning for The Artist’s House that one of my major piece is about my art collaboration with my daugther. And I missed my mom again, my primary collaborator in this project. And so it is, the whole project is a family collaboration. My mom, my brother Keat, my daughter, my nieces and nephews (who have already started drawing & painting away to contribute to The Artist’s House) and today, my son who is 4+ with trisomy 21 has started to draw like a true artist. There is no doubt about his marks – clear and decisive, with full confidence, certainty and conviction about what he has to say, and his place in the world.

June 27, 2012

House Rules
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