“People are nicer in Scotland.” “Malaysians are nicer (than Singaporeans!!! Boo hoo for us).” People say you shouldn’t stereotype but sometimes there is truth in generalisms. Hoeynn, a Malaysian artist living in Edinburgh with her Portugese husband Kei (a great cook!), proves both these sayings are not unfounded!
I went to St. Andrews for University (too many years ago now!) and fell in love with how beautiful Scotland is. Moving back to Edinburgh has always been a fantasy of mine so I jumped at the chance to do a Makers & Friends pop-up there last December. Alas, it was not really what I would call smooth going. There was a bad smell in our living room, we found that we shared quarters with a rat (!!!), the wifi didn’t work…. but what made Edinburgh magical was how amazingly nice and helpful and kind the people there were. Two such people were Hoeyyn and her husband Kei. I met them very randomly whilst I was in Edinburgh and they not only rushed to my pop-up after work (they work 7 days a week!), they even told ALL their friends to come visit- in fact, I have it on good authority from 1 of their friends that they were not allowed to not come!! They really are 2 of the warmest people I’ve ever met!
I also found Hoeyyn’s story very inspiring. As some of you may know, in Asia, we aren’t really encouraged to pursue our passions. Steady income and a “respectable” job is often prioritised over actually enjoying life 😛 For example, my last trip home, I received no small amount of flak over the fact that I have a MBA but am doing my own (very small, non-paying) thing and not working for a big corporate. (Sigh) Yet here Hoeyyn is, a successful artist! Speaks 5 languages! From art school teacher in Malaysia to founding her own gallery! Living in Edinburgh! I wanted to know more 🙂
How did you get involved with art/ start painting?
Since I was four, my dad and my eldest brother have always drawn to entertain me and my siblings- art brought us so much fun, it inspired me with the belief that painting brings happiness to people, and I love to master that skill!
Guess what this is painted with? Chinese Ink. AND coffee from Hoeyyn’s hometown! What a cool way to combine her love of art and cooking!
Back to Innocence, 46cm x 36cm, 2006
In Asia, pursuing an arts career is often not encouraged. What difficulties did you face in your road to becoming an established artist?
I am grateful that I am very lucky to have open-minded and forward thinking parents: my dad told me that when I was little, one day he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, he saw me painting until 3am and when he woke up again to get ready for work at 6am, he saw me asleep on the top of my painting! He was so moved by my effort and passion. From then on, he was determined to support my creative dream. When my parents’ friends and our neighbours tried to stop them supporting me in my pursuit of art, my parents always said:”If she is doing something that she is good at, passionate about, and she is not harming anyone, why should we stop her doing art?”
The trust and support from my parents have given me so much strength and blessing. It breaks down all the obstacles and difficulties that I have faced.
You’ve lived in so many places! (Malaysia, London, Edinburgh)- Tell us about what prompted the move to each new location
This is like the dot-to-dot game, and I am still joining the dots, I will tell you when I finished the picture.
What inspires you?
My life and surroundings: nature, stories I have heard, people I have met, mythology and symbolism that interests me.
What was the first piece of work you sold? Is there any piece you regret selling? What’s the piece/ the moments in your artistic journey that you are proudest of?
– A portrait drawing for an individual commission
– So far, I have no regrets selling my art works because I know that all my clients take good care of my paintings.
– It felt so rewarding when my client came back to me and told me how my painting gave her so much strength during her difficult moment in life.
How has your artistic style changed over time?
I share my views and tell stories through my paintings. Throughout different periods of discovering and experiencing various things, all those experiences have affected the colours I used and the execution method I have applied. Although my styles of painting might look different, I always carry a coherent spirit and the principles of Creating Harmony Through Colour within them.
I try to bring calmness and positivity to people through my painting, and this desire helps me to stay aware of and focused on the beauty of my environment.
Religion, Water Colour on Water Colour Paper, 43cmx59cm, 1995
Vision, Mixed Media on Canvas, 50cm x 60cm, 2017 (My personal favourite!)
Who is your favourite artist?
I admire Xu Beihong’s powerful way of painting and Gaudi’s timeless beauty.
And before we go, what are her 3 tips for someone wanting to start their own gallery
- – Have “Passion & Vision” for what you do
- – Find your niche
- – Gain exhibition experiences
Gasping & Letting Go, Mixed Media on Wood Board, 30cm x 20cm, 2015
Don’t forget to checkout Hoeyyn’s gallery in Edinburgh– it’s just off the royal mile! (It adjoins her husband, Kei’s, Traditional Thai Therapy Clinic, so book yourself an awesome treatment! As good as any treatment I’ve tried in Asia 🙂 ) And if you are in London, she’s exhibiting at the Old Truman Gallery with the Talented Art Fair this weekend! 🙂