Photographer Russel Wong creates orchid prints to honour Covid-19 pandemic front-liners

Photographer Russel Wong with an orchid-inspired artwork at STPI Gallery on Jan 27, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Orchid-inspired artworks at STPI Gallery on Jan 27, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Acclaimed photographer Russel Wong has created two orchid compositions in honour of Singapore's medical and social service workers.

The print-based works, produced during a recent residency at STPI - Creative Workshop and Gallery, are titled Purple Phalaenopsis and Pink Phalaenopsis.

The lithograph-on-paper prints were unveiled in a ceremony at STPI on Wednesday (Jan 27). Forty-nine prints have been given to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and Family Service Centres across the island.

Wong, 59, popularly known for his photos of celebrities such as Isabella Rossellini and Jackie Chan, shot the Phalaenopsis orchids in his studio. The photographic images were then translated into photolithographic prints. He used coloured pulp to put in the detail of the flowers' veins.

"I know it sounds kind of weird, but the last thing I wanted is for it to look like a photograph," he said.

"At STPI, I wanted to play around with paints, I wanted something where you could see my hand in it. It's a bit blotchier too, you can't do this in Photoshop."

He hopes the prints will bring their viewers some joy and "transport them, just for that split second".

Wong created the prints as part of an initiative called Art For Our Nation, a joint effort by STPI and One Dream, a volunteer group that aims to improve Singaporeans' well-being by sharing art. The two groups had also teamed up in 2017 to give lithographs by watercolourist Ong Kim Seng to 300 families living in new two-room flats in Jurong GRC.

STPI's executive director Emi Eu said of this year's effort: "We felt that it would be most appropriate to honour our colleagues working in the front-line healthcare and social welfare sectors, for all their hard work during this critical time.

"This is very much aligned with the ethos of the project, which is to bring art to every individual in Singapore - it is especially important this year as we face various challenges brought about by the pandemic and look to art as a source of comfort, inspiration and hope."

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli admiring the orchid-inspired artworks at STPI Gallery. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Guest-of-honour Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health, said he was heartened by the initiative.

"I hope this will encourage more people to also show their appreciation to fellow Singaporeans who have been working bravely and tirelessly to serve our people amidst this pandemic."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.