Seeing Covid-19 through kids' art

Aaron Yeo, 12, and his painting titled Masks.
Aaron Yeo, 12, and his painting titled Masks.PHOTOS: AARON YEO

What does the pandemic mean to children? They share their feelings, hopes and fears in these artworks

SINGAPORE - When Aaron Yeo's mother wanted to buy masks to protect the family against Covid-19 in March, it got him thinking.

The 12-year-old realised that people need masks for other purposes too - from firefighters in Australia battling bush fires to Indonesians using them against the haze to protesters in Hong Kong who shield their identities with them.

The budding artist put his thoughts into the painting, Masks, which took him three weeks to complete. He also created Noises, a collage of positive and negative words cut from English and Chinese newspapers, which represents his stress during the pandemic.

Aaron, who is taking his Primary School Leaving Examination this year, says art helps him express his feelings and creativity.

He is among several children who are sharing their pandemic-themed art in The Straits Times, which runs the gamut of experiences from bubble tea withdrawal to social distancing.

Mr Patrick Yee, 56, a leading local illustrator who has more than 180 children's books to his name, says kids can sense fear and stress in the adults around them during the pandemic, so art helps them manage these feelings.

It also gives younger ones, who cannot articulate their emotions, "a way to say the unsaid".

Since families are still staying home more than they used to, allowing children to express themselves through art is a good way to expend their energy, says Mr Yee, who recently illustrated Stay Away Corona Virus, a self-published book by Mei Wenli and Cheryl Teo.

He also lectures at tertiary institutions and teaches art as therapy for children with special needs at several charities.

Mr Yee advises parents not to dictate what their children should draw. Instead, they should act as facilitators by providing art materials, allowing for ample activity time and encouraging their little ones.

Parents can ask questions like, "This looks interesting, can you tell me more?", without passing judgment. It is also important to guide kids to clean up properly afterwards, he says.


Aaron Yeo said Noises, a collage of newspaper cuttings, represents his stress during the pandemic. PHOTO: AARON YEO

FENIX RAFAEL ARTIACO-LAW, 5


PHOTO: FENIX RAFAEL ARTIACO-LAW

 

Fenix drew his bicycle, which he learnt to ride at a neighbourhood park during the circuit breaker. It represents the freedom to go out and be with his friends.

AIDAN LIM JUN XI, 7


PHOTOS: AIDAN LIM JUN XI

"I used some of these (gadgets) at home during the circuit breaker. We had to stay at home because of Covid-19. My favourite is the laptop because I Skype with my best friend using the laptop."

ANIKA GUPTA, 6


PHOTOS: ETONHOUSE

"This is me walking to the Bay East Garden of Gardens by the Bay. There, I met my friends. I started to play with them while maintaining 1m apart. We thought racing was a safe game so we played racing all around Gardens by the Bay."

EVA KARKARIA, 6


PHOTO: EVA KARKARIA

Eva loves baking with her mother, a skill she picked up while staying at home during the circuit breaker.

JOYOUS SNG, 7


PHOTOS: EVA KARKARIA

"My mother, sister and I missed boba tea during the circuit breaker. I drew boba teas and each of them has different feelings, like me."

SIMONE KHOH, 8


PHOTOS: SIMONE KHOH

"I really miss going for my swimming classes, so I painted the swimming pool. I wish I could swim soon."

JONAS ANG, 8


PHOTOS: JONAS ANG

"This is our neighbourhood on April 25 at 7.55pm, when everyone came out to his or her window and balcony to sing Home and cheer on Singapore's front-line workers."

TRAVIS HENG HAO XIANG, 8


PHOTOS:TRAVIS HENG HAO XIANG

Travis explains that Godzilla represents the cure for Covid-19. He hopes that it will "magically arrive and save the world, just like Godzilla".