Empty nest leads mum to discover a life full of art

Ms Belinda Low, pictured here with one of her mural paintings of samsui women in Kreta Ayer, paints Singapore scenes on public walls. She has painted some 40 murals, many of which are in prominent areas and heritage spaces such as Chinatown, Clarke Q
Ms Belinda Low, pictured here with one of her mural paintings of samsui women in Kreta Ayer, paints Singapore scenes on public walls. She has painted some 40 murals, many of which are in prominent areas and heritage spaces such as Chinatown, Clarke Quay and Pulau Ubin.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Ex-Rediffusion deejay is one of Singapore's most visible public mural painters today

Ms Belinda Low gave her all raising her two sons as she was brought up to think that is what mothers were meant to do.

So when her children reached adulthood and started leading their own lives, the jovial Ms Low, 60, found herself facing an empty home after work every day.

She said: "Suddenly, I felt a great sense of loneliness and the home became so empty."

"I realised later this was a common feeling and cause for depression that many mothers face today," said the former Singapore Airlines stewardess and Rediffusion deejay, who hosted the radio station's travel programme in the 1980s.

So in 2011, Ms Low picked up a painter's brush for the first time.

Today, she is one of Singapore's most visible public mural painters, with her post-Impressionist-style art livening up the dull walls around the city and in Housing Board estates. She has painted some 40 murals, many of which are in prominent areas and heritage spaces such as Chinatown, Clarke Quay and Pulau Ubin.

As far as possible, she would paint images of strong female characters on the walls, like the samsui women on a wall in Chinatown. At the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre, one can see an image of her late grandmother coddling a young Belinda, gazing wistfully at men at work.

LIFELONG INTEREST

I have always been interested in creating things, in art. But I did not pursue it from a young age, despite coming from a family of musicians and artists. Art was not practical and (my family) never supported it - maths and the sciences were more important.

MS BELINDA LOW

"I have always been interested in creating things, in art. But I did not pursue it from a young age, despite coming from a family of musicians and artists. Art was not practical and (my family) never supported it - maths and the sciences were more important," said Ms Low.

She got her second chance at an art education when a friend of hers fell into depression after losing a son in a dragon boat tragedy in Cambodia in 2007.

Ms Low, who was struggling with loneliness herself, suggested taking a fine arts class. There, Ms Low discovered her hidden passion and found herself immersed in the world of post-Impressionist artists such as the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, whose style she admires and emulates.

With several large-scale works on the walls and on easels at home, her five-room Pasir Ris flat now resembles an artist's studio.

While she works on weekdays as an administrator at an accounting firm, she spends her weekends on various walls, where the authorities, building owners and various commercial clients give her free rein to unleash her signature fine art style with acrylic paints.

Her works have attracted a patron, Minister in Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who personally commissioned her to paint several empty walls in Holland Village, she said.

While she enjoys the attention her works have garnered, she said her biggest achievement was taking control of her emotions through art.

She is comfortable with the fact that her husband and sons, aged 27 and 29, have never seen her paint in public areas. Said Ms Low: "I can handle being alone, working on an art piece for hours on end. Art is therapeutic and it allows women to unleash their creative energies."

SEE LIFE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'Empty nest leads mum to discover a life full of art'. Print Edition | Subscribe