Empty nest leads ex-Rediffusion deejay Belinda Low to discover a life full of art

Ms Belinda Low, 60, has no formal art training. But she has painted 40 Impressionist-style murals which can be seen around Singapore. For her, painting helps to combat loneliness.
Ms Belinda Low pictured at home with some of her paintings.
Ms Belinda Low pictured at home with some of her paintings. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

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

So when they 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 that 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 80s.

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

A mural painting in Kreta Ayer by Ms Belinda Low. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

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

She got her second chance at an artistic education when a friend of hers fell into depression after losing a son in a dragon boating 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 as an administrator at an accounting firm, she spends her weekends on various walls, where the authorities, building owners or 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 they have garnered, Ms Low said her biggest achievement was taking control of her emotions through art. She is comfortable with the fact that her husband and sons, 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."

Ms Belinda Low with two of her paintings.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG