Young girl with special needs shapes her Garden through clay art
SINGAPORE: It’s a lively Saturday afternoon at the National Museum of Singapore, where a group of children are taking part in a bird mobile-making workshop.
Among them is Sow Zixuan, a 12-year-old wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, who is concentrating on her own green-coloured bird creation, surrounded by her new friends and her family. “I love to make art,” she shyly whispered.
The mobile-making workshop is part of Is Anyone Home?, an ongoing Singapore Art Week exhibition comprising installations and performances done by children with special needs or those who come from less privileged backgrounds, in collaboration with local artists.
It’s the latest project by inclusive community arts group Superhero Me, and among the works on display is Zixuan’s very own Garden.
Over a two-month period last year, she and her artist mentor Chloe Tan worked on a series of small ceramic mobiles and jigsaw pieces. These depicted family members as well as other objects she had come up with.
Tan, a ceramicist and art educator, said the idea behind the work came during their first meeting, when Zixuan asked her how to draw a sunflower.
Realising her mentee had never seen a real one before, she promptly brought one at their next session.
For the next few meetings, the two of them – with help from Zixuan’s nanny – began choosing and assembling images, which they would shape into small clay versions.
Tan would slowly notice her reserved young collaborator coming out of her shell, and by the end of their sessions, Zixuan would be the one giving them instructions.
“We realised that was where the synergy was – she enjoys people working together with her,” said Tan, who added that working on ceramics also turned out to be quite beneficial.
“Cerebral palsy affects the muscles. And there was one session when her dad was around and he was surprised to see her squeezing (her hands). That’s when we realised clay can be a good art form for her because it allows her to exercise her muscles,” she said.