Boasting over 10,000 followers on Instagram, Visual Display Artist Cheryl Tan is no stranger to the world of social media. Take one glimpse at her feed and the striking colours of photos will most certainly be stitched in your memory.
We spoke with the 29-year-old as she shares more about her embroidery craft, and how art acts as an avenue for her to preserve precious memories.
Keeping The Memory Of Her Grandmother Alive
As with many grandchildren, Cheryl shared a deep bond with her beloved grandmother. Not only did she teach her how to speak her dialect, her grandmother was also the one who first introduced her into the world of craft at the mere age of 6.
“My grandmother sews a fair bit, from mending torn pants to making her bags and cross-stitching. When I picked up sewing from her, I made my own pencil case and did cross-stitching just like her. So I can say I’m a junior grandmother in the making,” she vividly recalls.
I don’t know about you, but when I was 6-years-old, I was barely painting “decent-looking” art, let alone sewing an entire pencil case from scratch. Thus when asked Cheryl whether she was born a natural embroidery artist, she interestingly compares sewing to swimming.
“I felt sewing was a skill that can be picked up just like swimming, but it became a huge passion for me!”
Art Is Everything
With her grandmother introducing embroidery craft to her since young, Cheryl was long acquainted with art. “Craft is something I really love since I was 6. And I knew it was what I wanted to major in right from the start,” she shares.
The NAFA fashion graduate also explained that her greatest takeaway from school was being exposed to all kinds of art forms, which allowed her to pick the one medium that really speaks to her heart. “My favourite type of art would have to be Art Installations,” she says.
Drawing creativity from everywhere, she sees art as an all-immersive and inclusive experience. Whether it be her kids, nature, travelling or random sightings, they inspire Cheryl and her designs, and she sews them in these little canvases of memories where she creates art.
Weaving In Her Peranakan Culture
Take a closer look at Cheryl’s works and one would realise that they all spark the same distinct vibe – a style reminiscent of Peranakan art and embroidery. And this is no mere coincidence.
Tracing this inspiration to her great grandmother’s Peranakan roots, Cheryl constantly marvels at the beauty of beading in the Peranakan culture. She incorporates this into her craft as she tries to blend the traditional with newer, contemporary forms of art.
“I always try to modernise it by infusing beads in all my embroidery experimentations, and even paintings.”
Another common feature of her craft would be the use of bright, quirky colours that spark a stark contrast between the different elements in a single art piece. A colour fanatic, Cheryl evidently translates this zeal of hers in her work.
“Colours are a miracle in itself! You see them all over in nature and they are such natural happy pills.”
One might think such a style would result in the unbalanced attention to certain components in the artwork. But somehow, Cheryl is able to masterfully blend them seamlessly together, creating a holistic piece of craft.
Introducing The Beadbadwolf
Cheryl currently shares her colourful artworks under the 2-year-old Instagram handle @beadbadwolf. When asked how she came up with the witty and punny name, she cites her children and penchant for beads as reasons.
“A lot of my initial embroidered works and paintings are inspired by my kids, and I wanted something they could easily pronounce. I thought of Beadbadwolf as it infuses my love for beads and has a child-friendly ring to it.”
Cheryl now teaches workshops spanning from embroidery, weaving and knitting, as well as various DIY crafts three to four times a month. On other days, she does customised and commissioned embroidery and creates art installations.
Despite being a one-man show through it all, Cheryl is determined to keep the flame of her passion for craft alive.
“I am most certainly willing to put in all that is required to keep it going till I’m really really old!”