Summer 2016 Heirloom Project

Hello everyone!

I decided that a good first post would be on the art that I produced over the summer. I stayed at home in London over the holidays, although it never gets boring as there are so many things at my doorstep everyday in this incredible city.

The first project of my foundation course was to produce a filled sketchbook on the theme of Heirloom. I come from a Vietnamese heritage, therefore I was encouraged to create experimental responses to aspects of my family history and culture. I believe that I successfully completed this task, however no matter how much research I can do, an authentic experience of the country itself will make me truly understand the roots of my culture. I hope to visit Vietnam one day.

After speaking to my mother, I discovered that in her twenties, she was a hand embroiderer for a company in Vietnam. Hand embroidery is a massive part of Vietnamese culture, as many girls were expected to know how to decorate pillowcases, tablecloths, curtains etc. My mother was known to be one of the best in the neighbourhood! She worked on stitching picturesque, realistic landscapes and flowers, and below are images of artworks that are similar to hers.

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Vietnamese Embroidery Painting - the unique art 3.jpeg


My mother used her skills in stitching pillowcases with affectionate words for my father, and he also responded to her in the same way through intricate hand stitches. These are my observational studies of the pillowcases, exploring the lines and shapes formed when scrunching the fabrics together, and the rich textures I captured with coloured pencil rubbings on the pillowcase surfaces.






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I completed both quick and sustained drawings, however I enjoyed the looser, more unconventional way of drawing as the mark-making is more adventurous and genuinely more interesting in terms of form and shape.

I took my experimentation further when I explored the Vietnam War and my family’s involvement in it. I challenged myself to draw a film as I watched it, and produced a concertina of blind drawings from a Vietnamese film called “Em Be Hanoi”. It was an emotional film on a young child’s experience of the war, and the chaos it brought upon the land and citizens. Again, speedy mark-making proved to be ideal in expressing this disorder. Perhaps to improve, I could use the same technique but with different mediums, such as paint or pastels.


I was intrigued by mother’s description of the ground that vigorously shook beneath her during the air raid sirens. I enjoyed depicting this unsettling sensation with black paint and an eraser, and I learnt a lot about the importance of direction with paint strokes. I explored further by translating this into stitch, using the freehand function on a sewing machine.



Additionally, one of my artistic highlights over the summer were observational sketches of my three year old niece. I sketched her a lot when she was one or two, and in January 2016, she moved to New York. After arriving back to London for a visit, I sketched her again and noticed how I captured her growing up through my drawings!

Ten months ago:


One month ago:


These were my favourite pieces over the summer, and I’m aiming to experiment even more wildly during the exploratory stage of my foundation course!

#reflection #research


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