On Art & Heart / Trish Chong
Describe the scene before you right now.
Such a simple yet loaded question, especially since I’m at my usual place of ‘work’—that being my home. It’s school holidays so the house is more chaotic than usual, and I’ve hidden myself away in my studio with a half-empty glass of water in front of me alongside a to-do list that gets a little longer with every rewrite. Alongside an array of cameras, hard drives, and notebooks lies a handmade beaded necklace from my little girl and a gifted flower frog with a passport-sized photo of my husband when he was about four years old. It’s an extraordinarily warm spring day, and the sun is streaming in through the window and falling squarely upon the monstera that began our growing love for indoor plants.
Describe a moment from today that you want to remember.
So often I’m inside my own head, trying to organise and plan and solve. I know it’s a very unproductive place to be, especially when I have my little one at home yearning for my attention. Today I want to remember her eagerness in letting me take some polaroids of her and her excitement as we pulled apart the film together. That was the only place I wanted to be in that moment—right there with my little girl. I want to remember falling asleep with my head in her lap while she watched some television, her arm wrapped protectively around me. I want to remember treating my three kids to a ‘slurpee’ each from 7-Eleven—something I had promised because it was the last day of tennis camp. And I want to remember the way they couldn’t stop grinning under the glow of the sun, entertaining themselves for the afternoon with a single spray bottle of water.
What fills you with joy?
Time spent with people I love. Being able to grow together in the hard times and the good. Watching my little ones work through challenges and find a greater resolve. Music. My morning coffee. Fresh sun-drenched sheets.
What fills you with hope?
Seeing moments of grace—in my own life and that of my children. Knowing there is more to life than the days here on earth. I’m reminded of the passage on ‘living hope’ that I recently read in the book of 1 Peter. It is a glorious picture indeed: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.’ 1Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)
What makes your heart ache?
Broken relationships, where there once was joy and unity.
Describe a piece of art that is precious to you.
Outside the images that I make and have had made for me, I haven’t been one to seek out art for the sake of art itself. It is something I am hoping might change in the years ahead. If I had to pick something, it would be the first portrait my son Jesse made. He doesn’t usually sit still or concentrate for very long, but he had chose me as his subject, with my little Mimi on my lap. He used colour pencils on cardboard, and the portrait is both surprising in detail and perfect in its simplicity. A beautiful reflection of his delightful eight-year-old self.
Is your art driven by heartache or hope or both?
Definitely hope. I count myself more than just lucky to have missed a lot of heartache in life, but the realist in me knows this season is unavoidable. At its heart, my art is driven by joy and connection—seeking the good even in the difficult to help us cherish all that we have—knowing that, one day, everything we have will come to pass.