The work is based on a true story of a 76-year-old woman (Candy). In 2018, I cooperated with Lingnan University... Read More
The work is based on a true story of a 76-year-old woman (Candy). In 2018, I cooperated with Lingnan University and Tuen Mun Hospital, Hong Kong in holding an art activity. The hospital was responsible for providing more than ten dying patients, while I was responsible for inviting more than ten painters (including myself) to paint pictures of the patients’ life experience or what they wanted to leave to their relatives and friends after their death during.
Candy, the patient I met with, was born in the 1940s. She was the eldest daughter of the family, but owing to the traditional idea of valuing the male child only, she dropped out of school and got to work at the age of 14 to support the family and her younger siblings.
In those days, Hong Kong was undergoing rapid development of industrial sectors, especially the garment industry, and Candy joined a sewing factory. Because she started from the very beginning in the workplace, Candy knew very well the overall garment making process, so she did her job satisfactorily.
Candy and her husband shared a friendship formed in childhood, and they had two daughters. Having accumulated working experience and savings, she had the idea of starting her own business. So, she asked her husband to find a place in Mainland China to build a factory with all her savings and money borrowed from banks and her relatives and friends. Unfortunately, her husband didn’t build a factory in Mainland China, but provided for a kept woman, causing breakdown of their family. In those days, she had to face business failure, divorce and bankruptcy simultaneously, and she also had to look after her two young daughters alone. The pain she suffered from was beyond imagination.
Later, she found a job in another factory and paid off her debts little by little. With excellent job performance, she was promoted to management, and met her boyfriend, who was seven years younger than her. The family often traveled to other places, and she tasted happiness again in her life. Fortunately, her daughters liked her boyfriend, who also loved her very much and wanted to marry her. However, she thought that she was not good enough for her boyfriend, so she didn’t consent to the marriage until....
One day, her boyfriend was found to suffer from advanced cancer, which was progressing so fast. Thus, she promised to marry him. When they signed the marriage certificate, her boyfriend had a nasal tube and a urinary catheter in his body.
Half a year after the wedding, her second husband passed away, and she also suffered from depression, severe insomnia as well as breast cancer a few years later.
When we met for an interview, it was just two weeks since she underwent a breast cancer operation. After falling ill, she learned how to really let go of it all, because the greatest hardships were all gone, with her daughters growing up and having their own family. Now she felt very happy to have tea with her daughters and grandchildren. She wanted to enjoy her last moments of life to the fullest. She said, “Everybody is supposed to smile while shedding tears in his or life.”
It was not easy for me to summarize her rich life story in one painting. Considering that she spent all her life working hard in garment factories, my painting is designed with a young woman operating a sewing machine in it. The strips of cloth on the sewing machine have become grids of film, showing some slices of her life; important life experiences are turned into crystal balls floating in the air. The colour of the sky shows that it may be at dusk or at sunrise. Perhaps her life is at dusk, but she is still looking forward to the sunrise tomorrow. A woman who has undergone all kinds of hardships has got her life sublimated and returned to innocence, looking like what she used to be when she was young and worked in the garment factory. Her smile contains happiness and helplessness; her tears contain sadness and gratitude. However, she remains full of expectation and hope for the future, insisting on weaving her lifelong dream.