A Round-Up on HEARTH Community Art Space in 2020

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Earlier in September, we launched HEARTH, a community initiative that provides independent art practitioners with a free safe space to work on their projects, as well as hold exhibitions and workshops related to their craft. The project expanded the use of our office in Gillman Barracks, a flexible open plan gallery space that was left temporarily vacant while the team pivoted to working from home, and was part of our effort to support the art ecosystem in tough times.

The HEARTH community art space hosted nine groups of art practitioners over the course of three months, with several using the space as a private studio to create new works, while others ran open studios, workshops and exhibitions to engage the public. It was heartening to see such diverse mediums and rich artistic explorations play out over those months. At the close of the first edition of HEARTH, we spoke to each of the artists involved to find out more about their experience of creating art in a pandemic and in the space.

Mother-daughter duo Loh Soh Cheng and Jillian Chan turned HEARTH into a shared studio space for their independent creative practices.

Loh Soh Cheng and Jillian Chan developed their individual practices in the shared studio.

“I am grateful for Art Outreach's empathy towards

artists like myself, allowing me to create artworks

without any interruptions.”

–Loh Soh Cheng

Soh Cheng: I am a retired art lecturer, whose practice is focused on monotype and lino print. To me, the medium is unique for its imperfections and unpredictability, just like us humans.

I have been using my home space to continue my artistic journey, and so I really treasured the opportunity to create artworks without any interruptions in a space like HEARTH. I am grateful for Art Outreach's empathy towards artists like myself, and relished the daily creative experiences in the space. It was a productive week for me. Going forward, I hope to share my passion for the humble yet phenomenally diverse medium with my students.

Jillian: I recently co-founded a journal and stationery brand Tittle&Jot with my fiancé and it has been nothing short of a challenge working on this business as a side hustle, while conducting all production processes, out of a 3-room apartment. Being able to use HEARTH as my studio for a week was a dream; I had the luxury of space to create new products, photograph and fulfil orders. HEARTH is an amazing space for artists as it is flexible and cost-free. Not having the overhead of a studio space is of tremendous help, and provides an environment to focus on ideas and the creative process. I'm looking towards growing T&J, making it a familiar and established name in the bullet journaling and stationery scene.

Sofiya Shukhova created a series of large-scale paintings on the Asian songbird trade, inviting artists and conservationists to exchange thoughts.

Sofiya Shukhova at the HEARTH community art space

(Source: Sofiya Shukhova)

“I use my artworks to urge public attention to less known,

less covered conservation issues.”

–Sofiya Shukhova

Sofiya: As a wildlife artist, I use my artworks to urge public attention to less known, less covered conservation issues. The pandemic made it extremely difficult to showcase art offline. Many shows and events were cancelled or postponed, and I had to explore new ways of bringing my art to the audience. Thanks to HEARTH, I was able to work on larger-scale, mixed-technique art pieces and experiment more. I spent eight days creating several works about the Asian songbird trade, and that week was just as productive as a month (maybe even more) in my own studio. I enjoyed working in this space and had chance to invite other artists and conservationists to visit me and share their opinions on my work. I am planning to continue working on the pieces that I created at HEARTH, and also create more art about the songbird trade and mount an exhibition next.

Yoko Choi and Roshni Bhatia of