Singaporean artist spins ethereal art from simple paper, one cut at a time

A soft spring. Photo: Ashley Yeo/Wong Jing Wei
A soft spring. Photo: Ashley Yeo/Wong Jing Wei

Singaporean artist Ashley Yeo painstakingly cuts intricate shapes into paper to create ethereal artworks that will soon be shown to the public. 

Cutting manually by hand, Yeo has created spiraling whorls of symmetrical patterns from sheets of white paper, resulting in delicate structures visitors will be tempted to touch when her show opens Aug. 22. 

Yeo’s work seems to pay tribute to all things soft, slow, and fragile around us, with the use of a material as simple as paper to conjure those feelings.  

The 30-year-old graduate from the University of Arts in London will showcase these pieces at a solo exhibition titled Gentle Daylight at the Mizuma Gallery in Gillman Barracks. It runs Aug. 22 to Sep. 13.

Yeo told Coconuts Singapore in the afternoon that she spent hours a day working on each of the paper structures by hand ever since she embarked on the project last year. One artwork that measured around 45cm took nearly half a year to complete. 

What made it even more difficult was when the circuit breaker measures came into effect from April to June due to COVID-19, restricting her access to an art studio for two months and causing delays for her other external projects as well. 

“Working with understanding galleries is really important. For example, I couldn’t work in the studio before because my landlord had to let go of the lease. So, in the end, the gallery let me work at its space,” she said. 

The part-time teacher from the Lasalle College of the Arts, who has spent eight years in the art world as a professional, hopes visitors would appreciate the pieces in her upcoming exhibition and take their time to look at each of them in all its detailed glory. 

“Hopefully, they will feel more attracted or more curious towards the work. The works are mostly based in white colors or very light colors. So I hope that would maybe attract them to take a closer look,” she said. 

This is also Yeo’s second solo exhibition in Singapore in five years. Prior to this, she has held shows in the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Other than papers, Yeo also works with other materials such as ceramic, aluminum, and wood. 

Here’s a short behind-the-scenes look at Yeo in action:


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☁️ #paper #papercut #wip

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Gentle Daylight
Mizuma Gallery
Gillman Barracks
Aug. 22 – Sept. 13

Other stories:

Singapore’s heritage buildings lit in red and white for National Day

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more details from the artist. 


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