It is a known fact that contemporary art in Malaysia has long been shrouded in the shadows, but a vast range of amazing local works definitely exist for those who try seeking it. Multidisciplinary artist Pamela Tan, whose ethereal work combines her architecture background is something so delicately detailed that one wouldn’t expect such breadth of work was produced right here in Malaysia.
Futuristic ensembles and skeletal lines create a sculptural harmony comprising her diverse portfolio of colossal murals, installations, 3D-printed jewellery, and prints that are unique to her style. Since she started producing her work in 2014, Pamela has 20 series of miniature to massive works to her name. An impressive feat, considering she is an independent artist who has not gone the traditional route of exhibiting her work in galleries.
Among her more prominent labour is the all-white immersive structure called Garden of Eden at 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara, and the colourful multi-archway installation at the last Good Vibes Festival in Genting, which was some 20,000 over festival-goers’ favourite spot to pose for photos. Captivating those who experienced her work, Pamela’s Garden of Eden and Project Kite won the bronze and merit awards respectively in the Design for Asia Award 2020 under the category of Environmental Design.
I believe in constantly questioning everything, to speculate and ask the ‘what ifs’ in order to do right by thingsPamela Tan
With a boundary-blurring style that invokes ambiguity in her art, her career as an artist first stemmed from the curiosity she had while working as an architect. “I wanted to explore some of the many ideas I had, so I decided to quit my practice and do a small series of design work which eventually led to larger pieces of projects that were unconventional,” says Pamela.
Surely it must’ve been daunting to work solo, and in an art discipline that has slight masculine elements, especially when it involves architecture, construction, and laser cutting some of the pieces of her work, but Pamela says she feels otherwise.
“As a woman I feel empowered and most importantly the freedom to control and voice my creativity,” says Pamela. “I’m glad that in this era, everyone is more accepting of female-led roles and that we’re respected in that way.”
Two years ago, Pamela gained new inspiration while she was in London and Paris for their design week. With themes revolving around recycled plastic, paper and other materials, she looked into how she could also incorporate sustainability in her work.
“I have been researching into sourcing plastic sheets to incorporate them into my designs. As an artist, that is my way of working with the environment and supporting suppliers who are sustainable,” says Pamela.
As part of her masters’ thesis, Pamela shared that she spent a year researching the extinction of top soil and she hopes it is something she can look into in the future. “We apparently only have about 60 years of top soil left and that started rolling some questions in my head as to how to deal with this,” explains Pamela.
“It isn’t just about finding a solution, but about understanding the culture and what people believe in especially in terms of architecture. I believe in constantly questioning everything, to speculate and ask the ‘what ifs’ in order to do right by things,” she adds.