LCF Class of 2022: Wing Lam Linda Fung uses intricate design to address perceptions of mental health
With the LCF Class of 2022 graduate showcase just a week away, we spoke with Linda to find out more about her project, inspirations, and her next steps. She talks about her personal connection to the intricate garment and gives us a deeper dive into how mental health is perceived and reflected through her work.
Issues around mental health have always held a very important position in my heart, not only because there has been more attention paid to it from the general public in recent years, but also because I have seen it first-hand around me.
Some of my friends who suffer from mental illness not only have to deal with the pain of their conditions, but also have to endure misunderstandings and accusations from society and even their loved ones.
Compared to the western society, which is relatively conscious towards mental health problems; the Asian society has many misconceptions about it. Discussing such matters is a taboo for many Asians. Depression for instance, would be perceived as a weakness or an excuse for an escape, and society often looks at such individuals in a different light.
In fact, mental illnesses are as normal as physical ailments, but it’s deemed normal for people to go see a doctor when they are physically unwell. Whereas, when people have symptoms of mental health difficulties, they may likely deny or ignore the troubles they are encountering. Some are even reluctant to go to the doctor because they are afraid of being labelled as abnormal and "psychotic".
Sometimes it can be hard for people affected by mental afflictions to ask for help and talk about the obstacles they are facing due to the tough emotions that bind them like the invisible chains.
When someone is in pain and feeling vulnerable due to their psychological drawback, it is crucial for their family and friends to empathise and provide support. I hope that through my work, I can help people become less prejudiced and more understanding towards mental illnesses.
Fragile and broken, two words that were often mentioned by my interviewee who had suffered from mental illnesses. I wanted to use a material that can incorporate these qualities. The first thing that came to mind is a glass-like material, which can be strong and fragile at the same time. Transparency is also a quality that I really wanted to use, like water, which also has the qualities of rigidity and flexibility. The tears that drip, the sweat that runs down, and the ripples that flow.
To me, the spectrum of emotional instability is like pieces of glass. It is invisible most of the time, but when you adjust the angle, the light reflects on it and reverberates its appearance, making it visible. Not every illness is evidential on the surface, but people can always find ways to connect and see the pain and suffering people are going through. I wish to provide the angle for my audience, to let them see through the glass, becoming more aware of the surroundings around them.
After many experiments working with different material and fabrics, I decided to use UV resin and clear organza to create the glass like effect and water ripples. I first created the ripple pattern on a mannequin and used a pin to secure it in place, I then brushed a light coat of UV resin and cured it to create the basic shape of it. This process continued on the mannequin where the shape adjusted to fit the body better before setting with UV resin. The process was repeated until the fabric became a desired stiffness which then achieved a glass like surface. I was able to then cut into patterns and sew together the fabric.
The fabric of the dress captures the ripples of the flowing water and cures it with UV resin, freezing the moment in time like amber. The whole piece looks very fragile and delicate, but an individual can still dance freely in it. It’s like dancing on the tip of a knife, when the dancer moves, the pieces on the armature rubs against each other as if they are going to break in the next second, but the dance still goes on. This tense experience is also a reflection of the experience people with mental health issues has every day.
The teardrops on the face masks and the droplets made of transparent beads on the garment moves with the dancer during the performance, like flowing water. The movements add unpredictability and creates an unstable beauty.
As there were no existing method that I could reference, I had to experiment and invent my own way of creating this fabric. The process was full of trial and error, and finally I found the right way to make the texture I wanted to achieve while maintaining the softness of the fabric. This process was very unpredictable. Every time the fabric was cured, it will appear with uncontrollable deviation and deformation, which needed to be adjusted and reshaped again and again. The same goes with the making process of my face piece and the armature. Experimenting and inventing my own way to achieve the design in a limited amount of time with a budget made the whole process extremely difficult and time-consuming. The unpredictable process and many failures caused a lot of stress that it once made me want to give up, but I eventually finished my garment. Although there are still many flaws in the details that I can do better on, I am still very proud of the outcome as it is the very definition of the premise I wanted to achieve.
I wish to become a pair of lenses for people to see through, and to see the world with a different perspective through my work. Whether with reflection or appreciation, it is with great pleasure to me that my work can allow people to have personal connections and project themselves in my work.
In terms of plans after graduation, I want to explore the creative industry as much as I can to gain experience and insight. I will also be using this time to build up my portfolio and decide which Masters program I want to apply to.