EYEYAH! Anxiety Exhibition Review
Wanting to find out more about art and its connection to mental health, Megan Nicole Yin attends the EYEYAH! Anxiety Exhibition that aims to spark more conversations about mental health.
According to an article by EYEYAH!, the exhibit is “supported by DesignSingapore Council and Nickelodeon Asia”.
Megan Nicole Yin
Hype Issue #55
May 16, 2022
The topic of mental health has gained much traction during the pandemic, allowing more Singaporeans to be exposed to conversations about an individual’s mental well-being. Articles, write-ups and even art, piqued peoples’ interest in mental health.
EYEYAH!, a company and platform which showcases creative works for children and youths, is holding a relatable exhibit on anxiety which aligns well with culture today.
EYEYAH! has decided to hold their latest exhibition at Kult Kafe, a café tucked away in the corner of Bukit Timah at the back of The Grandstand. It features artists from over ten countries including Singapore and holds 20 commissioned art pieces that showcase the artists’ unique perspectives on anxiety.
“A lot of the nuances of the visuals capture something that we think in our heads but don’t really verbalise in words. And I think it’s a very appropriate exhibition considering the last two years that we’ve been through,” said Mr Johnathan Lee, 31, an exhibit goer.
A lot of the nuances of the visuals capture something that we think in our heads but don’t really verbalise in words. And I think it’s a very appropriate exhibition considering the last two years that we’ve been through.
“We were all feeling (Covid-19), [that maybe our] experiences with Covid-19 were kind of amplifying the kind of global sentiment of anxiety. We’re always interested in mental health and depression, but I think anxiety felt more rich, in terms of the kind of artwork we could create,” said Mr Steve Lawler, 44, the founder and creative lead for EYEYAH!
In my conversation with Mr Lawler, he told me that from the material of the fabric used to the positioning of the artworks, a lot of thought was put into the layout and appearance of the space to bring calmness to the exhibit. Photo by Megan Nicole Yin.
Initially, when I heard about this exhibition, I was afraid that the art would be dark and gloomy, which could possibly trigger my own fears and anxiety. Instead, it was the opposite; I entered a room filled with calm colours and serenity.
“…it’s quite a light hearted approach to it. But I wanted to have fun making artwork that I felt expressed anxiety. And at the same time, I didn’t want to have anxiety, making it. I wanted people to look at it, and kind of think about anxiety, but not to get anxiety,” said Mr Lawler, sharing the process of his artwork.
The exhibition magazine, which costs $10 (PayNow or PayLah) , features a collection of all the art pieces showcased at the exhibition as well as other interactive art activities. Photo by Megan Nicole Yin.
Placed on a table towards the back of the room were stacked up copies of magazines of EYEYAH’s latest issue. When you flip through the pages, you are able to see not only the works of all the artists with their Instagram handles but also some steps an individual can take to improve their mental well-being.
Mr Lawler said that the magazine is also used for educational purposes and to motivate conversations on anxiety. Artwork by Iain Macarthur (@iain.macartur) (left), Artwork by Venessa Wong (@tradervans) (right). Photo by Megan Nicole Yin.
“I’ve been trying to find ways to cope with my work anxiety. So, actually, this exhibition helped a lot, especially with the coping mechanisms,” said Mr Jimmy Long, 29, an exhibit goer.
The more I looked at the details of each artwork, the more relatable they became. I walked past a piece with the words “PSLE Exam” and it describes the physical feeling of anxiety and the stresses of life. I smiled, being proud of the artist for going through the rigour of our education system. At that moment, something touched my heart.
It made me realise I’m not the only one struggling with all these issues in my life. There’s so many things that can trigger my anxiety, but depending on how you look at it, there are people who are using that feeling of anxiousness and turning it into something greater.
Inspired by Gulliver’s tale, artist Ms Anngee Neo used the storyline as a metaphor to illustrate the feeling of anxiety. Artwork by Anngee Neo (@illobyanngee). Photo by Megan Nicole Yin.
This exhibition has not only helped the attendees, but also the commissioned artists. “All the little things that are poking at them, at the girl who’s tied down in my artwork, those are all the things that I’m currently thinking about… Housing, relationships, dating and money. This is supposed to be for a kid’s magazine, but I’m drawing my own worries into it,” said Ms Anngee Neo, one of the commissioned artists for the exhibiton.
Housing, relationships, dating and money. This is supposed to be for a kid’s magazine, but I’m drawing my own worries into it.
While the magazine and exhibition were carefully thought through, some exhibit goers wished that both aspects were more accessible to the general public – since finding the exhibit was quite the hassle and the magazine can only be bought at the exhibit or on their website. The exhibition is not easily seen at first glance and getting to the exhibit requires asking the café staff for directions. On top of that, there is only one half-hourly shuttle bus available from Sixth Avenue to The Grandstand and vice versa.
Others also expressed that more could be done to enhance the experience and emotional intimacy with the art pieces.
“Maybe an interactive part. A section to write down your thoughts, something interactive…If there was a station where one could reflect on their experience, I think that would be helpful,” said Mr Lee.
Mr Lawler mentions that EYEYAH! does have future plans to improve their future exhibit’s space and make it more intricate. Understanding the digital age, the company is also looking towards integrating technology into their art pieces while continuing to talk about social issues.
“We are interested in utilising the digital aspect of stuff… I think thematically we’re going to explore money, we’re going to explore diversity. And we will host more exhibitions, bigger and more intricate shows in the future,” said Mr Lawler.
My overall impression is that the exhibition has been rather effective in achieving its aims; that talking about anxiety is indeed okay, and should not be a taboo. While the exhibit does have its downsides such as the slight inconvenience due to the location and space, it is a unique experience that you should go for if you are interested in the arts or mental health.
Information taken from EYEYAH! Official website:
Name: EYEYAH! Anxiety Exhibition
Address: Kult Kafe, 200 Turf Club Road, #01-19B The GrandstandPrice: Free
3pm – 12am Wednesday to Friday
9am – 12am Saturday
9am – 1030pm Sunday
Closed on Monday and Tuesday