Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Cherish An Ordinary World
Cherish An Ordinary World

In this painting, we see a family of four lying down in a circle around a fruiting shrub. The parents are dressed in batik and are placed in opposition to each other. Their two children are shirtless and at ease, just like their father. It is the mother’s contemplative, semi-worried expression that draws us in and gives the impression that the painting is a projection of her inner world. The painting’s chessboard-patterned background depicts various domestic symbols, such as children’s playthings and a leaky faucet, but also symbols specific to an artistic practice, such as a batik canting and a set of ink tools. For Yih Yiing, motherhood appears to be a strategy game, like chess, in which she must think several moves ahead and balance the needs of her family with her own needs of artistic self-expression.

Acrylic and oil on canvas
122 × 168 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Shia Yih Yiing
About Shia Yih Yiing

Shia Yih Yiing (b. 1966, Sarawak) received her diploma at the Malaysian Institute of Art before pursuing a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Western Sydney. Her works often touch on themes of femininity and motherhood, imbued with a sense of playfulness. She has had several solo exhibitions locally and also in Singapore and Australia. In 2020, she was an artist-in-residence at Rimbun Dahan, Kuang. 

Further Readings
Learning Section

  • Look carefully at the four figures in the painting. Describe how they are dressed and how they are posed. What does the artist tell us about each of them? What kind of personalities do they have? What are they thinking? Which of the figures do you empathize with? Imagine this is a moment in their day. What do you think they will do for the rest of the day?

  • The background of the painting is reminiscent of a board game and there are symbols on many of the squares. Can you identify any of the symbols? What do you think they mean? Is it important that an artist uses symbols that can be understood by the audience?

  • Activity: Could you design a board game inspired by your life? What are the challenges that create set backs? What are the opportunities that move you forward? What symbols would you use to symbolise life's ups and downs. Create a board for a fictional game to represent your life.