Irene Fernandez (1946-2014)

Chinese calligraphy ink on watercolour paper
5.83 x 8.27″

Irene Fernandez was an activist in Malaysia who championed women and migrants’ rights for decades. This earned her the respect and recognition of human rights organisations at home and abroad, and the ire of the Malaysian government. I wanted to paint a portrait that framed her within the context of the people she worked with - using items like a farmers’ straw hat, a child’s shirt, batik sarong, and hard hat - and which seemed like a snapshot. This was created for and later withdrawn from an undisclosed project.


Ink and Photoshop
11 x 14"


A portrait commissioned to celebrate the 80th birthday of Dr. Syed Husin Ali, academician, politician, and activist. I wanted to incorporate a sense of how his life and work spanned public, academic, and political spheres, often intersecting in many ways. Frames and boundaries seemed an appropriate visual metaphor for that; they also bring to mind the pages of books and letters, as well as banners and buntings. Eight frames for eight decades of a life well-lived.

Blossoms Anew

11.69 x 16.54"


Created for the Reflections 25.4.15 exhibition, held a year after the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal in two locations: Patan Museum, Kathmandu, and Bristol, UK. The portrait was created based on an interview done by Tsering Lama with Biju Shrestha, a shop owner living in Kathmandu, and exhibited alongside photographs by Mitch Ward as well the audio recording of the interview.

The bright red cluster of rhododendrons, the national flower of Nepal, symbolizes both the loss of life due to the tragedy, as well as how communities rallied in the aftermath, as Biju describes in his interview. Contour lines reflect the geography of the region and serve as a reminder of the ties that bind us as humans together. 

The exhibition and this piece was featured in VAROOM! 33, the magazine of the Association of Illustrators.

See also:

Market Markings

Observations of vendors at the local wet market.

Chowrasta at Work Zine

An illustrated zine about ergonomics at the wet market, produced by young artists in a workshop I led.