Stories

Heroes of Our Time: Mr Tamil

“When drawing, lonely or not also no issue, times passes with a snap of the finger”

In early 2020, Tamil, a young indian from Tamilnadu began to find his daily routine of working and sleeping very boring. He bought a sketchbook to start drawing in his free time as he remembered enjoying it when he was younger. Watching a video online for guidance, he drew Elsa from Frozen. This drawing is still his favourite one to date, and set him on a path to explore drawing portraits of people. His new hobby came as a blessing in disguise as in the next few months, migrant workers like Tamil were confined to dormitories and various facilities across the island.

Tamil first came to Singapore in 2016, leaving behind his family. He has not gone back to India since but regularly calls them, which was especially important for him when he was isolated in his room for long periods of time. When he first tested positive for COVID-19 in August 2020, he was sent to Changi Exhibition Centre for five to six days. After which, he was sent to the cruise ship for a few weeks, a recovery facility for those awaiting to return to their dormitories.

Unable to step out of his room, Tamil drew inspiration from Facebook, Instagram posts and a TV show he watched; his sketchbook quickly filled up with drawings. His friends often admired his drawings, and even asked him to draw portraits of them. Drawing evoked feelings of happiness and fulfilment within Tamil, and time seemed to fly whenever he was holding his pencil. This was a great relief for him when he was confined on the cruise ship for long periods of time with nothing to do.

On one of the days that HealthServe was running a cruise ship community engagement programme, Tamil recalls that Suwen, a HealthServe staff member, was impressed by his drawings when she saw them on his phone. Suwen, who studied Fine Arts, introduced him to new shading techniques, gave him different pencils and paper, and encouraged him to practice still life drawing exercises. Being offered a new perspective on his drawings, he was motivated to improve his drawing skills and started spending hours drawing mundane objects found in his room. He remarked that the guidance he received from her was probably one of the reasons why he wanted to keep drawing.

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