Tack Wei WAN
Painting Method: Mouth painter
I was the eldest in a family of 2 kids. Being a military aviation enthusiast, I had always wanted to join the Air Force since young. So in 1986, I grabbed the opportunity when the Republic of Singapore Air Force offered me a scholarship to the Singpore Polytechnic to study for a technical diploma. I was going to start my career as an electronics engineer. A month after passing my diploma and about to turn 19, 'someone higher up' decided my life needed a change. On the morning of the 12 May 1990, I attended a swimming training session with the Armed Forces unit I was just posted to. I plunged into a swimming pool, hit my head at the bottom, which cause my neck to hyper-extend, causing the C5-6 cervical vertebrae to dislocate, crushing my spinal cord. My life has now taken a radical turn. A 20 months hospitalisation followed. During that time, I've seen the inside of 3 hospitals, celebrated 3 birthdays and met 3 persons who made a great difference for the rest of my life – a tough physical therapist, a kind neurosurgeon and a sweet nurse named May Yeok, whom I married in 1992 when friendship blossom into romance. I became the youngest Armed Forces pensioner in the country to get married. Coincidentally, 2 of the birthday gifts I received remains significant to my mouth paintings – a book stand and a chinese ivory seal bearing my Chinese name. Its a wonder how things comes together sometimes. It was in 1994 that I came to know a mouth artist, Gilbert Tan. And ever since, he has been bugging me to try mouth-painting. May Yeok was thrilled at the idea as she love to paint during her school days. But I did not share their enthusiam. Before the accident, my father used to receive postcards bearing pictures by mouth & foot artist, and I've always shudder at the thought of having to use my mouth to draw. Furthermore, I was inclined towards technical subjects and sports, and art has never been a favourite. The thought of having to paint with my mouth made me feel more disabled. But Gilbert never gave up and even showed me his Chinese Painting and how it was done. It was one fine day in early 1996 that 'someone higher up' decided my computer should break down. Feeling bored and upon the urgings from May Yeok, I started to draw on a notepad with a felt pen. The first subject was our lovable pet rabbit, which turns into some mutant rat on paper, and my coconut trees looks lightning-struck.
A few months went by, amid further buggings from Gilbert and May Yeok, I bought a beginner's book on chinese painting, some brushes, poster colours and drawing paper. And it was how it all started. After some practices and confidence, I finally joined MFPA in 1998.