Fatin Afiqah binti Md Asrul Saniy (Tina) has been living with the memory of being bullied in school. The experience discouraged her from socialising.
Tina began to explore the feelings of isolation and rejection through her artwork.
The subjects in her art are always accompanied by an animal companion, as pets were her only friends. “I believe there are unique and special bonds which owners share with their pets.”
Walking through her art pieces at Para Belle Studios, Tina said that she is fascinated by symbolism and the use of animals to convey different messages such as a lion to symbolise bravery, or a butterfly to symbolise renewal.
“I support animal rights. Much of my art will always feature animals or plants. I enjoy incorporating symbolism in my works.
“Many of my artworks are based off of real experiences – either from my own or from friends or people I work with.” Most of her artwork aim to address issues in society, ranging from bullying, self-isolation and depression.
When she was still in school, Fatin would stay in her art class during breaks.
It was then that her art teacher told her to share her experience through a poster for anti-bullying. That was the starting point of Tina’s journey.
Since then, she has continued to use her art to reach out to others who share similar experiences. It grew into a passion of exploring and storytelling through the canvas and colours.
As a sufferer of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a cognitive and visual impairment that gives rise to a distorted view of oneself, Tina also has had experienced working with people with mental illnesses.
This inspired her to educate her audience through her artwork. “Because of BDD, sometimes I feel my art is not good enough for others to see. But now I do my best to filter those feelings and use art as a platform for healing.”
After completing an art piece, Tina will always feel better and as she has difficulty expressing it through words. Many of her paintings narrate the stories from the pasts. She changed the appearances of the subjects to maintain confidentiality.
To victims of bullying, she said, “They should know they are not alone!” Acknowledging that it is tough for the victim, Tina believes the key is not to give up.
“Because one day in the future, you will look back and be able to proudly say ‘Wow, I conquered that’. Every struggle we faced, we come out stronger and wiser.
“Find something you’re good at and use that as your distraction. Continue to practise your skill until you can someday show your work to the world.”
She believes parents need to be considerate and sympathetic when their children ask for help.
She assured that it is okay for the individuals who are suffering in silence to speak out when they’re in need of help.
Through her art, Tina aims to spread awareness on issues people usually ignored or avoid discussing. Most of the exhibitions she has participated in has been held overseas. The recent one she took part in was ‘Emerge’ with Creative Space, which brought together like-minded individuals.
Tina is also an aspiring author and is currently working on writing a story based on Bruneian folklore with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
Just like her art pieces, the story addresses issues of bullying, discrimination, isolation while encouraging the strengthening the bonds between a parent and a child should have with their children.