“You Will be Reborn, and Rise from the Ashes Even Stronger.” Art Pistol talks to Priscilia Kheng

Recent Glasgow School of Art graduate, Priscilia Kheng, quoted former student Peter Capaldi, when she spoke to us about her first steps into the art industry and the devastating shock that came before.

“You will be reborn, and rise from the ashes even stronger” – Peter Capaldi.

In May, just weeks before the degree show was due to be unveiled a fire tore through the iconic Mackintosh building, destroying much in its path – including the work of final year students. Much of Priscilia’s work was left bruised by the flames, however she is moving forward and, as artists do, finding inspiration from tragedy, continuing to learn as she creates – as Capaldi stated you “will only add to your story”

Priscilia Kheng GSA


Smoke damaged work visible in the background. Other work being wrapped.

And Priscilia remains positive –

“Due to the unfortunate event that took place on the 23rd May 2014, half of my artworks were badly smoke damaged. I do not wish to recreate them, but hope to produce a new body of work to process the event and help further develop my artworks at the same time.

“I believe that sometimes the best and worst times of your life can coincide. We, as graduates, have been given opportunities to showcase our artworks and extend our practice in other platforms and I think it can only get better from here.”

Retouched painting by Priscilia Kheng


Retouched piece – available in the gallery (and online) from 9th August.

The degree show can be an important opportunity to establish you as ‘one-to-watch’ in the art world, but with a lot of work damaged and some student’s entire collection of final year pieces destroyed many missed out on an important opportunity. This has lead to the aptly named Phoenix Bursaries, giving the students a chance to recover and re-build as they prepare for a show in 2015. Offering financial support to those affected in the lead-up to the new show, they will be given the chance to create new pieces, whilst further developing their skills.

Priscilia explained what it would mean to her –

“The Scottish government has worked with Glasgow School of Art to develop a Phoenix Bursaries scheme to help students to rebuild their practice following the fire in the Mackintosh building. This opportunity would be a beneficial experience for me as I intend to continue my art practice as we prepare for a Degree show in early 2015, with artist residencies opportunities and collaborations with other artists.”

Art Pistol was lucky enough to spy some of Priscilia’s work though and snap it up for our 15° graduate show and she told us all about the inspiration behind the work –

“I take on certain questions that I find interesting and try to narrate them in my work. I question the role of a child, being an individual experiencing the process of nature and the experience marketed in today’s society. Sometimes I search around objects, events and places in order to remember.

“I have worked extensively from Mothercare catalogues and it has got me to think about how children do not represent themselves in most photographs. They do not portray the child’s psychological or personal situation. I see my work as a self-reflective product of my inner child, unafraid to question the complexity of my surroundings.

“I brought some plastic toy animals into the studio one day and gave some to my classmate and started playing with them together. I then created some small paintings from it. Perhaps it is the powerless air of these little animals that perfectly captures the vanity of childhood, when it seems only proper and desirable to construct a world of our own with them.

“Using the photographs taken from that arrangement, I try to create a dialogue between the collage of a child and it’s surrounding. I enjoy creating compositional modifications of incoherent imagery – collaging together images of different contexts within my paintings, in order to create new/alternative narratives.”

Out of Kilter by Priscilia Kheng


“Out of Kilter”. Now SOLD. Sorry!

With a rocky first few steps into the art world Priscilia is only looking forward, with a head full of arty dreams and hope –

“I find myself on a wave of growth and artistic maturity now, whereby I am open to new inputs and possibilities. I am eager to step into a new ground, take advantage of all the opportunities that come my way. I also look forward to meet artistically inclined students from around the world to exchange our ideas, cultures, tradition and value. It is also a chance to reach out to connect to the international art scene, as I plan for artist residencies and exhibitions. In my view, partaking in art projects in a foreign land could open up a world of possibilities for me, all while helping to develop and mould my artistic perspective and personality.”

Pop down to the gallery on Cresswell Lane to see Priscilia’s beautiful work – or enjoy it online here.