Bring Me Back in the Biscuit Tins

Artist: Leong Sen Yi
Year: 2022
Prize Category: 2nd Prize
artwork category


Artwork Description

A young girl squats staring at a stack of metal biscuit tins, the kind you used to find before the age of supermarkets, and in some old grocery stores, which the artist says “still adhere to the traditional way of operation and let the people find the taste of childhood”. “The taste of the biscuits is consistent, authentic, and diverse. Generally, there are 25 flavours and choices of these biscuits. The clerks will weigh and sell them according to the needs of customers.”

The details of the sunset-tinted scene hark back to another time – the chick blinds, the old dial spring weighing scale, the wrought ironwork above the folding shopfront door, the dated electrical fittings, and a sign that reads “closed on Sundays” in Malay and Chinese. Yet something in the way these elements are arranged is not quite right, and we know we are in a make-believe space. There’s that tempting giant replica of a Marie biscuit floating with the slogan, “Sekali Cuba Pasti Tak Lupa” and the biscuit tin right in the centre of the stack, full of Marie biscuits, which is magnificently big – big enough to contain the girl herself.

For Chief Judge Juhari Said, “the enlarged size of that biscuit tin reflects the girl’s hunger and appetite, building up certain wild imaginations for the viewer”, noting that “this kind of work is very rarely produced by students nowadays because it’s so easy for them to get information from the Internet and they’re less likely to do the hard work of developing skill and imagination”.

But what is the girl hungry for? Is it just for the Marie biscuits, love letters, iced gems, soda crackers and sandwich cookies, easily recognisable even in their impressionistic rendering? Or is it, as the title suggests, for a chance to be brought back in time in that biscuit tin, and taste that memory of childhood, never to forget it?

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