Gentle sunlight suffuses this watercolour painting, shining through an invisible window, bouncing off the little girl’s hair and the back of the older woman’s chair. A rich but subdued palette of colours, and light selective detailing gives character to the patchwork blanket, but this is washed over at the outer edges, dissolving outwards into the corners of the painting. The artist masterfully creates different effects with the watercolour medium to create an atmosphere of cheer and comfort, drawing our eyes to the fine expressive details of the smiling faces, and the woman’s hands at work. It was the rasa, the clear emotional feeling evoked in this painting that won the judges’ hearts.
Kua narrates its story: “The grandmother held the needle and thread in her hand and sewed the patchwork blanket together stitch by stitch. This was a gift to be given to her granddaughter, sitting beside her, curious and trying to help, staring at the colourful patterns. A patchwork blanket is not just a simple blanket, but also a family heirloom that brings warmth and happiness to a family, passed on from generation to generation.”
Whatever larger traditional cultures a family may share and celebrate, perhaps the most precious heirlooms are those its members make for each other, with love and care. We are reminded that “culture” and “heritage” are not abstract concepts, but passed from person to person, from generation to generation, carrying shared memories.