Not Just Hot Air for this Dynamic Duo
Growing up and mesmerised by the massive floats and intricate costumes of Chingay, it was always Jesse Leong’s dream to be part of this spectacular international event.
Dreams don’t just fall from the sky, and Jesse worked hard to achieve them. She studied product design at Lasalle College of the Arts while working as a freelance art teacher. Jesse is now a professional artist. With the aim of nurturing minds through art, she founded Splash Academy in 2010.
Dream Come True with Dad
Her dream was fulfilled and she got the chance to collaborate with her neighbours and father at Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, where she lives, to build a mini float for Chingay50.
Jesse’s dad, Mr Leong Yew Thong, 72, was an engineer with telecommunications company, SingTel for 45 years. He was an engineer, but Mr Leong also had a penchant and flair for art. Since his retirement, he had been working with Jesse on art events, murals, and installations around Singapore.
“We worked together on several projects. This included the NTUC Health Wall Murals at over 20 locations, mosaic mural and ceramic clay tile installations at seven primary schools and many community art events,” shared Jesse.
It was a proud moment when Jesse’s concept was selected by the GRC. The theme for her hot air balloon wire sculpture float “Sky is the Limit. Be the Sun that Lifts Everyone Up” was inspired by her own neighbourhood.
Inspired to Uplift
Jesse said, “I drew inspiration from my everyday exercise routine in my neighbourhood and from my neighbours in Yew Tee. As I cycle along the Park Connector Network, I am greeted with the beautiful morning sun. Hope comes from a new day and new beginning.”
She was further motivated by sunrise photos posted on the Yew Tee Facebook group.
“I found the posts to be very inspirational and positive. The idea was to use a material that would capture sunlight and bring people’s hopes and inspirations to the sky. Through the mini float, I hope to encourage and inspire Singaporeans to persevere and remain hopeful,” she added.
The Idea that Ballooned
Her father and Jesse played complementary roles. As the designer, she dealt with aesthetics, while her father dealt with structural integrity.
Some 80 residents of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC also played a major role. There were discussions on how to better depict the residents’ inspirations. Hand drawn images on sun catchers were eventually reflected in these images.
This ambitious project took almost a month to build, and it was not without challenges.
She explained, “Keeping the total weight and height limit in mind, we experimented with different types and thicknesses of wires. As the main support pillars of the Hot Air Balloon weren’t stable initially, we had to source stainless-steel wires to be installed along with other galvanized wires. Bending the thick wires with bare hands to make it look like a hot air balloon while ensuring it is structurally safe and stays in shape was also a challenge.”
They persevered and created a gorgeous hot air balloon sculpture befitting the grand occasion.
Chingay50 has given Jesse more than she could have imagined. Besides gaining exposure, Chingay provided her with a platform to bounce ideas off like-minded artists. Her relationship with her father, who has always been her pillar of support, was also strengthened.
Hopes and Dreams for Chingay
Jesse feels that the future of Chingay will be even more meaningful on a larger scale and across borders as it offers a platform to allow and help to strengthen ties and share resources between different countries.
Her dream for Chingay is for the event and idea to last forever.
She hopes “to see other countries sending delegations to participate again or, better yet, if we could take the event outside Singapore so that people outside of Singapore can be inspired, too. Chingay will forever be a source of inspiration.”