Facing the future: Preserving the past

One of Julie-Ann's drawings.

After visiting family living in Myanmar, artist Julie-Ann Pedida fell in love with the country and decided to stay on permanently in 2015. She then began working on a collection of portraits of the people she met during her travels. In addition to being the Head of Art at Dulwich College she has also stated working with YGN Walls to bring art to the streets of Yangon. Here she talks about her art and her inspiration.

Since the first day I moved here, I have been amazed by the people I saw in markets, in downtown, on the streets and on my travels around Myanmar, there is such a variety of faces from the young to the old.

Julie-Ann Pedida.

Emerging countries like Myanmar are moving fast, opening themselves to the world. This comes with a price; sometimes the country’s heritage, the culture and what makes them who they are can get lost in the process. With my art I’m trying to keep the traditional idea of the people I see in Myanmar, but put my modern graphic twist to the images with bright pop art-styled colours. I’m trying to portray the happy vibrant feeling that this country and the people give.

I continue to develop and refine my style, but it’s always colourful and bold. I grew up by the seaside, first in the Philippines then in Phuket, so that is where I acquired my taste for bright and lively colours.

My source of inspiration is unlimited as it comes from my travels and who ever I come across in my everyday life. I have been to Ngwe Saung, Hpa An, Bagan, Mandaly and Hsipaw where I did a 10-hour hike in the Shan mountains. I take photographs when I travel and I make sketches from those photographs. Then I digitalize my sketches on Photoshop and that’s where I play around with colours, concepts and patterns. I’m constantly experimenting.

I’ve created a series of Chin ladies as well as monks and girls with thanaka which I want to continue to build on. I draw a lot of girls; I just love all the details from the thanaka on their faces to the flowers in their hair. It’s an art in itself and part of the Myanmar’s heritage. I come from a small village in the Philippines and it gives me the feeling of home, I’ve always had a huge interest in tribes and people in small villages.

I have been testing out printing my art onto t-shirts, and in the future I want to exand to prints on tote bags, purses and notebooks. For now I have prints available for order in a variety of different sizes.

I joined YGN Walls a few weeks ago, after seeing their first mural on 35th Street. YGN Walls is an art collective, co-founded by Delphine De Lorme, that aims to make art more accessible in Yangon through working in collaboration with Doh Eain to develop street art. By creating art pieces on the walls of Yangon we wish to initiate an open-air gallery that will push people to discover the city through a new window, boost creativity and open-mindedness, and connect people through art. We have just started a new project on 41st Street Middle Block, where the YGN Walls workshop is based.

To see more from the collection or to inquire about print sales, please visit Instagram: @julieann.pedida.art.

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