Creation: One day at the Taiwan Land Bank Dinosaur Museum
I am colour, and I create flashlight, sparkling moments of life.
It’s surprising, but I only started to believe that I could draw after One day at the Taiwan Land Bank Dinosaur Museum had already been published. I’ve done a lot of drawing and painting since then, and I keep experimenting with different techniques and classes to find out what’s mine.
I love how some of my paintings reflect my feelings back to me. It’s quite powerful to witness. Creating supports my healing as I navigate living with complex trauma that brings on anxiety at unexpected times, coming full speed at me. Creative practice, therapy and coaching, hugging a dreaming dog, lots of walks and staring at the ocean or out of my window at the lush green mountains are some of the things that support me on this journey.
I create daily, whether it’s writing, drawing or painting. I feel more alive when I create. I write and draw on walks. I write in colour too. I have different coloured pens: red, green, purple, and gold. For the past two years I’ve been writing in red ink. It’s my lifeline.
I’m a hunter and gatherer artist: I write and draw what I see and how it feels, and I use all kinds of mediums. I like the idea that I get a bit of the weather on my page too – a piece of time and space, air and water and sunlight, for example, while doing silkscreen or cyanotypes. It represents memory for me.
I’ve been drawn to drawing movement maps lately – tracing bird movements, swaying bus rides on the way to the ocean, and drawing night sounds that are so rich here in Taiwan: frogs and toads, cicadas, night birds and crickets. There’s something soothing about embodying my senses on paper in marks and colours.
It’s a strange time right now: since 19th May Taiwan has been under Level 3 voluntary self-isolation for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak, and it’s been quite lonely and hard as some other countries are opening up. Being in this kind of opposite space makes me think that this is far from over yet.
I wrote One day at the Taiwan Land Bank Dinosaur Museum specifically for the Emma Press open call. I’m a full time unschooling mom to my now eight-year-old son. I had this book in me for such a long time that it was pretty straightforward to sit down and write it on my two or three days off from parenting.
It was such a brilliant idea to ask people to purchase a book as a submission fee for the picture book open call. I bought The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood and this book has been my guiding light, my affirmation that there are difficult experiences of motherhood out there – these experiences matter and mine is one of them.
The other important thing was Alanis Morissette’s song ʻAblaze’, that came out around the time that I was working on the illustrations. Alanis performed this song live on TV with her daughter Onyx. It resonated with me, about how important it is to speak about a parent’s love for their child, and gave me a boost of courage.
It was so hard for me to look back at the text I had written, because it felt re-traumatizing, so I did the illustrations separately, hoping that some magic would happen. I slowly descended into that territory again to honour and explore my experience. This book has a life of her own and I believe she is much stronger, so I drew courage from my book to speak about my experience.
We spent that summer going to the ocean and the nearby fish market, to look at the sea creatures a lot and explore the North Coast of Taiwan. It was such a special time. I started to draw these ocean creature monoprints, a technique I learned from local artist Maniniwei. I decided to use these all new experiences and techniques. I drew the ocean, a whale song diagram, and objects around my house that felt important, like kitsune figurines from Japan and gemstones I had started to collect from the Jade Market for no particular reason, maybe except for shiny colours. And cherry blossoms, of course.
In the end it all clicked: the text and the prints came together wonderfully and that felt amazing, like coming home.
I believe it’s important to know your birth story.
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Cover image: Kitsune figures with added clay bunny by Elīna’s son and cherry blossom pin.