PETALING JAYA: Different people find solace in different ways when grieving the loss of loved ones. For siblings Catherine and Sean Ong, their path to healing led them to an unexpected and extraordinary outlet.
A few months ago, after the death of their mother, they established an art studio in Damansara Utama as a personal space for grieving. But it has since blossomed into a haven for many art enthusiasts.
The one-of-a-kind studio is called Arkateori and it specialises in texture art.
Catherine, who had been painting acrylics as a hobby for 17 years, decided to delve deeper into art when her mother died. “I was very depressed at one point and I had to get all my feelings out some way or another,” she told FMT Lifestyle.
The process of making texture art became her therapeutic outlet. It allowed her to transfer her grief into tangible expression.
The Ongs’ late mother, a talented tailor, serves as the inspiration for many of Arkateori’s works. The studio’s signature FELT series, designed to resemble cloth, pays homage to her craft.
Among the works, the one titled “Here with me” holds a special place in their hearts. Solid plaster material was meticulously shaped to make each fold and each turn in the 3D masterpiece.
“At first glance, the piece resembles cloth,” Catherine said. “But if you look closer, it may also look like an embrace or a hug.
“This was one of the first pieces we did together after our mother passed away. I remember that we were both crying during the process,” she added.
The siblings found that creating texture paintings was deeply therapeutic.
“Texture art uses many simple and repeated motions; so it’s quite soothing,” Sean said.
The process requires patience and dedication since each layer needs time to dry to bring the 3D effect to life.
As their work progressed, so did their healing journey, giving them closure along the way.
Their decision to explore texture art was not random. It fused Catherine’s artistic background and her previous work as a contractor.
She said: “Before you lay tiles on top of concrete, the first thing you do is make an arc motion with cement to smooth out the layer. That is where Arka from Arkateori came from.”
She added that the curving trajectory associated with arcs brought her a sense of ease and familiarity.
Once the siblings discovered the calming qualities of texture art, Sean became more active on the creative journey, and their shared passion brought them closer as siblings.
“As siblings, when we progressed into adult life, we each had our own lives and couldn’t spend too much time together,” Catherine said.
“Once our mother passed, expressing our grief through art and setting up this studio together was what made our bond even stronger.”
Initially, the idea of having a studio sprang out of their desire for a space to experiment and find solace. But when they recognised the positive effect texture art could have on mental wellbeing, they felt compelled to share it with others.
“Our workshop isn’t a typical art class,” Sean said. “Instead, it’s designed to be a mindfulness session.”
Playfulness became a key element in the workshops.
“There are no rules with texture art,” Catherine said. “We simply show them how to start. The rest is all dependent on their creativity and innovation.”
By empowering play, they aim to help participants let go, discover the freedom and space for artistic creation and realise that everything in life won’t fall apart.
In fact, as part of their workshop experience, participants are invited to write letters to each other at the end of the session, fostering emotional connections.
Catherine said: “Every time a couple comes in here to experience our workshop, they always leave in happy tears.”
In just four months since its opening, Arkateori has already touched the lives of many. So why wait? Head over to Arkateori and allow your inner child to roam free while exploring the transformative power of texture art with Sean and Catherine.
Arkateori Texture Art
27M Jalan SS21/1A,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor