Michelle Yu

Last week the amazing work of the highly talented Singapore-based Michelle Yu was brought to our attention. In everything the 25-year old creates there is a sense of dark brooding energy to be found, and we particularly love the work named ‘mad girl’s love song’ which is inspired by the poem with the same title written by American poet Sylvia Plath in 1951. Plath who suffered from depression most of her adult life, which she ended by suicide when she was 30, left an oeuvre of poems, short stories and a novel which are considered to be a significant milestone for the genre of confessional poetry, which focusses on individual experience, the psyche, personal trauma, and taboos. This sentiment of personal trauma, very apparent in ‘mad girl’s love song’ is beautifully caught in the black and white drawing by Yu. All figurative elements in the drawing, a girl’s head, hand and feet, two birds and what appears to be a set of lungs are drowning in a fire-like pool. Beautifully catching the emotions of despair and misunderstood love which are expressed by Plath.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

— Sylvia Plath

Next to the time spent creating autonomous work by night, Yu also operates a letterpress studio in Singapore by day named The Gentlemen’s Press. Her love for the letterpress stems from the rich history of the slowly disappearing craft which was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in about 1440, with some of the letters used by Yu being multiple war survivors. And although there seems to be a great deal of contrast between the strict craft of letter pressing and her dark autonomous work, the side she loves most of her day job are the imperfections found in the hand operated prints which form cracks within beauty similar in the depictions she produces during the night.

I love how the machines are operated by hand, so the end product always has a slightly imperfect and rustic look.

For more beautiful work by Michelle Yu see here.

For The Gentlemen’s Press see here.