Title: He Ain’t Heavy Media: Oil paint

To know the artist is the first step towards appreciating any art. This is a story of Lilly Metom, a self-taught artist who found her way to express the world through her colourful and aesthetically pleasing paintings.

Better late than never

Title: Laksa Sarawak Media: Acrylic

Lilly Metom has known art since a young age, but it was not until 2016 when she found a passion for it. A part-time visual artist, the 47-year-old Lilly is self-taught, and she uses no specific technique. In her words, “My brushes go with my intuition.”

Hailing from Lubok Antu, Lilly is a graduate in TESL and English language studies, and is currently pursuing her PhD of the same course. She is also a full-time Senior English lecturer of a local university.

According to Lilly, her inspirations came from the combination of the unique ethnics of Sarawak. “My inspiration came from the Iban, the Bidayuh, the Orang Ulu. And the wonderful flora and fauna of the Land of Hornbills.”

Apart from that, she also paints the places that she visits, and the experiences she encounters.

Recalling her first few artworks during her tender age, “Earlier, i did a lot of pencil sketches and drawings of whatever it was that crossed my mind at the time. Humans, houses, trees, flowers, and random objects.” She gradually move on to other techniques, but she insisted that she doesn’t stick to just one.

A member of the Sarawak Artists Society (SAS), Lilly’s interest to continue painting was fuelled by the acknowledgements she would receive for her artworks. “I then started to participate in art exhibitions alongside my artist friends. There, I also managed to sell some of my paintings and that encouraged me to paint more.”

Lilly has also donated her paintings to the Kuching Autistic Association for a charity drive to help autistic children. Apart from that, her artworks were also chosen as gifts at international conferences such as the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching 2019 and Modern Language Olympiad 2019.

As a painter, she had participated in many exhibitions, often showcasing the colours and wonders of Sarawak. She revealed that with each artwork, she could spend between RM60 to RM150 for the canvas, and between RM7 to RM80 for oil or acrylic paints, depending on the colour and brand.

According to her, it would take her somewhere between a week to three months to complete an artwork, depending on her free time. Among her collections, the most expensive was her Game of Thrones painting which was worth RM50,000.

Lilly’s most memorable moment was when she participated in an international art exhibition of Malaysian and Chinese artists in Foshan in 2018. “My only regret is that I started painting professionally a little bit late. I could have started earlier when I was much younger, but due to obligations, I had to put art on hold.”

Proud of her heritage and sticking to her Dayak roots, Lilly even wrote a book titled “Emotion Concepts of the Ibans in Sarawak” which aims to analyse the Iban emotion concepts, utilising the Natural Semantic Metalanguage.