Teresa Lim, the dexterous mind and hands behind TeeTeeHeeHee shares the stories behind her embroidered artworks and eco-ambitions.
“Often, we experience things but nobody speaks about them so people don’t realise howcommon the problem is. That feeling of knowing that you’re not alone is powerful and I want to express that in my work."
Her first series, Sad Girls Club¸ started as a cathartic exercise to get over a bad break-up. Doe-eyed faces—some wistful, others defiant or teary—peep out from behind walls of pretty flowers and sequins. The dainty pieces were inspired by the struggles that Lim’s friends shared to comfort her. “My girlfriends would tell me things about their lives and instead of letting the conversations pass, I wanted to immortalise them in colours and textures,” she explains. From a battle with an eating disorder to the ache of a first lost love, deeply personal stories are delicately woven into the cloths. “Often, we experience things but nobody speaks about them so people don’t realise how common the problem is. That feeling of knowing that you’re not alone is powerful and I want to express that in my work."
Seascapes is an ongoing series where Teresa weaves in all the ‘accidental’ plastics that fall into her hands.
“I call them accidental plastics because sometimes we don’t want to use plastic, but it just shows up. For example, whenever you buy something new, it comes in a plastic container.”
Lim’s desire to open our eyes to universal issues is evident in the themes that she has explored over the years. These have ranged from identity, to feminism and most recently the dire state of our planet. Plastic waste is a subject that has loomed large in her thoughts and latest works. “Sometimes, my boyfriend and I go to the beach at night and just lie down and listen to the waves. It’s a great way to connect with nature and recharge. But we always find these random bits of plastic that just shouldn’t be there. That really annoyed me so I started to collect them and thought why don’t I try and make something out of them?” Lim set herself a goal to create a piece every month, using all the plastic that fell into her hands. “I call them accidental plastics because sometimes we don’t want to use plastic, but it just shows up. For example, whenever you buy something new, it comes in a plastic container.” The result was Seascapes, a series that ingeniously incorporates bits of plastic bags, straws and takeout containers into intricately embroidered scenes of the sea. The project has made her acutely aware of the plastic overkill in our everyday lives and the havoc it is wreaking on our environment.
How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Bring your own straws
“I started feeling annoyed at myself for using plastic straws whenever I was out in restaurants so now I bring my own bamboo straws. They come in a cute set with different sizes. I even have one for bubble tea!"
Takeaway in tupperware
“If I plan to get takeout, I bring along my own container. One day, I noticed that bakeries pack each bun into individual plastic bags and that realisation was scary to me. Now, I ask them to stack the buns inside my Tupperware.”
Invest in a shopping bag
“Most brands give paper bags when you shop but if their bags are plastic, I keep a tote handy and use that instead.”
Say no to disposable cups
“I’m a big bubble tea fan so I carry a 200ml bottle that holds the same volume as a small cup and ask the store to fill that up. I have fleeting moments when I think if it’s just me and everyone else is buying their bubble tea in disposable cups then what difference would it make? But if everyone thought like that there would be no change, so I decided to be strict with myself. If I don’t bring my plastic bottle, then I just won’t drink my bubble tea."