About the Project

Personal belongings such as books, jewellery, or letters hold memories of those who have passed on. Acting as captures, these objects retain the unique touch and spirit of the individual, helping us to remember their legacy.

Multidisciplinary artist Dahlia Osman created an installation of capsules, including her late father’s belongings, at an exhibition that also featured artworks created by community art-makers who responded deeply to questions on love, loss, regrets, and leaving well.

Creation Process

Between March and the end of August 2022, Dahlia worked with community art-makers to create an installation of personal objects and drawings. These participants had in one way or another encountered Both Sides, Now: Mengukir Harapan in the past year, and were encouraged to bring a loved one to participate in the project together.

Over a series of 11 sessions, the participants were exposed to different creative techniques, including bookbinding, printmaking, self-portrait, and still object drawings.

At the same time, the participants were also taught principles and mediums where they could explore and touch on their creative sides. Conversations related to the themes of love, loss, regrets and leaving well were explored and facilitated by Moli Mohter, one of the leading artists for Both Sides, Now: Mengukir Harapan.


Artist & Participant Art-Makers

Dahlia Osman

Dahlia Osman

Lead Artist

Dahlia Osman is a versatile art educator with more than 25 years of experience designing curricula and teaching drawing, printmaking and sculpture for various age groups. A multi-disciplinary artist, she examines neuroplasticity, her personal narrative and the wider connection between human relations and experiences.

Her commissioned works include public sculptures and murals for local museums. She has also collaborated with theatre companies for set design in numerous productions.

Decky ‘Aishah

Art has always been a medium for me to express my thoughts and emotions, and this project has allowed me to do so. The topic on end-of-life issues has been something that really hits home, especially when we start to realise that our birthdays also reflect our parents growing older as we celebrate them each year, until it comes to a point where birthdays no longer hold meaning.

The discussions and sharing sessions during this project has made me view all the different perspectives of what it means to not only cherish the time that I have, but also the time that THEY have.

Stacy Huang

Nur’ Redhayanni

Nur’ Redhayanni defines me as much as I define my given name. Mine serves to remind me of the pursuit of contentment, which I do in capturing photographs, analysing stories in all mediums, and a certain film trilogy. As much as I enjoy creative endeavours, my day job in the laboratory gives me satisfaction in its perfect balance of routine and experimental chaos.

I initially delved into this project with a scientific interest in ageing and dying well, but it has now turned into an intimate recollection of love and loss. I have much more to learn, both in expressing myself and in the art I dabble in.

Amirah Raimi

I constantly have words swimming in my mind in different languages to describe my everyday experiences. The process of making art has allowed me the chance to reflect on my own issues and journey. Art forces me to calm my own anxieties and structure my mind. It becomes a medium for me to pour my heart out and express things which cannot be spoken with words. For example, making the artwork has helped me to imagine how my loved ones will remember me if I pass on. From there, I start to think of ways that I can improve my life so that when it is time for me to leave, I will have no regrets.

A’tiiqah Suhaimi

I am a calligrapher who visualises words by writing them in beautiful strokes. It has been years and I have not yet found a way to express feelings in my artwork. This collaborative artwork with my friend opens a new path for me to view art with a different perspective. By creating an artwork that demonstrates different kinds of feelings – joy, sadness, misery, pride and calmness, finally I am able to feel all of these emotions during the drafting and drawing process. It is as though I am one of the people visiting the deceased, and it made me think, “How would I be remembered when I leave this world?”

Mahathir Rahim

I am a believer of building sustainable relationships amongst people, and to bring the gifts of others to the centre for a vibrant community. Art has been a good medium to express emotions that are not easily shared and explained in words, and this project has brought awareness to my family on end-of life matters. This workshop has shown me that anyone can do art, and it is not about doing something perfect but is how we use it to express ourselves.

Noor Izzaty Ishak

I am a friend, a wife, a daughter and a granddaughter. The topic of end-of-life is uncomfortable but art was a tool that allowed me to “confront” it compassionately. I felt less lonely knowing that there were other people who were experiencing the transitioning phase of care with their elderly parents. Personally, it’s hard to see my parents’ future of potentially being frail and in need of care, when I’ve only seen them as the best role models of strength, love and care. This project gave me a community that I never thought I needed.

Noor Zayanah

I am Noor Zayanah, a biomedical researcher who enjoys living vicariously through The Sims and Jane Austen novels. What started as casual sharing and text messages with my good friend Yanni about our current reads (we both highly recommend Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal!) turned into something beyond just our private conversations. Being part of this art project and its focus group discussions, I have learnt that everyone has different ideas about what it means to live our best lives and leave our loved ones ideally on our own terms. Death is inevitable but it comes in no particular sequence. Learning about the tools we can equip ourselves and prepare our loved ones for (un)expected situations is empowering. And it is one step closer to having open conversations with friends and family.

Sherz Khan

Life Is A Classroom…
Plan To Learn…
Learn To Plan…

tysha khan

I am just another human being, alive for now, figuring out what brings me joy and purpose in this world. This project has helped me figure out my own weaknesses as an artist, as well as difficulties talking about a topic that I thought I found comfortable and easy. Processing grief takes a long time, and all kinds of methods – so I’m glad I get to experience an active way of grieving.


Dahlia Osman

Object Installation

I started collecting vessels after my father passed away abruptly in 1992. From glass jars to cases, it was my desperate attempt to preserve memories and stories in the face of loss and rapid modernisation, where old, beautiful buildings and objects were discarded without much thought. Throughout the years, I’ve also kept journals to contain my thoughts. They are capsules of my mental, emotional and spiritual journey. Personal belongings are windows into a person; their touch, their spirit, and in the case of journals, their voice. Through them, we can start to examine our own lives and legacies, and consider what it means to live and leave well.

(Material description: Chests, Cases and Journals)

Dahlia Osman

Bridging Languages
Object Installation

My father was a fastidious and dedicated teacher who loved number patterns and words. He made his own flashcards for the classroom and his choice of weekend reading was the dictionary. He left us after a heart attack, and this sudden loss led me to keep everything of his; his notes, teaching aids, suitcases and much more, so that I can remember the person he was. Having not had the chance to say goodbye properly, I also resolved to express my thoughts and emotions freely with others and do everything with care to avoid further regret. Being dyslexic, I didn’t inherit my father’s love for words but I found my voice through the visual language of art. In this installation, I celebrate his legacy.

(Material description: Dictionary, Calculator, Shaver, Teaching Aids, Fan, Notes)

Decky ‘Aishah

Ikat(an) (Bond)
Charcoal on Paper

I have chosen a gold ring as part of the artwork. In the past, possessing gold jewellery is considered an asset and something that only a female should put on. However, gold is rarely worn or cherished in today’s era. In this piece, a gold ring resembles a bond between a mother and her daughter. Some may still view it as an asset, whereas I view it as something that carries sentimental value with nostalgic memories. It symbolises eternal love, an ‘old soul’; my mother.

Nur’ Redhayanni

Violent Stillness
Charcoal on paper

This piece distils grief into three core evocations of emotions and memories for me. Mark-making, a technique introduced in the course of this project, has greatly helped to tune out background noise as I learnt to respond intuitively each time I activated those neural pathways associated with grief. Eventually, I found myself drawn to (or drawing) certain images more, forming a holistic visual understanding. Grief here is summarised in both violent and still waters, where everything seems slower and heavier. It too is nothing more than a collection of data, a series of interconnected memories.

A’tiiqah Suhaimi and Amirah Raimi

Nafasku Nafasmu
Charcoal on paper

Imagine the memories that you will have of the deceased when visiting him/her for the last time. The figure of the deceased person is to depict that the jasad (body) is an empty vessel when our nafas (breath) leaves the body. What remains are our deeds and the memories that our loved ones have of us. This artwork seeks to trigger the question of what will we leave behind the moment our breath leaves our body. While reflecting on living and leaving well without regrets, a quote always comes to mind: “Work for your worldly life as if you will live forever, and for the hereafter as if you will die tomorrow”.

A’tiiqah Suhaimi, Decky ‘Aishah and Nur’ Redhayanni
(from left to right)

Charcoal on paper

In this mark-making exercise, art-makers responded spontaneously to prompts such as “acceptance”, “regret”, “hope”, “anger” and “fear” to create free gestural expressions. The resulting marks embody their raw emotional centre and open up further windows for contemplation on the source and experience of these emotions.

Mahathir Rahim

Pencil and coloured pencil on boards

The idea behind this artwork is to present the important family members in my life, and that life as we know it, is not as straightforward as we want it to be. The complexity of life and the dynamic of each relationship are demonstrated in the portraits with the use of colours, thickness and shades. The play on colours and facial expressions convey the emotions I experienced in manoeuvring and facilitating difficult conversations such as end-of-life. It is the challenge of finding balance between doing too much for my loved ones and having enough faith that there is existing social support around them so they can be there for one another. This workshop has shown me that there are alternative ways to express ourselves.

Noor Izzaty Ishak

Left Unread
Mixed Media

Every book contains rich stories of imagination, a journey where an ending is expected. A non-fiction book provides answers for our uncertainties. But what happens if a page is removed? Left Unread is a reflection of life experiences that lack closure, giving space for us to make meaning of love, loss and regret. When we read a book with a page removed, it leaves us connecting deeply with our imagination for what is possible, meaningful and certain to us. Here, with the engagement of blackout poetry and printing, I explore my own life experiences of losing relationships, handling the challenges of adulting, the death of friends and leaving my family.

Noor Zayanah

(Tiga Amalan/Air Dicincang) Tidak Akan Putus
Mixed Media

These are my hopes and fears that I have yet to spell out to my loved ones. I could write volumes about my dreams of exploring this world, but the words are stopped by my apprehensions of leaving home. Is carving chapters of my life a way of honouring their legacies or an act against familial loyalty? If wealth and children are (but) adornments of this worldly life, how do I traverse the path that embellishes their hereafter?

Sherz Khan

BAHTERA… (Sailing Away…)
Mixed Media

Sailing Along With The Flow Of Life’s High & Low Tides…

tysha khan

she is gone, and i am not
Mixed Media

No matter what we did or didn’t do, a person who is meant to die, will die. As people who are still alive, we have to go on living. We have to make peace with how the story has played out. After thinking about what has already happened, we must think about what we want to happen next. For ourselves. As Neil Gaiman said, “she is dead. You are alive. So live.” The objects I’ve used were my deceased friend’s last meal, cotton swabs dipped in Pocari Sweat. As well as her last mode of communication, a whiteboard where she wrote her final words. Throughout this process, I realised that although I have no regrets, there are still things I need to let go of. This work is in honour of my friend, as well as a process of letting go.


Workshop Process

Community Voices

“… after attending a few sessions ..I see her (my daughter’s) perspective from another angle, not like me that I take things for granted, let things happen and go with the flow.”

Participant Art-maker of of life and legacy