As a Chinese-Australian who grew up in England, Mimi Leung’s work is driven by a life-long struggle with internalised racism. Mimi’s exhibition at The Mind Room lends visibility and validity to culturally diverse and immigrant experiences.
This exhibition speaks to the power of art in maintaining and strengthening mental wellbeing. It invites conversation on topics that people might feel constrained from speaking about in daily life. It intends to pose questions about our bodies and our minds – how do we negotiate our internal worlds whilst also existing in the physical?
I make art as an escape and to experience freedom and control that I don’t always feel in my physical life.
As a child, drawing was a means to escape a dreary, immigrant upbringing in a very white village in England where I learned to internalise both the overt and covert messages of racism which I am still now unearthing. When I felt worthless, rejected and unwanted I turned to my fantasy worlds of colour and boundless fun. My imagination restored me, helping me realise the depth and surety of my inner strength even if no one else could see it then. As an adult, I don’t want to avoid difficulty or struggle. I try to reframe and represent them in a non-threatening way to help understand my feelings about them and to mitigate my fear.
When I create, I am simultaneously in the moment and somewhere else. Hours feel like minutes. Memories are recalibrated as I ponder past experiences and observations alongside future possibilities, current anxieties and fears.
I seek to show the world within which often feels as if it might burst from my body. A swirling cloud of energy – frustration perhaps at the limitations of the body and all the rules and expectations that come with it – that turns sour when trapped inside for too long. When I release it through my work, in vibrant colours and fluid shapes and exaggerated characters, I try to turn that energy into something hopeful and inspiring instead of it turning stagnant and destructive within me.
Mimi’s works on show at The Mind Room are currently available for purchase. 100% of sales go toward Headspace Shepparton, providing mental health support to regional youth.
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Read more about the exhibition and works on display below: