UA Alumni: Broy Lim
Broy was shortlisted as a Highly Commended Entrant for the Visual Arts & Design category in 2016.
He has a Diploma in Special Education and studied photography at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and earned a first-class honours BSc in Fine Arts in Photography.
What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?
I am currently working full-time as an art educator teaching at a special education school, and I love my job. Having taught at so many schools (as a freelancer, I have projects with multiple schools across the country), the students at this school are the most genuine and sweetest.
In Spring 2016, I submitted my final year project (which I also submitted for The Global Undergraduate Awards), for the Steidl Book Award Asia, organized by both Steidl (renowned German book publisher) and DECK (independent art and photography platform in Singapore). I was fortunate to be picked as one of the eight artists whose projects will be published by Steidl.
In January 2017, I flew over to Göttigen, Germany, to work on the book with the fellow winning artists and Gerhard Steidl (founder of Stiedl). In 2018, the book, titled “and now they know” is published. This photobook combined images and texts to narrate my personal sexual identity and the relationship with my partner in the conservative country of Singapore and is a way for me to overcome an open secret that my family and friends could only speculate.
Where do your interests lie?
When I first started working full-time as a special education (SPED) teacher, I was struggling with balancing my work and my personal life. Being a SPED teacher is hard! I found it challenging to disengage from work after getting home and it took a toll on my mental wellbeing. It came to a point where I told myself that I must go back to creating and making art to disengage from work and to feel alive again. My medium of choice has always been photography. However, given the limited daylight I have when I reach home after work (which is typically in the evening), I had to explore other options.
Hence, three years ago (aged 29), I decided to learn the piano. And I am proudly one of the oldest students my music teacher is taking. As a creature of routine, I now dedicate at least one hour on the piano daily, just to distract myself from work and to make something (music, in this case). The process of learning something new is invigorating and as an educator, important too. It reminds me of the struggles of a learner and helps me empathize with my students.
Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?
Receiving the UA Award has been a real confidence booster because it proves that my story matters. Living in a country where I feel that my identity and reality is often swept under the carpet, this award acknowledges the struggles that my community face are real and worthy of being discussed. In some ways, this acknowledgement has made me stronger and surer of what I stand for and has influenced, in some parts, in my choice of career – to educate, to inspire and to empower the youths and marginalized community to stand up for their own realities and to make the world a kinder and more inclusive place.
Why should students submit their work?
Many of my submissions for awards were motivated by my peers and professors. I was never the one to really take the initiative to submit for awards because there was always that little voice that told me that I was not good enough; that my stories don’t matter. My professors and friends always told me “What’s there to lose?”. And that sort of became a motto in my life when it comes to trying new things – what’s there to lose really?
So if something is telling you not to submit, that little voice or someone else, acknowledge those voices and put them aside. Get onto preparing for the submission. Take that next step. And eventually, that submission would be submitted. If anything, you feel good about accomplishing something. We never know what life brings us until we take the next step.
What are your plans for the future?
I aim to work for another five more years with my current school to see what opportunities unfold. Personally, my partner and I are working towards getting our home when we both hit 35 years old (in Singapore, gay couples can only access public housing at 35 years of age, and we are applying as singles because gay marriage is not recognized). In the future, I see myself pursuing a Masters (undecided on whether to continue with Fine Arts or Art Education). Given the current climate of the pandemic, I am grateful that I have a job that I love, and I shall take it one step at a time.
You can find Broy on Instagram
"Receiving the UA Award has been a real confidence booster because it proves that my story matters. Living in a country where I feel that my identity and reality is often swept under the carpet, this award acknowledges the struggles that my community face are real and worthy of being discussed."