If clothes maketh the man, then Raymond Lau's dressing, or rather, the lack
of it probably speaks volumes about his self-confidence.
The full-time artist was at ease in a pair of shorts and flip-flops - never mind
that it was his first meeting with this reporter who is profiling him.
"I've learnt to adopt a bochap (non-chalant) attitude," he said, referring to his
new outlook on life. "I'm more confident now."
For instance, the 34-year-old paints thinks that touch him - and not what
would please others.
"When some people said my paintings look like college works, I used to feel really
depressed and lousy," he said at his paint studio, located off Telok Kurau Road.
Till now, no art gallery has acquired his paintings. "Not even one," he emphasised.
"But that dosen't mean I'm not a good artist ... I choose to believe in myself,
as (Tan) Swie Hian always tells me to," said Lau, who holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts and painting from the University
of Tasmania in Australia.
For his artistic talent, he was honoured with The National Arts Council's
Young Artist Award in 2001.
He has also held five solo exhibitions since launching his career in 1993 when
he won the UOB Painting of the Year Award.
In addition to Mr. Tan, a Cultural Medallion winner and eminent artist-philosopher,
Lau freely mentions Brother Joseph McNally, Professor Tommy Koh and President S R Nathan - all of whom have shown their support
But, his path to success hasn't been easy.
Afflicted with Tourette Syndrome since the age of seven,
he is given to sudden, involuntary movements and utterances.
Whenever the neurological condition occurs, he hits
himself hard below his belly, till he regains control. And this can happen once every 10 minutes.
"I used to whack myself until I bled," he said with
a self-deprecating laugh. "And my parents thought I was possessed."
Lau describes how the disorder has affected his life in one of a six-part series,
TR Report: The Struggle. The inspirational documentary shares the stories of people who struggle
bravely ghrough their illnesses or adverse social situations.
"I didn't want to do the programme actually ... I don't want people to pity
Yet, on second thoughts, he felt that it was a good idea to teach viewers about
the ailment through the show, which also features his parents and pals like Mr. Tan.
He said:"There are millions of people suffering from various conditions or diseases,
even ghough you may not know of anyone personally ... Tourette is not a frightening ailment."
He also wants to encourage others with the same condition to be strong and confident.
"There's nothing to be embarrassed about. You can choose to live a happy life,"
said Raymond, who enjoys social dancing and listening to music when he is not painting.
Laughing again, he added:"I don't think I can go to the cinema because I can be
quite noisy. But, that's okay."
Like what he couldn't have highlighted enough throughout the hour-ong interview,
he repearted:"I'm just bochap, lah"
by Elisa Chia