11 September 2019

SPF’s Got Talent: Artist on the Beat

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By Quianna Lim (Photos: Sgt Sally Chiam)

From Rembrandt to Picasso, artists have always astounded us with their ability to bring a canvas to life, perfectly capturing the beauty, emotions, and depth of the human experience. However, it is easy to forget that artists have a life outside the studio too - and for some - putting down the paintbrush and chasing after criminals. Police Life caught up with Sergeant (Sgt) Sally Chiam, a Ground Response Force officer with Hougang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), to get insights into her experiences as both an artist and a policewoman.




How did you discover and hone your passion for art?


I have been interested in drawing since young as I was drawn to colours and how simple pencil lines could turn into a drawing. I started out by drawing cartoon characters from TV and attending art lessons at the Community Centre.


While I was in my primary school, I drew characters from Sailor Moon and it was a favourite among my peers. My classmates even approached me for drawings of random characters and objects. I had never felt so popular as I was the quiet girl in class. I eventually pursued a Diploma in Fine Arts (Western Painting) in Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) thanks to my dad who had secretly enrolled me into the college, wanting me to learn the best from the talented lecturers.


What inspires you and how would you describe your art?


I draw inspiration from my environment. I like experimenting with colours and lines that help create abstract yet expressive artworks. I recalled painting my impression of Hougang –a mature estate – with many unique and vibrant features. From my perspective, I framed this estate with our Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) building in the very centre of it, illustrating how we safeguard the community.



Is there an artwork that you are especially proud of?


Some years ago, when I participated in the UOB Painting of the Year competition, I decided to try my hand at oil painting, a style that I had never attempted before. I was very pleased with the end product, not only because it turned out well but also because I had stepped out of my comfort zone and expanded my horizons by exploring a whole new mode of expression.




Why did you choose to join the SPF?


After graduating from NAFA, I was an art educator for about a year before realising that it was too routine for me and that my true calling was still out there. It was then that I recalled my childhood ambition of joining the Police Force. In primary school, I greatly looked up to my neighbour who was also a policewoman. Her calm, polite demeanour inspired me, and I also admired how people placed their trust in her to assist them to the best of her ability. I realised that I wanted to render such help to others and set a positive example for them just as she had done for me. Thus I decided to sign on and pursue a career in policing.


How has art played a role in your policing career?


As part of the Hougang NPC Facebook Committee creative team, I was given opportunities to inject my creativity into creating simple crime advisory posters and an Avengers-inspired illustration for the Hougang NPC Facebook cover photo. I always relish such opportunities to merge my passion for art with my work. It goes to show that there is definitely a place for art within policing – you could even call it “the art of policing”.




What do you hope to achieve through your artwork?


Ultimately, my goal is to bring joy to people and make their day. As a member of the Ang Mo Kio Division’s Foxtrot Active Volunteers, I am able to share my works of art such as drawing caricature when I visit children and the elderly. Seeing the smiles on their faces fills me with a great sense of accomplishment.




You like to refer to yourself as “your friendly neighbourhood policewoman.” What do you enjoy most about your work?


Being in blue empowers me to better aid those in distress. I recalled an incident where an old lady, possibly suffering from dementia, was lost and could not remember her way back.


While she could only recall her name, I was able to probe further and obtain a few clues on the location of her residency. Along with my partner, we brought her around her neighbourhood. At one of the blocks, I was eventually approached by a resident who informed me where her family stayed and we eventually took the old lady home safely. To me, the job of a police officer is meaningful, dynamic, and fulfilling as I get to play a part in safeguarding the community and helping people every day.

Last Updated on 11 September 2019