Tumbuk-Tumbuk : A Preparation of Food Memories


tumbuk-tumbuk { toom-book toom-book }

the malay word for ‘pound’; what the mortar and pestle is fondly referred to in my family.


These illustrations are a faceted look at various childhood memories I have around food. The granite mortar and pestle—one I grew up watching my grandmother use in her Malaysian-Chinese kitchen—lends its traits to this narrative.

The mortar and pestle is a double symbol of my food heritage and memories. Through it, I am able to give experiences of family dynamics; coping with life-altering disease as a family; and personal conflict the acknowledgement I feel they deserve. Each illustration looks at a memory conceived at various mealtimes growing up. The mortar and pestle has allowed me to give these memories a space for contemplation, in a way that was not possible for me in the past.

Through the mortar and pestle, these memories have been ‘prepared’ for viewing, reflecting. They have been ‘preserved’ to learn from in the future.

Materials: Gouache on paper.

This series of illustrations were made as part of my MA Illustration project at Camberwell College of Arts, 2019 – 2020.