She has uterus, bladder and rectum removed in cancer fight

The fund-raising exhibition for Juliana Yasin (left) is organised by her close friend Yvonne Lee (right).
PHOTO: She has uterus, bladder and rectum removed in cancer fight

SINGAPORE - The visual arts community here has rallied around one of their own, Juliana Yasin, in her battle against cervical cancer.

More than 40 artists have contributed works to Artists For Artist, a fund-raising exhibition for the 43-year-old who does paintings, installations and performance art.

She was diagnosed with the cancer five years ago and recently had a relapse of the disease.

The group show opens at Utterly Art on March 31 and features works from prominent artists such as Tang Da Wu, Amanda Heng and Lim Shing Ee.

The pieces are priced between $300 and $2,000, and all of the proceeds will be used to fund Juliana's medical treatment.

The show is organised by Juliana's close friend and former director of the now-defunct art collective Plastique Kinetic Worms, Yvonne Lee, 42.

She hopes the exhibition will raise enough money to cover the cost of the artist's operation, which is more than $30,000, as well as tide her over until she is back on her feet.

Juliana was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in 2009 and, after treatment, fought it into remission.

However, 11/2 months ago, she went to the doctor with back pains and tests found that the cancer had returned and spread to other organs.

Last month, she underwent a 14-hour operation to remove her cancerous uterus, bladder and rectum, and was discharged from hospital two weeks ago after a 51-day stay.

"It has affected me a lot because after the operation, my body's changed and I have to get used to how to live," says the artist.

Now, she has two stoma bags attached to her body to collect waste, which she has to change every five to seven days.

Although her circumstances may be difficult, Juliana remains spirited.

Speaking to Life! over the telephone, she recounts her illness candidly, in a bright voice often punctuated by girlish laughter.

Lee says of the exhibition: "It was originally meant to be something small, but when I put up the Facebook post, everyone started calling and e-mailing, even people we hadn't seen in a long time.

"It was really heartwarming to know that when one artist is down, the rest of the artists are there."

When Juliana, who is single, heard about the warm response, she was similarly touched.

"It was quite overwhelming. Of course, I'm happy, they're so enthusiastic and compassionate and it's a beautiful gesture," she says.

She began her career in the arts more than 20 years ago after graduating from Lasalle College of the Arts.

She was an active member of art collectives The Artists Village and Plastique Kinetic Worms, and her work has been featured in more than 60 exhibitions here and overseas.

When Kenneth Tan, co-founder of Utterly Art, heard about the exhibition, he immediately volunteered his gallery for use.

He says: "It was easy to say, 'Okay, let's do the show'. I didn't come into this as an artist but as a person who knows Juliana as a friend, and space is what I can offer."

One artist who has contributed an installation to the exhibition is Lim Shing Ee, who first met Juliana in 1998.

She says: "Juliana was always jolly and smiley, very warm and spirited. Somehow whenever I picture her in my head, I see her happy face with a warm, wide smile showing her nice row of teeth."

Artist Vincent Leow, who has donated a woodcut print, has known Juliana for more than two decades.

He says: "Julie is a dear friend. We're all very sad and affected by the whole situation and hope that we can contribute and help in some way."

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Where: Utterly Art, 20B Mosque Street, Level 3

When: March 31 to April 7, 2 to 8pm, Monday to Saturday; noon to 5.30pm, Sunday

Admission: Free

Info: Call 6226-2605 or e-mail

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