COVID Companions is a series of creative pieces featuring snippets of life during COVID-19, with a special focus on the other individuals or creatures who are keeping us company during quarantine, lockdown, ‘circuit breaker’, or whatever your equivalent might be. Singaporean artist and educator, Mary Bernadette Lee (Mrydette) shares a chain of email exchanges with strangers, inviting connection over the digital realm during a time when intimacy and relating to others acquire new meaning.

‘Love in the Time of Corona’ is a visual response to goodwill tidings from strangers through email. I understood it to be an initiative to encourage and lift the spirits of fellow strong womenkind during this pandemic. I like to think that these emails were like companions to me, comforting me with messages I needed to get through during this strange time. It is a visual diary chronicling my inner consciousness and awakening; a sober realisation and sincere appreciation for what I have, who I am and how I am becoming.


Courage to Grow is an ode to a lifelong process called Learning; that we may choose our battles wisely with the courage of a lion and the gentle spirit of a Lamb. May we be our own lighthouse, a pulsating constant force that guides us through raging waters, tempest storms and utter darkness.


I Belong Wherever I Am is about acceptance. We are only human. We are allowed to feel, fall and despair. There is nothing shameful about it. Accepting our vulnerabilities is actually coming into strength. It is the recognition that we may be weak but we can be stronger with time. It is a reminder to ourselves to be kind to our bodies, open with our imaginations and to love ourselves, especially where we hurt the most so we can start healing. Wherever we are, we are where we need to be. To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heavens.


Dust to Dust is a reminder about mortality. Stop playing life small, Life is short. Too short to be wasted in cynicism and decadence. Too short to be resting on your laurels. Too short to take it for granted. We have the opportunity to make it good. Today, more than ever, we realise that human activity has its own ‘Butterfly Effect’, for better or for worse. May we choose our actions wisely for the betterment of the world for our future sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. Have the courage to seize that life and truly live, rather than only imagining it. The world needs people like you and I, big-time players, risk takers, trail-blazers. Remember, Life is short. What will you do about it?


Love is a Verb reminds us of what’s quintessential to the human spirit and relationships. Time is passing by and never to return. We have got to be responsible for ourselves, and the people we love.

So says the fox to the little prince,
“To you I am a fox like any other, like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, you and I, we will have created a relationship, and so we will need one another. You will be unique in the world for me….It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye…Men have forgotten this truth. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed….You are responsible for your rose.”

Relationships make life worth living. Even the bad ones. Because you will learn what doesn’t work for you before eventually deciding what works for you. By choosing to show each other the support we need, that’s how we bring each other into the light. A loving relationship with any other human being is a sign of strength because the truth is, the loving is a long, painful and tough road. But by taking the decision to remain committed to stay, that is what keeps us going. Truly, we get by with a little help from our friends.


Listening is a whole body sensorial experience. It is not selective. It is intuitive and informed simultaneously. Listening asks that you pay attention to your bodily sensations and cognitive processes. It requires you to unlearn, learn and relearn information so that you can eventually make your own decisions. It centres you in the present so it can help you fix the things you need for the future. Listening can be uncomfortable because it is confronting but liberating when you get it right. Sometimes listening can come in the guise of anxiety, fear and doubt; they tell you things that make you fall. Hey, nobody said it’s going to be easy. But with practice, it becomes a habit, easier.

Listening is a teacher that never gives up on you, on others. He teaches patience, sensitivity and respect to help you with your discernment. He demonstrates how to engage your body so that it functions like doors; doors to new people, experiences, opportunities and adventures. And to reject anything that’s toxic to you. He can help you become a better version of yourself. Anything can be… if only you’d listen to yourself.


“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 1:11

Faith is the knowledge and wisdom of the heart beyond reason, beyond proof. Having faith is like swimming into the night not knowing where to go but you just go believing you’re going somewhere. There’s neither a horizon of land in sight, nor a sliver of light. You can’t see it yet, but you know it’s right there as long as you keep swimming. It isn’t passive patience but more like a tenacious spirit that pushes you through.

I believe that doing an excellent job is not the only end goal but that the journey towards it is. It is to be pursued with consistency, discipline, patience, integrity and willpower. Choose one thing, and do it well. You must have a hunger to finish what you started and an open-minded attitude to suffer it through. Remember, how sweet the taste of success at the end of your pursuit is, is what you bring to it.


Faith is Light is Guide is about finding my way back home to myself.
I end this series with the quote by Raina Maria Rilke that I sent to Quek Jia Qi when I first received the chain email. Every time I feel myself hardening with insecurities and anxiety, I read this and I can feel myself soften.

It is not easy to walk a path that is yours alone but it is crucial because no one can take that away from you. I always believe that the tougher the path, all the more we’ve got keep choosing to keep on going. But it’s easier said than done. How easy it is to say “Live everything” but to even understand the meaning of it is beyond us. I recently learnt the difference between understanding and comprehending from a dear friend. Understanding is only head knowledge but comprehending is heart knowledge; empathy. You’d only comprehend when you’ve lived it.

To Live is to experience and embrace your life, and all that is not. It is doing and undoing, activity and passivity, life and death, presence and absence. To live is to die to our Self over and over again. Think of it as rebirths. If you can practice such a mentality, I believe that the answers you have been seeking will come to you as natural as breathing is.

To conclude, what started out as an ordinary attempt to get back into the rhythm of creating turned into a new completed body of personal work – self-portraiture in some symbolic way – something which I haven’t been able to do since 2015. I learnt that my body is a house with many rooms. It is a home, and I am coming home to myself, opening new doors I never knew was there. I realised this is the conversation I needed with myself for a long time and in doing so, I have gained clarity about myself. Everything I need is within me; who I am, where I need to go, and how to go about it, it is much clearer to me now.

I believe that beginnings and endings are one and the same; They are transitions, metamorphosis. Be patient. Time is everything as with now is the time for everything.

Mary Bernadette Lee (Mrydette) is based as an artist in Singapore. She is an artist, educator, illustrator, co-creator, observer & collector of information & experiences through collaborations with communities.

Her artistic practice takes the phenomenological approach investigating relationships between body, architecture and space, and psychological states relating to Self, Identity and Home. This relational dialectics between the physiological and the psychological is expressed through her works that foreground the architecture of her as a person and an artist.

Her works manifest in paintings, illustrations, linocut prints, monoprint prints, woodcut prints, clay sculptures, textile installation, and publication. Mary graduated from the National University of Singapore with a BA in English Literature and Communications & New Media in 2006. She also graduated from Nanyang Technological University School of Art, Design and Media in 2014 with a BFA (Hons) in Visual Communication.