In October 2010, Lorraine Lee’s life was irrevocably changed when her father, Shen, had a heart attack.
On route to the hospital, Shen died for six minutes.
Upon waking up out of a five-day coma, Shen’s family discovered that lack of oxygen to his brain during those six minutes had caused short-term memory loss.
“It was like a punch in the face,” says Lorraine. “Something happened that we never thought might happen.”
Lorraine, her sister Sara, and her mother Jennifer, worked together to create ways of improving Shen’s memory. An avid boat enthusiast, many of Shen’s memories are tied up in spending the day out on the ocean. Originally from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Lorraine and her family were active members of their local yacht club.
Reminding Shen of his identity and passion for boating has become an integral part of helping the Lee family heal.
“Sometimes we like having that father figure again,” says Lorraine. “So we go up to him and say, ‘Dad, teach us how to tie ropes,’ even though we already know how.”
While tying knots aids Shen’s healing process, likewise, working with her hands aids Lorraine’s.
After moving to Calgary, Alberta, with her sister nearly six years ago, Lorraine attended the U of C. She graduated in December, 2016, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a minor in architecture.
Six months later, Lorraine’s parents paid a visit for her convocation. During which, she spent time knot tying with her father. The leftover ropes became Lorraine’s first designs.
With creations inspired by memories and the flora and fauna of Malaysia, Lorraine originally did not intend to sell her pieces until they caught the eye of Kara Chomistek and Jessie Li of PARK — Promoting Artists, Redefining Kulture — during a project Lorraine was assisting with.
In two weeks, with the support of PARK, Lorraine was ready to launch her line at the Edmonton, Alberta, PARKSHOP in August, 2017. She titled her company, TALEE, meaning “rope” in Bahasa Malaysia.
“The story is what inspires me to do what I do,” says Lorraine. “I don’t know where this is going to go, but as long as I enjoy making—and people enjoy wearing my work — that is the most important thing to me.”
By Sarah Comber