Conversations of the lonely

15 06 2014

That sense of loneliness often creeps out on most of us whenever we find ourselves alone in a strange and foreign city, a sense that award winning Korean artist Jieun Park does quite cleverly capture in her series A Little Talk, an exhibition of works from which are currently on display at the REDSEA Gallery at Dempsey Road.

A Little Talk at REDSEA.

A Little Talk at REDSEA.

The works, which at first glance take on the appearance of pieces of calligraphy offering perhaps a glance into Park’s background in the Oriental Arts, are much more than that. It is against the base of the bold brushstrokes Park paints onto Korean paper that one finds the fine details in acrylic she has added on – intricately painted cityscapes – a means she uses to have “a little conversation” with each city she visits to overcome the loneliness that she feels.

Detail of the cityscapes in acrylic that Park juxtaposes onto calligraphy like brushstrokes.

Detail of the cityscapes in acrylic that Park juxtaposes onto calligraphy like brushstrokes.

A total of 30 pieces, which Park says takes anything between three weeks to three months to complete, have been brought in for the exhibition  featuring cities such as Paris, Lyon, Florence, Prague and Singapore. A Little Talk runs from 12 to 29 June 2014 at REDSEA Gallery at 9 Dempsey Road. More information is available at

There is much to ponder over.

There is much to ponder over.

Jieun Park.

Jieun Park.




Names in tofu and pigs that fly

16 01 2014

Art Stage Singapore is back! Dubbed the “flagship Asian art event of the region” and now in its fourth year, the annual art fair has a strong focus on the Asian (or as Founder and Fair Director, Mr Lorenzo Rudolf, correctly put it at a media preview – Asia-Pacific) art scene. This years sees the introduction of eight country and regional Platform, each curated by a leading international curator.

Art Stage Singapore provides an amazing array of art work to ponder over.

Art Stage Singapore provides an amazing array of art work to immerse oneself in.

The largest platform is the Southeast Asia Platform, which I must say is particularly intriguing, with some 31 works of artists from Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Singapore being presented. Besides Myanmar’s pioneering abstract  expressionist Soe Niang’s creation of reverse sketches on the walls of a large box to attract one’s attention (see previous post: We Are Asia – Art Stage Singapore 2014), there are several eye-catching works.

The writing on the wall. The start of Myanmar artist Soe Niang's attempt to create a series of reverse sketches on the black coated interior walls of a huge box.

The writing on the wall. Detail of Myanmar artist Soe Niang’s attempt to create a series of reverse sketches on the black coated interior walls of a huge box.

One that I was taken by is Laotian artist Bounpaul Phothyzan’s Controlled Desire - a sphere of suspended human shaped figurines  - human shaped fruit, Na Li Phon or ‘Miracle Fruit’, which according to Hmong folklore brings good fortune. The work is an attempt on the artist’s part to bring attention to social and environmental concerns and to put the spotlight on the human desire to manipulate nature for self-satisfaction.

Controlled Desire by Bounpaul Phothyzan.

‘Controlled Desire’ by Bounpaul Phothyzan.

Another set of work that will catch the eye is that of Filipino artist Mark Justiniani, which uses reflective media to good effect in the artist’s attempt to explore the principle of Superposition. Also represented in the country/regional platforms are India, China, Taiwan, Australia, Korea, Japan, and Central Asia. One that did get a fair bit of attention at the media preview was China’s Chen Qiulin’s The Hundred Surnames in Tofu - a work that looks at Chinese culture (in its surnames and their link to lineage) and its gradual decay and decomposition through the use of tofu.

Mark Justiniani's 'Tunnel'.

Mark Justiniani’s ‘Tunnel’.

Another of Mark Justiniani's study of Superposition.

Another of Mark Justiniani’s study of Superposition.

Thai artist Maint Kantasak's 'Milky Way' - an installation of wood engravings in 194 jars.

Thai artist Manit Kantasak’s ‘Milky Way’ – an installation of wood engravings in 194 jars.

A close-up of Bounpaul Phothyzan's Miracle Fruit in 'Controlled Desire'.

A close-up of Bounpaul Phothyzan’s Miracle Fruit in ‘Controlled Desire’.

Thai artist Ruangsak Anuwatwimon's Hocus-Pocus - a table with shattered glass from Central World Plaza during the politically motivated violent protests of 2010.

Thai artist Ruangsak Anuwatwimon’s Hocus-Pocus – a table with glass from Central World Plaza shattered during the politically motivated violent protests of 2010.

Indian artist Raghava KK's 'Redrawing the Map' in the India Platform.

Indian artist Raghava KK’s ‘Redrawing the Map’ in the India Platform. The work is a playful take on the ‘beautifully impossible India’.

India Platform curator Bose Krishnamachari (R) at the India Platform.

India Platform curator Bose Krishnamachari (R) at the India Platform.

Sakshi Gupta's take on transformation at the India Platform.

Sakshi Gupta’s take on transformation at the India Platform.

The Central Asia Platform features video installations of several Central Asian artists.

The Central Asia Platform features video installations of several Central Asian artists.

The Hundred Surnames in Tofu by China artist Chen Qiulin.

‘The Hundred Surnames in Tofu’ by China artist Chen Qiulin.

Taiwan's Tu Pei-Shih's 'Making Fantasies' which has a NC16 rating.

Taiwan’s Tu Pei-Shih’s ‘Making Fantasies’ which has a NC16 rating.

Besides the country and regional platforms, there are some 158 galleries represented at the fair, 75% of which are based in the Asia-Pacific. The galleries have, as in previous years, brought in an amazing array of work, from the works of well-known and established artists to the quirky and bizarre works of contemporary and emerging artists.

Facing-off. Emerging artist Sam Jinks' 'Divide'.

Facing-off. Emerging artist Sam Jinks’ ‘Divide’.

The most photographed work is probably that of Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa's inflatable 'Love Me'.

The most photographed work is probably that of Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa’s inflatable ‘Love Me’.

Scream Gallery has some rather quirky pieces including Sally Fuerst's oil on canvas work 'Robot'.

Scream has some rather quirky pieces including Sally Fuerst’s oil on canvas work ‘Robot’.

More from Scream.

More from Scream.

Also at Scream.

Also at Scream.

Art Stage Singapore 2014 runs from 16 to 19 January 2014 and is being held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Besides the fair proper, there are also lots of fringe and community events and tours to look forward to including public talks, Platform Art Tours and workshops. More information is available at the fair’s website, Art Stage Singapore, including a list of exhibitors, a guide to the fair and information on ticketing.

Opera Gallery has its usual collection of Dali's sculptural works.

Opera Gallery has its usual collection of Dali’s sculptural works.

Taiwan Platform curator Rudy Tseng speaking at the media preview yesterday.

Taiwan Platform curator Rudy Tseng speaking at the media preview yesterday, as Korea Platform’s Kim Sung Won and Japan Platform’s Mami Kataoka look on.

More photographs taken at a preview of Art Stage 2014:

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We Are Asia – Art Stage Singapore 2014

13 01 2014

An annual art fair that is always something that shouldn’t be missed in Art Stage Singapore. A platform for This year’s edition, the fourth, as with the previous editions, is very much that platform the fair has come to be in bringing together artists, galleries, curators and art curators – with that strong Asian focus.


Art Stage Singapore (a photograph take at the 2012 edition), is always something to be on the look out for.

This years fair sees a format that moves away from that used in previous editions, with eight country/regional platforms: Southeast Asia, India, China, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Central Asia; showcased in a museum like exhibition layout that is curated by respective experts of each regions art scene.

Each year, the annual fair features a very strong Asia-Pacific presence - photographs is of Philippine artist  Geraldine Javier’s “Red fights back” at Art Stage Singapore 2013.

Each year, the annual fair features a very strong Asia-Pacific presence – photographs is of Philippine artist Geraldine Javier’s “Red fights back” at Art Stage Singapore 2013.

The largest Platform will be Southeast Asia, curated by Art Stage Singapore in collaboration with six country advisers. To look out for will be newly commissioned works from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, The Philippines and Thailand. The fair will also see a strong local presence with 29 Singapore based galleries participating, compared to 22 in 2013. There fair this year also sees a strong representation of galleries from the Asia Pacific with 80% of the participating galleries from the region.

Art Stage 2013 (photo: Art Stage Singapore).

Art Stage 2013 (photo: Art Stage Singapore).

Among the artists who will have feature in the Southeast Asia Platform is Soe Niang (Yone Arts), who will present an installation peice, Intermission on Stage. Soe Niang, who hails from Myanmar, is one of the country’s pioneering abstract  expressionists who had produced some 10,000 “diary sketches” in his vigil throughout Myanmar’s dark days of isolationism during the reign of the military regime. The installation will see him create a series of reverse sketches on the black coated interior walls of a huge box – the size of a shipping container, through the four days of the exhibition.

Soe Niang (photo: Yone Arts).

Soe Niang (photo: Yone Arts).

A feature from Malaysia to look out for will be Justin Lim’s (Richard Koh Fine Art) There is no other paradise, a work that the artist describes as stemming “from an on-going amalgamation of social commentary and contemporary reality within the framework of symbolism and make-believe”. The project will see work in a range of media that addresses social issues in contemporary Malaysian society, touching on the subjects of racial divide, nostalgia, ethnicity and religion including Washing the obsolete in the arms of the absolute. The installation borrows from “Mandi bunga” (flower bath) ritual that was also interestingly what another Malaysian based artist, Sharon Chin, borrowed from in her recent work at the Singapore Biennale 2013.

Washing the obsolete in the arms of the absolute 165x68x70cm Fiberglass bath tub, fabric, video projection 2013

Washing the obsolete in the arms of the absolute 165x68x70cm Fiberglass bath tub, fabric, video projection 2013(photo: Richard Koh Fine Art).

More information on Art Stage Singapore 2014, which runs from 16 to 19 January 2014 at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, is available at the fair’s website, Art Stage Singapore, including a list of exhibitors, a guide to the fair and information on ticketing.

Photographs from previous editions of Art Stage Singapore on this site:

Finding a ghost in an old church

31 10 2013

Just in time for Halloween, so it may seem, a ghost awaits discovery in the old Middle Road Church.

Looking for a ghost, one might perhaps find love too at the old church.Looking for a ghost, one might perhaps find love too at the old church.

Despite the timing of the ghost’s appearance, it has actually got little to do with the silliness of Halloween in a part of the world where the celebration should really have little or no significance.

Opening Night.

Opening Night.

The ghost that we find at the de-consecrated church building, now perhaps in its third life as the Chapel Gallery of an arts centre we know as Sculpture Square, is an exhibition of art in its various forms, in which the body, as described on the exhibition’s website as “unruly, visceral, and ephemeral”, is used as a medium and “a site of resistance” returning to haunt us, unearthing “a different shape and understanding of Singapore”.

Eric Khoo's Mee Pok Man.

Eric Khoo’s Mee Pok Man.

The exhibition, Ghost: The Body at the Turn of the Century timed to coincide with the Singapore Biennale, sees installations by well known names which range from Amanda Heng to Eric Khoo and John Clang. One exhibit which is perhaps rather intriguing is Ray Langenbach’s Archive by Loo Zihan. Occupying a large part of the Chapel Gallery it resurrects the ghost of the infamous Artists’ General Assembly of 1993 and its fallout, featuring a collection from Ray Langenbach’s extensive archives – all connected by a web of thread woven by Loo Zihan.

The web woven by artist Loo Zihan.

The web of intrigue woven by artist Loo Zihan.

A ghost from the archives.

A ghost from the archives.

The ghost in the old church haunts Sculpture Square until 31 December 2013. More information can be found at the centre’s website.

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Sacks of rice, a hooded heroine and blond brooms on a Sunday afternoon

31 01 2013

Sunday begun in a pretty hectic way for me. I had what seemed like a full day by the time I welcomed the sunrise. I had woken up at 3.30 in the morning – so that I could make my way down to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple for Thaipusam, an annual ritual observed by Hindus of Southern Indian origin. A spiritual journey which begins well before the day itself, it culminates in an extreme act of faith involving the bearing of a burden or a kavadi on its final leg – and one which I try not to miss. I spent a good hour and a half at the temple, crowded not just with devotees and their families and friends, but also with hundreds of curious observers and photographers, before making my way across town to the Kampong Bahru flyover, not so much for the spectacular sunrise that was always going to be a treat, but more in an attempt to capture the column of 6000 runners on the inaugural Green Corridor Run making their way down the former railway yard. Having done all that, I decided to take the rest of the morning slow and easy – before making my way down to Art Stage 2013 – an annual event which is the largest international art fair here for a calm and slow afternoon – something I was certainly thankful for.


Art Stage 2013 which brought in over 130 galleries, the majority of which are from the Asia-Pacific, was, reading the post-event news, a huge success – it attracted  some 40 500 visitors over 5 days, and provided a platform for many emerging artists, especially from Singapore and South-East Asia to be introduced into the art world. Joining in a guided tour for bloggers’ of the fair kindly arranged by URA Marina Bay’s place management team, I was also able to get to see and (pretend to) understand the works of some of these emerging artists a little better, artists such as Zulkifli Yusoff from Malaysia whose work Rukunegara was certainly an eye-catching one which provides the artist’s take on the nation-building process.

Rukunegara 2 by Malaysian artist Zulkifli Yusoff.

Rukunegara 2 by Malaysian artist Zulkifli Yusoff.

Another eye-catching piece is an intriguing installation by Geraldine Javier entitled “Red Fights Back”. Javier who is from the Philippines retells a popular fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood through a set of images and a tree, set against a backdrop of dried leaves. Also from the Philippines, is a large mural – that of street artist Vermont Coronel Jr., entitled “High Way” which is his interpretation of the urban landscape he is most familiar with – that of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfare, EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), a landscape that is also representative of many other urban spaces. The work involves the artist painstakingly creating stencils which is overlaid and sprayed over.

A visitor takes a close look at Geraldine Javier's "Red fights back".

A visitor takes a close look at Geraldine Javier’s “Red fights back”.

The final scene in "Red fights back".

The final scene in “Red fights back”.

"High Way" by Vermont Coronel Jr.

“High Way” by Vermont Coronel Jr.

Vermont Coronel Jr.'s work involves the use of stencils which he painstakingly creates.

Vermont Coronel Jr.’s work involves the use of stencils which he painstakingly creates.

The tour also introduced us to the work of two Thai artists, that of Anusorn Charoensuk and Maitree Siriboon, both of whom we had a chance to meet. Anusorn Charoensuk’s “World Tour” is interesting in that it involves photographs taken over a period of five years against the backdrop of paintings of popular tourist destinations – in which the subjects – members of his family, express the same joy one would expect in posing in with the actual places that are depicted. It is also interesting that in the last of the photographs that we see the image of an angel, to represent the artist’s father who had passed on when the photograph was taken. Anusorn Charoensuk’s also had an interactive installation at the fair. It was one in which he invites visitors to have a photograph taken against a backdrop of how he saw Orchard Road (without having actually seen the well-known street). Painted on a zinc sheet, the backdrop shows a building what he is able to identify with the street – that of the tower of Tang Plaza.

Anusorn Charoensuk's "World Tour" taken over a period of five years.

Anusorn Charoensuk’s “World Tour” taken over a period of five years.

An interactive part of Anusorn Charoensuk's installation which he invites visitors to have a photo taken against the backdrop - this one of Orchard Road (which he painted without having actually seen the well-known street).

An interactive part of Anusorn Charoensuk’s installation which he invites visitors to have a photo taken against the backdrop – this one of Orchard Road (which he painted without having actually seen the well-known street).

Moving on to compatriot Maitree Siriboon’s installation, open sacks of rice immediately catches the eye. The installation “Rice is Art” involves 450 kg of rice – given by rice farmers in his home village in the rice-growing Issan region of Thailand. The gift, Maitree says, represents a sacrifice made by the community which is dependent on rice harvests for a living in support of his work. The installation also involves a collection of photographs which shows the support of the rice-growing community for the creation of the installation.

Maitree Siriboon and his sacks of rice.

Maitree Siriboon and his sacks of rice.

Photographs showing the support of the community for Siriboon's efforts.

Photographs showing the support of the community for Siriboon’s efforts.

One Singapore artist whose work we were introduced to was that of Ang Sookoon. The series of works at the fair were ones that looks at items in a domestic space. ” The Waves/Waifs” is one that involves brooms made of blond hair and wood – a reference perhaps to the domesticated nature of women in society. Another piece, “Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold”, sees crystal being grown on another familiar item in a domestic setting, bread. The piece which I most enjoyed, “Weighs Like Mine”, involved a chest of four drawers. The chest is one which encourages the view to interact with it, and in the drawers one will discover what again are familiar scenes in domestic settings.

Ang Sookoon's "Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold".

Ang Sookoon’s “Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold”.

Ang Sookoon's "The Wave/Waifs".

Ang Sookoon’s “The Wave/Waifs”.

Ang Sookoon's "Weighs Like Mine".

Ang Sookoon’s “Weighs Like Mine”.

Following the Southeast Asian Art Tour, I also took the opportunity to take a leisurely look around what is the third edition of Singapore’s largest international arts fair with a focus on fostering Southeast Asia artists and galleries, photographing some of what did catch my eye, not just the installations by themselves – but how visitors and gallery staff viewed and interacted with the works on display some of which follows:
















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A world I would love to be trapped in

25 01 2013

One current exhibition that is certainly well worth a visit to is one that is devoted entirely to building bricks most of us would have been familiar with from our childhoods. ‘The Art of The Brick’ at the ArtScience Museum which opened on 17 November 2012 and will run until 14 April 2013, takes visitors into the world of 39 year old Nathan Sawaya, whose life-long obsession with Lego building bricks has seen him abandon his job as an attorney to devote himself to the ‘art of the brick’.

Step into the world of Nathan Sawaya at the ArtScience Museum.

Trapped, one of the brick pieces that offers a look into the world of Nathan Sawaya at the ArtScience Museum. Trapped is inspired by the artist’s feelings of being trapped. Speaking of being trapped – Sawaya’s world is one I certainly wouldn’t mind being trapped in.

I was provided with the opportunity to visit the exhibition recently by good people of the ArtScience Museum. The visit provided me not only with the opportunity to see the artist’s work, but also step into the artist’s own world seen through some of his work which includes both representative brick sculptures as well as one which explore surrealist themes in what is some of the more fascinating pieces. Sawaya’s obsession with what is indeed a very popular and timeless toy we were told began at the age of five. Not being able to get that pet dog he had wanted, Sawaya did the next best thing – he dismantled his Lego city brick set and built a dog with it which he named Boxer.

The entrance to the exhibition. The exhitbition runs until 14 April 2013.

The entrance to the exhibition. The exhitbition runs until 14 April 2013.

Sawaya decided to turn what had in his working years become a means to blow off steam. It was when he realised that his sharing of his hobby on his website was receiving quite a fair bit of attention that he decided to dedicate his life to being a ‘brick artist’ first joining Lego before setting up his own art gallery in New York City.

A giant FaceMask.

A giant FaceMask.

The 52 large-scale brick pieces at the exhibition are displayed across eight galleries. In the first gallery, we are introduced to the artist himself, with several pieces through which Sawaya reveals some of his personal take on himself. The gallery includes several ‘iconic’ pieces including ‘Yellow’ and ‘Swimmer’. My personal favourite among the works in the gallery is Yellow which depicts a human torso tearing its chest open. Thousands of toy bricks can be seen to spill out from the gap. The work represents the artist’s personal metamorphosis and transitions and is said to capture his emotional journey in which the artist opened himself up to the world.

Yellow - which represents Sawaya's personal metamorphosis and transitions, and captures his emotional journey.

Yellow – which represents Sawaya’s personal metamorphosis and transitions, and captures his emotional journey.

Another piece in the Introduction Gallery - 'Hands' which depicts a dream Sawaya had in which he loses his hands.

Another piece in the Introduction Gallery – ‘Hands’ which depicts a dream Sawaya had in which he loses his hands.

The seven other galleries are no less interesting. The next one we come to is the Catwalk Gallery where works are displayed on a runway like platform. Works here that caught my eye were Circle, Triangle, Square and Everlasting. Another interesting gallery is the Portrait Gallery, where there are some familiar faces in 2D – all made again from Lego bricks which I thought was rather amazing. Among the portraits are those of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin. What is interesting to learn about is the approach that the artist takes when creating a 2D portrait is that he starts off with the eyes – after which he says everything falls into place. The choice of colour is also important we are told. Sawaya, despite his talent in creating 2D likenesses of famous personalities with Lego bricks, we are also told, does not like to take on commercial commissions for 2D portraits for fear that he may offend clients should the work not come out right.

Circle, Trangle, Square in the Catwalk Gallery.

Circle, Trangle, Square in the Catwalk Gallery.



Close-up of a portrait of Janis Joplin.

Close-up of a portrait of Janis Joplin.

Close-up of a portrait of Bob Dylan.

Close-up of a portrait of Bob Dylan.

And one of Jimi Hendrix.

And one of Jimi Hendrix.

Our very able guide Dina, speaking on Courtney Yellow - a portrait of Sawaya's then girlfriend (and now wife) Courtney Simmons.

Our very able guide Dina, speaking on Courtney Yellow – a portrait of Sawaya’s then girlfriend (and now wife) Courtney Simmons.

Another gallery which I did take my time to look at was The Emotion Box which has pieces all of which seemed to have a deeper meaning in them. Stepping into the gallery one encounters works that are mesmerisingly fascinating such as Mask, Ascension, Grasp and Trapped. There certainly are deeper meanings that one will discover in the works. Ascension depicts the artists desire to ascend to a higher place without experiencing death, whereas, Grasp refers to the many people telling the artist ‘no’ – people he would like to rid his life of.







One work that will certainly impress is a six metre long one – a T-Rex skeleton at the Art of Play. The last gallery is where you will find a brick sculpture of a familiar sight – that of the ArtScience Museum itself. The piece was specially commissioned by the ArtScience Museum and was created without the artist having actually visited the museum, and purely from 2D images.

The six metre long T-Rex skeleton.

The six metre long T-Rex skeleton.

One of the ArtScience Museum.

One of the ArtScience Museum.



The exhibition also has several areas which allow visitor interaction, including light and sound displays, a photobooth, a Play and Build area and an area where visitors can attempt to recreate Sawaya’s rain. The exhibtion is open from 10 am to 10 pm daily (last entry is at 9 pm). More information on the exhibition and ticket prices can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

Writer in The Drawing Board gallery.

Writer in The Drawing Board gallery.

Interacting with light.

Interacting with light.



The search for love and happiness in Marina Bay’s secret spaces

8 01 2013

It was around midday on the first Sunday of 2013 that I found myself on an exploration of what can be said to be secret spaces around Marina Bay, an exploration which was to lead me and the group I found myself in the company of, to the search for happiness during which I did also find love. It was an exploration of places and spaces in which we might have expected love and happiness to be in short supply including a lawyer’s office and as well as the offices, meeting spaces and even a boardroom and trading floor of one of the world’s largest financial institutions.

The search for happiness ...

The search for happiness.

Secret travelator.

involved a passage on a secret travelator.

A page from Kafka's The Trial ... discovered on the secret travelator.

A page from Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ … found at the secret travelator.

A participant takes a closer look at 'Fragile Structures' - the work of Frayn Yong which involves wireframe like models of structures found around Marina Bay made of mechanical pencil lead.

A participant takes a closer look at ‘Fragile Structures’ – the work of Frayn Yong which involves wireframe like models of structures found around Marina Bay made of mechanical pencil lead.

The search for happiness did lead us to a seemingly happy space – the offices of Google Asia Pacific. There I did momentarily find that elusive emotional state – I was very happy to have a peek into Google’s much talked about working spaces. The goal however was a happy looking abstract art installation, Eeshaun’s ‘The Search for Happiness’, one of several installations awaiting discovery along a rather unique trail, touted as Singapore’s only art walkabout, OH! (or Open House). OH! Marina Bay, The Happiness Index, is the latest edition – three previous sell-out events had some 5,000 strangers taking a look at art installations in real life homes in Niven Rd (2009), Marine Parade (2011) and Tiong Bahru (2012).

Detail of 'The Search for Happiness' - an abstract piece by Eeshaun in the offices of Google Singapore.

Detail of ‘The Search for Happiness’ – an abstract piece by Eeshaun in the offices of Google Singapore.

For OH! Marina Bay, there is a shift from the more personal and intimate spaces that the previous OH!s explored. For the latest edition, participants take a look instead into corporate Singapore. This shift is explained by Alan Oei, the co-founder and curator: “I thought Marina Bay was all office, glass, steel and mirrors. But there is a secret and fascinating life beneath all that. In many ways, one can look at it as manifesting a kind of zeitgeist. It’s a really interesting moment in Singapore now, and the arts should be part of that conversation.”

The corporate offices around the new downtown in Marina Bay is the focus of the latest in a series of OH! events.

The corporate offices around the new downtown in Marina Bay is the focus of the latest in a series of OH! events.

That the arts is part of the conversation, OH! leaves little doubt. OH! Marina Bay features the installations of twelve artists, in very different and exclusive locations. There is a little bonus in that as well as the installations (some of which I could identify with), the walkabout does offer that peek into the ultra modern offices of major financial institutions housed in the glass and steel structures which have risen where the sea once stood – as well as taking participants back some three decades to an office that once housed the practice of renowned architect Tay Kheng Soon, who played a role in shaping the architectural landscape of Singapore back then. The office, now hosts the law practice of Ann Tan and Associates, and does still bear some evidence of Tay’s interventions within its space.

Love broken by a bomb in Deutsche Bank's offices.

Love broken by a bomb in Deutsche Bank’s offices.

It was at the lawyer’s office that one of what I did think was one of the more interesting installations – sound artist Tan Peiling’s ‘And they gathered them together in heaps’ was to be discovered. Set amongst stacks of documents stored in files are the records that perhaps have not been stored – a visual record as well as one of the sounds of the old harbour – once only an earshot away.

Tan Peiling's 'And they gathered them together in heaps' is made up of visual ...

Tan Peiling’s ‘And they gathered them together in heaps’ is made up of visual …

as well as sound records ... in this case sounds of the old harbour which used to be an earshot away.

as well as sound records … in this case sounds of the old harbour which was once only an earshot away.

The installations that to me delighted the most however was Joy Abigail Ho’s lighthearted and interactive piece at the first stop, as well as the tea ladies dancing to the strains of Bengawan Solo entertain also at the first stop. And it is for this as well as the little discoveries along the way that makes OH! Marina Bay worth the two hours spent.

Joy Abigail Ho's work at DBS Asia Central.

Joy Abigail Ho’s interactive piece at DBS Asia Central.

Joy Abigail Ho.

Joy Abigail Ho.

Dancing tea ladies at DBS Asia Centre.

Dancing tea ladies at DBS Asia Centre.

There was a little to discover as well of the area’s development history. Land reclamation which started in the 1970s has shaped much of what we do see today, including the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC). It is from there as well as from the offices visited where we are able have a better appreciation of this, as well as have a peek into the future of the area. Just beyond the MBFC we see a multitude of cranes, cranes which help in the spread of the new downtown southwards on what is now bare reclaimed land. It is also a less known fact that even the area we see as the older part of the financial district centred on Shenton Way, was in fact built on land some of which was reclaimed as far back as the 1880s – the shoreline prior to that had been located at Telok Ayer Street!

OH! Marina Bay besides taking one into the modern glass and steel buildings of key financial players, also offers a glimpse into the past buried in the present.

A view of the past from the modern boardroom of Deutsche Bank. OH! Marina Bay besides taking one into the modern glass and steel buildings of key financial players, also offers a glimpse into the past buried in the present.

It is close to where the walkabout began – at Deutsche Bank’s offices which does offer a great view of the past, the present and perhaps the future from its boardroom, where it ends. It is here where the largest collection of works can be found – including many which is in the bank’s own collection. It is also here where we find love, which takes the form of a love bomb – a bomb like installation with the Chinese word for love on it. There are also some accompanying paintings which spread the message of love on the walls. It is also here where another highlight of the walkabout lies in waiting – a look at the trading floor on the 18th. The trading floor’s location was one selected for its auspicious number we are told.

Participants heading to the 18th Floor - the trading floor of Deutsche Bank where photography is not permitted. The Deutsche Bank mural painted entirely by the bank's staff is seen in the foreground.

Participants heading to the 18th Floor – the trading floor of Deutsche Bank where photography is not permitted. The Deutsche Bank mural painted entirely by the bank’s staff is seen in the foreground.

There are four more days during which you can seek love and happiness in and around some of Marina Bay’s secret spaces. Further runs of OH! Marina Bay will be held on 12, 13, 19 and 20 January 2013. Tickets are $20, and can be bought only at the door from 11am, at DBS Asia Central Branch, Marina Bay Financial Centre, Tower 3, Level 3. Last tours leave at 3pm daily. See for more information.





Soup, Luncheon Meat, Lychees and a Last Supper at the ArtScience Museum

1 05 2012

Love them or hate them, the works of Andy Warhol are without a doubt some of the most recognisable art pieces produced in second half of the 20th Century. There is also little doubt of the impact that the enigmatic Warhol has had during his lifetime on the visual arts scene. However, beyond the iconic imagery that he is synonymous with, particularly of cans of Campbell’s Soup – there is very little that I myself have of the artist and I took the opportunity to learn more of the artist who would otherwise remain a mystery to me at the Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal exhibition now on at the ArtScience Museum, to which the good folks at the museum were kind enough to extend an invitation to me.

The Andy Warhol 15 Minutes Eternal exhibition is on until 12 Aug 2012. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

Warhol, I was to learn from the expert guide who took the group of us through the exhibition, did have that air of mystery about him – not by accident but by design. Visitors learn of this soon after stepping through the very pink entrance where on a TV screen, a video of an interview Warhol did in his early years is shown. The artist does not say much in his responses – his attempt, I found out, to remain mysterious as a means to achieve fame, having been driven by an obsession Warhol had with the pursuit of fame and fortune.

It is in stepping into the exhibition proper from this first introduction to Warhol that I was to understand more about the man behind the mask Warhol had on, as the visitor is able to walk through the various stages of his life and get to know and understand the artist better through the works that he produced at each stage in Warhol’s career as an artist. The exhibition, held in the year which marks the 25th anniversary of Warhol’s death in 1987, ends on 12 Aug 2012 and has brought in over 260 paintings, drawings, sculptures, film, and video of Warhol’s works – the first time, such an extensive collection of his works is seen in Singapore. The exhibition, the title of which is in fact derived from Warhol’s famous “15 minutes of fame” quote – in which he said “In the future, everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes”, is sponsored by BNY Mellon and organized by The Andy Warhol Museum in Warhol’s home town of Pittsburgh.

Gold Leaf Shoe - inspired by gold leaf used in the creation of religious icons of the Byzantine Catholic faith that Warhol's parents practiced. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

The first gallery “Early Years” – 1940s to 1950s looks at the early potential that Warhol exhibited as a child and the influences on his artistic development as well as the early years of his career. It is here that I learnt more of Warhol’s background … that the bright pink of the exhibition’s entrance was no accident. The son of working class Slovak immigrants, Warhol born Andrew Warhola, spent long periods of his school-going years at home. He had been afflicted with St. Vitus Dance – a disease that attacks the nervous system, which left large pink blotches on Warhol’s skin fuelling his infatuation with the colour pink.

Although lacking at first in style, Warhol did show enough promise however to prompt his family to support him through the School of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, following which he was to taste early success as a commercial illustrator. Attracted by his endeavour, a quality he learnt from his hardworking immigrant parents, as well as by the whimsical nature of his work which challenged the norm, Warhol had by the time he was 27 been engaged by several famous brands including Vogue magazine. His endeavour also rewarded him with a job with I. Miller to create advertisements and shop displays for their famous collection of shoes. That earned Warhol the reputation of ‘Shoe Man’. Beyond illustrations, Warhol experimented with print techniques – something which he would later exploit for commercial gain, developing his own blotted line print technique.

Campbell's Soup. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

Images of celebrities. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

Silver Factory. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

The next gallery, “The Factory Years” – 1960s, examines Warhol’s transition from commercial art to business art. It was during the decade that Warhol moved into Pop-Art – an art form in which imagery associated with popular culture such as advertising, comic books, and brand products is reproduced. Here his early pieces – a wallpaper of cows set against a bright yellow background and ‘cardboard’ boxes made from wood stacked to create a scene inside a warehouse are seen which initially received a poor reaction. It was the iconic Campbell’s Soup cans that were to bring Warhol success – an idea that apparently wasn’t Warhol’s but of a female friend who suggested that Warhol, then short of inspiration, should produce images of something he saw everyday which would be recognisable to everyone – “like a can of Campbell’s Soup”.

It was during this time, that Warhol employed the silkscreen printing – a technique he picked up at the start of the 1960s – as a means similar to the blotted line technique that he could use to mass produce images for commercial gain. This also allowed Warhol to extensively use assistants to do the work – freeing him to pursue what was to become an unfulfilled desire to become famous as a fine art artist. Warhol would also extend the use of silkscreen printing to reproductions of photographs – mainly of celebrities with whom he had a fascination for, including Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

The gallery is where visitors are introduced to the Silver Factory a reproduction of Warhol’s New York studio in the 1960’s – covered entirely with foil. The Silver factory allows visitors to dress up and be “a star for 15 minutes” with a photo booth to capture the experience. From a reproduction of the couch from the Silver Factory, visitors would be able to watch avant-garde films produced by Warhol.

Time Capsule. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

The next gallery, “Exposures” – 1970s takes the visitor through the decade during which Warhol worked extensively on commissioned portraits using Polaroids to photograph celebrities, to fund an interest in experimental film. It is also interesting to learn that Warhol, although not a hoarder, collected various items that represented various periods of his life in the 1970s. Warhol started creating “time-capsules” with the items – creating a total of some 612 capsules which he housed in brown cartons – one of which visitors would be treated to a view of.

The Last Supper. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Marina Bay Sands.

We move into the final years of Warhol’s life next in “The Last Supper” – 1980s. Having achieved great success, Warhol next ventured into television media as well as dabbled with a diverse range of art. One work which caught my eye was The Last Supper – not that I could comprehend the depiction of religious imagery with symbols of consumerism. The piece, one of his last before an untimely passing from complications after a routine gall bladder operation, was considered to be have made a monumental impact in the industry.

The visit to the exhibition does not end with the last of the artist’s works. There is a little more to be discovered – not of Warhol’s works, but of works in which Warhol might have had an influence on a quarter of a century after his passing. What certainly will catch the attention of the visitor are the series of Ma-Ling Luncheon Meat and Lychee cans, very much in the fashion of the Campbell Soup cans that Warhol popularised – with a little twist. The Pork Luncheon and Lychee series are the works of one of three South East Asian artists, Jahan Loh from Singapore, being featured in a specially curated segment. This segment aims to highlight the influence of Andy Warhol on Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art in the display of over 16 selected works that draw on common themes and techniques made famous by the iconic Pop Artist. The two other artists whose works are featured are Ibrahim Hussein (Malaysia; 1936-2009) and Jirapat Tatsanasomboon (Thailand).

SEA Art Work inspired by Warhol - from Jahan Loh's Pork Luncheon and Lychee series. © MAD, Museum of Art & Design.

As an added treat, visitors to the exhibition can also participate in a Silkscreen Printing Workshop (information is available the tha ArtScience Museum’s website. A session at the workshop was specially arranged for the group I was in as well at which I was able to get to try my hand at the technique that Warhol so successfully employed. With the apron that was definitely a necessity for me, and with a squeegee in hand – I managed to produce a print of a portrait of Warhol, at the same time learning more about the technique – something that definitely completes the experience that the must-see exhibition provides of Andy Warhol and his work.

Visitors can try their hand at silkscreen printing.

The silkscreen.

The finished print.

Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal will run from 17 March 2012 until 12 August 2012. This exhibition is part of the Asian tour that will travel to five cities over 27 months starting in Singapore. It will then move on to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and finally Tokyo in 2014. Tickets for the exhibition can be purchased on the ArtScience Museum website and all Marina Bay Sands box offices.

Lighting-up for sustainability

27 03 2012

Observation of Earth Hour
i Light Marina Bay 2012 Installations will be turned off for an hour at 8.30 pm on Saturday 31 March 2012 to observe Earth Hour.

Lighting and colouring up the gorgeously beautiful world that is Marina Bay over a three-week period, are thirty-one light art installations making their appearance at i Light Marina Bay 2012. The biennial festival is the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival. In bringing us the festival, the organisers also hope to send across a key message that advocates sustainability, particularly in the use of energy-efficient lighting technology for the future.

A close-up of Bibigloo by BIBI - one of 31 light art installations for i Light Marina Bay 2012 supplementing the sea of lights that the gorgeously beautiful Marina Bay is until 1 April 2010. Many of the installations feature the reuse or recycling of material - in this case Jerry Cans, to help send out the festival's key message of sustainability.

To send out the message of sustainability, criteria used in the selection of the 31 works out of 100 applications were the artists’ use of energy-efficient LED lights and the incorporation of sustainable, recycled / re-usable materials in their work. Some of the works do in fact feature the use of renewable or alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind energy or kinetic energy to provide the necessary power. The festival in promoting sustainability, has also enlisted the support of a number of the owners of buildings not just around the Marina Bay precinct, but also in other parts of Singapore to participate in the “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign. The campaign will see some 42 buildings involved in a conscious effort to switch non-essential indoor/outdoor lighting and office equipment off whenever possible and turn up air-conditioning temperatures to 24 to 25° C during office hours. As with the festival, the campaign is in its second edition with the first edition featuring some 16 properties, which saw more than 41,000 kWh of electricity saved collectively. The buildings participating in the campaign include Marina Bay Sands, Marina Bay Financial Centre and The Fullerton Heritage in the Marina Bay area as well as Wisma Atria, New Tech Park and Tampines Concourse outside of the area.

Shinya Okuda's BioShell which visualises invisible but closely interconnected relationships between humans and nature.

The Sustainability Sponsor for the festival, The PowerSeraya Group, a Singapore based integrated energy company, is a strong advocate of energy conservation. The Group is a Merit Winner of the Singapore Environmental Achievement Award in 2011. The company hopes to highlight the importance of environmental awareness as well as energy conservation through their participation – part of a broader outreach programme that the company has embarked on to encourage power consumers to use energy and resources responsibly.

Receptacle by Marine Ky - a work that is supported by Philips.

A close-up of Receptacle.

Besides the participation of the organisers’, the building owners, and the main sponsors in promoting the message of sustainability, the festival also sees the strong support of companies behind the development of energy-efficient lighting solutions. One such company is Philips, which hopes to drive a revolution in the use of energy-efficient LED. As part of their participation in the festival, Philips has lent their support to powering a number of the light art installations which are The River, Coral Garden, Tree Stories, Sweet Home, enLIGHTenment, BioShell, 5QU1D, Receptacle, and Planting Shadows. The LED lighting solutions being used for the festival’s installations use as little as one-tenth of the power required by an incandescent bulb and last for up to 20 years of normal use.

Olivia d'Aboville's Coral Garden is one installation supported by Philips. The installation encourages people to interact with the light installation made from cocktail stirrers much like an actual coral reef attracts marine life to it.

Through its participation and support, Philips aims to also bring across a message that light has the ability to enhance life, beautify the urban landscape, and bring out the unique personality of each city. The company feels that driven by the LED lighting revolution, sustainable lighting solutions now available offer limitless possibilities of what light can do for urban spaces and rethink the way cities are lighted up, allowing urban planners and architects great leeway in exercising their creativity. The company also hopes to see government regulation aimed at reducing energy consumption and protecting the environment and the phasing out of incandescent bulbs through a switch to LED lights.

The Philips picnic under a Breeze Shelter which featured some of their gorgeous LED light illuminated home products. Philips arranged for several local artists to share on their installations.

It was during a picnic organised by Philips held under the cool comfort of the Breeze Shelters at the Promontory @ Marina Bay I attended that I learnt more of Philips aims in supporting artists for i Light Marina Bay 2012. Philips was also kind enough to arrange for an opportunity to meet with a few of the local artists they are supporting. On hand to speak about their motivations in the creation of their respective installations was Ryf Zaini (5QU1D); the very enlightened Edwin Tan (enLIGHTenment); and Joshua Yang, Fiona Koh and Justin Loke of Vertical Submarine (Planting Shadows).

Edwin Tan (L) in the glow of enLIGHTenment.

It was interesting to hear what the artists had to say about their creations. First to speak was the Vertical Submarine team whose work, Planting Shadows is an adaptation from the one created for an exhibition at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 2009. The installation features a sense provoking field of grey sunflowers. The inspiration for the work is a poem by local writer Chien Swee-Teng. The poem tells a tale of a sunflower plantation owner’s pact with an imp who lived in an empty bottle of sunflower oil. In exchange for success in his trade, the farmer becomes blind to the colour of his trade. In presenting sunflowers in the grey of their shadows, the team tries not just to recreate the story, but also aims to direct the viewers’ attention to the form of the sunflower.

In the colour of their shadows, attention is drawn to the form of the sunflowers. Planting Shadows by local group Vertical Submarine draws inspiration from a poem by local writer Chien Swee-Teng in which a sunflower plantation owner’s becomes blind to the colour of his trade in exchange for success in a pact with an imp.

Another sense provoking work is that of Ryf Zaini’s 5QUID. An engineering graduate of Temasek Polytechnic, the artist’s interest saw him completing a diploma in interactive media at the LASALLE College of the Arts where he graduated with first class honours in media art. An engineering graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, Ryf Zaini’s interest in the arts led him to LASALLE College of the Arts, where he completed a diploma in interactive media and graduated with first class honours in media arts. Combining both fields, Ryf Zaini creates hybrids of technologically informed art like his installation 5QU1D which represents a squid that emerges from the sea and takes on a hybrid form to merge itself with the surroundings. 5QU1D is embedded with blinking lights and uses recycled and used electronic parts, and LED lighting systems.

Ryf Zaini's 5QU1D is another sense provoking piece. It represents a squid which takes a hybrid form to blend with rapidly changing surroundings - a reference to the rapid changes in the modernising world and the effects they have on the natural environment.

The other artist who made an appearance was Edwin Tan, the founder of local design studio Bravo Company. His installation, enLIGHTenment involves a video wall of multi-coloured light tubes. In an idle state, an animated screen saver is displayed and when activated through an interactive console facing the light display, the installation starts “thinking”, finding an answer to a question asked through the console. After a pause of a few seconds, the display literally enlightens the audience with a YES or NO answer. Interestingly, Edwin mentioned that how he arrived at the work and its name was that he had only five days to work on his proposal. Seeking inspiration – it crossed his mind that he required some “enlightenment” which also contained the word “light” which is how he hit on the idea. The installation is cheekily placed at the Helix (bridge) that takes one to Marina Bay Sands and its casino and is aimed perhaps at those who contemplating a visit to the casino.

Yes, No, and sometimes Maybe?

Should the answer to that question be a negative one, one could instead have a last look at the installations before the festival ends on 1 April 2012. Besides the 31 installations, there are also lots of fringe activities being held during the last weekend. One activity certainly to catch is the Nescafe Passion Movie Night on Saturday 31 March 2012 during which there would be a free screening of KungFu Panda 2 at the Lawn from 8 to 10 pm. Another interesting event on the same day is the 8DAYS’ Pets and the City event at the Promontory between 4 and 8 pm during which pet owners can glam their pets up and take them for a walk. There will also be a mass Light Catcher creation workshop that will be held from 5 pm in conjunction with the movie screening, as well as Junk Jam which features percussion performances using household junk as instruments on both Saturday and Sunday from 9 pm to 10 pm along the Waterfront Promenade. Visitors to the area can also turn their eyes upward to watch the Singapore Sky Dancers lighting up the sky with lighted kites on Saturday from 7 to 11 pm. More information on the activities can be found on the i Light Marina Bay 2012 Activity Chart or at the event’s website:

All photographs in this post have been taken with a LUMIX GF-3.

Related posts:

Media Preview and an Overview of some of the installations

Opening Ceremony and the Light of The Merlion

Light Painting by LUMIX and other Fringe Activities

The View from Sands SkyPark and the Garden of Light

About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, will be held from 9 March to 1 April 2012. Themed “Light Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012 features innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by 31 multi-disciplinary artists, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The festival is organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with Smart Light Singapore. i Light Marina Bay will be on nightly from 7.30pm to 11.00pm from 9 March to 1 April 2012. For more information, please visit In conjunction with the festival, LUMIX is running a photography competition for which participants who can capture the magical atmosphere created by the light art installations around Marina Bay stand to win attractive prizes. More information can be found at the festival website.

URA Press Release on Earth Hour 2012

Singapore, 28 March 2012 – i Light Marina Bay 2012, the sophomore edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, is going the extra mile in its commitment to the sustainability message with the Festival’s participation in this year’s Earth Hour.

Come 31 March 2012, all 31 featured artworks will be switched off for an hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. The public are invited to participate in a Mass Light Catcher Creation workshop at The Lawn commencing from 6.00pm, followed by a commemorative light-up. There will also be a free movie screening at the NESCAFE® PAssion Movie Night later that evening.

Besides participating in Earth Hour, the “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign – an energy efficiency effort initiated by the festival to encourage properties in and around Marina Bay to switch off non-essential lights and turn up air-conditioning temperatures – is projected to achieve energy savings of at least 200,000 kWh (kilowatt hours), triple the energy saved during the inaugural edition in 2010. This equates to saving 100 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is enough to generate electricity for 762 4-room HDB flats for the same period.

The “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign, with the support of Sustainability Sponsor PowerSeraya, has to date received the commitment of 47 properties to drive energy efficiency, which is close to a three-fold increase from the 16 buildings that took part two years ago. Participating partners include Marina Bay Sands, Prime Sponsor of the festival, as well as other developments around Marina Bay and beyond.

For more information about the festival, visit

About Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s national land use planning and conservation agency. URA’s mission is “to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play in”. We strive to create a vibrant and sustainable city of distinction by planning and facilitating Singapore’s physical development in partnership with the community. As the main land sales agent for the state, our multifaceted engagement strategy includes the sale of state land to attract and channel private capital investment to develop sites for meeting our land use needs. As the place manager for Marina Bay, we promote exciting activities within Marina Bay in collaboration with other government agencies and private stakeholders. To create an exciting cityscape, the URA also actively promotes architecture and urban design excellence. For more information, please visit us at

About Smart Light Singapore

Smart Light Singapore (SLS) was established in 2010 as a not-for-profit entity to develop urban lighting festivals that would set new international standards for energy efficiency and provide family-friendly, outdoor celebrations by illuminating public spaces through art sculptures and other smart light activities.

Through these events and activities, SLS aims to increase awareness in the reduction of energy usage, engage public and professional participation in best practices in lighting design, promote dark city skies and improve on energy-efficient lighting performances.

Perspectives of Art Stage Singapore

19 01 2012

I dropped by the Marina Bay Sands Convention and Expo Centre on the last afternoon of the recently concluded 4 day Art Stage Singapore 2012, coming away wishing I had done so earlier, which would have allowed me a lot more time to take in what was on display at the massive art fair. The fair, touted as Asia-Pacific region’s premier art fair, did live up to the hype with some 133 galleries from 18 countries exhibiting with the works of 600 artists on display, including some notable large-scale installations. Providing a platform for networking amongst members of the Asian and International art communities, the fair saw the coming together of some high profile galleries, collectors, curators and artists and attracted a total of 31,000 visitors. Based on information received from the organisers of the fair, there were some notable sales made despite the current economic climate, making the fair a very successful one.

A visit to Art Stage Singapore 2012 offered me an interesting perspective of the Asia-Pacific's premier art fair.

Illusion and Delusion

Attraction and Distraction


Light and Shadow


Notable sales made during Art Stage Singapore 2012

  • Michael Schultz Gallery sold an “Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting)” by Gerhard Richter for US$1.52 million (S$2 million)
  • Haunch of Venison sold a number of Gonkar Gyatso works including the “Dissected Buddha”, 2011, for US$200,000 (S$260,000), as well as an undisclosed piece for US$400,000 (S$518,000)
  • Gajah Gallery sold two paintings by I Nyoman Masriadi for US$350,000 (S$453,000)
  • Linda Gallery sold a work by Indonesian artist Srihardi Soedarsono for US$232,000 (S$300,000)
  • De Sarthe Gallery sold a few sculptures by Bernar Venet for US$100,000 (S$130,000)
  • Galerie Perrotin sold MR’s “Desktop of My Mind”, 2011, for US$240,000 (S$311,000)
  • Galerie EIGEN + ART sold the “Nervositat” piece by Martin Eder for US$86,000 (S$112,000)
  • ESLITE Gallery sold a Wong Hoy Cheong work for US$88,500 (S$115,000)
  • Lehmann Maupin sold a neon lighted sculpture by Tracey Emin for US$70,000 (S$109,000) among others
  • Volte Gallery sold out most of its Ranbir Kaleka and Sheba Chhachhi pieces
  • OV Gallery sold three pieces from their Project Stage booth by Wang Taocheng
  • Xin Dong Cheng Space for Contemporary Art sold three pieces by Shi Jianmin (China)

A mountain of faceless white-collar workers and a last cannibal supper

9 11 2011

An exhibition will open on the 11th of November at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) which would feature 15 contemporary works of art, finalists in the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize shortlisted from over 130 nominations from 24 countries in the Asia-Pacific. Together with several other bloggers, I had a sneak preview of the exhibition yesterday evening, during which we were not just given an excellent guided tour by Senior Curator Joyce Toh, but also had a chance to hear the first hand explanations of three of the artists: Kim Jongku, Michael Lee and Bui Cong Khanh, about their shortlisted works.

A striking piece by a New Zealand photographer of Samoan origin, Greg Semu, who uses iconic images in western art, such as, in this case, the Pietà, to depict the religious colonisation of the Kanak people of Noumea in a series of 9 images.

Amongst the works that caught my attention was Korean artist Kim Jongku’s ‘Mobile Landscape’, Vietnamese artist Bui Cong Khanh’s ‘The Past Moved’, Aida Makoto’s ‘Ash Color Mountains’ and a striking collection of 9 photographs by a New Zealand photographer of Samoan origin, Greg Semu, ‘The Last Cannibal Supper’. ‘Mobile Landscape’ is interesting from the perspective of the use of steel powder which the artist had painstakingly ground to add a third dimension to two-dimensional traditional calligraphy and landscape ink paintings showing the meeting between the horizontal and vertical plane through a camera on a ground and a projection on a screen.

Kim Jongku speaking about 'Mobile Landscape', as Senior Curator, Joyce Toh looks on.

Vietnamese artist, Bui Cong Khanh, on the other hand, uses two-dimensional backdrops – almost life-size charcoal-on-paper sketches of soon to be demolished areas of his hometown Ho Chi Minh City in front of which he invites residents as well as outsiders to pose for photographs (which are also on display), to document a space and time. What is interesting is his observation of the reactions of the different individuals that pose for a photograph – with residents being easier to photograph as they felt at home in the recreated surroundings, compared to non-residents who took more time to be at ease.

Joyce Toh with Bui Cong Khanh in front of the charcoal on paper backdrop created by the artist.

One work that certainly was thought-provoking for me is Aida Makoto’s ‘Ash Color Mountains’ which resembles a traditional depiction of a soft mountainous landscape, which on closer inspection, reveals a pile of bodies – that of faceless white-collar workers. We are told that this conveys an underlying sense of violence and destruction that often characterises many of the artist’s works.

Aida Makoto's 'Ash Color Mountains' - piles of bodies of faceless white-collar workers in the depiction of a traditional mountainous landscape (image courtesy of SAM).

A close-up of 'Ash Color Mountains'.

The most provocative work was for me Greg Semu’s ‘The Last Cannibal Supper’, a series of 9 photographers which features Semu himself at the centre of the work which explores the religious colonisation of the Kanak people of Noumea at a symbolic last supper in which the people leave their traditional and cannibal ways to adopt the ways of their colonial masters. Central to the work is the re-enactment of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper using local actors and with a local setting with palm branches, flax walls, and shells. Semu grew up in a religiously indoctrinated family, and recalls everyday of his childhood looking at a wall size rug of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece hanging above the fireplace in the family home. The other photos include the use of other iconic images in western art, including the re-enactment of a Pietà.

The central photograph in Semu's work - a re-enactment of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece (image courtesy of SAM).

The exhibition is on until 4 March 2012. The winner of the Grand Prize (SGD 45,000) and three Jurors’ Choice Award recipients (SGD 10,000 each) will be announced on 17 November 2011, selected by an international jury which comprises a panel of five eminent art experts: Mr. Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum; Mr. Gregor Muir, Executive Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts London; Mr. Hendro Wijanto, leading Southeast Asian writer, critic and curator; Mr. Ranjit Hoskote, Curator of the India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and leading South Asian poet-writer, curator and critic, and Mr. Tan Boon Hui, Director, SAM. A People’s Choice Award will also be presented to the public’s most loved work and the public is encourage to nominate their favourite finalist work for the award online at from 1 October 2011 or cast their votes in person at the Asia Pacific Foundation Signature Art Prize 2011 Finalists Exhibition. Those who vote will stand the chance to win an Apple MacBook Air, or receive one of 20 limited edition commemorative catalogues about the Prize, the finalists and their artwork.

Seven years old and making dreams and wishes come true

4 11 2011

Drop by the Fullerton Hotel’s East Garden Foyer and the colourful acrylics on canvas on display would no doubt catch your attention. By themselves, the bold colours and playful patterns on canvas – the works of Gelyn Ong, would be sufficient attraction to draw any observer’s attention to them and marvel at the raw talent of the artist, but on the realisation that the artist is only seven, one can’t help but be awed at the immense talent and maturity that she possesses.

The raw talent of Gelyn Ong on display at the Fullerton Hotel's East Garden Foyer. Work entitled 'Rouge Meilove'.

The works on display at the Fullerton are 29 of Gelyn’s latest pieces in what is her first solo exhibition, ‘My Dreams, My Wishes’. The exhibition was opened on 2 November 2011 by Minister of Transport, Mr Lui Tuck Yew during which Gelyn and Mr Liu jointly unveiled ‘My Beautiful World’. In her speech (yes, she even gave a speech), Gelyn spoke, with an air of self-confidence and maturity that goes well beyond her tender age, of how much she enjoyed what she was doing, having progress from coloured pencils and crayons at the age of two, to starting art classes at the age of four and moving to where she is today.

Gelyn Ong speaking at the opening of her first solo exhibition, 'My Dreams, My Wishes'.

'My Beautiful World' being unveiled by Mr Lui and Gelyn Ong.

Gelyn with her mother Genii, and Minister Lui at the opening of her debut exhibition.

Besides trees and flowers, Gelyn has also started to paint animals which she finds beautiful - a close-up of 'Two Brothers'.

Gelyn and her family, who have to date, raised close to $100,000 in donating her the proceeds of the sales of her art work to charity, in this debut exhibition which is supported by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Singapore and Fullerton Heritage, hope to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions through the sales of the 29 works on display. Another supporter of the project is EZ-Link Pte Ltd which with main sponsor PwC, is incorporating a ‘green’ element, and has printed 2,500 limited edition ez-link cards displaying one of Gelyn’s favourite paintings which PwC will be purchasing for all its staff as a New Year gift as part of its pro-environmental initiative to encourage the use of public transport.

Gelyn had the opportunity to explain the inspiration behind her colourful creations to Minister Lui, which included this peice entitled 'A New Awakening'.

A close-up of 'The Red Topiary'. Gelyn enjoys painting trees and flowers as is very evident from the works on display at the exhibition.

Close-up of 'Daisy'.

Another of Gelyn's work on display at the Fullerton Heritage Gallery.

Close-up of 'Eye-Catching'.

Close-up of 'Dance With Me'.

The work that I liked best - 'Beyond the Yellow Mellow Hills'.

About ‘My Dreams. My Wishes’
As part of its Art in the City Programme, The Fullerton Heritage is launching seven year-old prodigy, Gelyn Ong‘s debut solo art exhibition ‘My Dreams, My Wishes’, an exhibition featuring 29 of her latest art pieces. Through this exhibition, Gelyn and her family aim to raise funds for Make-A-Wish Foundation®, a charity which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. This exhibition will take place at The East Garden Foyer, as well as The Fullerton Heritage Gallery from 2 November to 22 November 2011.

About Gelyn Ong
A young aspiring artist, Gelyn’s whimsical, boldly patterned art work began as crayon scribbles on paper at the age of four. Since then, not only has she graduated to acrylics on canvas, her love for art has also gone towards helping the less fortunate. In the last year alone, Gelyn’s paintings have helped to raise over $90,000 for charity.

Exposing the lotus

30 09 2011

An exhibition worth visiting at the Fullerton Hotel’s East Garden Foyer is the Lotus Fantasia Photography Exhibition which features the work of a highly acclaimed photographer from Hong Kong, Dr. Leo K. K. Wong, which was launched on 28 September 2011 and will be on until 23 October 2011. What the exhibition promises the visitor is a captivating display of 20 masterpieces of Dr. Wong’s work in what is his first photography exhibition in Singapore.

The Lotus Fantasia exhibition is on at the Fullerton Hotel up until 23 October 2011.

Viewing the prints on display, one is certain to be taken by the diffusion of soft colours which lend a somewhat dramatic quality to each of the images of lotuses captured in a way where they reflect the essence of the season they were captured in. The images are taken using a multi-exposure technique and telephoto lenses, and are not post-processed in any way. Inspiration for the images is drawn from Chinese ink painting – in which Dr. Wong has a deep interest in (along with other forms of traditional Chinese art), the effect of the technique mimicking brush strokes of Chinese ink painting giving the photographs a ink paiting like quality. On the subject of lotuses, Dr. Wong feels that they “evoke different feelings with seasonal changes, but remain utterly beautiful all the same throughout the year”. He hopes that through the exhibition, the public’s appreciation of the lotus is enhanced.

Autumn Fantasy, 1983.

The exhibtion is held as part of the Fullerton Heritage’s Art in the City Programme. Dr Wong’s works are on sale and has pledged the proceeds of the sale to Beyond Social Services, an organisation which focuses on improving the lives of families and individuals from disadvantaged low-income backgrounds.

Dr Wong autographing his book at the opening.

Bliss, 2009.

Lotus Fantasia – Photography by Leo K. K. Wong

‘Lotus Fantasia’ features 20 works by veteran photographer Dr Leo KK Wong, who embraces the state-of-the-art multiple exposure and telephoto lens techniques. The works of Dr Wong are both poetic and modernistic with a sublime beauty drawn from Chinese ink painting. The fleeting moments of the lotus in different seasons are meticulously captured in this superb series of photographs.

29 September to 23 October 2011
10am to 7pm
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, East Garden Foyer

Dawn of the curious colossal bunny

27 09 2011

Many in Singapore would possibly have caught sight of a huge adorable white bunny popping up in their neighbourhoods all around island. The bunny or Walter as it is called, is an inflatable Helium filled PVC one and has made an appearance at the Marina Bay City Gallery (which it will be at until 30 September 2011). Together with a few other, I had the chance to meet Walter’s creator who is a Paris based Singaporean artist Dawn Ng, who was at the Marina Bay City Gallery to talk about Walter as well as about an upcoming exhibition she is holding in Singapore, ’31 Kinds of Wonderful’, for which she is in town for.

An illustration of Walter at the Marina Bay City Gallery by its creator Dawn Ng.

The curious colossal bunny outside the Marina Bay City Gallery (image source: URA).

For Dawn, creating Walter (who she says is very much a Singaporean) was very much an attempt to return to a past that has been overtaken by the ever-changing landscape of Singapore and a reaction to the prevailing sentiment that Singapore is boring. By creating a bunny, a pet in a colour that many children who kept rabbits as pets would remember them to be, and having it pop up at ordinary spaces all around Singapore (many of which Dawn has a childhood association with), Dawn hopes to draw attention to commonly overlooked spaces and have us relook at Singapore in the way children do. One interesting observation that Dawn made in speaking about her experience with guerrilla installations that involve Walter in Singapore is that there seems to be less resistance to them as most generally perceive that if there is something big appearing on their doorsteps – it must have received the blessings of the authorities.

Walter's made an appearance at various locations that are very much associated with Dawn Ng's childhood in Singapore (image source:

Dawn also introduced an exhibition she is holding, ’31 Kinds of Wonderful’, which involves 31 individual creative pieces done over a period of 31 days of which her favourite was ‘Ming’. The exhibition will be held at A Curious Teepee and will open on 29 September 2011. For more information on Walter at the marina Bay City Gallery, do visit

Taking flight from Old Kallang Airport

5 04 2011

No, it wasn’t flights of fancy that one might associate with the idealistic pursuit of expression that artists are sometimes inclined to have that took off from what was Singapore’s first civil airport, Old Kallang Airport. The former airport, still with us in the form of its iconic terminal building and control tower, along with a few auxiliary buildings around it, isn’t of course capable of hosting flying machines – something that we have not seen in the shadows of the simple terminal building for over half a century, with its runway and much of the land it occupied given to other uses.

The light is shinning on Old Kallnag Airport for the Singapore Biennale 2011.

One that certainly did not take to the skies .... parked where a flying machine might have been seen over half a century ago.

It wasn't just the flying of an imaginary flag up a flag pole that Old Kallang Airport saw on Sunday.

What did take off from the old airport were some of the simpler pursuits we once indulged in during our childhoods, something that both young and old were able to participate in – the flying of simple light paper and bamboo framed kites. It was a simple yet brilliant idea that provided a welcome distraction to many of the younger and otherwise bored visitors at Singapore Biennale Open House, which hasn’t really taken Singapore by storm as it should really have done. The kite flying was part of the craft activities that reached out to the young that included terrarium making, badge making, and paper aeroplane making. Children were allowed to decorate their own kites, have tails fixed on, and with a kite string on a small reel, the kites were ready to go.

The lack of a runway did not deter flights from taking off from Kallang Airport.

A child running with a kite ...

Even the older "kids" had a ball of a time.

Flights from Kallang Airport ...

A kite seen through a dangling cable.

The activities are all part of the Beinnale’s Family Day Out aimed at reaching out to members of the public offering not just a host of activities, but also free admission to all venues on Sundays and Public Holidays in April and May right up to the Beinnale’s last day on 15 May. For more information on the activities and the Family Day Out, do visit the Singapore Biennale 2011′s website at this link.

Despite the manifesto for bad music ....

... there was some good music in store for visitors to Old Kallang Airport with an enjoyable performance by Ling Kai.

Reflections on Old Kallang Airport (Singapore Biennale 2011)

18 03 2011

[Do note that if you are planning a visit to the Biennale at Old Kallang Airport, the entrance is at Stadium Link, off Geylang Road, a short walk away from Kallang MRT Station. A link to a Google Map with the specific location of the entrance can be found at the end of this post].

Glancing at the headline of yesterday’s article on page 2 of the Life section of the Straits Times, which read “Biennale’s Kallang site not ideal. Visitors say that Old Kallang Airport, one of four venues for the art event, is difficult to get to and very stuffy”, and the lack of interest that is apparent at the venue so far with the exception of Saturday’s Open House Opening Party, one certainly can’t help but have a feeling that the choice of the site of the Singapore’s first civil airport, Old Kallang Airport, wasn’t a good one. I for one, did not mind the absence of a crowd, as that provided me with an opportunity to explore the marked historic site at leisure taking in as much as I could, grateful for the opportunity to explore buildings that I had previously only glanced at from behind a fence. In walking around, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a brilliant idea to do so, not just from the perspective of providing the public access to what had for long otherwise been a closed-off site, but also that the site was ideal for such an event, providing the spatial requirements required that does not exist in the confines of the museum buildings and sites in the city centre. Yes, maybe the site does seem a world away from the convenience of the city, but it isn’t really too far away and readily accessible via public transport, with the Kallang MRT station being a short enough walk away from the entrance to the site. Perhaps what is lacking isn’t the convenience that some have voiced their opinions about, but the information that the public needs to know.

The sign at the entrance of Old Kallang Airport.

The entrance of Old Kallang Airport.

I guess I am one for old places, especially the few that reamin that I can identify in some way from the childhood I had in a Singapore time has erased. The distinctive terminal building of the old airport with its control tower, which by the time I arrived in the world, was used by the People’s Association (PA) as its headquarters, had always been one that I had associated with Kallang and the Nicoll Highway, rising on the left of the east bound carriageway of Singapore’s first highway built after the airport had ceased operations. That would be the approach to the old Guillemard Circus and the wonderful neon signs that I somehow associate with the roundabout. There were many times that I had passed the building on foot as well, cutting on the side of it through from Kallang Road on the way to the National Stadium to catch a match or in the two months that I would have walked by on an almost daily basis on the way to Jalan Bennan Kapal. The tower adorned with the rings of the PA’s logo, had always caught my eye, rising somewhat defiantly and proudly to remind us of its past as Singapore’s first civil airport all those years back.

The distinctive terminal building which is a landmark in the area.

Another view of the terminal building.

The entrance gate to the terminal building.

Perhaps the inspiration for this set of photographs ... a work on display in the terminal building.

The reminders of its previous role had been everywhere, with names such as “Old Airport Road” and Dakota Crescent around. So even with me not having seen it used as an airport, I had been aware of it since I could remember … The airport had I was to discover, was built as an airfield on the site of land reclaimed from the swampy Kallang Basin in 1937 at the cost of S$9 million. It was opened very grandly by the then Govenor of Singapore, Sir Shenton Thomas, who flew in from Seletar for the occasion with some 70 aircraft there to mark the occasion. The location next to the Kallang Basin proved useful as it also allowed seaplanes to land. It was used by the Japanese who built a paved runway during the occupation, and refurbished by the British on their return. And although there were plans to expand and upgrade the airport the the end of the 1940s and early 1950s, it was thought that effort involved would prove too costly and Kallang was abandoned for a new inetrnational airport at Paya Lebar. Paya Lebar started operations in 1955 and that saw the last of Kallang as a civil airport, with the PA moving into the site in 1960. On the evidence of old photographs, the hangars were used by the Public Works Department (PWD) after the airport closed. The bulk of the location of the main runway was then transformed into Kallang Park one which the Oasis Restaurant, Wonderland Amusement Park and later the National Stadium, Indoor Stadium and Kallang Leisuredrome was built.

The main hangar next to the West Block.

The West Block and the main hangar off the window of the terminal building.

A smaller hangar, once used as a second hand car showroom.

An auxiliary building.

Another view of the smaller hangar.

It was certainly nice to walk around the old site and reflect on this, and hence the theme of this post … much of the old airport grounds that are left have been left in not so much its original state, but in a state that perhaps the PA had left them in – which I thought wonderfully complemented the exhibits. That also meant a lot of the wear and tear was evident from not just the use of the buildings by the PA, but the hangars by used car dealers at some point in time – I remember seeing them still at the end of the 1990s passing by after a concert at the Indoor Stadium. That provided me with an alternative view of the buildings – reflected off puddles of water and off windows and mirrors. I certainly did not get enough of it on the two occasions that I visited and I will certainly return for more.

A Toast Box cafe set up in one of the smaller hangars.

The side of a hangar.

The roof of the smaller hangar.

The main hangar.

Ventilation openings on the side of the main hangar.

The inside of the main hangar.

Roof of the main hangar.

Windows on the side of the main hangar.

Windows on the side of the main hangar.

Some of the auxiliary buildings on the premises - I understand that these were used by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in the 1990s.

A newer auxiliary building ... perhaps added in the 1950s as an expanded air traffic control centre.

A peek under a marquee.

Another view of the terminal building and an auxiliary building.

A reflection of the East Block on a mirror mounted on an auxiliary building.

A last look ....

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What’s to become of Old Kallang Airport? Thankfully, we should see that it is conserved for our future generations – it would be nice to see it turned into some kind of aviation museum though:

URA Letter to the Strait Times, 5 Mar 2010

URA has plans for old Kallang Airport site

I THANK Mr Edwin Pang for his Forum Online letter last Friday, 'Turn site into civil aviation heritage centre'.

The former Kallang Airport is located within Kallang Riverside, which is envisioned to be a new lifestyle hub at the fringe of the city area under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) 2008 Master Plan.

The former Kallang Airport passenger terminal building with its distinctive art deco structure, as well as the office buildings, former hangar, Old Airport Square and other historical structures, was designated a heritage area and conserved in 2008 to preserve memories while allowing for a new lease of life.

In future, they will be adapted to new uses as part of a future development centred on the conserved Old Airport Square, offering a wide range of lifestyle, entertainment and retail facilities.

In January, the Singapore Biennale committee announced that it was considering the former Kallang Airport as a venue for the festival next year. URA and the Singapore Land Authority are glad that the artistic community has found heritage buildings to be suitable venues for contemporary art events. Past editions of the Biennale were also held in heritage environments.

The synergy between heritage buildings and contemporary arts is useful in bringing the awareness of our conservation buildings to the wider public and helps to endear our heritage buildings to Singaporeans.

Hwang Yu-Ning (Ms)
Group Director (Physical Planning)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Getting to Old Kallang Airport:

The entrance to Old Kallang Airport is located at Stadium Link, off Geylang Road and is a ten minute walk from Kallang MRT Station. Please click on this link for the specific location.

Something’s fishy about the old school building

30 09 2010

Somehow, as school boys going to school in the magnificent old school building that housed St. Joseph’s Institution along Bras Basah Road which has since become the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), we always seemed to have a reason to feel that way, after all, the building did have a questionable past, having been used in some capacity by the Japanese occupiers during the Second World War. There were certainly ample reasons as well for suspicion: the sealed second floor of the old toilet block along Waterloo Street and many spots including the dome which had been out of bounds. However, whatever our suspicions were, we were never able to confirm any of them, and were happy to leave them behind when we left the old school. These days, as the SAM, some of the main structures are still there for us to wander into from time to time to satisfy any desire for nostalgia. While the toilet block is no longer there, the dome is – still inaccessible as it had been all those years back … perhaps holding the same mysteries that we had been told of during our schooldays. However, having been there on many occasions, there hasn’t been any reason to fell that there was anything mysterious that is left. Come Saturday however, there is going to be something fishy that would be uncovered …

Children of ages between 4 to 7 and their parents will discover something fishy about the old school building, now the SAM on Saturday 2 Oct 2010.

The SAM would in fact be holding a party specially for Children’s Day on 2 October 2010. The party would be held to also launch SAM’s very first picture book “Salted Fish”, aimed at children between the ages of 3 to 8, a colouring book based on the artworks of the pioneer artist Cheong Soo Pieng. So what so fishy about the party and “Salted Fish” you may ask. Well, in the book, the main character, Lynn visits an art museum for the first time and discovers something “fishy” about an important painting by a famous artist in Singapore … and to help Lynn solve the mystery, the SAM is inviting parents with children between the ages of 4 to 7 to participate. At $35 for a parent-child pair, participants would get the following to help Lynn:

1) A FREE “Salted Fish” children’s storybook (worth $16.10) pre-autographed by the author and artist;

2) A FREE children’s colouring book;

3) FREE entry for adult and child to the Cheong Soo Pieng exhibition – SAM’s most impressive showcase to date!

Do come along for two hours of fun with your kids … details of the party and registration can be found below.

Salted Fish Children’s Book Party

Date: Saturday, 2 October 2010
Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Venue: Singapore Art Museum, Glass Hall
Suitable for Children ages 4-7.

Happy Children’s Day! We are launching our very first picture book, Salted Fish. In the book, Lynn is on her first visit to an art museum and she discovers something strange about an important painting by a famous artist in Singapore. Come join us and learn more about this story of how art touches the life of a child.
The programme includes story-telling performances, interactive art activities and FREE admission to the exhibition.*

Admission fee: $35 for a child and an accompanying parent. Each additional adult pays $12.

The admission includes a pre-autographed copy of Salted Fish, a colouring book based on the artworks of the pioneer artist Cheong Soo Pieng.

Please e-mail to RSVP for the party. Tickets can be paid for upfront or at the registration desk by the Glass Hall on the day.

RSVP and Enquiries:
Masitah Ismail
Education Support Officer
DID: + 65 6332 5274
Fax: + 65 6336 5740

* Admission covers ONE adult only. All children below 7 receive free admission but children aged 7 and above must show their student identity cards to receive a waiver of admission.

Front and Back cover of the book - participants would receive a pre-autographed copy of the book.

Back to school in many ways …

9 08 2010

It was back to school for some of my old schoolmates and me yesterday. With our old school building as a focal point, we wandered around much of the area we might have in the all whites of our school uniform all those years ago, when the area was so different from what it is today. It was for us a journey not just back in time, but one in which we were able to rediscover and catch up with some of the parts of Singapore around our old school grounds that we might have once been familiar with, but have since forgotten.

The old school building served as our focal point on a walk to rediscover the areas we were once familiar with.

The walk first took us down Waterloo Street, past the mansions and buildings of old, looking grander than they would have when we were in school. Much has changed since then, memories of what had been around flooded back: the hole-in-the-wall “mama” shop around the corner of Bras Basah Road, where boys would have obtained many items including banned cigarettes came to mind; the infamous toilet block across the street of which the then sealed second level we were given to believe was used as a Japanese torture chamber …

A window in the Sculpture Square complex. Wandering around the old church building that was used as a motor workshop when we were in school opened up a window into past and present.

A vice at Sculpture Square ... perhaps a reminder of what it once had been used as ...

Arriving at what is now Sculpture Square, of which the former Middle Road Church building which during our days as schoolboys was used as a motor workshop, we stumbled upon Ngim Kum Thong’s world of Deconstruction, Destruction and Destination, in a rather interesting exhibition of contemporary art. Ngim has apparently worked with the highly regarded educator and sculptor, the late Brother Joseph McNally, founder of the LA SALLE College of the Arts and someone who as schoolboys we were very fond of, having been associated with the La Salle brothers who ran the La Salle Christian Brothers’ Schools of which St. Joseph’s Institution was a part of.  The first impression I had was that the artist’s theme seemed a little strange as most would focus on creation rather than on destruction, but wandering through the exhibits with the artist himself as a guide, one wonders if he is indeed actually making sense of how he sees the world we live in. One particular exhibit caught my attention, the Third Hand that perhaps is the unseen force that controls our lives … we “live” looking in once direction and face “evil” looking from the other … “evil” being “live” spelt backwards. Looking at it, maybe the artist is correct in his observation of things around, the inevitability of deconstruction and destruction in the destination of all that we create, in how evil can be seen to dominate how we live … still, it is all a little too abstract for me …

Deconstruction, destruction and destination ... the inevitability of life?

Evil in the eyes of the artist ...

The potential world of knowledge that is in the internet ... and what it

A third hand in our lives? We "live" and looking back ... "evil"?

Moving further, past Middle Road to the Camera Hospital at Sunshine Plaza which we used to see around Bencoolen Street where we were greeted by the bodies of old cameras that perhaps were reminiscent of those we would have been familiar with as schoolboys, we talked about what had once been there … the old Registry of Vehicles and Post Office Savings Bank headquarters and the host of sign makers we would see across the street. We then moved on to Prinsep Street … down to the newly opened LaSalle College of the Arts on the new aptly named McNally Street, unique in the sense of its clean appearance on the outsides with shape and form expressed within the clean exterior … the college is perhaps what links the past … being boys from a school that is associated with the name and the founder, the present in the sense of our brush with the works of Ngim, a student of Brother McNally, and the future … being the future that the college represents for the arts in Singapore.

LaSalle College of the Arts on McNally Street.

With the intention to make our way to the new Thieves Market near Sungei Road, close to where the original Thieves Market would have been on Sungei Road, we wandered past Albert Mall at the end of Waterloo Street. This section of Waterloo Street, now a pedestrian mall, is perhaps one of the most delightful corners of Singapore that I have stumbled upon. Crawling with devotees to the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and Sri Krishnan Temple, street vendors and many offering services of all kinds fill the streets along with street performers, adding colour and life to the mall … a verve that is missing in much of Singapore these days.

The walk to Thieves Market took us past Albert Mall at the end of Waterloo Street.

Seen on Albert Mall, a British man who plies his trade as a traditional Chinese fortune teller ...

... and is apparently popular with the locals ...

Floral offerings are a colourful sight outside the well attended Sri Krishnan and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temples on Waterloo Street.

Many services are also offered along the mall.

See along Albert Mall ...

Having made our way pass the mall, we took a route along the old Sungei Road, much less foul smelling than it would have been back in our schooldays towards the mentioned Thieves Market, a flea market which in the days as a schoolboy, had also been referred to by many names such as “Robinson Petang” or literally “Afternoon Robinson” (with reference to the popular Robinson’s Department Store where one could shop for just about anything), popularly amongst us schoolboys as “Sungei Road” and of course “Thieves Market” (with reference to the contraband and stolen goods that were once thought to have been sold there). That was where we could then get just about anything … my mother was fond of visiting to buy large bottles which she could then mosaic and many other used items for arts and craft which she taught in school … later in life, it was where I could get our coveralls for my stints in shipyards required by the course of study that I was doing at the Polytechnic. These days, I am told there are other thieves to be careful of … petty thefts such as pickpocketing is apparently common there. Looking at the range and quality of items on offer there, perhaps it is one place that I would give a miss in future … Next, it was across Jalan Besar … which will be covered in another post to follow …

The joke back in the days when we were schoolboys was that if you ever had a bicycle stolen ... you would be able to find it being sold at Thieves Market ... one wonders if it may still be the case today ...

Laser Discs on sale ... from not too distant a past ... but forgotten all the same.

A deal that would blow you away!


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