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 www.redseagallery.com.

There is much to ponder over.

There is much to ponder over.

Jieun Park.

Jieun Park.

Juxtapositions.

Juxtapositions.

 





Thread bare at Hermès

2 06 2014

Threads are being laid bare at Hermès Liat Towers. Fortunately, it is not on items on boutique’s racks but on the Third Floor - an art space Hermès has had since 2006, for a rather interesting exhibition of tapestries, CERTAINTY | ENTROPY. The exhibition feature the works of artist Aiko Tezuka, who presents an unusual take on the art of tapestry that has us looking at an unraveling of weaves, in a quest for stories that lie hidden in the interlacing of threads.

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The four works on display, conceptualised by Tezuka, were made through the efforts of the artist and her team of seven artisans in Holland. In them, the artists has sought to weave in a flavour inspired by Singapore’s diverse cultural mix, and mixed into the intricate patterns on the tapestries are motifs that represent Singapore’s rich flora and fauna. A closer examination does reveal more and the viewer will discover that mixed in with the symbols of Singapore, are the emblems of modern society that are in contrast with the more traditional patterns.

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Tezuka in her unconventional display of tapestries that challenge the norms of the finished state, does seem very much motivated by how she perceives the world we live in, the baring of threads so that “the woven motifs fade out gently into blurred images of what the once were, probing untold possibilities of the world we inhabit”.

The 'gentle fading of woven motifs into blurred images of what they once were' ...

The ‘gentle fading of woven motifs into blurred images of what they once were’ …

The display is one that Terzuka seeks to portray the “strength in the tension between then and now, isolation and connectivity, construction and deconstruction” with the intention to provoke the viewer to “ponder the narratives of life, and encourages them to muse upon their histories and the paths that were not taken” - a path we in Singapore do seem to have taken. CERTAINTY | ENTROPY runs until 27 July 2014 at Third Floor – Hermès, 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers, Singapore.





Annie Leibovitz at the ArtScience Museum

19 04 2014

On now at the ArtScience Museum is Annie Leibovitz – A Photographer’s Life, 1990 – 2005, a retrospective showcase featuring some 200 works of celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz. The exhibition, which made its debut in Brooklyn in 2006, offers visitors a glimpse not just at works that will instantly be recognisable, but also right into the personal side of Ms. Leibovitz’s life with many portraits of the people who she had been close to.

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum.

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum.

It is the people who are close to you – staying close to home, that Ms Leibovitz advises photographers to do. It was one of several insights provided by her as she brought guests on a preview of her exhibition earlier this week, during which she spoke not only about some of the famous images such as that of the pregnant Demi Moore, but also about what is found in some of her more personal work. It is from this personal side that we were to discover her favourite is from – a photograph she took of her mother, an unsmiling portrait of which her father was initially rather critical of.

Annie Leibovitz on her favourite photograph - an unsmiling portrait that she took of her mother.

Annie Leibovitz on her favourite photograph – an unsmiling portrait that she took of her mother.

A rather interesting story that Ms Leibovitz did share was of  infamous portraits that she took of Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 - a commission she got some 5 years after she had first written to the British monarch’s press secretary for an unrelated shoot. The press secretary had remembered the letter when on the look out for an American photographer to take portraits of the Queen in the lead up to an intended visit to the US – which Ms. Leibovitz does say can be a lesson in perseverance. The shoot during which the Queen wasn’t apparently in the best of moods, did in the eyes of Ms Leibovitz, show the sense of duty that the Queen did have.

Annie Leibovitz on her portrait of the Queen.

Annie Leibovitz on her portrait of the Queen.

Annie Leibovitz – A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005, which has toured the US, Europe, Sydney, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sydney and Seoul, will be on at the ArtScience Museum from 18 April until 19 October 2014. More information on the exhibition and on ticketing can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s site.

Many instantly recognisable works of Ms. Leibovitz are on display.

Many instantly recognisable works of Ms. Leibovitz are on display.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the ArtScience Museum will be running a series of Portraiture Photography courses starting in June 2014. The courses aim to offer enthusiasts with a keen interest in portraiture photography a better understanding of the techniques and approaches to capturing the portraits. The courses, over seven weekends from June to October 2014, will be conducted by Steven Yee, a trainer with Knowledge Bowl Training and Consultancy and are priced at S$200 per course, booking for which can be made from 23 April 2014 through all Marina Bay Sands ticketing channels:

  • Course 1: Portrait photography using available lighting and artificial lighting [14 and 15 June; 13 and 14 September]
  • Course 2: Candid and formal portrait photography [28 and 29 June; 27 and 28 September]
  • Course 3: On location styling (lighting, make-up, styling, posing) [16 and 17 August]
  • Course 4: Documentary portraiture (informal photography in settings) [12 and 13 July; 18 and 19 October]

 

 

 

Annie Leibovitz at the ArtScience Museum

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A headless Chairman Mao

22 03 2014

Offering a fresh perspective on the great Surrealist master Salvador Dali, one that does look at him on a very personal level, SALVADOR DALI: The Argillet Collection opens its doors today at the REDSEA Gallery. The exhibition, featuring 112 of the artist’s works, a great number of which are etchings with which he collaborated with long time associate and friend Pierre Argillet on, is being brought in by Argillet’s daughter Christine and the gallery for what is the largest display of the collection as well as one that is seen for the very first time in Asia.

Madame Argillet on the Poems of Mao Zedong.

Madame Argillet on the ‘Poems by Mao Zedong’.

The works, all of which are available for private acquisition, span from traditional interpretations we see recurring in much of the artist’s work, to the ones influenced by the contemporary. In the series, Mythologie, we see works in which Dali reinterprets the symbolism in Greek mythology, often starting with a smudge. The series also sees the employment of Dali’s creative genius in which he experimented with various unconventional tools in working on the copper plates, including using a real Octopus immersed in acid in the etching for his work Medusa.

Medusa, Mythologie Series, 1963. 57 x 77 cm. Mixed-media print incorporating heliogauvre and drypoint etching. Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Medusa, Mythologie Series, 1963. 57 x 77 cm. Mixed-media print incorporating heliogauvre and
drypoint etching. Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Beside the many works from the period of the artist’s collaboration with Pierre Argillet, the exhibition also features a series of works that traces its origins back to the 1930s, The Songs of Maldoror. The work stems from a commission the artist received from Albert Skira to provide illustrations for the book Les Chants de Maldoror – a literary work by Lautreamont that serves as a source of inspiration for the Surrealist movement, for which 44 copper etchings were produced. 42 original plates were purchased by Argillet in 1971 with Dali reworking 8 of the plates – and what we do see at the exhibition will be the suite of 50 prints.

The entrance to the exhibition with an Aubusson tapestry 'Burning Giraffe'.

The entrance to the exhibition with an Aubusson tapestry ‘Burning Giraffe’.

What I did think were particularly interesting were two series being exhibited and on which Madame Argillet elaborated on at the media preview. One, the Poems by Mao Zedong, was commissioned in 1967 by Argillet and involves eight illustrations some of which were political satires. The works were executed during the cultural revolution was to include one that had told Argillet would be a portrait of Mao – what turned out to be a headless figure. Dali’s explanation for this was that the Mao was so tall that he could not be depicted in full in the illustration. The works also needed the blessings of the Chinese embassy for which Argillet was somehow able to obtain.

Portrait of Chairman Mao.

Portrait of Chairman Mao.

The Hippies, based on photographs from a visit Argillet made to India, involves an etching that had originally been worked on during a rare public appearance by Dali. As related by Madame Argillet, Dali had appeared in the presence of a huge crowd of journalists with a strange look in his eyes – producing nothing but a series of swirls on the copper plate, following which he promptly left despite Argillet’s attempts to convince him otherwise. He was to ask Agrillet for the plate a few day following that, saying that he had no recollection of the appearance as he had, at someone’s suggestion, taken LSD. From that – he was to produce Women in Waves, a etching that was to be one that would be very well received.

Madame Argillet on the Hippies series and 'Women in Waves'.

Madame Argillet on the Hippies series and ‘Women in the Waves’.

Women in the Waves.

Women in the Waves.

Beside the many striking etchings that bear many elements of the artist’s style, there are also three tapestries hand-woven in Aubusson. One, the Burning Giraffe, greets visitors at the entrance to the gallery. Despite its rather macabre depiction of a bullfight, with a burning giraffe that is depicted in several of the artist’s work, the tapestry does somehow have a rather charming quality.

Madame Argillet on 'Piano Under Snow'.

Madame Argillet on ‘Piano Under Snow’.

All works in the collection have been authenticated and signed by Salvador Dali and have never before left the Collection. The collection will be on display at the exhibition from 22 March to 20 April 2014 at the REDSEA Gallery located at Block 9 Dempsey Road.





Artistic radiators growing up with Salvador Dali

19 03 2014

Opening at the REDSEA Gallery on Saturday is an exhibition that will offer a very personal perspective of the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. SALVADOR DALI: The Argillet Collection will feature 112 etchings, drawings, and tapestries from the renowned Pierre Argillet Collection, all of which will be available for private acquisition. Seen for the very first time in Asia, the collection provides a glimpse into the bond Dali had with Pierre Argillet,  his publisher, through their many years of collaboration and friendship.

Dali with Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dali with Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The collection is being brought over to Singapore by Pierre Argillet’s daughter, Christine Argillet, who in growing up in the presence of the great artist, will offer a personal insight into the collection. Madame Agrillet, who was also kind enough in allowing me to put some questions to her via email (see below), had this to say about bringing the exhibition in:

“This presentation is a tribute to the work of my father, Pierre Argillet, as an extraordinary publisher of the Dada and Surrealist group. This collection reflects his constant endeavour and his close collaboration with the artists of these two movements, especially Salvador Dali. My goal is to have this collection presented in the finest galleries and museums throughout the world,”

Argus in color, Individual Etchings, 1963. 57 x 77cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Argus in color, Individual Etchings, 1963. 57 x 77cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

All works in the collection have been authenticated and signed by Salvador Dali and have never before left the Collection. The exhibition will be opened from 22 March to 20 April 2014. 

Portrait of Marguerite Faust, 1968. 38 x 28cm. Drypoint etchings with roulette, ruby & diamond Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Portrait of Marguerite Faust, 1968. 38 x 28cm. Drypoint etchings with roulette, ruby & diamond Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


An interview with Madame Christine Agrillet

Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Growing up around Dali: Dali was a very kind uncle for me, simple in his daily life, yet very inventive. Anything at home was subject to turning it into another use, another tool. Dali had a very special way of envisioning or reconsidering things. 

For instance: one day, his wife Gala had told him that their radiators were really ugly. Dali decided to hide them behind a wood panel and painted radiators over it. The most artistic radiators…

There was always this kind of light humor, this way of making fun out of everything with a gentle surrealist attitude.

Dali was at the same time a workaholic and a very free person. He would strive to paint with a one-hair brush or he would throw acid on copper plates to create uncertain smudges that would challenge him to create a very figurative subject next to these abstract shapes. We have exhibiting here in Singapore the series of the Mythology etchings that was created using this process.

Dali’s influence on her: I think both Dali’s incredible work on himself and his total freedom have impressed me and certainly have had an influence on my life.

Behind the public persona: Dali could be very eccentric in public to grab attention, but he could be totally absorbed in his paintings and forget about anything around him for hours or days. I think that the public persona he created was at the opposite of his real character.

Have her impressions of Dali been changed since childhood: No, there was a very charming Dali, elegant, simple, and creative that I knew and there was this opposite: the public persona. For me, they were two different persons. My father used to say that Dali was shy and that he was exaggerating everything while facing a public.

The collection: Many works in our collection mean a lot for me. My father had a passion for Dali’s drawings and he would often meet with Dali, speak of his projects with him. The Aubusson tapestries became something extraordinary as Dali wanted to cover the walls of his museums with this traditional technique. We have a film where we see Dali discovering these hand woven pieces in my father’s castle. There were also watercolours, drawings, sculptures, incredible telegrams between Picasso and Dali. All these constitute a part of my childhood.

On bringing the collection over to Singapore: This collection has never been seen in Singapore. My intention is to the show the wonderful collaboration of an artist and a publisher. The strong friendship between both Dali and my father allowed wonderful artworks to come to light. This is at the same time a tribute to Dali as a great etcher and a tribute to my father as a talented facilitator.

Individual Bullfight, Individual Etchings, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Colour-printed heliogravure with stencil, Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Individual Bullfight, Individual Etchings, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Colour-printed heliogravure with stencil, Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


About Pierre Argilllet:

The 1914-18 War Apollinaire (Secret Poems), 1967. 39 x 28cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint. Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The 1914-18 War Apollinaire (Secret Poems), 1967. 39 x 28cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint. Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Pierre Argillet was an avid collector of works by futurists, dadaists and surrealists, and very early on, met the major artists of the 20th century. In 1930, at the age of twenty, Argillet was deeply impressed by the “Les Chants de Maldoror” of Lautreamont. He began a spiritual journey along a path that was originated by Rimbaud and later pursued by Lautreamont, Marinetti, Andre Breton, Tzara and Chirico. He counted Duchamp and Jean Arp among his acquaintances, but when he met Dali, complicity led to a life-long friendship that lasted until the painter’s death in 1989.

Be it luck or fate, Dali’s delirious vision led to a long and fruitful collaboration between artist and publisher. They produced nearly 200 etchings. To name a few: la Mythologie (16 planches), le Christ, Sainte-Anne, l’Incantation. In 1966, Dali reworked 7 pieces of the Bullfight set of Picasso, giving them the Dali touch. In 1968, Dali illustrated “ la Nuit de Walpurgis “ of Faust (21 pieces) using rubies and diamonds as engraving tools, a technique that lent an incomparable delicacy to the design; next came the “ Poemes “ of Ronsard (18 pieces) and Apollinaire (18 pieces) . In 1969, Dali created “ Venus a la fourrure “ after Sacher Masoch (20 pieces), and between 1970-71, the Suites of Don Juan (3 pieces) and Hippies (11 pieces).

In 1974, artist and publisher parted their ways. Pierre Argillet would only accept etchings done in the traditional way, on copper, and refused to go along with Dali’s desire to make photo-based lithographs. But by using this process, Dali went on to produce a large number of works that appealed to a more widespread audience than ever before, but they were also subject to more criticism.

Piano under the snow Surrealist Bullfighter, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Heliogravures reworked in drypoint hand-coloured with stencil, Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Piano under the snow Surrealist Bullfighter, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Heliogravures reworked in drypoint hand-coloured with stencil, Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


 





A walk 600 million years back in time

24 01 2014

What promises to be huge not just from a perspective of the size of its exhibits, the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction exhibition will open this Saturday 25 January 2014 at the ArtScience Museum. The museum at Marina Bay Sands has once again outdone itself in bringing to Singapore an impressively well curated exhibition that provides not just a visual feast, but also one that provides an immersive and stimulating experience.

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Along the walkway.

Along the walkway.

From a media preview of the exhibition yesterday I was privileged to have been invited to, I was transported back not just to the age of the dinosaurs that the exhibition aims to take the visitor to, but also to my days of fascination as a child with the huge creatures that once dominated the earth. With some than 400 fossils and models, the scale of the exhibition is particularly impressive as is the content it provides the visitor.

Exhibits include coprolites - fossilised 'droppings' that provide insights into diets.

Exhibits include coprolites – fossilised ‘droppings’ that provide insights into diets.

Coprolites exhibited strategically outside the washrooms.

Coprolites exhibited strategically outside the washrooms.

Curated by world renowned paleontologist, Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich, who did admit to not having that childhood fascination with dinosaurs at yesterday’s preview that most would have assumed she would have had, the ArtScience Museum’s exhibition does actually bring together exhibits from the collections of four different exhibitions. The four collections are from the American Museum of Natural History, San Juan National Science Museum, SCI! Expo at Monash University and artist Peter Trusler.

Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich at the media preview.

Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich at the media preview.

The exhibition is spread out over eight galleries in the museum’s basement, occupying a floor area of over 3,700 square metres is the largest exhibition there to date. It takes the visitor back not just to the age of the dinosaurs, but also to the dawn of life some 600 million years ago in the Precambrian age. This however is not before the visitor is first given an impression of the scale of the dinosaurs along the walkway to the exhibition’s entrance and being welcomed, by sound and then sight to dinner – as food for a herd of or rather four of their fossils,  upon entry.

Visitors can appreciate the scale of the larger dinosaurs along the walkway to the entrance.

Visitors can appreciate the scale of the larger dinosaurs along the walkway to the entrance.

One from herd of Herrerasaurus that greets visitors at the exhibition's entrance.

One from herd of Herrerasaurus that greets visitors at the exhibition’s entrance.

The Precambrian gallery.

The Precambrian gallery.

Beside the many imposing recreations of dinosaurs and their skeletons spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the highlight for me was being able to go up close to real fossils – one of which is a newly discovered fossil of an, uncovered in Argentina as recently as in September 2013. Dr Vickers-Rich was keen to also stress that it is rare that a newly discovered fossil such as this, is allowed to be moved out of its country, and visitors to the exhibition will have the privilege of seeing this (as well several other never exhibited fossils) on display for the first time.

The recently dsicovered fossil of the Adeopapposaurs.

The recently dsicovered fossil of the Adeopapposaurs.

Beside the many imposing recreations of dinosaurs and their skeletons spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the highlight for me was being able to go up close to real fossils – one of which is a newly discovered fossil of an Adeopapposaurs, uncovered in Argentina as recently as in September 2013. Dr Vickers-Rich was keen to also stress that it is rare that a newly discovered fossil such as this, is allowed to be moved out of its country, and visitors to the exhibition will have the privilege of seeing this (as well several other never exhibited fossils) on display for the first time. Visually, I also enjoyed a diorama in the Chapter 5 gallery, Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, of the American Museum of Natural History section – a recreation of the Liaoning forest, which also provides an insight to the various extinction theories.

The Liaoning forest diorama.

The Liaoning forest diorama.

Visitors can also look forward to a host of programmes and activities being held in conjunction with the exhibition including the opportunity to meet and hear from Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich and other experts over the opening weekend (25-26 January 2014) – see below.

Very small dinosaurs such as this model of the skeleton of a foot long Chaliminia can also be seen.

Very small dinosaurs such as this model of the skeleton of a foot long Chaliminia can also be seen.

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Those intending to visit the exhibition can also download a free mobile application designed by the museum to  deepen the engagement and enhance visitor experience. The ‘Dawn2Extinction’ app is available in English and Simplified Chinese and features augmented reality experiences, animation and interactive games. The app is available for download now on iPhone 4 and 5, iPod touch, and Android phones.

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The exhibition runs from  25 January to 27 July 2014. More information and ticketing details can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

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Opening weekend activities:

Special Guided Tours

(25 and 26 January 2014; 12:30pm, 1.30pm and 4:30pm; beginning at the first gallery of Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction)

Embark on a guided tour to explore the living habits of dinosaurs and be introduced to the extraordinary creatures that roamed the earth. Gain insight into how the paintings of dinosaurs and their surroundings displayed at the exhibition were reconstructed through leveraging scientific evidence.

Exhibition Talk – The Paleontological Camera

(25 January 2014; 2.30pm to 4pm; held at Expression Gallery, Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Curator Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich and artist Peter Trusler talk about their collaboration to bring to life visuals from as far back as 600 million years ago through their “paleontological camera”.

Exhibition Talk – The Origins of Dinosaurs

(25 January 2014; 5.30pm to 6.30pm; held at Expression Gallery, Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Learn about the fascinating origins of dinosaurs through an illustrated talk presented by Dr. Oscar Alcober, Director of San

Programmes/Workshops:

Shadow Puppets Alive!

Visitors can try their hands at creating their own Bullockornis or Megalania shadow puppet to bring home.

A day in the life of a Paleontologist

Visitors who aspire to be or wish to understand the work of a paleontologist can take part in a hands-on demonstration. During the demonstration, members of the audience will have numerous opportunities to participate, including handling tools and specimens, cleaning fossils, identifying bones and making a plaster cast from a dinosaur’s footprint

Stop Motion Dinosaur Wipe-out!

Film and dinosaur enthusiasts can create their own stop motion animation based on one of the main theories of mass dinosaur extinction: asteroid impact, climate change or volcanic eruptions.

Dinosaur Tale

Presented by local puppet theatre company, Paper Monkey Theatre, visitors will be taken on a journey of how animal life adapted over 600 million years, presented through magical puppetry.

Sketch-a-fossil

A drawing workshop conducted by Isabelle Desjeux, a scientist turned artist, who brings fossils to life by having visitors draw them in detail and placing the art piece in a pre-historic landscape.

Sculpture Fun

Visitors can try their hands at carving their own sculpted fossil, be it a shell or bone, out of soap to bring home.






Motoring Heritage Day at Tanjong Pagar

5 09 2013

Motoring Heritage Day is back once again at the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. This year’s event will be held on Sunday 15 September 2013 from 10 am to 5 pm. Besides a rare display of some 50 vintage cars, there will also be lots of other activities including guided tours of the station by volunteer guides from the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB), an exhibition on the former railway station that I would be assisting the National Heritage Board (NHB) to put up, and talks (see programme below). The event is jointly organised by the Malaysia Singapore Vintage Car Register (MSVCR) and the NHB. More information can be found at the MSVCR’s site and at NHB’s website. I will also follow up with some further information soon.

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Celebrating Orchard on National Day

10 08 2013

Celebrating Orchard is an exhibition of photographs I helped the National Heritage Board (NHB) put together for a National Day event. The one day exhibition at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza offers perspectives of Singapore’s well known shopping district, commonly referred to as ‘Orchard’ through  a series of photographs – those of eight individuals including myself who have made first impressions of the street and its environs at different periods of its development, post-independence.


Photographs I exhibited:

Reflections

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I love how reflections can sometimes offer interesting perspectives such as these reflections I captured off an Orchard Road shop window, which does represent how I see Orchard’s transformation over the years since my first impressions were formed. The street is now one that is rich in flavour and colour. Full of excitement, it now has an appeal which goes far beyond the shopping and dining venues it is known for and is very much where Singapore comes alive.


The Motor End

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An early impression I had of Orchard was of its car showrooms. Several were found at the ‘Motor End’. It was where my father was to purchase the first five cars he owned from. Three were from Borneo Motors (two Austins and later a Toyota), as well as one from Universal Cars (a Ford) and another from Malayan Motors (a Morris). The building which housed Malayan Motors is one which has survived and is currently occupied by MDIS.


Runway Orchard

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Orchard has always been one to celebrate fashion. Back in the 1960s it became home to trendsetting designer and hairstylist Roland Chow when Roland’s opened on the street. The internationally recognised fashion hub now celebrates in a big way, shutting itself to traffic one evening a year when it transforms itself into a fashion runway for Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard.


About Celebrating Orchard

Orchard Road or ‘Orchard’, as the street and its surroundings is commonly referred to, has over the years offered very different experiences to its many visitors. Lined with car showrooms and several memorable places to shop at the point of Singapore’s independence, it has become a focal point of the new and exciting Singapore. It is where the heart and soul of Singapore can perhaps be found.

Celebrating Orchard explores the famous street through the eyes of eight photographers, who having had their first impressions of the street made during different periods of its development, offer a different take on Orchard Road.

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Other photographers who exhibited:






Free admission to Essential Eames at the ArtScience Museum this weekend!

8 08 2013

Marina Bay Sands celebrates National Day weekend with free admission to Essential Eames

More on the exhibition, Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition  - Essentially Eames

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Marina Bay Sands will commemorate Singapore’s 48th birthday by offering free admission to its newest exhibition at ArtScience Museum from Friday, 9 August till Sunday, 11 August.  Over this National Day weekend, the admission price for Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition, will be waived for all visitors.  The daily operating hours for ArtScience Museum are 10am-10pm.

 “We’re pleased to extend this special offer to ring in National Day,” said ArtScience Museum Associate Director Ross Leo.  “Whether it’s the first time visiting our latest exhibition or a return trip to see it again, this is an experience not to be missed – and an opportunity we’re excited to make available.  We look forward to welcoming all visitors to ArtScience Museum this National Day weekend.”

The Essential Eames exhibition brings to life the story of design duo Charles and Ray Eames through over 100 of their works and images culled from the collections of the Eames family, Eames Office, and Herman Miller.  The exhibition showcases a number of rare and never-before-seen works and images. Highlights include a special chair designed for Pope John Paul II; the fun and educational toy House of Cards and groundbreaking films including ‘Glimpses of the USA’ and ‘Powers of Ten’.

Over the long National Day weekend, visitors to Marina Bay Sands can also look forward to an array of entertainment, leisure and dining options on property. All 300 boutiques and restaurants at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands will also be operating from 10am until midnight from 7-10 August – perfect for late-night shoppers and party-goers.

The iconic property also offers many great vantage points to view all the action from the National Day Parade on 9 August.

 The Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, located on the 57th storey of the hotel, offers an exceptional view for the public who wish to catch the fighter jets and state flag fly past, complete with fireworks display. One can also simply soak up the festivities at the outdoor Event Plaza, which offers another vantage point to view the fireworks up close while dining along the waterfront promenade.





Essentially Eames

29 07 2013

A rather compelling exhibition currently running at the ArtScience Museum which I was able to visit at the kind invitation of the museum is one which takes an in-depth look into the creative geniuses that are Charles and Ray Eames, long considered to be the first couple of design. The exhibition, Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition, which runs from 29 June 2013 to 5 January 2014 and is co-presented by renowned furniture maker Herman Miller and the ArtScience Museum in collaboration with the Eames Office, is one curated by the couple’s grandson Eames Demetrios based on a book he wrote, An Eames Primer.

From the Eames collection - the Eames were known to be collectors of many objects.

From the Eames collection – the Eames were known to be collectors of many objects.

The Eameses are well known for their furniture design.

The Eameses are well known for their furniture design.

The exhibition, which  is certainly a must visit for anyone with a keen interest in the art of creative design, and for anyone else who takes delight in seeing and gaining insights into well-designed everyday objects and design concepts, includes a showcase of very recognisable furniture pieces designed by the couple – one which also provides an appreciation of the couple’s keen sense in the exploitation of the properties of different materials for use in their designs. The materials used range from fabrics, metals to moulded plywood – a technique Charles Eames himself developed and perfected in making moulded plywood splints in 1942 for the U.S. Navy during World War II. The technique was employed in the making of the iconic Lounge Chair Wood originally designed in 1945 for the Barclays Hotel in New York.

Moulded plywood splints.

Moulded stackable plywood splints made for the U.S. Navy.

The iconic moulded plywood Lounge Chair Wood.

The iconic moulded plywood Lounge Chair Wood.

One moulded wood piece which did also catch my eye was a moulded plywood glider seat – designed in 1943 for the U.S. Navy, which was also to help the Eameses master the moulding of plywood. The seat on display we were told is currently valued at US $1 million.

The mo

The moulded plywood glider seat.

Besides the moulded plywood chairs – of which I am a huge fan of for the eye-catching and clean forms, there are also furniture made of other materials including metals  such as the wire-chair, designed to be lightweight and for outdoor use.

The Eames Wire Chair.

A mock-up of an advertising window with the Eames Wire Chair and bird sculpture.

Interestingly, there also are several timeless furniture pieces from the Herman Miller furniture collection including the Nelson Marshmallow Sofa which was designed in 1956 by George Nelson and Irving Harper, using injection plastic discs which an inventor thought could be produced inexpensively and was durable. Nelson, who  was the Director of Design at Herman Miller under whose supervision Charles and Ray Eames was to come under,arranged 18 of the discs on a steel frame to create the Marshmallow sofa which Herman Miller was to manufacture.

The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

Beyond furniture, there is also much to discover at the exhibition’s other galleries about the range of the creative genius of the couple – who met while Charles was teaching at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and Ray was a student, inlcuding what they applied in architecture, exhibition design, toy making, photography, film and philosophy.  In architecture, we are able to have a look at the “Eames House” or “Case Study House No. 8” - designed by the couple as part of the Case Study House programme for John Entenza’s Arts & Architecture magazine. The couple was, in 1949, to build the house they designed – for use as their home and studio – designed “for a married couple working in design and graphic arts, whose children were no longer living at home” which “would serve as a background for life in work and with nature as a shock absorber.”

The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8.

The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8.

A peek into the Eames House.

A peek into the Eames House.

The range of toys the Eames produced include the well-known House of Cards for which visitors can try their hands at. Other interactive activities at the exhibition include Essential Play where visitors can create their own small scale furniture, a Materials Trail, and a animal mask making activity for the young.

House of Cards.

House of Cards.

An interactive activity for the young.

An interactive activity for the young.

More from the Eames collection.

More from the Eames collection.

One exhibit which will certainly catch the attention of the visitor is at the Mathematica gallery where based on the original 1961 exhibit at the California Museum of Science and Industry where it remained on continuous display for 37 years are exhibits which explains complex mathematical concepts through simple forms. Here the visitor will find the mathematical concept of the Moebius band – a one-sided surface with only one side.

The Moebius Band.

The Moebius Band.

The Eames design philosophy.

The Eames design philosophy.

Vitra dolls designed by a close associate of Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard.

Vitra dolls designed by a close associate of Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard.

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Fabrics designed by the Eameses.

Of the exhibits which I must say shows the range that the creative genius of the couple extended to, my personal favourite was the photographic work of Charles Eames. He certainly is one with a keen eye for photography and in the gallery – we see the clean and uncluttered images which is of great appeal to me. More information on the exhibition can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

Photographs by Charles Eames.

Photographs by Charles Eames.

Besides the visit to Essential Eames, the programme also included a visit to another must-see exhibition Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb, for which I already had the pleasure of seeing. Details of my previous visit to that exhibition can be found in a previous post. Another part of the programme I should not forget to mention was lunch – which was most kindly provided by SweetSpot Deli, which serves New York style deli sandwiches generously packed with fillings. My favourite was the corned beef. SweetSpot Deli opens from 8 am to 11 pm Sundays to Thursdays, and 8 am to 12 am Fridays, Saturdays and on the eve of public holidays and is located the Bay Level #01-30 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

The mummy of Nesperennub at Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb.

The mummy of Nesperennub at Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb.





Finding out mummy’s little secrets

26 04 2013

From Saturday 27 April 2013, visitors to Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum will get to step some three thousand years back in time into the fascinating journey which is somehow filled with much intrigue and mystery that is taken by the ancient Egyptians into the netherworld.

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb provides visitors with a journey into the Ancient Egyptian netherworld.

A funerary stela at Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb. The exhibition provides visitors with a journey into the Ancient Egyptian netherworld.

The exhibition, for which the ArtScience Museum has partnered with the British Museum which has a long association with the study of Ancient Egypt and the world’s largest collection of objects from the period, is one that not only brings artefacts such as mummies, mummy cases, and funerary objects into a museum setting, but also peels away at the veneers which reveal the many secrets associated with the Egyptian view of the afterlife. A huge bonus is the opportunity the exhibition provides to look right inside a 3,000 year old mummy, that of a high priest of the Temple of Karnak, Nesperennub, through a 21 minute 3D movie which made its debut at a media conference held at the musuem yesterday, to discover the secrets that the well preserved mummy, still tightly wrapped in its elaborately made and decorate cartonnage cage, holds.

Step into the world of Ancient Egypt at  the ArtScience Museum's exhibition Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb.

Step into the world of Ancient Egypt at the ArtScience Museum’s exhibition Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb.

The film which I thought is the highlight of the exhibition, is one that could only be made through state-of-the-art CT scanning technology. This allows a non-intrusive “unwrapping” of the mummy to be made without any damage to the cartonnage or the delicate tissues of the mummy itself and provides a better understanding of the priests life and death. The resulting 6,500 images that were produced during the extensive scanning was combined with computer visualisation techniques and made into the very insightful 3D film narrated by acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart. The film is included with the admission into the exhibition.

The mummy of Nesperennub - the subject of the 3D movie.

The mummy of Nesperennub – the subject of the 3D movie.

Mr Neal Spencer, Keeper of the British Museum; Mr Ross Leo Associate Director of the ArtScience Museum; and Mr John Taylor, Assistant Keeper of the British Museum at the media conference.

Mr Neal Spencer, Keeper of the British Museum; Mr Ross Leo Associate Director of the ArtScience Museum; and Dr John Taylor, Assistant Keeper of the British Museum at the media conference.

With more than 100 artefacts which includes 6 mummies on display, the exhibition is in itself one that will surely captivate. The printed backdrops at the first two of the five galleries, Ancient Egypt and Life in Ancient Egypt, takes the visitor into the world where the journey into the netherworld begins – the world of the living or at least the one which is visible to the living. The artefacts in these two galleries include replicas of the famous Rosetta Stone and the head of a statue of King Amenhotep III, as well as mummies of a cat, an ibis several figurines and a water receptacle and ladle that would have been used for purification rituals by a priest like Nesperennub

The Life in Ancient Egypt Gallery takes you into the world where the journey into the netherworld begins - in the land of the living.

The Life in Ancient Egypt Gallery takes you into the world where the journey into the netherworld begins – in the land of the living.

Another view of the Life in Ancient Egypt Gallery - with its huge backdrops which take you right into Ancient Egypt.

Another view of the Life in Ancient Egypt Gallery – with its huge backdrops which take you right into Ancient Egypt.

A replica of the British Museum's Head of Amenhotep III at Ancient Egypt.

A replica of the British Museum’s Head of Amenhotep III at Ancient Egypt.

A water receptacle.

A water receptacle.

The mummy of a cat.

The mummy of a cat.

And that of an ibis.

And that of an ibis.

The key of life - an ankh.

The key of life – an ankh.

A stela with the depiction of the god Amun-Ra.

A stela with the depiction of the god Amun-Ra.

The gallery which I found most intriguing is the Living Forever gallery – which looks at how the Egyptians send off the dead into the afterlife, what they provided for, and the beliefs and practices involved through the many interesting artefacts that are on display. One that was very interesting is a papyrus which is a page containing the judgement scene from the Book of the Dead – on which the concept of Judgement (a recurring theme in many religions) is seen from the Ancient Egyptian perspective where the heart which was thought to weigh as much as a person’s wrong doings upon death is balanced with a feather of truth.

A papyrus with the Judgement Scene from the Book of the Dead.

A papyrus with the Judgement Scene from the Book of the Dead.

That concept also reveals a little more about some of the objects that would be placed in the mummy such as amulets meant to protect the spirit in afterlife. Mummification which involves the removal of the dead person’s organs and the preservation of them in jars or in the time of Nesperennub, wrapped in linen and placed back in the body cavity, would have left the heart preserved in place –  the heart was thought to be the most important organ (the brain was thought to be insignificant and was drained away). Among the amulets on display are several scarab beetle shaped ones representing the heart which are placed next to the organ, including one inscribed with a verse. These are designed to protect the heart at Judgement – so that it doesn’t reveal the misdeeds of the person.

Heart amulets to protect the person during Judgement.

Heart amulets (in the shape of the scarab beetle – thought to represent the heart) to protect the person during Judgement.

Another important item found in the tomb of those of higher status is that of the Shabti – small figurines which are servants bestowed on the dead person for his afterlife – so that work on the fields could be carried out by them and a coffin in which the figurines are placed in. Interestingly we find out, a total of 401 Shabti would accompany a person into afterlife – one for each day of the year plus additional ones required by the complex system of supervisors the Ancient Egyptians had in place to manage their servants.

Shabti on display.

Shabti on display.

A close-up of the Shabti.

A close-up of the Shabti.

Also on display in Living Forever, are several Stelae, as well as a few mummies including that of the linen wrapped mummy of Shepenmehyt, the mummy of Tjayasetimu in its cartonnage case, the mummy of Padiamenet, and a model of a funerary boat – used to carry the dead of high status down the Nile. An interesting thing I learnt in hearing about the boat was the practice of burying the dead on the western side as the sun sets in the west and it was the belief that it makes a journey through the netherworld

Round-topped funerary stela.

Round-topped funerary stela of a descendant of Takelot III.

Mummy of Padiamenet showing an undecorated extension at the foot of the cartonnage.

Mummy of Padiamenet showing an undecorated extension at the foot of the cartonnage.

The inner coffin of Seni. At the time of Seni, the more well to do would have had their inner coffins encased in a stone outer coffin.

The inner coffin of Seni. At the time of Seni, the more well to do would have had their inner coffins encased in a stone outer coffin.

The mummy of Tjayasetimu in a cartonnage case, with the mummy of Shepenmehyt next to it.

The mummy of Tjayasetimu in a cartonnage case, with the mummy of Shepenmehyt next to it.

The mummy of Shepenmehyt.

The mummy of Shepenmehyt.

The model of a funerary boat with a spell translated from the Book of the Dead.

The model of a funerary boat with a spell translated from the Book of the Dead.

End of a wooden coffin.

End of a wooden coffin.

It is in one or the two remaining galleries where an interactive area – the Embalmer’s Workshop can be found. That is where exhibition-related workshops included in the price of admission, are conducted. One of the workshops, The Secrets of Embalming, provides visitors with a demonstration of the very embalming and preservation process – which together with the very elaborate mummification process can take as long as 70 days to complete.

The Secrets if Embalming Workshop.

The Secrets if Embalming Workshop.

Showing how the brain is drained through the nasal passage using a brass hook like implement.

Showing how the brain is drained through the nasal passage using a brass hook like implement.

The other workshop, Amulets for the Afterlife, is one that would interest many. The hands-on workshop provides an opportunity to make clay-baked amulets – similar to the ones placed in the mummy or in the linen of the mummy as it is wrapped to protect it in its afterlife. The younger visitors might also be interested to know of the Activity Quest – which provides children of three different age ranges with the chance to take a journey through Ancient Egypt through a series of challenges in each of the galleries, armed with quest bags filled with tools for the mission – which families or school-groups can loan during the visit. The bags are aimed at children of three different age groups: those of ages between 3 and 6, primary school children of ages 7 to 12 and secondary school going children of ages 13 to 16.

A peek into the contents of the activity filled quest bag.

A peek into the contents of the activity filled quest bag.

The last gallery, the Mummy of Nesperennub is where the story of his journey into the afterlife comes to its conclusion and where we find his mummy in a beautifully decorated cartonnage case, the coffin in which the mummy was placed in, as well as a reconstructed head of Nesperennub … a head you will find out why from the 3D movie, on which a clay bowl was attached to.

The coffin of Nesperennub.

The coffin of Nesperennub.

Detail on the painted cartonnage case of the mummy of Nesperennub.

Detail on the painted cartonnage case of the mummy of Nesperennub.

A reconstruction of the head of Nesperennub.

A reconstruction of the head of Nesperennub.

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb exhibition is scheduled to run from 27 April to 4 November 2013 at the ArtScience Museum. For information on the exhibition and admission charges to the exhibition, do visit the ArtScience Museum’s website.  To mark the opening weekend of Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb, the British Museum’s Dr. John Taylor will conduct four guided tours and two lectures on ancient Egypt at ArtScience Museum, all of which is complimentary to exhibition ticket-holders. Through the guided tours, Dr. Taylor will provide exhibition insight and details regarding ancient Egyptians’ beliefs, customs and how they worshipped.  His lectures will include a look into the evolution of modern mummy research and an in-depth presentation on ancient Egyptian rituals.


Opening Weekend Programme:

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Curator’s Guided Tour

(11:30am and 5:30pm; beginning at the first gallery of Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb)

Join Dr. John Taylor from the British Museum as he leads you through the exhibition, revealing fascinating facts about the life and beliefs of ancient Egyptians.

Curator’s Talk

(2:30pm – 3:30pm; held on Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Investigating Egyptian Mummies Through Virtual Unwrapping

Dr. John Taylor from the British Museum will trace the development of mummy investigation from its early days to the non-invasive methods of today.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Curator’s Guided Tour

(11:30am and 5:30pm; beginning at the first gallery of Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb)

Join Dr. John Taylor from the British Museum as he leads you through the exhibition, revealing fascinating facts about the life and beliefs of ancient Egyptians.

Curator’s Talk

(2:30pm – 3:30pm; held on Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

The Horizon of Eternity: Living and Dying in Ancient Egypt

Dr. John Taylor from the British Museum will describe in detail the importance of rituals and the relationship between men and gods in ancient Egypt.

For a complete listing of dates and times with all ArtScience Museum programming, please visit: www.marinabaysands.com/ArtScienceMuseum.






Open up a box full of memories at the library

14 04 2013

As part of the Singapore Memory Project (SMP), an exhibition, “My Home, My Library” is being held at the Public Libraries. The exhibition which runs from 25 March to 29 April showcases many precious memories which have contributed by residents of each of the neighbourhoods the libraries are in, with the aim of serving as memory triggers to help more Singaporeans to add to the 830,000 pledges and contributions made thus far to the SMP.

Visitors can take a photo at the exhibition or of themselves at a photo wall, share it on Twitter or Instagram with a #sgmemory hashtag, in order to stand a chance to win up to $200 weekly.

The My Home, My Library exhibition offers visitors a chance to take a photo at the exhibition or of themselves at a photo wall and to share it on Twitter or Instagram to stand a chance of winning up to $200 weekly.

The biscuit tin of keepsakes and memories at the Library @ Esplanade.

The biscuit tin of keepsakes and memories at the library@esplanade.

At the exhibition, visitors will open a biscuit tin of memories, in the way that their parents or grandparents might have opened their tins and boxes with their mementos and keepsakes stashed in them, through a huge human height biscuit tin (which resembles a popular brand of biscuits many would have been familiar with). There are some 500 memories in the tinboxes found across all the libraries and in them, there may perhaps be some which could evoke a memory stashed away somewhere.

Front and Back Covers of the "Log Book" that I used.

My own tinbox of keepsakes includes a book bought from the bookshops along Bras Basah Road.

The exhibition offers visitors a chance not just to relive precious moments but also to win attractive prizes every week in the Snap & Share social media contest. All that is needed is for visitors to take a photograph of an interesting exhibit or of themselves at the photo wall (which has on its backdrop an image of the respective neighbourhood in days past), and share it via Twitter or Instagram hash-tagged with #sgmemory to stand a chance to win up to $200 in shopping vouchers on a weekly basis. What’s more, the most retweeted tweet will win a prize of $50 in shopping vouchers!

The memory submission stand.

The Memory Submission Stand.

Visitors will also have a chance to submit their memories at the Memory Submission Stand – fashioned from a large scale version of the all familiar Carnation Milk tin. Kids will also have a chance to stamp their mark at the at the Kids’ Stamping Station - I know stamping was one of my favourite activities as a child. There are 6 different locally inspired rubber stamp designs and kids can either bring that stamping work home or contribute their work towards the SMP.

The Kids' Stamping Station - surely a hit with kids.

The Kids’ Stamping Station – surely a hit with kids.

In conjunction with My Home, My Library the libraries also organised a couple of tours involving small groups of bloggers. I got a chance to bore a few bloggers all of whom were a lot younger than me, taking them to places in and around the library@esplanade in a nostalgia tour last Saturday. The places involved some which were close to  my heart and some in which I am still able to find memories of times which would otherwise have been forgotten. The places were ones which I hoped could also trigger the memories of the four bloggers who came along.

A stop on the nostalgia tour - the Children Little Museum.

A stop on the nostalgia tour – the Children Little Museum.

The first stop on the tour was at the NParks roving exhibition “Playsets of Yesteryears” currently at Raffles Place. In spite of the rain, we spotted a little girl in a raincoat determined to have a go at one of the swing sets. That brought back not just memories of playing in many similar playgrounds in my swinging sixties (and seventies), but also of times looking forward to the rain so as to play in the falling rain, splashing in the puddles and wading in the flood waters (I still sometimes look forward to doing some of that!). The installation has been organised by the National Parks Board (NParks) for the commemoration of 50 years of Greening Singapore and is in collaboration with the SMP. More on the installation and where it can be seen at can be found in a previous post The 1970s playground reinterpreted.

The temporary Playsets of Yesteryears at Raffles Place.

The temporary Playsets of Yesteryears installation at Raffles Place.

From Raffles Place, a place which holds a lot more memories of days shopping at Robinson’s and John Little’s and having chicken pies around the corner, we boarded a bus which took us to the next stop, Albert Centre. There we had a look at a wet market and at some street traders along the pedestrian mall at Waterloo Street. The market isn’t one that I had my main wet market experiences at, but as all wet markets are, they are (or at least the used to be) where life revolves around, as well as providing a multi-sensory experience with their sights, colours, sounds and even smells. The market at Albert Centre is one which probably carries with it the memories of what the streets around used to hold, the original vendors having moved into the residential cum commercial Housing and Development Board (HDB) complex when it was completed in 1980, having been displaced from the street markets at Queen Street  and Albert Street by urban redevelopment efforts which swept across the area at the end of the 1970s.

A vegetable vendor at the wet market.

A vegetable vendor at the wet market.

Markets were always fascinating places for me, until that is, when a vendor’s daughter pushed me into a basin of salted vegetables. It is in the markets that I find many of the memories I have of my childhood, although the sights, sounds (one particular sound was that of the cha-kiak - wooden clogs on the wet floor) and smells may now be a little different. Many revolved around live chickens, seeing them in cages, being chosen, weighed, slaughtered and de-feathered and occasionally being carried home alive, struggling in brown paper bags with red and white strings. There are many more memories I have which I do have some posts previously written on.

One particular memory I have of is mutton butchers towering over their huge log chopping blocks at Tekka Market (photograph taken with LG Optimus G).

One particular memory I have of is mutton butchers towering over their huge log chopping blocks at Tekka Market (photograph taken with LG Optimus G).

Just next to Albert Centre is a concentration of street traders at the end of  Waterloo Street and Albert Mall. The area sees high pedestrian traffic because of the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho and the Sri Krishnan Temples in the area which attracts a lot of devotees. Their presence there harks back to days when similar traders were commonly found on many other streets and one can find Chinese medicine men (that were especially common at pasar malams), fortune tellers, cobblers, as well as what one might expect, food, devotional objects and flower vendors.

A fortune teller's stand along Waterloo Street.

A fortune teller’s stand along Waterloo Street.

From Albert Centre, we headed to Bras Basah Complex, another HDB residential cum commercial that came up in 1980 – this without a wet market. The complex was also one which took in many traders from the area it is in. This included the many watch dealers, book, optician and stationery shops that occupied the shophouses that were cleared on North Bridge Road and the bookshops that the shophouses at Bras Basah Road between Waterloo and Bencoolen Streets were well visited for. Those bookshops were where I got my textbooks and revision books such as the ever so popular “ten-year-series” from and their move in 1980s drew many of us who went to school in the area to Bras Basah Complex. While many of the original bookshops have moved out, there are some of the other original stores that remain including some old school stationery shops (where we could get not just stationery but calculators, sports goods and harmonicas) and watch shops which take us back to its early days. Of the watch shops – it was from a similar one in Katong Shopping Centre where I obtained my very first wrist watch, an Otis for $70 back in 1976.

An old school watch dealer at Bras Basah Complex.

An old school watch dealer at Bras Basah Complex.

The next stop we had was Esplanade Park, better known as Esplanade or Queen Elizabeth Walk in the days when it was a popular outing spot to catch the sea breeze and indulge after in some satay and chendol. Back then walks in the evening were always interesting, not just for the sea breeze, the flicker of lights of the ships in the distance, or the beam of light from Fullerton Light that swept across the harbour, but also for the many traders scattered around the promenade. There were the usual kacang putih man, the balloon vendor who supported his colourful air-filled balloons with long tubular ones, and the snake charmer.

In search of the satay club at the Esplanade.

Bloggers +1 in search of the satay club at the Esplanade.

No longer there are the satay club which was at the location from 1971 to 1995, having moved from its original spot at Hoi How Road where we would sit at low tables on low stools and where satay would be piled up on a plate and charging was by the number of sticks consumed, as well as the semi-circular laid out Esplanade Food Centre which went in 1980 and which was possibly Singapore’s first built hawker centre coming up in the 1950s, which had been well known for its chendol. However, there are several memories including the Tan Kim Seng Fountain which used to serve as a marker of the former Satay Club, as well as another first - Singapore’s very first pedestrian underpass (as well as non surface pedestrian crossing) built in 1964 which connects Empress Place with the Esplanade.

Composite photograph of the Satay Club (and Esplanade Food Centre) and Esplanade Park today.

Composite photograph of the Satay Club (and Esplanade Food Centre) and Esplanade Park today.

From Esplanade Park, we moved next to the library@esplanade for the My Home, My Library exhibition there – that provided not just a look at the tinbox of memories but also provided some welcome relief for what was an extremely hot and sweaty morning. From that it was a drive by of the former site of the New Seventh Storey Hotel, and the DHL Balloon, which some may remember as landmarks (the DHL Balloon for a short while) in the Bugis/Rochor area, enroute to the Children Little Museum on Bussorah Street which holds in its toy shop full of old school toys and its museum of many full memories, many reminders of my (if not the other bloggers’) childhood. The toy shop and museum does also provide an appreciation perhaps of childhood toys and games over the generations – from simple cheap to make toys and low cost games, many a result of invention and improvisation, to more expensive and sophisticated ones, to the handheld electronic games which made an appearance in the late 1970s – the predecessors of the handheld video game consoles of today.

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There was time at the end of the tour and before the heavy downpour that was to come, to have lunch nearby. That was at the Seow Choon Hua Restaurant at Sultan Gate, popular for its Fuzhou (Foochow) dishes including Foochow fish ball noodles – which I had. There was also some time for me to share my experiences accompanying my maternal grandmother on a trishaw to the area nearby – Arab Street to be precise, an area she referred to a “Kampong Jawa” (as the area hosted a Javanese community), to do her shopping for items such as batik sarongs and bedak sejuk (powder sold in tablet  form). The street then as it is now, plays hosts to many textile shops – a reminder of a time it was common to have clothes made-to-measure. While such shops in other areas have gone – the popularity of ready-to-wear clothes from the late 1970s onwards meant that demand for textiles fell. Many such shops, especially those found in Toa Payoh Central, turned to selling ready-to-wear clothes and a large concentrations of them are now found only on Arab Street.

Foochow Fishball Noodles at Seow Choon Hua.

Foochow Fishball Noodles at Seow Choon Hua.


About My Home, My Library:

The Singapore Memory Project presents “My Home, My Library” – a nationwide exhibition showcasing personal memories contributed by residents of each neighbourhood. From library romances to tok-tok noodle carts and kampong life, each memory tells a unique story that forms a portrait of our home and our libraries. Take a peek into our treasure trove of stories and share some of your own precious memories with your fellow residents. For more information, please click here. My Home, My Library runs at all public libraries (except for Geylang East which is under renovation) until 29 April 2013.


About the Singapore Memory Project (SMP):

The SMP is a national initiative started in 2011 to collect, preserve and provide access to Singapore’s knowledge materials, so as to tell the Singapore Story. It aims to build a national collection of content in diverse formats (including print, audio and video), to preserve them in digital form, and make them available for discovery and research.

Currently, members of the public can submit their memories for the project by”


Do also read about the impressions My Home, My Library left on some of the other bloggers:






The 1970s playground reinterpreted

27 03 2013

Stepping out from the MRT Station at Raffles Place, the sight of swing sets, see-saws and a merry-go-round, set on a bed of sand as playgrounds of the 1970s might have been, would probably seem odd. That, especially so considering what Raffles Place has become. What perhaps isn’t odd in the context of today’s world is how we have chosen to interact with it … not, if I may quote a friend “enjoyed with head in the wind”, but with the “face on the screen”.

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The playground at Raffles Place is part of a National Parks Board (NParks) roving exhibition, “Playsets of Yesteryears” held to commemorate five decades of greening Singapore. The exhibition which also provides visitors with a look at the history of 12 parks including Toa Payoh Town Park and the Singapore Botanic Gardens will remain at Raffles Place until mid May before moving to East Coast Park in June and July, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park from mid August to mid October, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens in November to December.

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Yesterday Once More at the GPO

2 03 2013

Take a stroll through a Singapore we have forgotten about through a series of postcards on display at The Fullerton Hotel. The postcards are part of a collection of 500 that were donated to the Singapore Philatelic Museum in July 2006 by renowned philatelist, Professor Cheah Jin Seng. The postcards date back to the pre-war years and go as far back as to 1893. The exhibition, Yesterday Once More, was officially opened yesterday by Mr. Sam Tan, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

A photo of one of the postcards on display showing the former Orchard Road Market (where Orchard Point is today) in its early days before an extension at the front took away the little square and fountain. The fountain can now be found at Raffles Hotel.

A photo of one of the postcards on display showing the former Orchard Road Market (where Orchard Point is today) in its early days before an extension at the front took away the little square and fountain. The fountain can now be found at Raffles Hotel.

Yesterday Once More which is being held as part of The Fullerton Heritage’s Art in the City Programme. Yesterday Once More and is organised in collaboration with The Singapore Philatelic Museum, not only takes one back in time but also provides an appreciation of the transformation Singapore has seen through the last century. The highlights are the parts of the collection which show how much areas such as Orchard Road and the area around the old waterfront where The Fullerton is located has changed.

Detail of another postcard showing an aerial view of the city. The present National Museum can be seen in the foreground as well as the old YMCA Building.

Detail of another postcard showing an aerial view of the city. The present National Museum can be seen in the foreground as well as the old YMCA Building.

Postcards which were first used as an economical and convenient means to communicate, evolved to the picture postcards which in the days before the advent of the internet, served to document the tales of travellers. In time, these also served to archive places, faces and events. It is probably appropriate that the exhibition is also held at The Fullerton, which older Singaporeans fondly remember as the General Post Office or GPO – a special guest at the launch was Mr Subramaniam, independent Singapore’s very first Postmaster General, who is in his 90s. He was a treat to speak to, having many tales of his time first as the Director of the Post Office, and after separation, as the Postmaster General, to share.

Singapore's first Postmaster General, Mr. Subramaniam who is in his 90s.

Singapore’s first Postmaster General, Mr. Subramaniam who is in his 90s.

Yesterday Once More runs until 30 April 2013 and is being held at The Fullerton’s East Garden Foyer.

More photos from the launch: 

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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 brickartist.com 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.

Everlasting.

Everlasting.

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.

Mask.

Mask.

Ascension.

Ascension.

Grasp.

Grasp.

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.

Peace.

Peace.

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.

Photobooth.

Photobooth.





In between Imagination & Reality in Causeway Bay

5 08 2010

While wandering around the busy Causeway Bay area on the second day of my Hong Kong adventure with Aussie Pete, we stumbled upon a really interesting sculpture exhibition “In between Imagination & Reality” going on at the Atrium in Times Square featuring sculptures from two of Korea’s renowned contemporary sculptors, Yong Ho Ji and Hwan Kwon Yi which runs up to 22 August 2010. What caught our eyes were the sculptures of Yi, whose sculptures are made in distorted proportions that play on one’s mind in a way that it serves to confuse and confound what the mind makes out of what the eye sees. It was really hard to describe how “disturbed” we felt from looking at the sculptures and this is something you have to see in three dimensions rather than in two dimensional images to have the feel of it. I guess the best way that can describe how viewing the sculptures affect one’s mind is how the NUS in Singapore had described Yi’s works in an introduction made to an exhibition held last year: “the affect of art lies not so much in the poses but rather in the compression of distance, space and time in Yi’s world”.

The distorted proportions of Hwan Kwon Yi's sculptures (sometimes in all three dimensions) play on what the mind makes out of the eye sees and serves to confuse and confound one's mind.

The "In between Imagination & Reality" exhibition runs up to 22 August 2010 in the Atrium Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

The disproportionate sculptures caught the attention of curious shoppers at Times Square.


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.





A trip back in time to the Singapore of the sixties

27 06 2010

For anyone looking to take a trip down memory lane, or perhaps a trip back in time to catch a glimpse of what life might have been like in the Singapore of the 1960s, the Singapore 1960 exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore offers a chance to do just that. The exhibition which opened on 3 June, the anniversary of self-government, runs up to 22 August and features a display of more than 300 items from the 1960s. The exhibits include items which were commonly found in the 1960s as well as scenes of the life replayed in black and white providing a view into the vibrant cultural and entertainment scene of Singapore in the 1960s, including a view of the different “worlds”: Gay World, Great World, and New World, which played a big role in keeping Singaporeans amused and entertained.

The Singapore 1960 exhibition offers the visitor a glimpse into life in the different world that was Singapore back in the 1960s.

Scenes from the 1960s including a glimpse into the different "worlds" are replayed in black and white.

It was a trip back in time for me as well, as I browsed through the exhibits. Some were familiar to me, transporting me back to the Singapore of my childhood, to a Singapore that was a very different place from the one we know of today. There were many reminders of the era, as well as the place, in which I had spent my early years in. One such reminder was in the form of a cigarette tin. I remember tins such as the one on display particularly well. This was from being sent regularly to the provision shop to buy a couple of sticks of cigarettes by my father. Cigarettes could then be purchased individually over the counter and this would be taken out of a tin. At that time, my father was trying then to curb his smoking habit and decided not to have a packet at his disposal at home, and so I would invariably be sent to the shops below whenever he felt like a cigarette (something that was possible then as there were no restrictions on minors buying cigarettes, and something I never enjoyed doing) to buy two sticks at a time.

The very familiar cigarette tin with which I was well acquainted with.

There were many of the other exhibits that were familiar to me: a metal Player’s Navy Cut ashtray commonly found on the marble topped tables of coffee shops which brought with it memories of the coffee shops of old and spittoons that I never seemed to avoid kicking below the marble topped tables. There were two Magnolia soft drink bottles which brought memories of the Magnolia Grape soft drink that was one of my favourites once upon a time, as well reminded me of how Magnolia Milk was sold in similar bottles. A Smith Corona typewriter displayed on a desk brought back memories of how offices were once like when the constant sound of the clickaty-clack of the typewriters would always be heard in the background.

A Player's Navy Cut ashtray which was a common sight on the marble top coffee shop tables in the 1960s and 1970s.

A Smith Corona typewriter - commonly found in the offices of the 1960s and 1970s.

There are also pages from the newspapers of the era to browse through, providing an insight into a turbulent and violent decade in Singapore’s history, as well as images of a time some half a century ago, which provides an appreciation of how it once had been before Singapore became the clean and sanitised world that is the Singapore that we now know.

Pages from the newspapers provide an insight into a turbulent and violent decade in Singapore's history.

The Magnolia soft drink bottle - my favourite was Magnolia Grape! Magnolia also sold milk, normal, strawberry and chocolate flavoured ones in similar bottles.

Images of life in the 1960s are also captured in the photographs on display. A close-up of a photograph of a satay seller by Lee Sow Kim taken in the 1950s.

The Neptune - a popular cabaret along Collyer Quay in the 1960s and 1970s.

Fashion on display: colourful sarong kebayas commonly seen in the 1960s.

The cover of an issue of Her World from 1962.

A reminder of a forgotten fact: the National Language of Singapore.

Words from the National Anthem of Singapore.

Close up of a record sleeve. The music recording industry had its heyday in the 1960s in Singapore.

Also on display are pieces from the Aw Boon Haw jade collection which were donated to the National Museum of Singapore in 1979 and contain pieces from the late Qing period.








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