Chairs and nudity at the Traffic Police HQ

28 05 2012

For many in my generation, mention the Traffic Police HQ, and Maxwell Road immediately comes to mind. That was of course a long time ago and traffic cops that have long been be associated with what must certainly be a wonderful work of architecture along Maxwell Road have since moved away. The building which housed the HQ now sees a second life as the Red Dot Design Museum and on Wednesday evening, it played host to an event that featured 35 chairs – specially designed Louis Arm Chairs. And where, one may wonder, does nudity come into all this? We didn’t have to look far – that came in the form of Linda Black, who co-hosted the event with her husband Oli Pettigrew. It wasn’t that she hosted the event unclothed (she did remark that the guests of the event would probably have been disappointed to see she had her clothes on) – she appeared in the buff to portray the Venus of Botticelli’s famous masterpiece for one of a series of publicity posters for the cause for which the event was held. The posters also included those of several well-known celebrities, including US actor and DJ Bobby Tonelli, who also appeared in the nude to portray Rodin’s The Thinker.

Linda Black’s depiction of Venus.

And Bobby Tonelli as The Thinker.

The nudity was all in good taste of course – and all for a good cause – CHAIRITY Arts & Design Against Cancer. A collaborative platform for artists and designers to express their interpretation of Cancer onto a piece of classical European furniture – the Louis Arm Chair, CHAIRITY, which is supported by the Singapore Cancer Society, aims to raise funds through its artworks to support cancer patients as well as to increase the level of awareness of cancer. This, along with the artistic effort in the form of the chairs created, were unveiled at the event, which was graced by several distinguished guests including former President of Singapore, S R Nathan. Also at the event was CHAIRITY’s founder, Imis Iskandar, who made an emotional speech during which he revealed that it was his father’s fight against cancer that motivated him to start the cause together with his partner in BACK REST, Gary Ng.

Former President S R Nathan was at the event to lend his support to the launch of CHAIRITY.

In his speech, Imis paid a glowing tribute to his father, who despite being very ill, was able to make the event. Imis also explained how he came to the idea of using a chair as an art piece for the cause. Having been very much connected with furniture making – Imis’ father was a furniture maker and BACK REST is very much involved in the trade, he thought of using something that he well knew that – a commonly used item of furniture that most don’t take much notice of – unless of course the item has very distinguishing characteristics. Imis felt that the chair, as such, was very representative of cancer as a disease. Cancer which although is all around us – a number one killer in many parts of the world and can affect anyone and bring pain and suffering to them as well as their families, is a disease most of us do not realise is there until it strikes someone close to us – very much like how the chair is seen by Imis.

One of the eye-catching chairs – “Heart Mosaic” by Wong Renzhi of St. Andrew’s School.

Some 30 Singaporean based artists were involved in the effort in which they transformed a Louis Arm Chair to provide their interpretation of the disease. The artists behind includes a number of personalities including Linda Black herself who designed a chair in a homage to her grandmother, Margaret Pearl Vogt Webster, who passed away from cancer some 20 years back. There were several eye-catching designs – including one by Tan Haur called “This is not a chair” which had some hearts that replaced stars on the back rest that resembled the Singapore flag – stars inspired by the stars that were stuck on to reward good work in school which the artist felt could be turned into love and care in education.

Linda Black with S R Nathan next to the chair she designed in homage to her grandmother who was a cancer victim.

Tan Haur’s “This is not a chair”.

There was also time at the event for two surprises to be sprung – one came in the form of surrealist Rosihan painting a chair live to open the event, the other came in the form of the beautiful voice of an 11 year-old naturalised Singaporean, Miguel Antonio, who has been described as having the “Voice of an Angel”.

Rosihan painting a chair live …

“Voice of an angel” – 11 year old Miguel Antonio.

Miguel Antonio with former President, S R Nathan.

More information for CHAIRITY can be found at the CHAIRITY Facebook Page and also at the blog site of photographer Maryann Koh of The Studio Loft, who did the shoot for the publicity material and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the event. The 35 chairs, many of which have already received pledges for, will be back at the Red Dot Design Museum for a Public Exhibition on Friday 1 June 2012 (one day only) at the Market of Artists and Designers (MAAD). The exhibition will be open from 5 pm to midnight.

The artists posing for a photograph with S R Nathan and the good people behind CHARITY.

Didier Ng’s “I miss grandma’.


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