Cate Blanchett visits a gem of an exhibition in Singapore

23 04 2016

A gem of an exhibition – literally, Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems, opens at the ArtScience Museum today.  Brought in by the famed Parisian house of high jewellery, with the participation of the French National Museum of Natural History, the drool-worthy exhibition see over 400 of Van Cleef & Arpels’ exquisite works of love as well as 250 minerals from the Natural History Museum’s extensive collection.

Model of the Varuna Yacht, c. 1907.

Model of the Varuna Yacht, c. 1907.

Founded in 1906, the Maison’s beginnings is in itself a work of love, following on the 1895 marriage of Estelle Arpels – the daughter of a dealer in precious stones to Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a lapidary and diamond broker. Together with Estelle’s brothers, they opened their first boutique at 22 Place Vendôme – an address that the house maintains to this day in serving a clientele that has over the years included the likes of Maharajahs, Queens, Princes and Princesses.

A replica of the crown created by the Maison for the coronation of Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

A replica of the crown created by the Maison for the coronation of Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

The house’s rich history is one of the main themes of the exhibition, an introduction to which is given to visitors as they enter. The entrance is also where one of the Maison’s iconic pieces and one of my favourite pieces at the exhibition, a pendant with a flying bird carrying a huge 96.62 carat yellow diamond once owned by Polish opera singer and socialite, Gianna Walska, is showcased. The piece, commissioned by the then new owner of the diamond in 1971 to celebrate the birth of her son, adorned the cover of the Van Cleef & Arpels catalogue in 1972, where it was seen flying over the Place Vendôme. The piece is also transformable – a feature in many of the house’s pieces with the bird becoming a pair of winged earrings and the diamond worn as a pendant.

An iconic masterpiece, Van Cleef and Arpels' Bird Clip and Pendant, which features a 96.62 carat yellow diamond once owned by Polish opera singer Gianna Walska, greets visitors to the exhibition.

An iconic masterpiece, Van Cleef and Arpels’ Bird Clip and Pendant, which features a 96.62 carat yellow diamond once owned by Polish opera singer Gianna Walska, greets visitors to the exhibition.

Beyond the bird that flew over the Place Vendôme, the exhibition proper is arranged across eight galleries, which are all full of delight and discovery, seven of which have displays of Van Cleef and Arpels’ creations arranged according to seven themes: Couture, Abstractions, Influences, Precious Objects, Nature, Ballerinas and Fairies and Icons.   Each gallery also contains a parallel exhibition relating to the science of precious stones and feature gems and minerals from the French National Museum of Natural History’s renowned collection. These are arranged according to eight themes, representing the Earth and the seven major principles critical to the formation of precious stones: Pressure, Temperature, Transport, Water, Oxygen, Life and Metamorphism.

A 21,560 carat blue topaz crystal from the French National Museum of Natural History's collection.

A 21,560 carat blue topaz crystal from the French National Museum of Natural History’s collection.

One of the largest uncut black diamonds to be found.

Also from the French National Museum of Natural History’s collection – one of the largest uncut black diamonds to be found.

A diamond encrusted in a stone.

A diamond encrusted in a stone.

Amongst the seven galleries, one that I found particularly interesting was Influences in which the fascination Europe had with the orient that started in the 1920s, is seen in the pieces on display – some of which are very recent creations.

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Griffon Clip, 1971 with amethysts, coral, emeralds, diamonds on gold.

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Dragon vanity case, 1923.

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Dragon mystérieux clip, 2013 featuring garnets, emeralds, Mystery set rubies, sapphires and diamonds on gold.

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Carpe Koi bracelet watch, 2014.

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Table Clock, 1957.

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Egyptian Inspiration Bracelet, 1924, which features sapphires, rubies, emeralds, onyx and diamonds on platinum.

An especially delightful gallery is Ballerinas and Fairies, featuring ballerina clips that were born out of Louis Arpels’ passion for dance dating back to the early 1940s. The dainty and exquisitely crafted clips feature gemstone laden tutus  – which have grown shorter with time. The clips also have very fine details in the rose-cut diamond faces crowned with headrests of precious stones and gemstone dancing shoes.

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The dainty Ballerinas and Fairies clips will delight any visitor.

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Another area worth dwelling (not that the others aren’t) has to be the last gallery, Icons. Here is where several the icons  of the twentieth century ranging from royalty and to stars of the silver screen, have icons of the Maison created for them, displayed. This part of the collection includes several pieces made for the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Faiza of Egypt and starlet turned princess, Grace Kelly of Monaco.

A 1929 collaret created for Princess Faiza of Egypt - on display for the very first time.

A 1929 collaret created for Princess Faiza of Egypt – on display for the very first time.

There are also several programmes being held in conjunction with the exhibition to look forward to including a talk at 2pm today on gemology and artistry. Punlic guided tours are also available on 23, 24, 29, 30 April and 2, 6, 8 13, 15, 20 and 27 May, 3, 10 , 17 and 24 June. A workshop on gemstones is also being held. The exhibition runs until 14 August 2016. More information on the exhibition, as well as a downloadable audio app, can be found at: The Art and Science of Gems website.

A surprise visitor to the exhibition - the beautiful Cate Blanchett.

A surprise visitor to the exhibition – the beautiful Cate Blanchett.

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The wild rose minaudière, 1938, inspired by a cigarette box.

The wild rose minaudière, 1938, inspired by a cigarette box.





Beauty isn’t only skin deep

28 10 2015

There is nothing like the sheer elegance of a well crafted article of leather, especially one that comes from a house that has a long tradition of fine craftsmanship in skins. The house, Hermès, which had its beginnings as a master harness-maker and later as saddlemakers, has just that. Founded in Paris in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the house has come a long way in the business of creating and crafting fine objects of desire from some of the most beautiful skins in the world.

Inside Hermès' wonderful Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place.

Inside Hermès’ wonderful Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place – a rare show of objects from Emile Hermès’ collection which is now a source of inspiration for the house’s designers.

As a treat specially crafted for this jubilee year, the house gives us in Singapore an opportunity to step into the world of fine leather craftsmanship in a exhibition Leather Forever that runs from 25 October to 13 December at the ArtScience Museum. The exhibition, which also includes a prelude to it at the Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place, takes visitors through some of the inspirations behind its creations, to the art and craft of leather working and to the house’s intriguing range of products that include some rather quirky looking items from its Special Orders  Workshop.

A side facing saddle for a woman in the Little Room of Wanders.

A side facing saddle designed to seat a woman in the Little Room of Wanders.

Equestrian objects such as spurs feature in the collection.

Equestrian objects such as spurs feature in the collection.

A intricately decorate trunk from Spain.

A intricately decorated trunk from Spain.

The Little Room of Wanders offers a rare peek into Emile Hermès' collection.

The Little Room of Wanders offers a rare peek into Emile Hermès’ collection.

Especially fascinating is Hermès’ Little Room of Wanders which contains a rare public display of a selection of objects from the incredible collection of Emile Hermès, the grandson of the founder. Emile Hermès, who took over the business in the early 1900s, had spent a lifetime assembling some a 15,000 item collection. Now housed in the private by-appointment-only Emile Hermès Museum, the collection of  objects of art, equestrian objects, ingenious mechanisms, books and the most unusual of knick-knacks has since become a source of inspiration for Hermès’ designers.

A camera shaped flask in the collection.

A camera shaped flask in the collection.

A close-up of a saddle from China.

A close-up of a saddle from China.

A travel case in the collection.

A travel case in the collection.

The exhibition proper, Leather Forever, at the ArtScience Musuem is also well worth a look at. This starts with visitors having a look at some of the background work in Hermès’ creations in its leather reserve seen in the Savoire Faire section. Here an introduction is give to the classification, cutting and assembly of skins. What must certainly be a treat will be a chance to see artisans, flown specially in from the house’s Parisian workshops, at work in recreating some of the house’s iconic leather bags.

An artisan from Hermès' Paris workshop at work at the ArtScience Museum.

An artisan from Hermès’ Paris workshop at work at the ArtScience Museum.

Part of Hermès' Leather Reserve.

Part of Hermès’ Leather Reserve.

A demo of how the leather is prepared for cutting.

A demo of how the leather is prepared for cutting.

Finished objects of desire.

Finished objects of desire.

Speaking of icons, a selection of the house’s range of its legendary Kellys and Birkins, are also conspicuously on show along with variations as well as other leather crafted objects that the house’s icons have inspired. Among the variations of the Kelly, which was re-christened after Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco used it famously to conceal her pregnancy from the paparazzi, or as the house puts it, as a bodyguard for the future Princess Caroline, are five Kellydoll bags on display designed to each represent each decade of Singapore’s independence.

Variations on the legendary Kelly.

Variations on the legendary Kelly.

Horsing around with a rocking Kelly.

Horsing around with a rocking Kelly.

One of the five Kellydoll bags designed to each represent a decade of Singapore's independence.

One of the five Kellydoll bags designed to each represent a decade of Singapore’s independence.

The exhibitions are opened from 10am to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday and from 10am to 9pm on Friday and admission is free. More information on them can be found at http://lfe.hermes.com/sg/en.

The first ever bag with a zipper, aka the

The first ever bag with a zipper, aka the “Hermès Fastener,” fitted to it. Emile Hermès held a patent for the zipper which was fitted to a bag designed to be quickly secured for the age of the automobile.

A saddle leather bustier designed Jean Paul Gaultier for Hermès (notice the Kelly inspired straps).

A saddle leather bustier designed Jean Paul Gaultier for Hermès (notice the Kelly inspired straps).

A baseball glove out of the Special Orders Workshop.

A baseball glove out of the Special Orders Workshop.

An apple carrier (complete with knife and holder) on loan from its owner who commissioned it to allow him to carry his apple a day.

An apple carrier (complete with knife and holder) on loan from its owner who commissioned it to allow him to carry his apple a day.

A gift commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for Wallis Simpson, a leather wheelbarrow, inspired by his observation that the duchess already had

A gift commissioned in 1947 by the Duke of Windsor for Wallis Simpson, a leather wheelbarrow, inspired by the Duke’s observation that the duchess already had “wheelbarrows” of fragrances and gloves.

A winged saddle made at Hermès Sellerie workshop.

A winged saddle made at Hermès Sellerie workshop.

Zouzou, a ostrich skin rhino created by Leïla Menchari for the windows of the 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré store in 1978 at the entrance to the exhibition.

Zouzou, a ostrich skin rhino created by Leïla Menchari for the windows of the 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré store in 1978 at the entrance to the exhibition.

The exhibition gives visitors a chance to horse around.

The exhibition gives visitors a chance to horse around.

A case of miniatures.

A case of miniatures.

A door bolt inspired fastener.

A door bolt inspired fastener.

A flight of fancy on a motorcycle.

A flight of fancy on a motorcycle.

Travel cases from the days when the romance of travel was at its height.

Travel cases from the days when the romance of travel was at its height.

A travel wardrobe.

A travel wardrobe.

A dance inspired leather bag.

A dance inspired leather bag.





The art and science of bringing an ogre to life

15 06 2015

Animation has allowed many a tale to be spun in which the unlikeliest of heroes take centre-stage. This is especially so in the last two decades with the availability of the computing power required to allow CGI animation to give scenes and characters a much greater degree of realism. We now have a chance in Singapore to see what how DreamWorks Animation, one of the studios at the forefront of animation, in bringing endearing characters such as a love struck ogre and a round kung-fu kicking panda to life, at Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition. The exhibition, which opened at the ArtScience Museum over the weekend, will be a treat not just for animation fans, but also anyone and everyone who has watched any of DreamWorks’ wonderful creations.

Mr Chris Harris of ACMI, the ArtScience Museum's Ms Honor Harger and Mr Doug Cooper of DreamWorks Animation.

Mr Chris Harris of ACMI, the ArtScience Museum’s Ms Honor Harger and Mr Doug Cooper of DreamWorks Animation.

Curated by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), the exhibition, which is divided into three main galleries, also offers the visitor lots of opportunities to have a feel for some of the processes involved in animation for themselves, through its interactive components. One that will certainly be a hit would be the Face Poser interactive station. Here, visitors can play around at manipulating facial features such as furrowing a brow or raising an eyebrow of a character to give different facial expressions and show different emotions.

The Face Poser.

The Face Poser.

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There also is an opportunity to have a feel of the software used by DreamWorks’ animators at another interactive station in the Drawing Room. This will allow visitors to create a short 2D animation sequence with the aid of a tutorial.

Mr Doug Cooper at the Drawing Room.

Mr Doug Cooper at the Drawing Room.

The exhibition proper, which is on its first stop of an intended five-year international tour, takes visitors through the process of how characters are developed and how they evolve from 2D sketches to what we see on the screen in the Character gallery, how the story is developed and sold in the Story gallery, and finally how the magical worlds – the wonderful scenes that give a flavour to the films are woven around the characters and the story, in the World gallery.

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A recreation of a DreamWorks Animation studio real-life workspace.

A recreation of a DreamWorks Animation studio real-life workspace.

In the Character, we are also introduced to how the development of characters have evolved with the advances in computing, with the display of sketches, the marquettes that were used to develop 3D images prior to this being done completely on the computer screen, as well as in-depth interviews that are screened.

The Character Section with its display of marquettes and sketches that depict the evolution of some of the popular characters.

The Character gallery with its display of marquettes and sketches that depict the evolution of some of the popular characters.

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A recreation of another DreamWorks Animation studio real-life workspace.

A recreation of another DreamWorks Animation studio real-life workspace.

The Story gallery is where one finds what I thought was one of the more interesting exhibits – a digital storyboard at which visitors can catch a very animated Conrad Vernon, doing a pitch for the “Interrogating Gingy” scene in Shrek. The filmmaker was apparently so convincing that DreamWorks had him lend voice the gingerbread man his voice.

Catch Conrad Vernon doing his pitch for Interrogating Gingy.

Catch Conrad Vernon doing his pitch for Interrogating Gingy.

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The World gallery, the largest section, is where the work of directors, designers and concept artists converge and where we have a look at some of the thoughts that go into the scenes. It is also where another of the exhibition’s must-dos, Dragon Flight: A Dragon’s-Eye view of Berk, a panoramic ride on the back of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon over Berk across a 40-foot 180 degree projection, specially made for the exhibition, can be viewed.

Dragon Flight (photo: Marina Bay Sands / Mark Ashkanasy).

Dragon Flight (photo: Marina Bay Sands / Mark Ashkanasy).

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There will be lots of other programmes and activities during the exhibition period, including screenings of some of our favourite DreamWorks’ films. More information on the exhibition, including a full list of programmes and on ticketing can be found at the exhibition page on the ArtScience Museum’s website.

For the kids - an activity that introduces the basics of animation.

For the kids – an activity that introduces the basics of animation.





What lurks in the depths of the oceans

8 06 2015

Yet another great exhibition, The Deep, has opened at the ArtScience Museum. Running from over the last weekend, the exhibition takes us on an exploration of a part of the world to which few have ventured, the darkest depths of inner space. Inhabited by creatures whose appearances might suggest they are the products of an overactive imagination, the deepest depths is where fewer men have found themselves in as compared to outer space.

A Giant Isopod.

A Giant Isopod specimen.

Coming face to face with a Murray's abyssal anglerfish specimen.

Coming face to face with a Murray’s abyssal anglerfish specimen.

Curated by Claire Nouvian of BLOOM Association, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to have a glimpse into the abyssal world in which light, as we see it, cannot exist. There is an attempt to recreate the darkness through the pitch black setting visitors are placed into immediately after stepping into the exhibition.

A glowing sucker octopus.

A glowing sucker octopus.

Another anglerfish specimen.

Another anglerfish specimen.

Before taking the gradual plunge into the depths through the different exhibition zones, the visitor is first provided with an introduction to the world below us through Hidden/Depths. An interactive art installation, the artist Lynette Wallworth, incorporates specimens of some never before seen deep-sea creatures into 18 luminescent glass sculptures. An introduction is also provided to bio-luminescence, light produced by some 90% of the creatures of the deep as a means to communicate and to lure prey.

Claire Nouvian of BLOOM Association speaking at the media preview.

Claire Nouvian of BLOOM Association speaking at the media preview.

Lynette Wallworth.

Lynette Wallworth.

An interactive  introduction to bio-luminescence.

An interactive introduction to bio-luminescence.

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The exhibition proper starts has visitors descend to zone between 150 and 600 metres (in Zone A) in which less than 1% of the light of day filters through to. This is an area where life is in abundance and yet is also an area dangerous to life. Then comes a descent into total darkness, first into the red zone between 600 and 1000 metres (in Zone B), where one finds animals in many shades of red. The red colour, interestingly, gives these creatures the ability to cloak the blue-green bio-luminescent emissions of the prey being consumed.

A pair of radiolarians - skeletons formed by a colony of unicellular organisms in Zone A.

A pair of radiolarians – skeletons formed by a colony of unicellular organisms in Zone A.

Lobster Larvae.

Lobster Larvae.

An introduction to the red sea creatures of the zone between 600 and 1000 metres deep.

An introduction to the red sea creatures of the zone between 600 and 1000 metres deep.

One of which is the shrouded vampire octopus.

One of which is the shrouded vampire squid.

Next up is the very cold waters beneath in the zone beneath 1000 metres (Zone C). At a kilometre down, the water temperature does not go beyond 4 degrees Celsius. Sources of food here are scarce, and literally are the crumbs that fall off from the tables of the higher ups – leftovers of the frenzy of feeding on the way down to the sea floor. Only 10 submersibles in the world are able to reach such depths.

An anglerfish larvae in an oil filled bubble that allows it to ascend to a shallower food rich waters before descending into the deep as they mature.

An anglerfish larvae in an oil filled bubble that allows it to ascend to a shallower food rich waters before descending into the deep as they mature.

The bottom of the sea (in Zone D: Bottom of the ocean) is next up. Here a layer of mud – thought to be hundreds of metres thick, covers the sea floor above which a diversity of creatures exceeding that of the Amazon and the Great Barrier Reef put together, is suspected to roam.

Taxidermist, Allan Gottini.

Taxidermist, Allan Gottini.

The last two zones are where we are introduced to biodiversity and also the toxic oases built around parts of the seabed where hydrothermal vents form. This is where chemosynthesis (as opposed to photosynthesis) allows life to thrive in environments in a mineral rich environment in which gases such as methane and and toxic hydrogen sulfide can be transformed into organic matter by bacteria.

A look at life in the toxic oases.

A look at life in the toxic oases.

The scale of hydrothermal formations can be seen against a silhouette of  a submersible in one of the photographs.

The scale of hydrothermal formations can be seen against a silhouette of a submersible in one of the photographs.

One of the highlight of the exhibition is probably the Krøyer’s deep-sea anglerfish specimen. The specimen is evidence of a world in which the male loses its heart and senses, literally, to the female as it becomes a sex-slave of sorts once it has found a mate. On the specimen, visitors will do well to spot the male, a fraction of the size of the dominant female. While the female can reach more than a metre in length, the male (seen attached to the bottom of the specimen) can be 60 times smaller and once attached, becomes a parasite to to the female, losing its ability to feed, as well as it brain, heart and eyes and is effectively reduced to a pair  of gonads.

The female Krøyer's deep-sea anglerfish specimen with the male (the protrusion at the bottom of its belly) attached.

The female Krøyer’s deep-sea anglerfish specimen with the male (the protrusion at the bottom of its belly) attached.

Visitors to the exhibition can also look forward to several programmes including guided tours (in English at 3.30 pm on Fridays, 11.30 am on Saturdays and 5 pm on Sundays and in Mandarin on Saturdays and Sundays and on 17 July at 4pm). Activities also include  Making Space in which recycled materials are used to make an anglerfish (which can glow for $4 through the use of a battery operated UV LED) and a Cyanotype Creatures Workshop to create artwork using the cyanotype photographic technique at the cost of $5. The exhibition is scheduled to run until November 2015. More information on the exhibition and programmes associated with it can be found at the ArtScience Musuem’s The Deep.

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When the lights go out

10 02 2015

Last evening wasn’t what I would call a typical Monday evening. In some rather untypical company, after the lights went off, I stood waiting for a box containing a 15th century lady to be opened, showing little of the trepidation my irrational fears of the dark would typically have invoked; the promise the evening held was an unveiling of the lady’s exquisite beauty for her debut in Singapore.

A Portrait of a Lady, attributed to Ambrogio de Predis, an associate of Leonardo da Vinci.

A Portrait of a Lady, attributed to Ambrogio de Predis, an associate of Leonardo da Vinci.

Delicate but yet well preserved, the beauty of the lady of nobility, is one that is beautifully captured by an associate of Leonardo da Vinci,  Ambrogio de Predis. The portrait, one of several masterpieces from the da Vinci school that is making an appearance in Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum, as part of the Da Vinci: Shaping the Future exhibition that runs until May 2015. While the highlight of the exhibition is perhaps the pages out of da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus from Milan’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana’s collection, the masterpieces the Ambrosiana has brought over, also deserve much attention.

Unscrewing the lid on the outer box in which the painting is packed for shipment. Paintings are packed into two boxes.

Unscrewing the lid on the outer box in which the painting is packed for shipment. Paintings are packed into two boxes.

The rather uninspiringly named “Portrait of a Lady” that had until the 19th century been attributed to da Vinci himself, goes on display for the first time from today. It is part of a changeover of inspiring art work and pages of the Codex at the midway point of the exhibition, made necessary by a three-month limit on exposing the original works, following which they have to be returned to the dark.

Lifting the lid on the inner box.

Lifting the lid on the inner box.

For a opportunity to celebrate beauty as expressed  in oil and to be awed by the genius of da Vinci contained in the pages of the Codex Atlanticus, do visit this wonderful look at what the museum refers to as history’s foremost ArtScientist, Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibition interestingly, also sees models of da Vinci’s innovative ideas on display.  The exhibition ends in May 2015. For more information and ticketing details, do visit the ArtScience Museum’s website.

Removing the artwork, which is wrapped in acid-free paper.

Removing the artwork, which is wrapped in acid-free paper.

Unwrapping the painting.

Unwrapping the painting.

The painting is examined for damage after being unpacked by an expert from Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. A report of an examination prior to packing is used as reference.

The painting is examined for damage after being unpacked by an expert from Biblioteca Ambrosiana. A report of an examination prior to packing is used as reference.

Examining the details.

Examining the details.

Once the expert is satisfied, the art work can be displayed.

Once the expert is satisfied, the art work can be displayed.

The painting, seen with one of the paintings that has been taken down for storage, Saiai's St. John the Baptist.

The painting, seen with one of the paintings that has been taken down for storage, Saiai’s St. John the Baptist.


More on the changeover (Art Science Museum Press Release):

Singapore (11 February 2015) – ArtScience Museum today unveiled its eagerly-anticipated renewal of the original masterpieces showcased at Da Vinci: Shaping the Future, as the exhibition approaches the second half of its run. The refreshed displays include a new collection of 13 original pages of the Codex Atlanticus, da Vinci’s largest notebook, and three new paintings from the School of da Vinci.

As part of the renewed collection, visitors will have the rare opportunity to view a neverbefore-seen original Codex Atlanticus page, Drawings of Two Compasses. This folio features two drawings of intricately decorated compasses, which were important tools employed by da Vinci to determine the proportions of his machines and to mark designs on paper before he applied ink to his drawings.

Another beautifully illustrated page in the renewed collection is the Giant Crossbow, one of da Vinci’s most striking and celebrated folios from the Codex Atlanticus. Drawn with elaborate details and technical skill, the folio includes precise measurements of the machine’s components and a figure atop the machine to provide an indication of the scale.

The Giant Crossbow is a prime example of how da Vinci used his artistic skills to illustrate complex technical concepts.

“More than any other figure in history, Leonardo da Vinci represents the unity of art and science. Therefore, it is a great privilege to be able to bring a new collection of da Vinci’s masterpieces to ArtScience Museum, as part of this groundbreaking exhibition. What is particularly exciting for us is that one of the pages from the Codex Atlanticus, which arrived from Italy this week, is being shown in public for the very first time. We are grateful to have been able to work so closely with Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana to realise an exhibition that vividly illustrates how da Vinci’s genius, creativity, and systems thinking continue to inspire and shape the world we live in now,” said Ms. Honor Harger, executive director of ArtScience Museum.

Dr Irene Lee, co-curator, ArtCORP Pte Ltd, adds, “It has been an honour to be a part of this project and to bring the original works by da Vinci from Milan to Singapore. Singapore, like da Vinci, is very forward-thinking, and it is only fitting to have these masterpieces displayed in this innovative city.”

One of the new original paintings that will be on display is the visually arresting Portrait of a Lady. Donated to the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in 1618, the painting was attributed to da Vinci until the 19th century. While the references to da Vinci are evident, such as the knotted golden braid on the lady’s garment, the mesmeric painting remains elusive as both its subject and author have yet to be confirmed despite generations of study by critics and scholars. While some leading scholars firmly attribute the painting to da Vinci and others favour a more prudent attribution, these controversies have never debased the work’s appeal, only increasing its mystery.

Other new paintings from the School of da Vinci that will be showcased are Christ Child with the Lamb by Bernardino Luini, the most famous Milanese painter in the early 16th century, and Adoration of the Child with Saint Roch by Giampietrino.






An Ocean of Possibilities

4 11 2014

In An Ocean of Possibilities, we may find a sea of change. A photography exhibition brought to Singapore through a collaboration between Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) and Noorderlicht International Photo Festival in Groningen, An Ocean of Possibilities features the thought provoking works of 34 internationally acclaimed photographers who find unlikely forces for change in the midst of  the trials and tribulations of tragedy, conflict and upheaval.

Finding out how a camera obscura works in An Ocean of Possibilities.

Hands-on in finding out how a camera obscura works in An Ocean of Possibilities.

It is a theme that SIPF Festival Director, Gwen Lee, says that Singapore is no stranger to, having overcome many obstacles in charting its course through to an improved future. To Ms Lee,  the ocean “signifies a test of our courage, imagination and capabilities to take the path less trodden”, a path that is taken by the subject in the works.

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The exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, which opened on 31 October 2014 and will run until 28 December, sees over 200 works – photographs and videos, on display. Among the photographs are the works of two Singaporeans, Zhao Renhui and Lim Weixiang in the 34 that have been selected from over 1000 submissions.

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The works that I thought were especially provoking are those of Alex Masi, Ana Galan, Matthew O’Brien and Loulou d’Aki. Masi’s Bhopal Second Disaster is particularly so in examining the continuing fallout of the Bhopal disaster, 30 years on, through a series of haunting images. In all this, Masi finds hope in adversity, a hope that a population abandoned by those who should be making wrongs right, have found from within.

Photographs from Alex Mesi's Bhopal Second Disaster.

Photographs from Alex Masi’s Bhopal Second Disaster.

d’Aki also finds hope in the future – through the faces of the youth of the Middle East and in their dreams and ambitions in Make A Wish, while O’Brien finds beauty in the common folk of Colombia in lives where the threat of violence and misery is ever present through a series of Polaroids in No Dar Papaya. In Galan’s In a Quest for Utopia, we are made to take a look at a Myanmar, which in spite of democratic reforms, continues to be dominated by the politics of the past half a century. Galan’s work sees a homage paid to activists who in continuing a fight for freedom put their lives and their own personal freedom at risk.

Ana Galan's portrait of Nay Yee Ba Swe with the words of Article 37 of the Burmese Constitution superimposed.

Ana Galan’s portrait of Nay Yee Ba Swe with the words of Article 37 of the Burmese Constitution superimposed.

Polaroids from Matthew O'Brien's No Dar Papaya.

Polaroids from Matthew O’Brien’s No Dar Papaya.

Loulou d'Aki's Make A Wish - hope for the future seen in the faces of the youth of the post Arab Spring Middle East.

Loulou d’Aki’s Make A Wish – hope for the future seen in the faces of the youth of the post Arab Spring Middle East.

A quite enjoyable part of the exhibition are the interactive activities that Hands On Lenses, curated by artscientist Isabella Desjeux, that visitors can participate in. Participants will be able to make their own magnifier, understand how a camera obscura works and use their smart phones to take photos of magnified objects. Hands On Lenses workshops will be conducted by Isabella Desjuex on 8 and 9 and 22 November, 13 and 20 December. In addition to this, Marina Bay Sands’ resident photographers will be conducting two courses, Photographing Stories on 23 and 30 November and Shooting Travel Photos like a Pro on 13 December.

Hands on Lenses.

Hands on Lenses.

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In addition to this, ArtScience Museum will also be organising a free symposium on 8 November, Digital Frontiers: Exploring the context of Digital Imaging. This will see academic experts in the art and science field, Dr Vasillios Vonikakis from Advanced Digital Sciences Center and Associate Prof Oh Soon-Hwa from Nanyang Technological University exploring how digital photography has changed our perception of images today. The session will also include a discussion on how technological advances have spurred greater progress in key areas within the artistic and scientific domains.

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More information on the exhibition and workshops can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s site and also the SIPF website. A exhibition guide can be downloaded here.

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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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