A sunrise over the new Singapore

8 02 2013

Singapore has, in close to half a century of its existence as an independent nation, seen a dramatic transformation not just as a nation but in the development of the city. There is nowhere, perhaps, where the change is as striking as it is in the new city that has risen from the sea – the Marina City Centre, built on land reclaimed on what had once been the old harbour. The new world is also perhaps where some of the more dramatic sunrises over the city can be observed, particularly against the silhouettes of what has certainly become one of the most photographed places in Singapore, the very iconic Marina Bay Sands complex.

Sunrise over the new world 7.29 am 8 February 2013.

Sunrise over the new world 7.29 am 8 February 2013.


Changing moods of a changing face

1 06 2012

Marina Bay is where the most dramatic of changes that the city of Singapore has seen over the last 30 years has probably taken place. It is now a showcase of the new Singapore – one that reflects how the mood of a nation that emerged out of uncertain times to where it finds itself now, proudly standing on its own. The bay as it is referred to now, was once the harbour – the harbour on which modern Singapore was founded on and from which much of its people and its wealth came in from. Cut off from the sea that brought it life by the reclamation of land and the construction of the Marina Barrage, the old harbour is now part of a large body of fresh water – an important reserve of the important resource that Singapore has always struggled with. Beyond that, it has also become the showcase of Singapore’s transformation with several rather iconic developments rising around the bay that has given the area a ‘wow’ factor. Even as I struggle to come to grips with this new world that has replaced much of what I loved of the Singapore that I grew up in, I must admit that I find myself in celebration of this new world. The new world in reflecting the changed mood of the nation is probably also where it is best to capture the changing mood of each day at daybreak – which I have tried to do on four out of five working days this week … the photographs that follow are taken at about the same time on each of the four days, each capturing a very different mood.

The calm after the storm

28 May 2012, 6.37 am.

A clear day

30 May 2012, 6.36 am.

The calm before the storm

31 May 2012, 6.38 am.

In the midst of a storm

1 June 2012, 6.39 am.

The Merlion in a wrestling ring

17 05 2012

Head over to the Esplanade Park if you are looking for some unusual fun and entertainment this weekend. For two weeks from 18 May to 2 June 2012 will be abuzz with a host of activities and performances as the Festival Village of the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 invades the once popular destination for family outings and for a satay feast. The activities and performances are aimed to reach out to as the Festival organisers would have it, anyone from ages 1 to 100, which will tease the senses and delight the soul, and I did have the opportunity to see did tease and delight my soul and senses at a preview of a few of the highlights last evening.

XII – in search of 13. The Merlion flooring the Getai Queen.

Singapore Arts Festival GM, Low Kee Hong, giving speaking at a media preview of the Festival Village.

After the introduction to this year’s Singapore Arts Festival and the Festival Village on the Café Rooftop which provided a wonderful view not just of the Festival Village but also of Marina Bay, the group were soon brought down to earth to have a sneak peek at what the Festival Village will have on offer. The white of the marquees and the yellow of the festival’s paraphernalia was clearly evident. The comings and goings of people the white and yellow must surely have attracted when mixed in certainly brought a buzz to the Esplanade Park that hasn’t been seen for some time. The first act that we were introduced to, XII – going on 13, was one held in a ring – a wrestling ring that is. While what was to go on in the ring definitely wasn’t WWE, it did involve some heavyweights – in the form of twelve icons of Singapore, in a fight to determine as the festival guide puts it “the ultimate National icon amid a backdrop of myths, stories and drama where the Lim Bo Seng Memorial stands”. In the first match-up, the Merlion swiftly and without so much fuss, floored the Getai Queen – in what was probably not an even match-up …

Couldn’t help but notice the fascinating movement of 41 women interacting with 35 urns nearby in DREAM COUNTRY – a lost monologue.

Next up, not before I got distracted by the 41 women moving around 35 large urns in the clearing nearby (DREAM COUNTRY – a lost monologue) , was a pop by the Kids Art Village. After a short introduction, we were treated to a performance by some really adorable children 3 to 8 years old from Kids Gallery Singapore in their interpretation of Dr Dolittle, Talking with the Animals. The Kids Arts Village offers activities and performances that will certainly appeal to children as well as the kids in some of us. Some other highlights found at the Kids Art Village include Tangle – which will have many tangled in ribbons and Spooky Stories by Children.

Talking with the Animals – an interpretation of Dr Dolittle by children 3 to 8 years old from Kids Gallery Singapore … see various acts and participate in various events that will reach out not only to children, but also to the kids in some of us at the Kids Art Village.

Talking with the Animals.


Having to be whisked away to catch a rehearsal of Mark Chan’s The Flight of the Jade Bird, I wasn’t able to catch much of the last part of the preview. That involved the appearance of the mythical centaur – the half man / half horse creature that we discover, may not be so different from us in a performance entitled FLUX. The dance routine of man and horse that I did manage to catch before heading off looked thoroughly captivating – reason enough for me to head back down over the two weeks to catch the full performance of this as well as to further tease my soul and delight my senses in discovering what else the Festival Village has to offer.

FLUX introduction.



About The Singapore Arts Festival

The Singapore Arts Festival began in 1977 as a national showcase celebrating the local arts of Singapore’s diverse communities. Over the last three decades, the Festival organised by the National Arts Council, has played a symbiotic and catalytic role in the development of the artistic and cultural life of Singapore. It has influenced the work of artists and generated a growing public demand for the arts, spawning new capital platforms, events and movements that help underpin the lively cultural scene in Singapore.

The Festival saw its turning point in 2010 as it embarked on a new phase of development under the leadership of Low Kee Hong. Key changes and initiatives include turning this international arts platform into a Creation and People’s Festival with a vital year-long participation programme, com.mune to sustain the Festival’s engagement with the public beyond individual shows staged during the Festival period. The commune events and activities are tailored for four groups: new audiences — people who may not have encountered the arts; arts lovers — people who buy tickets to performances; arts makers — artists and teachers who inspire their students through the arts; and arts volunteers — people who have the heart to make a difference.

The Singapore Arts Festival has now become an international showcase of ideas, art and discourse with a distinctive Asian flavour, known for its bold and innovative discussions between vernacular and contemporary art.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012: Our Lost Poems

The 2012 Festival will be held from 18 May – 2 June 2012. This edition of the Festival completes the trilogy of themes set out two editions ago – Between You and Me (2010), I Want to Remember (2011), Our Lost Poems (2012). Over these 16 days, the city comes alive with an infusion of performances at the Festival’s hub – the Festival Village @ Esplanade Park and other key venues. There is something for everyone this year, from ages 1 to 100.

Dawn over the new Singapore

1 03 2012

Finding myself early one morning in a delightful old world I once knew that now is surrounded by a new world, I was drawn to the eerie blue glow that now colours the trusses of the gorgeous Anderson Bridge to venture in that direction and a little beyond it. As I walked past the Boat House – I half expected to be greeted by that joyful chaos that would have been the harbour of old, coloured by the icons of the old Singapore – that of the bumboats, tongkangs and towkows that Singapore’s success depended on. It wasn’t the old harbour however that greeted me, but a sea of calm coloured by the glow and the hues of the lightening sky, a sea without the chaos of old, surrounded by the icons of the Singapore we have become.

An icon of a developing and newly independent Singapore, the Merlion, stares at the icons of the new Singapore across a body of water that played an important role in Singapore's development.

The sea that I speak of is actually not anymore a sea. Bound by fingers of land carved out from the depths of the old harbour, it is now a body of sweet water, Marina Bay – a resource to supplement Singapore’s growing thirst for a resource it never has enough of. The icons we see around it are now the icons of the present and the future – representative of the Singapore we’ve become perhaps. One is the Merlion – a curious and unlikely fusion which is the icon of a confident and developing Singapore that emerged from the darkness that was the uncertainty of the early days of our independence. The Merlion stares towards even more curious edifices on the piece of land that sits over the old outer harbour – the edifices of the Marina Bay Sands Complex – which silhouetted against the glow of the lightening sky is a sight to behold.

The sunrise over a new Singapore.

As I sat in quiet contemplation marvelling at the magnificence of the sight that was before my eyes, I tried hard to imagine the world that once had been there, a world that I deeply miss. The gentle undulations of the water’s surface which was otherwise undisturbed served to remind me that world is no more, replaced by a world I often struggle to come to terms with. It is this new world however that I must now must love – one that when seen in the calmness and light of the new day, is one that certainly is hard not to grow love.