Strange Horizons: seeing the future

29 05 2014

The future world does seem to have arrived in Singapore. Rising out of what used to be the old harbour is a new world, the seeds of which were really sown at the end of the 1960s. It was in 1967 that Singapore embarked on the State and City Planning Project (SCP) in 1967 with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme’s special assistance scheme for urban renewal and development for emerging nations. 


The SCP completed in 1971, identified the need for a coastal highway to divert traffic out of the city, requiring land to be reclaimed for what was to be the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. It was with this that the planners recognised that there was benefit in further reclamation of land to provide land for the city’s expansion south, land on which a new downtown is now, some four decades after the initial reclamation commenced, in the process of being built.

Among the first structures rising in the new world are several that have since become one of the most photographed and recognisable structures in Singapore including the Sky Park topped hotel towers and lotus flower inspired ArtScience Museum of Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands integrated resort complex (2010) and the Supertrees and cooled conservatories of the Gardens by the Bay  (2012) that is seen in the above photograph, which was taken across what today is a fresh water channel of water at the Bay East garden of the Gardens by the Bay.


Names in tofu and pigs that fly

16 01 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Controlled Desire by Bounpaul Phothyzan.

‘Controlled Desire’ by Bounpaul Phothyzan.

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

Mark Justiniani's 'Tunnel'.

Mark Justiniani’s ‘Tunnel’.

Another of Mark Justiniani's study of Superposition.

Another of Mark Justiniani’s study of Superposition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hundred Surnames in Tofu by China artist Chen Qiulin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More from Scream.

More from Scream.

Also at Scream.

Also at Scream.

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

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

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

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

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

More photographs taken at a preview of Art Stage 2014:

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We Are Asia – Art Stage Singapore 2014

13 01 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

Art Stage 2013 (photo: Art Stage Singapore).

Art Stage 2013 (photo: Art Stage Singapore).

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

Soe Niang (photo: Yone Arts).

Soe Niang (photo: Yone Arts).

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

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

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

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

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

The Feast of Fools

24 12 2013

A scene that is one of several that celebrates the musical Notre Dame de Paris, currently playing at the MBS MasterCard Theatres, is possibly The Feast of Fools. Accompanied by the confused frenzy of movement, it is at this point that sees the introduction of Quasimodo, the well-known character of the tale behind the musical many would be familiar with from their childhoods, who in the scene is crowned the King of Fools.

Belle, one of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical.

One of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical, during which the popular song, Belle, was sung. The musical features Matt Laurent as Quasimodo (L) and Alssandra Ferrari (R) as Esmeralda.

It is not the Quasimodo that in the wake of Disney’s retelling of Victor Hugo’s novel that many would recognise. The same can unfortunately be said of the storyline or the lack of it in its musical version. Except for a few popular music numbers such as Belle, it would probably be better remembered for what has to be said, was a impressive display of dance.

Another scene shown during the preview - Refugees - which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Another scene shown during the preview – Refugees – which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Certainly for me, the musical did not quite live up to the hype that surrounds it. Whatever my impressions are, the musical is still quite a watchable one and certainly one that does provide some entertainment value – that is if you need some extra to distract you this Christmas season. The musical, which opened on 17 December 2013, will see its run in Singapore extended to 11 January 2014. For more information and also for ticketing, do visit the Marina Bay Sand’s page for the musical, or the SISTIC website.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.

More on the musical (from a press release from its Singapore opening):

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Singapore – 17 December 2013 – The musical spectacular Notre Dame de Paris, which has become a phenomenon around the world cutting across generations, opens tonight at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, Grand Theatre. Performed for the first time in Singapore in English this majestical show tells the story of Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Esmeralda the Gypsy girl, in one of the most powerful love stories in history on par with Romeo and Juliet.

Since premiering in Paris, France in September 1998, the musical has attracted audiences of more than 4 million in France alone and broken box office records in Canada, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and South Korea surpassing 10 million spectators while combined sales of soundtrack and cast albums have reached the 10 million mark.

Notre Dame de Paris has been staged over 4000 times in 20 other countries, including Italy, Great Britain and the United States, receiving standing ovations every night.

Faithful to Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre Dame de Paris, the show tells the emotionally charged story of the unfortunate Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral Bell Ringer, the hunchback Quasimodo, and his hopeless devotion for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. Phoebus, the untruthful soldier and Frollo, the priest torn between his faith to God and his desires will compete for Esmeralda’s love. While Clopin, the leader of the refugees or underclass, and Gringoire the poet will try to save Esmeralda.

The musical spectacular is the creation of lyricist Luc Plamondon and composer Richard Cocciante, whom have both won numerous awards for their work and is directed by Gilles Maheu. The English lyrics were written by Will Jennings, Oscar-winner for “My heart Will Go On” from the smash-hit film Titanic.

“It’s a well-known story which stands up on its own and doesn’t need to be explained. That’s why there are at least a dozen films based on the Victor Hugo novel, from the silent era to the recent Disney animation,” said Luc Plamandon.

Reminiscent of The Beauty and the Beast and presaging The Phantom of the Opera, Notre Dame de Paris remains a poignant and powerful myth with some of the interwoven storylines being more relevant today than ever: asylum-seekers, racism, the role of religion, the fear of the unknown and man’s place in an ever-changing world.

Riccardo Cocciante beautiful melodies will leave a long lasting impression on local  audiences. Featuring more than 54 vivid arias of operatic beauty and rock resonance, the characters are brought to life through stunning vocal performances and visual spectacle – courtesy of the show’s seven principal artistes and 24 dancers and acrobats.

The show will feature acrobatic contemporary dance choreography by Martino Muller, renowned modern dance visionary, contrasting with a beautiful love story moments to create an audience experience reminiscent of French cirque. Dancers appear to be flying across the stage under fantastic arcs, freely incorporating gymnastics, contemporary and even break dance moves into their repertoire – at one moment whirling across the floor in a series of pirouettes, and the next tumbling from a bungee rope high above the stage.

The show will be presented on a grand scale at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. The modern impressionistic stage set features a 12 metre high ‘climbing wall’ representing the façade of the grand cathedral of Notre Dame as well as the famous Bastille prison in Paris. This amazing edifice is also the platform for a series of stunning acrobatic routines that will leave the audience breathless.

Notre Dame de Paris, the musical spectacular, stands out because of the masterful staging and artistic integrity of director Gilles Maheu, who has revived the 170-year old story with contemporary touches and deft inspiration incorporating choreographies by Martino Muller and costumes designed by Fred Sathal and set by Christian Ratz.

The English language album, featuring the main stars of the London production, also features guest star Celine Dion singing “Live for the One I Love”.
Hit musical, rock-show, opera, concept-album or gothic melodrama, Notre-Dame de Paris retains traditional theatrical elements while using modern staging techniques and choreography to present eternal, universal, mythical tales and themes.

About Notre Dame de Paris

  • First opened at ‘Palais des Congres’ theatre in Paris in September 1998
  • Based on the novel ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ written by Victor Hugo in 1831
  • Sell-out tours in France, Canada, England, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, America, Italy, Monaco
  • 4000 performances over 20 countries and seen by more than 10 million people.
  • The most sensational and successful musical in France, Italy, Belgium and Russia
  • Taking Europe by storm, “Notre Dame de Paris’ opened in London at the Dominion Theatre on 23 May 2000, following previews which opened on 15 May 2000.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, Notre Dame de Paris still holds the record as the show with the most successful first year of any musical ever produced.

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Dawn in the new world

26 07 2013

6.38 am on 23 July 2013. The colours of the breaking day illuminate the icons of the new Singapore, which the Merlion probably best represents. The body of water, Marina Bay, now a reservoir of fresh water, had once been the sea where the inner harbour, the Inner Roads, once fed Singapore with its immigrants and with goods from east and west , the foundation on which Singapore’s early success was built upon.


Reflections on Marina Bay

3 06 2013

For me, the story of Singapore is very a reflection of the way in which what we call Marina Bay today, has been transformed. Once the harbour at the heart of Singapore’s early success, the bay, like it or hate it, is today a magnificent sight to behold – particularly at certain times of the day, and a celebration of the tremendous strides Singapore has taken as a nation since the tumultuous events which surrounded a somewhat reluctantly achieved independence.

Marina Bay seen through the light rain at 6.30 am on 2 June 2013.

Marina Bay seen through the drama of the rain coloured scene at first light (photograph taken at 6.30 am on 2 June 2013).

The so-called bay itself (now a fresh water reservoir) and the developments that have taken root around it, was an afterthought made possible by massive land reclamation works which were started in the early 1970s – initially to provide land for a road which would bypass the already congested city (more information on which can be found in a previous post “The Making of Marina Bay“). While it did result in the disappearance of the old harbour – one of the things which did make Singapore, Singapore, it did provide new land for development. It is perhaps because of this, it became possible to widen the scope for conservation of Singapore’s built heritage, particularly in areas of the old city such as in the Tanjong Pagar / Chinatown area and other areas which had previously been earmarked for redevelopment .

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:

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.

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

31 01 2013

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


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

Rukunegara 2 by Malaysian artist Zulkifli Yusoff.

Rukunegara 2 by Malaysian artist Zulkifli Yusoff.

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

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

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

The final scene in "Red fights back".

The final scene in “Red fights back”.

"High Way" by Vermont Coronel Jr.

“High Way” by Vermont Coronel Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maitree Siriboon and his sacks of rice.

Maitree Siriboon and his sacks of rice.

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

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

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

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

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

Ang Sookoon's "The Wave/Waifs".

Ang Sookoon’s “The Wave/Waifs”.

Ang Sookoon's "Weighs Like Mine".

Ang Sookoon’s “Weighs Like Mine”.

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
















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Marina Bay in the pink

7 10 2012

Three landmarks, the ArtScience Museum, the Helix Bridge, and Marina Bay Sands Hotel, in the Marina Bay area, turned bright pink on Friday evening, coloured in a global effort that has seen some 200 well-known landmarks and monuments across the world such as the Taj Mahal, the Empire State Building and Harrods take on the same pink glow. All this is part of an initiative by Estée Lauder, the Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign, intended to promote breast health and early detection in an effort to defeat breast cancer through education and medical research.

The ArtScience Museum awash in pink for the Global Illumination Initiative.

In its 20th year, the BCA Campaign was initiated by the late Mrs. Evelyn H. Lauder of The Estée Lauder Companies in 1992. It aims at creating a global impact to motivate women all around the world to see doctors regularly, perform monthly breast self examinations, and get an annual mammogram if they’re over the age of 40. Together with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) as the official venue partner, the landmarks were illuminated at a ceremony at the ArtScience Museum which was graced by Guest-of-Honour Dr. Amy Khor, Minister of State for Ministry of Health and Manpower, Ms Grace Ban, Managing Director of The Estée Lauder Companies, and Mrs. Noor Quek, President of the Breast Cancer Foundation (Singapore).

The ever lovely Sharon Au was the host for the evening.

Ms Grace Ban, Dr Amy Khor, Mrs Noor Quek with host Sharon Au, launching the illumination.

Watching the illumination of the Helix Bridge.

A toast to the campaign.

Host Sharon Au was her usual animated self.

The ceremony with the ever beautiful Sharon Au as host had guests turning the area under the fingers of the ArtScience Museum into a sea of pink, and saw a fashion show segment in which ten breast cancer survivors including Singapore Woman of the Year 2012, Ms Theresa Tan, take to the catwalk. Also on hand was Japanese artist, Takeshi Sato, wowing the crowd by painting a likeness of Mrs. Evelyn H. Lauder on stage whilst moving in sync to music that was being played, as a tribute to her.

Takeshi Sato at work.

Ms Theresa Tan and daughter down the catwalk.

This year’s message, is Courage, Believe in a world without breast cancer. Know we’re here until its true. It highlights The Estée Lauder Companies’ 20-Year commitment to defeating breast cancer through education and medical research and celebrates the life and legacy of BCA Campaign Founder and Pink Ribbon co-creator, Mrs Evelyn H. Lauder.

The Helix Bridge lit up in pink.

The campaign this year also sees for the very first time, an online charity auction, which was launched on 26 September to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation, Singapore. For the auction, many local celebrities have donated personal items. One is Michelle Chong, who donated a dress her character wore in Already Famous. The items also includes those donated by Andrea de Cruz, socialite Leonika Kei, model Serena Adsit and popular mandarin radio DJ Lim Peifen. Bids for the items can be placed online via The Estēe Lauder Companies’ microsite at Bidding will close on 31st October 2012. Apart from celebrity donated items, the auction will also feature various luxury items and services donated to raise more money for the charity.

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.

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

1 05 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visitors can try their hand at silkscreen printing.

The silkscreen.

The finished print.

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

Delights around Marina Bay

22 03 2012

One of the wonderful things I was able to do as an official blogger for i Light Marina Bay 2012, was to spend part of an evening right on top of the world. That world that I write of is Marina Bay – a showpiece of modern Singapore, which when viewed 57 floors up from the Sands SkyPark, is a world that is certain to take one’s breath away. The view around Marina Bay from SkyPark is stunning to say the least and has to be the highlight of a visit to the roof of Marina Bay Sands – a view that for a little more than 3 weeks is being enhanced by some of the more visible of the 31 light art installations scattered around the body of water for what is Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival.

The view of the showpiece of the new Singapore - Marina Bay, 57 floors up from the Sands SkyPark.

Being 57 floors up does provide a very different experience of the installations around Marina Bay that can been clearly seen. The Light of The Merlion that lies across the bay is certainly one that is to be noticed, as is the red-orange glow of the illuminated plastic igloo that is Bibigloo located at the Promontory @ Marina Bay. Surveying the scene around the incomplete circle of light that is Immersion at the far end of the Float @ Marina Bay would also be seen. It is however, with one’s feet firmly on the ground, that offers one the best multi-sensory experience of most of the installations. This is especially so for the festival’s largest projection – the light and sound show that is the Garden of Light.

Garden of Light - an animated projection on three fingers of the ArtScience Museum using 3D digital mapping techniques by Hexogon Solution.

The Garden of Light is an animated projection on three of the fingers of the ArtScience Museum. The projection, created using 3D digital mapping technology, is on the evidence of the interest created, one of the more popular installations. Best viewed (and photographed) from the viewing platforms on the Helix (bridge), it has been one that never fails to catch my attention, despite having watched the show several times from both the Helix and also below the ArtScience Museum. The show is the work of Singapore based Hexogon Solution and was conceived by its founder, Adrian Goh. Having moved into the field of video mapping projections in 2009, Hexogon has been involved in several large-scale projections that includes one on a commercial airliner and also one on the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. The eight-minute show uses a combination of light and sound effects intended to send out a message of environmental sustainability that highlights the beauty of the natural world. The light and sound show is one I have to say is one of the most spectacular and one that greatly enhances the visual experience of the ArtScience Museum. It would be nice to see the installation being there on a permanent basis to allow future visitors to the area, and those like me who never tire of it to have an opportunity to take-in what has to be said celebrates the ArtScience Museum’s unique architecture – something that perhaps Marina Bay Sands may want to consider.

Another 'scene' from the Garden of Light.

The installation along with the Light of The Merlion has to be one of the most photographed installations at i Light Marina Bay 2012.

Martin Bevz and Kathryn Clifton's Immersion as seen from Sands SkyPark.

BIBI's Bibigloo seen from Sands SkyPark.

OCUBO's Light of The Merlion seen from above.

The location of the Garden of Light, is close enough to a cluster of 8 installations in and around the seating gallery of the Float @ Marina Bay to include a visit to the eight installations – one that has gone down very well is Key Frames from Groupe LAPS. The are also several under the seating gallery. A few of these I have already made a mention of such as Aleksandra Stratimirovic’s well received and rather successful attempt at making an ugly space beautiful, Sweet Home, Dev Harlan’s Parmenides I, and Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife’s Crystallised. Besides those already mentioned, there are two other installations under the seating gallery, one is Light Collective’s Urban Makyoh and the other – one that absolutely delighted me, is Takahiro Matsuo’s White Rain

Key Frames.

And what made me think Parmenides I was an installation one couldn't interact with?

Urban Makyoh involves light reflections projected from mirrored stencils.

White Rain – takes a little bit of effort in finding – an effort that was certainly worth it. The description I received describes it is an installation of white light which focuses on the sense of infinity produced by the behaviour and the beauty of light in which participants experience the poetry and beauty of light which falls like rain around them. What makes the installation a joy to take-in is that the rain of light that seems to fall as natural rain does, falls as one moves through it, intensifying and easing off depending on how one moves through it. It is one that I enjoyed observing especially standing away from the installation. As I stood and stared in the silence and the darkness, it seemed that I could almost hear the sound of the falling rain.

Takahiro Matsuo's White Rain.

There are just two weekends left before the festival ends on 1 April 2012 to take in each of the 31 installations. 31 “small delights” as one I met would have it. It is a festival that has certainly delighted me greatly, and one which I will continue visiting for the small delights that the interaction with each of the installations does bring. More information on the installations and on the festival and fringe activities can be found at

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

Related posts:

Media Preview and an Overview of some of the installations

Opening Ceremony and the Light of The Merlion

Light Painting by LUMIX and other Fringe Activities

Lighting up for Sustainability and Philips Supported Installations

About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

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

Rediscovering a 40 year old icon in a new sea of light

12 03 2012

I’ve often wandered down Collyer Quay in the evening in the days when the smell of the sea filled the air to catch the evening’s breeze. Glancing out to where the sky met the sea, the view in the dark was one of the flicker of the sea of lights of the numerous ships that lay at anchor, interrupted by the sweep of the beam that shone from Fullerton Light – the lighthouse that stood atop the Fullerton Building – then the General Post Office (GPO). It was always a fascinating sight for me – one that I was always thrilled to take-in. That was years ago and the world as I had known it then, has been transformed to the glow of lights that seemed to have grown out of the seeds planted by of the lights of the old harbour. The glow is the new world that is Marina Bay, a world that glitters with the gold that the old harbour it grew out of has given. The new glow – brighter than the old, makes Marina Bay a world that is one to marvel at and one that for three weeks will glow even brighter with the colours and the lights that i Light Marina Bay 2012 brings to it.

Coming of age - one of the older icons in the brand new Marina Bay will be bathed in a sea of light during i Light Marina Bay 2012.

The highly anticipated festival, the second edition of i Light Marina Bay, was opened officially by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minster and Minster for Finance and Minister for Manpower on Friday. At the ceremony at the Promontory @ Marina Bay, Mr Shanmugaratnam spoke of his pleasure to be at Marina Bay, which he said attracted a record 23 million visitors last year, “to be immersed in the energy of a new downtown which has been evolving” and observed that the many developments in the area have transformed the skyline, and “imbued our city with more excitement, colour and vibrancy”. Mr Shanmugaratnam in his speech, spoke of the ‘software’ that was required to make and sustain a place – such as the festival, which serves to bring the community together to enjoy the place, and also help in defining an identity for the Bay. The Deputy Prime Minister also observed that “do so through a display of beautiful light art installations is creative, fun and delightful”.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the opening ceremony of i Light Marina Bay 2012.

Launching the festival.

After Light, an installation involving projections on shipping containers, is seen behind the stage at the opening.

Street performers - who were present at the opening, will also feature in the area during the period of the festival (top photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

Fun and delightful the festival certainly has, in the first few days of the opening, proved to be. The festival’s 31 installations drew large crowds to the bay area over the weekend and judging from the number of visitors – one of the crowd favourites must be the Light of The Merlion – the brainchild of Nuno Maya and Carole Purnelle of OCUBO. OCUBO translates into “The Cube” in Portuguese, a name which reflects the geometric nature of the team’s projection work which for the work commissioned for i Light Marina Bay involves the projection of a combination of colours on the surface of the Merlion that are determined purely by members of the public through an interactive screen at the site. It is through this interactivity – a feature of all the group’s work, that the colours of the 40-year-old much-loved icon are changed through the evening – something which is designed to create a memorable experience with which the Merlion can be rediscovered with members of the public placed in the role of the creator. Based in Sintra, a delightful hilltop town in Portugal which boasts of the magical Sintra National Palace, OCUBO – an art and multimedia studio dedicated to light projects has presented light, multimedia and interactive art works in countries such as Japan, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland and also conceived, produced and directs Portugal’s only light festival, the LUMINA Light Festival.

Light of The Merlion allows members of the public to play the role of the creator through an interactive panel which lets the public choose the colours to be projected on the much-loved 40-year-old icon (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

Nuno Maya (left), one half of OCUBO, at the opening ceremony (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

The many colours of the Light of The Merlion ... (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3)

After the opening ceremony, Mr Shanmugaratnam and guests were also able to take a tour of the bay by boat – a wonderful way of not just taking-in the sights around the bay, but also to have an excellent view of The Light of the Merlion and other installations that are around the bay’s waterfront including the festival’s largest projection Garden of Light, and the unmistakable red glow in the dark – BIBI’s Bibigloo at the Promontory @ Marina Bay. The eye-catching installation is an igloo made of 250 plastic jerry cans and is a replacement igloo intended to spread awareness of global warming and melting glaciers. BIBI has since 1992, attempted to explore man’s relationship to the environment, as well as the capacity to confront the contradictions with regard to waste production, through the use of everyday objects made from materials such as plastic using light to give life to his installations.

The eye-catching red glow in the dark - Bibigloo made out of 250 plastic jerry cans aims to raise awareness of rising temperatures and melting glaciers with a replacement plastic igloo (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

BIBI (right), the creator of Bibigloo.

The Festival Director, Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou (centre) with artists present at the opening and Mr Mark Goh of URA.

The trial of light that I followed after the boat ride, somehow compelled me to take a walk towards the ArtScience Museum and onwards to the seating gallery at the Float @ Marina Bay, under which there are several other interesting installations. One – Sweet Home, which a mention of was made in my previous post, is an attempt by Swedish based Aleksandra Stratimirovic to make ugly places pretty. Ms Stratimirovic’s attempt to create a homely atmosphere through the use of lanterns must have been a very good one as the artists had used the installation to hold an opening night celebration late into the night.

Sweet Home an installation by Swedish based Aleksandra Stratimirovic under the seating gallery of the Float @ Marina Bay, aims to make an ugly place pretty - colourful forms of lanterns used in the installation are designed to spread warmth and homeliness in the urban environment (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

The artists certainly gave their thumbs-up! They found Sweet Home homely enough to spontaneously hold a party there on opening night (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

i Light Marina Bay 2012 is on until 1 April 2012 and several fringe activities and events will be held during the weekends – for a listing, do visit the events page on the i Light Marina Bay 2012 website. Information on Boat Taxis which provide an excellent way to see the installations on the waterfront also operate during the weekends, departing every 15 minutes between 7.30pm to 10.00pm from Fridays to Sundays from 10 March to 1 April and cost $4 per trip – more information is also available on the website’s events page.

The coming of light at Marina Bay

8 03 2012

Come Friday (9 March 2012), Marina Bay will be aglow, bathed in the colours of lights that will transform the area into a greater spectacle than it already is. Friday sees the opening of the sequel to the highly successful first edition of Asia’s only sustainable light art event of two years ago, i Light Marina Bay 2012, which on the evidence of a media preview of the event – Asia’s first and only sustainable Light Art Festival held last evening, is one that will be a feast for the senses.

i Light Marina Bay 2012 brings a spectacle of colour and light to the already spectacular Marina Bay.

Organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and with festival direction provided by Smart Light, this year’s edition will feature 22 works which will be by Asian based artists and designers. This is in line with the festival’s theme of “Light Meets Asia”. Beyond the theme, the festival aims to also promote sustainability and the use of energy-efficient technology – a message that the 31 works selected for the festival will carry. A total of 17 countries are represented in the 31 works, which were selected from some 100 submissions. 21 of the works are festival commissions.

Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou, the Festival Director and Mr Mark Goh, Deputy Director of URA’s Place Management Department, speaking at the media preview.

As the area around which the 31 installations is large, the media preview, led by Festival Director Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou, covered some of the highlights of the festival. One of the highlights Key Frames – a delightful installation set by the Float @ Marina Bay which has not just 30 light stick figures in various poses seemingly dancing in a routine choreographed to the music, it makes the viewer want to also dance with them. The installation is by French light artists, Groupe LAPS, which hails from the World’s largest light festival, Lyon’s Fête des Lumières.

Lighted stick figures are brought to life in a choreographed display by the Float @ Marina Bay. The light and sound show, Key Frames, is the work of Groupe LAPS from the World's largest light festival, the Fête des Lumières, Lyon.

A full exposure of Key Frames.

The highlights also included some of the more eye-catching installations – those that involved projections on two of the new icons of Singapore that are hard to miss. One is that of the interactive projection on the Merlion, Light of the Merlion – the work of Portuguese projection artists, OCUBO, which I did not have an opportunity yet to photograph. With Light of the Merlion, visitors are able to control light projections on the surface of the Merlion through an interactive touch-screen at Merlion Park. The other installation that certainly cannot be missed is the animated projection on three fingers of the ArtScience Museum, which uses 3D digital mapping technology – best viewed from The Helix (bridge), which is the work of local projection artists Hexogon Solution. The work, entitled Garden of Light, is also the largest projection at the festival. Hexogon Solution is one of eleven Singaporean artists whose works would be seen at the festival.

A close of the animated projection on the ArtScience Musuem.

Three interesting works can also be found in a rather unconventional space – under the seating gallery of seating gallery of The Float @ Marina Bay. The first, Sweet Home, is a site-specific work by Swedish based Serbian artist Aleksandra Stratimirovic is an adaptation of an original work created for Belgrade of Light 2011. The work aims to make ugly places pretty – the original work in Belgrade was an attempt to bring warmth and a homely atmosphere to one of the most polluted, busiest and exciting streets in Belgrade. For i Light Marina Bay 2012, Sweet Home, supported by Philips Lighting, attempts to use the colourful forms of the lanterns used in the installation to spread warmth and homeliness in the urban environment. The second installation here is American artist Dev Harlan’s Parmenides I. This is a large-scale geometric sculpture which incorporates a 360 degree projection mapped video which was previously exhibited at the New Museum’s New Ideas for the New City Festival in New York. The work features hypnotic 3D projections of swirling abstract patterns that gives a sense of movement, colour and form. The third, Crystallised by Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife from Australia, is one to look up to. The work which is an abstraction of the starry night sky, is an installation of five thousand hollowed-out and edge-lit acrylic rods which attempts to create a glowing internal landscape like a ceiling of a cave with glittering stalactites. It is under this that visitors walk and reflect on the impact of poorly considered lighting on city life.

Dev Harlan's Parmenides I.

The glowing internal landscape under which visitors walk and reflect on the impact of poorly considered lighting on city life - Crystallised by Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife.

Several installations are also located across the bay at the Promontory and the Waterfront Promenade. This includes After Light – which makes use of shipping containers the ends of which projections are made on which will examine the significance of light in New Zealand, from where the group behind the installation, StoryBox hails, and across cultures to Asia. The containers will also incorporate two site specific installations inside the containers that feature the work of budding talents from Singapore’s La Salle College of the Arts and School of the Arts. The area will also feature the glow of cocktail stirrers that have been transformed by French/Filipino artist Olivia d’Aboville into a glowing reef of coral-like sculptures that encourages visitors to interact with, much as a coral reef attracts life under the sea to do so, entitled Coral Garden. Other works in the area include Planting Shadows by Singapore’s Vertical Submarine; Thai sculptor Be Takerng Pattanopas’ Gap the Mind; the orange-red glow of France’s BIBI’s Bibigloo; Receptacle by Cambodia’s Marine Ky; Uh by the Propeller Group from Vietnam and one that is definitely should not be missed – Classification Pending by Craig Walsh from Australia which has 3D animated projections of artificial marine life forms on the waters of the bay.

Installation being carried out for After Light, by Story Box from New Zealand.

The coral garden at the Promontory - Coral Garden by French/Filipino artist Olivia d’Aboville.

Over the Marina Bay City Gallery, The Gate promises to be a huge attraction with its red beams of light. The work of Li Hui, which uses a powerful symbol of a portal which the red beams lead to – a passage perhaps to enlightenment, is one that we are not able to pass through. It suggests that enlightenment is a goal that cannot be attained.

The Festival Director Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou speaks through the red beams of light of Li Hui's The Gate.

Li Hui, whose silhouette is seen at the right, speaking about his work.

An exit it is not. The Gate which can be seen to look at enlightenment as a goal that can never be achieved, is one that we are not able to go through.

Along the waterfront promenade leading to Marina Bay Sands and in front of Marina Bay Sands are a series of 9 other installations, which include two works by Singaporean artist we were introduced to – a squid like creature 5QU1D by Ryf Zaini and the work of Zulkifle Mahmod named Deck Journey. The series of 31 installations are spread around the bay and would definitely take much more than an evening to fully appreciate. One, the work of another Singaporean artist Angela Chong, Tree Stories, is found somewhat off the beaten track over at Esplanade Park. Tree Stories involves illuminated text on tree trunks which encourages interaction in the form of dialogue between the reader and the tree. Besides Tree Stories and Light on the Merlion, there are also several other installations that invite interaction – something that would appeal especially to the kids. These include several located in and around the seating gallery at The Float @ Marina Bay – White Rain by Japan’s Takahiro Matsuo, Urban Makyoh by UK based “lighting guerillas” Light Collective and Immersion by Martin Bevz and Kathryn Clifton from Australia. Several are also located over at the waterfront in front of Marina Bay Sands – The Light Dam by Taiwan’s Uno Lai, Illumination Disorders II by Singapore’s Tay Swee Siong and Bio Shell by Shinya Okuda of Japan. Installations can all be visited free of charge and will be on from 7.30pm to 11pm nightly.

Ryf Ziani and 5QU1D.

Zulkifle Mahmod's Deck Journey.

A series of activities and events has also been arranged during the festival which include free guided tours, workshops and also a photography competition in which participants will have a chance to win prizes worth up to $10,000 sponsored by LUMIX (who have also kindly lent LUMIX cameras for the Photo AmBayssadors and Official Bloggers to use during the period of the festival. More information can be found at the i Light Marina Bay 2012 website.

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

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.

Perspectives of Art Stage Singapore

19 01 2012

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

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

Illusion and Delusion

Attraction and Distraction


Light and Shadow


Notable sales made during Art Stage Singapore 2012

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

Step on board the Titanic in Singapore

2 11 2011

For those, like me, who’ve wondered what it would have been like to be on board the RMS Titanic as she set sail on her ill-fated maiden voyage across the Atlantic, there is now a chance in Singapore to step right on board – at the TITANIC: THE ARTIFACT EXHIBITION which is currently on at the ArtScience Museum. I did just that over the weekend, having received an invitation from the kind folks of the museum for a guided tour, one which despite just arriving back jet-lagged from a trip to Europe, I couldn’t pass up on.

Visitors to the TITANIC: THE ARTIFACT EXHIBITION at the ArtScience Musuem get to step on board and have a feel of what it was like on the ill-fated RMS Titanic (photographs taken with the kind permission of the ArtScience Museum).

Stepping through the entrance to the exhibition at the B2 level of the museum, visitors are each provided with a boarding pass, each with the name of an actual passenger, personal information, as well as the class in which the passenger was travelling on. It is through the entrance that the visitor is greeted by the glorious bow of the ship which provides the backdrop for a photograph opportunity with ‘Captain Smith’. It is through the next part of the exhibition that I took not just a step into the world that might have existed on board what was, a century ago, the world’s largest passenger liner, but also on board for a voyage of discovery which included a step into the drawing office, shopfloors and slipway of the Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast at which the mammoth liner was conceived, designed and built.

Visitors are also given a 'boarding pass' on which with the name and personal information of a passenger and can find out at the end of the exhibition about the fate of the particular passenger.

Visitors to the exhibition also have a chance to be greeted by 'Capt. Smith' and have a photograph taken with him.

One of the wonderful touches that the exhibition provides is an insight into the people behind the building of the Titanic, as well as some of the principal characters on board the vessel during the voyage. At the Construction Gallery, we learn of the conditions that existed that motivated the design of such a huge passenger liner – designed so as to compete against rival Cunard Line’s superliners Lusitania and Mauretania. The Titanic was the second of three in its class, which included the Olympic and Britannic (the Britannic was converted into a Hospital Ship by the Royal Navy and never saw service in its intended role). We are introduced to Lord Pirrie, Chairman of Harland and Wolff and Bruce Ismay, the Chairman of White Star Line, as well as to the Head Designer and General Manager, Alexander Carlisle, who led the design team, whom we were to learn had his heart broken by the tragedy – something that I could identify with having spent most of my own career in the drawing office of a shipyard.

The Drawing Office of Harland and Wolff at the time of the design of the Titanic.

On the building berth, the difficult working environment and conditions that the shipyard workers endured are brought to light – we learn of the four-men teams responsible for driving the 3 million rivets – the glue that holds the steel plates together in days that preceded the advent of welding as a means to connect steel, who worked from the break of day to late in the evening with only half an hour’s break for lunch.

We learn of the hardship endured by the four men riveting teams who put long hours in to drive the 3 million rivets that held the Titanic together.

The Titanic after her launch.

The next section of the exhibition is where one steps on board, through doors and a passageway that the first class passenger would have passed through – all recreated to allow a feel of life onboard from the luxury and opulence that the well-heeled enjoyed to the conditions faced by the thrid class passengers made up mainly of immigrants seeking a passage to the New World, as well as that in the bolier room. The highlight of the recreated spaces would be the Verandah Café and perhaps the Promenade where one could lean over the bulwark and stare into the night sky, as well as the Grand Staircase.

A lighted panel that resembles a door panel that may have been fitted in the first class public areas of the Titanic.

A first class cabin recreated for the exhibition.

A recreated passageway through the first class area.

A replica of the Grand Staircase in the first class area which is 27 feet high.

The boiler room is also recreated.

A spanner in the works - an artifact from the wreck.

Another artifact brought up from the wreck - a wash basin.

A photograph of the Titanic's boilers lying in the workshop prior to installation.

Next, in the Iceberg Gallery, visitors can interact with an Iceberg Wall which allows visitors to experience the freezing temperatures on that passengers would have encountered on the frigid night in the North Atlantic when the Titanic sank, by putting their palms on the frozen wall.

Visitors can put their hands on an 'iceberg' to have a feel of how it felt on the night of the tragedy.

A palm print left on the 'iceberg'

The main draw of the exhibition, which has been visited by more than 25 million people over 15 years worldwide, is of course the artifacts recovered from the wreck site. A total of 275 are on display, including 14 that have not previously been exhibited, from the 5,550 objects that have so far been recovered from the wreck. What perhaps catches the attention and provokes a deep sense of tragedy are personal objects that have been recovered which are the only living memories of lives that may have been lost on the fateful night. These include the marbles of a child and a pair of spectacles.

Child's marbles.

A pair of spectacles.

The deadlight of a porthole.

A baggage tag - not wanted tags were for pieces of baggage not required by the passenger during the voyage.

At the end of the exhibition, a Memorial Wall confronts the visitor. Lists of names or survivors and those who sadly perished – passengers categorised by the class they travelled in, as well as that of the crew are displayed and it is here where one can match the names on the boarding passes given at the entrance to the names on the wall to discover the fate of their passenger. Sadly the name of the passenger that was on the pass that I was holding was on the list of those who died. There is also uniquely at this edition of the exhibition, a Singapore 1912 gallery which showcases how news of the tragedy reached Singapore and with photographs of what Singapore would have been like at the time of the sinking.

The writing on the wall - name lists on the Memorial Wall provide information on the fate of the passengers and crew. Visitors are able to establish if the passenger who's name appears on the boarding passes they are given at the entrance to the exhibition survived.

Visitors checking the list of names on the Memorial Wall.

There was also a treat that awaited the participants of the guided visit in the form of a meet-up with ‘Captain Smith’, who shared not just his experiences playing the role for RMS Titanic Inc for the exhibition, but also of the opportunity he had going on a dive in the confines of a submersible, two and a half miles underwater to wreck site. One of the things that he shared that caught my eye was the effect the pressure at that depth had on a styrofoam cup – out of ‘Captain Smith’s’ pocket came a tiny cup with the silhouette of the Titanic drawn on it which had as he put it, ‘had its air sucked out of it’ – reduced to a small fraction of its original size, that was carried on the pressure side of the submersible. Amazing – as was the overall experience of the exhibition which is well worth visiting. The exhibition will be held at the ArtScience Musuem until the 29th of April and will mark the 100th Anniversry of the tragedy in April 2012.

Comparison of a styrofoam cup carried on the pressure side of the submersible which had 'its air sucked out of it' compared to one in its original condition.

Information on the TITANIC: THE ARTIFACT EXHIBITION including ticket prices and opening hours can be found at

A tweetup to explore the mind of the genius that is Salvador Dalí

30 05 2011

If you have ever wondered how a mind of a artistic genius works, you would be able to take a walk through the mind of one, in the form of the Dalí: Mind of a Genius – The Exhibition, now running at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. The exhibition which opened on 14 May, will run up until 30 October 2011, and transports the visitor into the world of Salvador Dalí, the world as he saw it that is manifested in the somewhat bizarre surrealist expressions of his inner workings that he has made his mark on the world with.

Step right into the inner workings of the great surrealist artist Salvador Dalí's mind at the ArtScience Musuem in Marina Bay Sands.

I have long had my own fascination with the artist, drawn to his work after stumbling on a striking and haunting expression of a religious zeal he had at the point of the painting rediscovered when wandering around Glasgow’s west end almost a quarter of a century ago. That painting, Christ of St. John of the Cross, still captivates me to this day. It is however, the depictions of melting time, a reoccurring theme on many of his artworks that has been the greater source of fascination. Having had an opportunity to visit the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the following summer, I was able to understand a little more of the background and interpretation of Dalí’s own fascination with the depiction of time in a fluid and non-linear state, not the hard deterministic version of time that most of us would have.

Dalí is known for his bizarre interpretation of the world around him which is expressed by depictions of everyday objects in a ways that seem beyond human comprehension.

I had the opportunity at a tweetup organised by the good people of the ArtScience Museum on Saturday to reacquaint myself with the works of Dalí, and to explore the inner workings of his mind. It is in the latter, that the curators of the exhibition have done an excellent job in bringing out the influences, inspirations and the perspective that Dalí had in giving us his wonderful works. In walking through the themed areas of the exhibition Femininity and Sensuality; Religion and Mythology; and Dreams and Fantasy, we are transported into what some would see as an insane mind that sees the world in the way he did. It is in this that we understand the artist’s mind further and see the genius of it. Dalí as with Oscar Levant who is attributed with the well used quote “there’s a fine line between genius and insanity”, is one who seems to have erased the line where genius starts and insanity ends.

The exhibition explores several themes in Dalí's work including Dreams and Fantasy.

Throughout the guided exploration of Dalí’s mind, we are constantly reminded of the background to the influences on his thoughts – a repressed sexuality stemming from an upbringing largely influenced by his strict widower father an atheist, who in stark contrast to Dalí’s staunchly Catholic mother – suppressed all form of expression in Dalí. It was through Gala, Dalí’s would be wife that freed him from the repressed sexuality and besides depicting her, his ideal of womanhood, in many works, he sought to express his view of femininity and sexuality in many ways. Amongst the influences Dalí had were some of the thinkers of the time, Einstein for one, the Theory of Relativity being a source of inspiration for the stretching of time and Sigmund Freud, who provided a basis for the understanding of symbols in dreams as symbols of a repressed sexuality that Dalí seemed to be obsessed with.

Dalí's exploration of sensuality and femininity includes Woman Aflame which includes plenty of the symbolism that is found in his work which includes drawers signifying secrets, revealed by them being opened, and the use of clutches to represent death and resurrection.

Space Venus - also contains much symbolism: a melted clock which tells us that beauty is finite, the body split at the midriff representing death and the egg, the symbol of life representing renewal in death.

Anthropomorphic Cabinet with drawers again ... this time on a female form that perhaps deceives us into seeing a masculine one who appears almost as if she is writhing in pain.

Dalí who returned to Catholicism later in life, becoming a staunch follower of the faith, also shows religious influences in his works and this can be explored in the Religion and Mythology themed area. Both mythical figures and religious symbols can be found in sculptures such as Adam and Eve, St. George and the Dragon, Unicorn and Vision of the Angel. The last of the three themed areas, Dreams and Fantasy, which features works such as furniture in the form of Mae West Lips Sofa, Glasswork, and Sculptures such as Alice in Wonderland, was perhaps my favourite. It is in some of the works here that the quirkiness of Dalí comes to the fore. This is perhaps summed up by at quote we see at the exit of the exhibition “I do not understand why, when I ask for a grilled lobster, I am never served a cooked telephone”.

St. George and the Dragon again explores sexuality in a depiction of the legendary slaying of the dragon by St. George. The stallion - a symbol of power and masculinity mounts a dragon whose wings as seen through the fore legs of the stallion resemble flames - the flames of passion.

Unicorn has some sexual connotations. Possibly influenced by Sigmund Freud's interpretation of images in dreams and their hidden sexual meanings.

Lady Godiva with Butterflies - butterflies symbolise the soul.

Vision of the Angel explores the role that religion plays in society.

Mae West Lips.

Alice in Wonderland.

I was enthralled enough to return once more to the ten galleries which feature in total over 250 of Dalí works which come from a collection of the Stratton Foundation, the most striking of which are the sculptures which, full of symbolism which the exhibition does attempt to explain in detail, providing a perspective on Dalí and the thoughts behind his lifetime of work that would be otherwise be hard to fully appreciate. It is for this that the exhibition is well worth a visit, giving us not just an opportunity to look at an amazing collection of Dalí works, but also a rare opportunity to appreciate the mind of one that was certainly a creative genius.

A nice touch added by the curators - a reflection of clocks distorted by their reflection on convex and concave mirrors at the exit from the exhibition.