Destination Singapore — Experiencing Singapore through Travel

26 05 2023

Even before mass tourism took root with the arrival of the jet age, Singapore has fascinated would be travellers from the West. The romanticised depictions of the island penned by the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham, in the late 19th and early 20th century have more often than not, made Singapore out to be an exotic destination, as have travel guide books of the day. Singapore was after all a great port city, the crossroads of the East and West in more ways than one, and a cultural melting pot in which the well-heeled traveller could travel to and be accommodated in the lap of luxury in the days when the romance of travel seemed at its height, and yet have that experience of the exotic East.

It was in fact travel guide books that provided the inspiration for the curators of Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s, to bring Singapore out as a travel destination. One of two exhibitions opening at the National Museum of Singapore this last weekend in May, the exhibition will offer its visitors an experience of Singapore from the perspective of a traveller to the island.

Postcards and Posters on display.

The exhibition will have visitors explore four common travel themes or chapters if you like in a (modern) travel guide book, Getting Around, Places to Stay, Eating Out and Sights and Shopping. But before all of that, as in the case of the days of mass travel, one has that small matter of getting to the “airport” at the museum’s Rotunda — where one will be greeted the all too familiar sight of a Changi Airport flight information flip board (or at least a part of the decommissioned Terminal 2 flip board), and having to collect a “boarding pass” — which serves as an entry ticket and more at the check-in (museum ticketing) counter.

Exhibition Boarding Pass.
The former Changi Airport flip board.

Exploring the exhibition — especially in the first two sections, one is struck by how much getting here and its associated experiences — even today, has an emphasis that is placed very much on luxury. In Getting Around, depictions of long, luxurious and somewhat leisurely voyages on the passenger liners of old or even train journeys on the Malayan Railway seen in posters on display confronts the visitor. It seems no different when it comes to the modern day, with a unmissable Singapore Airlines’ A380 Suites Cabin in plain sight.

SQ A380 Cabin Suites

Once one is in Singapore however, there options of getting around the island that are on offer are a lot more down to earth. A trishaw on display, which has a rather interesting backstory to it, was an affordable means of conveyance for the person-on-the-street, as was its predecessor the rickshaw. It was also popular as a means to move around for tourists, for whom the trishaw was not only cheap, but a novelty!

A Trishaw.

In Places to Stay, the lure of the Raffles — an enduring Singaporean icon and the epitome of luxurious stays in Singapore — seems unescapable even in a museum setting. There are also other luxurious names of the past that will pop up such as the Adelphi (there is a small glass on display that tells yet another interesting story), and the Hotel de L’Europe.

Uniforms on loan from Raffles Hotel.

Eating Out at Singapore’s coffee shops, outdoor eateries and hawker stalls has undoubtedly been one of the must-dos for a visitor. It may not always have been the case given the issues we faced with hygiene in the past but this caught on in the 1950s and 1960s when street fare came to the fore. From a range of tools and kitchen utensils to kopitiam cups, drinking glasses, soft drink bottles and serving trays carrying advertisements of popular brands, to photographs and postcards featuring hawkers, visitors will get that sense of what the experience of eating out may have been like. In addition to this, there is an assortment of restaurant menus that can be viewed through an interactive display. The menus include one from A&W — the first fast food restaurant chain to set up shop in Singapore when it opened its first outlet at MSA (later SIA) Building in 1968.

Kopitiam memories.

Besides shopping at Orchard Road, a tourist draw since C K Tang opened its store in 1958 even if the shopping destinations then were at High Street and Raffles Place, Sights and Shopping also explores areas such the cabaret, night club and more recent clubbing scene. One popular and rather famous (or some say infamous) tourist spot — at least until the early 1980s, Bugis Street, is glaringly missing in the mix.

Recalling the club and cabaret scene.

To complete the exhibition experience, visitors can reflect on the portrayal of Singapore over the years and add personal impressions home at digital kiosks located within the gallery. Limited edition postcards featuring what’s on display from the National Museum’s collection are available with a donation to the museum. These can be sent to any address across the world by dropping them in at the Singapore Post mailbox placed just outside the exhibition gallery. Also, playing an accompanying Now Boarding mobile game will also yield a bonus digital gift. And if you have some energy left, there will also be pop-up rooms — with a disco room opening with the exhibition. In August, there are two other rooms to look out for that will feature transportation and a hotel-themed room.

The pop-up disco themed room.

The exhibition opens on 27 May 2023 and runs until 19 Nov 2023. For more information, including ticketing, please visit

A second exhibition opening on 27 May 2023, Get Curious: All About Food! is aimed at families with kids. More information on this can be found at:


Seeing the light through Deepavali Open House 2022

21 09 2022

There is no better time to head down to Little India than in the lead up to Deepavali or Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. That is when the precinct, now a focal point for the ethnic Indian community, takes on a festive atmosphere with a street light-up that never fails to disappoint and with crowds of shoppers filling much of its ever so busy streets.

A view of the Village of Lime, with the brightly lit façade of the Indian Heritage Centre or IHC, which will be the focal point of the Deepavali Open House from 1 to 23 October 2022. Completed in 2015 the IHC’s façade was inspired by the baoli, or Indian stepwell.

Beyond soaking in the atmosphere on the streets, there is also an opportunity to participate in programmes organised by the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) for its Deepavali Open House, which runs over four weekends from 1 to 23 October 2022. During this time, admission to the IHC will be free for all. The open house this year sees the return of the popular trishaw rides (Little India Trishaw Trail – Deepavali Edition) that will offer participants a unique way to see the lights. There is also a chance this year to take in the lights from a very different perspective: from the upper deck of an open top double-decker bus through the Deepavali Big Bus Tour.

View Little India’s annual Deepavali light-up this year from the back of a Big Bus during the Deepavali Open House.

Other activities to look out for are Mandala Dot Painting Workshop, Deepavali Cooking Demonstration with Chef Devagi and Chef Vasunthara, Interactive Storytelling for Kids, Cultural Craft Activities. More information can be found at Indian Heritage Centre – Deepavali 2022.

Cultural Craft Activities include creating Ramayana shadow puppets …
Shadow Puppet play.
Community Lego Mural

Community Lego Mural
Oil Lamp decorating.
Interactive Storytelling for Kids through which the triumph of good over evil or the story of Deepavali is told.
An extension of the street light-up inside the IHC.

Highlights of i Light 2022

2 06 2022

i Light Singapore is back — after a two-year hiatus. This year’s edition of the popular light art festival sees twenty eye-catching and highly instagrammable light installations scattered around Marina Bay, featuring the creations of artists from fourteen countries. A key focus and message of the festival — as always, is sustainability and this is seen in the use of energy-saving lights and materials that are environmentally-friendly and/or upcycled.

Meet Me Under the Moon at Esplanade Park

Organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and presented by DBS, the festival’s theme this year is Spark of Light, with the colour violet serving as an inspiration. The colour, which has the shortest wavelength, is also the most powerful electromagnetic energy in the visible light spectrum and was chosen to signify the awakening of senses when an idea in is sparked in one’s mind.

Fallen at the Lawn next to One Marina Boulevard

The festival runs from Friday 3 June 2022 up to Sunday 26 June 2022. Besides the twenty installations, there are also exciting festival programmes to look out for, including walking tours and forums. An interesting addition to the festival is Lightwave: Isle of Light (which is ticketed). The installation, which is empowered by OPPO, features five immersive and highly instagrammable zones. More information on this and the festival, including a festival map and information on installations, can be found at the i Light 2022 website.  

Underworld, at Esplanade Park
The crowd favourite: Firefly Field at The Promontory at Marina Bay
Firefly Field, long exposure taken hand-held – one reason to bring a tripod!
One of the zones at Lightwave: Isle of Light
Swans, at OUE Tower
Florescentia, at Clifford Square
Re-Act at Queen Elizabeth Walk waterfront steps
Keep on Moving, at Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade
Alone Together, at the Marina Bay Link Mall Entrance
Collective Memory, at the Breeze Shelter
Here and There, at the Event Square
Plastic Whale, at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza


Army Open House 2017 Highlights

26 05 2017

Update (27 May 2017, 1900 hrs):
Army Open House 2017 has been extended to 29 May 2017 by popular demand

After a break of 5 years, the crowd-pulling Army Open House returns this weekend (27 and 28 May) at the F1 Pit building. Battle rides, dynamic performances and the Soldier Strong challenge are some of the highlights along with the mix of static exhibits, games for the young and matured and also an NS50 Showcase.  More information, including that related to an interactive app and how to collect limited edition collectibles can be found at the Singapore Army Facebook Page.  The Open house will also be travelling to Punggol (2 to 4 June) and Jurong East (9 to 11 June).

Some highlights:

Rides Galore

Ride on a M3G Raft (two M3G Rigs connected to form a self-propelled raft capable of travelling at 13 km/h in water). The M3G, which can also be configured as a floating bridge,, is one of two water rides, the other being the Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo V (LARC V). There are also Land Rides on the Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) Mk II, the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle, BRONCO All Terrain Tracked Carrier and the Peacekeeper Protected Response Vehicle. Covered shoes are required of all those who wish to participate and physical queuing is not longer necessary (just register at the stand and an sms will be sent).

There are kiddie rides too! At the Kids Zone on Level 2 of the F1 Pit building.

Hitting the Wall

Revisit SOC with the Soldier Strong Challenge (like never sweat enough) – if you are game, it is one of the ways to land your hands on limited edition collectibles.

Have a Canteen Break 

Lots of food, surely better than an army camp canteen.

Chill Out at the air-conditioned NS50 Showcase and be reminded of Peng Kang Hill

The NS journey over the years.

Two reminders of the two activities most dreaded by National Servicemen of the past on a “trick-eye” style photo wall: log PT and Peng Kang Hill.

Take an Augmented Reality Photo and find it on

Take a Pledge Photo, which will be shown on a wall and also on

Catch the Dynamic Defence Display (at 10 am and 3 pm)

Come up close to Military Hardware

The Static Display includes hardware such as the Apache Attack Helicopter.

In search of love in the old GPO

14 04 2017

I loved the old GPO. It was a post office like none other in Singapore. Its main hall, which you entered after a climb up a short flight of stairs, was grand and airy. Stretching almost the entire length of the building, the hall was also where the long postal counter was found. That ran along the hall’s length and held the distinction of being the longest in the world.  Like all old buildings, the GPO – now the Fullerton Hotel has its collection of stories, including ones that tell of romantic liaisons.

In search of romance – a civil servant, played by Isabelle Chiam, gets everyone at the Minsitry of Finance involved.

An opportunity to discover the romances of the past, and also the building’s colourful history – in a fun and amusing way – presents itself with “A Fullerton Love Story Tour”.  Led by a resident tour guide, participants are taken on a search for romance – not of their own – but between a love struck postman at the GPO, played by Edward Choy, and his love interest – a civil servant with the Ministry of Finance housed in the same building – played by Isabelle Chiam. Participants also become part of the story as they move through various historic spots that include the Singapore Club, Fullerton Square, the Presidential Suite and the location of the Fullerton Building’s former lighthouse.

The love struck postman, played by Edward Choy.

View from the lighthouse towards what used to be the harbour.

Tours, which will be held from 8pm to 9.30 pm on 29 April, 6 May and 13 May 2017, are available for booking at Priced at $78 nett for adults and $58 nett for children between 6 to 11, the tours will be followed by desserts at The Courtyard crafted by Executive Pastry Chef, Enrico Pezzelato.

The resident tour guide.

Besides the tour, which is being held in conjunction with the Singapore Heritage Festival 2017, the Fullerton Hotel is also bring back the TENG Ensemble for a showcase of brand new Singapore-inspired works. The showcase, “Where the River Always Flows II”, will include songs by P. Ramlee and Zubir Said and two East-West pieces specially commissioned  by the Fullerton Heritage.  Tickets for the concert, which will be held at the East Garden on 29 April 2017 at 7 pm, are available at $3 each at  More information on the concert and the tour can be found at the Fullerton Heritage’s website.

Enchanted Garden – one of five desserts guests on the tour will get to choose from.

All at sea

24 07 2014

The launch on Saturday of Singapore HeritageFest 2014, bring us to focus on one of the key reasons for Singapore’s being, the sea. This year’s festival much of which revolves around a maritime based theme, “Our Islands, Our Home” has us looking at our maritime past as well as our present as a maritime nation.

HeritageFest 2014 opens a window to Singapore's island heritage.

HeritageFest 2014 opens a window to Singapore’s island heritage.

It is to raise the profile of this heritage, one that goes back to times well before the arrival of Raffles, that is in fact what the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) and the National Heritage Board (NHB) hopes to achieve with the establishment of the S$500,000 Maritime Heritage Fund, which the two agencies will administer – for which a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the two agencies at Saturday’s launch.

One of the highlights of this year's HeritageFest is a lighthouse trail that includes a stop on Pulau Satumu, Singapore's southernmost island, on top of which Raffles' Lighthouse is perched.

One of the highlights of this year’s HeritageFest is a lighthouse trail that includes a stop on Pulau Satumu, Singapore’s southernmost island, on top of which Raffles’ Lighthouse is perched.

Once a common scene in the waters off the Southern Islands. Boats such as the kolek on the right, are very much part of our maritime heritage (a similar kolek is on display at the Balik Pulau Exhibition at the National Museum).

Once a common scene in the waters off the Southern Islands. Boats such as the kolek on the right, are very much part of our maritime heritage (a similar kolek is on display at the Balik Pulau Exhibition at the National Museum).

The focus of the fund, which complements the NHB’s S$5 million Heritage Grant Scheme launched last year, will be on developing community-initiated projects related to Singapore’s maritime heritage that will promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s maritime connections, as was touched on by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Community, Culture and Youth, in his speech at the festival’s launch.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Mr Ong Yew Huat, Chairman of NHB launching Singapore HeritageFest 2014.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Mr Ong Yew Huat, Chairman of NHB launching Singapore HeritageFest 2014.

Mr Wong also spoke of the transformation that will soon take place at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), where the launch event was held. Besides a revamp of the museum with expanded galleries that will include a space allocated for the Tang Cargo and see new shops and dining outlets, the museum will be given a new entrance that will open it up to the river and give it a direct connection into the historic heart of Singapore.

Another lighthouse - the very pretty Sultan Shoal Lighthouse at the western extremities of Singapore's waters seen during the lighthouse trail as part of Singapore HeritageFest 2014.

Another lighthouse – the very pretty Sultan Shoal Lighthouse at the western extremities of Singapore’s waters seen during the lighthouse trail as part of Singapore HeritageFest 2014.

The revamp is part of the ongoing effort to develop a civic and cultural belt around Singapore’s colonial civic district (see: The Old Vic’s ticking again) that involves also the newly refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and the conversion of the Old Supreme Court and City Hall into National Gallery – due for completion in 2015.

The Old Vic's definitely back!

The newly refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

A cultural performance at the launch of Singapore HeritageFest2014.

A cultural performance at the launch of Singapore HeritageFest2014.

The launch also coincided with the first evening of a two-night series of programmes taking place around the ACM and the river, River Nights. The event, brought much life and colour to the river, and celebrated its changing identity over the years – in the same way the well received series of activities  for Singapore HeritageFest 2014 celebrates the islands.

A dragon dance performance at the start of River Nights at the ACM's front lawn.

A dragon dance performance at the start of River Nights at the ACM’s front lawn.

More information on the Maritime Heritage Fund, Singapore HeritageFest 2014, River Nights and on Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore’s Islands (an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore held in conjunction with HeritageFest 2014) can be found in the following links:

Motoring Heritage Day at Tanjong Pagar

5 09 2013

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



A magical final weekend at the Singapore Night Festival

30 08 2013

To look out for on this, the second weekend of this year’s edition of the Singapore Night Festival, has to be two death-defying mega stunts that will be attempted by “the sexiest woman in magic” – Singapore magician, Magic Babe Ning. The stunts which will take place in front of the National Museum of Singapore will see Ning attempt two Houdini-like escapes – one submerged in water and the second, one that involves escaping from a strait-jacket whilst suspended in mid-air by a burning rope together with the other half of a pairing The Straits Times had referred to as “Asia’s most famous illusionists” J C Sum.

In the spotlight during the second weekend will be "the sexiest woman in magic" Magic Babe Ning, seen here contemplating her acts at the National Museum of Singapore.

In the spotlight during the second weekend will be “the sexiest woman in magic” Magic Babe Ning, seen here contemplating her acts at the National Museum of Singapore.

The first stunt The Water Vault, which will take place on Friday (today), 30 August 2013, at 10 pm in front of the National Museum of Singapore. For this, shackled at the neck, wrists and wasit, Ning will be submerged in a locked and chained steel vault which will be filled to the brim with water – and all she has is two minutes with which she can hold her breath, to escape from all that!

J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning with the locked and chained steel vault filled with water which she will attempted to escape from whilst shackled at the neck, wrists and waist.

J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning with the locked and chained steel vault filled with water which she will attempted to escape from whilst shackled at the neck, wrists and waist.

The second stunt, is definitely one that is going to be a lot more spectacular – and visible! Also taking place in front of the National Museum of Singapore, this time at 10 pm on Saturday 31 August 2013, the stunt, Ultimate Inversion, will be a huge first and one for the record books – if successful, it will the first time a tandem upside down strait jacket escape will be done! The stunt will see both, trying to escape from regulation strait-jackets, suspended by ankle boots from a bar attached to a single burning rope over the museum’s dome … a stunt which does carry huge risks – there are many factors which can impede the escape – including the hot and humid conditions which does make the strait-jacket stick to skins a lot more! Plus, there will not be any safety nets! The stunt will also be witnessed by the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Singapore Book of Records. Speaking to Magic Babe Ning  last evening – I realised that how risky the manoeuvre would be – seeing that the only preparations the pair were able to do is to practice escaping from a strait-jacket upside down!

5 Streams.

5 Streams.

Besides the magic of the two stunts – there were two other magical installations that I got a sneak peek of last evening. One is 5 Streams – which will see three different dance sequences by Ibrahim Quraishi of BamBam Projects – all to a haunting and as the festival guide describes, hypnotic mix of video streaming, live percussion and base guitars.

The people behind 5 Streams.

The people behind 5 Streams.

The other installation I did get to see is what should be a delightful animated projection onto the façade of the National Museum of Singapore by local company OICsingapore – accompanied by original music. The projection, MoonGrazing is described as a surrealistic abstract animation that playfully explores the moon and its stories through the eyes of the illustrators from OICsingapore.

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The Water Vault (Magic Babe Ning)

Friday 30 Aug 2013

10 pm

National Museum of Singapore façade

Asia’s female Houdini and “the sexiest woman in magic” (Magicseen Magazine), ‘Magic Babe’ Ning will attempt a spectacular underwater escape from The Water Vault. Shackled with chains and locks around her wrists, waist and neck, Ning will be completely submerged in a steel vault filled to the brim with water that is, in turn, locked and chained tightly on the outside. Ning will have less than two minutes to free herself from The Water Vault before she runs out of breath.

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Ultimate Inversion (J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning)

Saturday 31 Aug 2013

10 pm

National Museum of Singapore façade

Witness history being made as “Asia’s most famous illusionists” (The Straits Times), J C Sum & ‘Magic Babe’ Ning, attempt the world’s first ever tandem upside down strait jacket escape! They will both be strapped up in two regulation strait jackets each and suspended upside down by their ankles, one person below the other, high up in the air from a single burning rope. If the rope burns through or if they make one small mistake, they will plummet to the ground 50ft below.

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5 Streams (Ibrahim Quraishi / BamBam Projects)

Friday 30 and Saturday 31 Aug 2013

8.45 pm, 9.45 pm & 10.45pm

MAIN Ground

Explosive sounds, vocals, intense dance sequences, video streaming, live percussion and base guitars are combined to create a hypnotic performance where dancers appear as installation: space transforms into living architectural symbols, video projection immersed in nature and the abstraction of geometry. Sound trembles through the body before it’s heard and the audience is invited to wander and meditate in an interactive installation of a synthetic forest with each its own interactive sonic mix: this cross media performance / installation includes an extraordinary international team of artists (Ibrahim Quraishi, Norsq, Marc Perroud aka Tzed, Gabriel Smeets, Katrin Blantar, Walid Breidi, Jule Flierl, Martin B. Hansen, Olivier Hüe, Nicolas Lelièvre, Ligia Manuela Lewis, Naseem Abbas Malik, Ewan A.S and Aziz Bekkaoui. Nico Van Der Vegte and Kieu Voung)

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Moongrazing (OICSingapore)

Friday 30 Aug 2013 and Saturday 31 Aug 2013

7 pm to 2 am (OIC live music & drawing: 7.30 pm, 8 pm, 11 pm & 11.30 pm)

National Museum of Singapore façade

Set to an original piece of music- MoonGrazing is a surrealistic abstract animation that playfully explores the moon and its stories through the eyes of the illustrators from OICsingapore. Throughout the two nights, the façade of the National Museum of Singapore will be transformed into a canvas for local artists to showcase their playful creativity. To add to the spontaneity of the moment, for twice each night, illustrators and indie musicians will jam together live. Each performance is unique as lines of music and drawing meet and improvisations happen on the most random note.

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The Singapore Night Festival final weekend is on 30 and 31 August 2013. More information can be obtained at the following links:

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

8 08 2013

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

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

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essentially Eames

29 07 2013

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

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

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

The Eameses are well known for their furniture design.

The Eameses are well known for their furniture design.

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

Moulded plywood splints.

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

The iconic moulded plywood Lounge Chair Wood.

The iconic moulded plywood Lounge Chair Wood.

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

The mo

The moulded plywood glider seat.

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

The Eames Wire Chair.

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

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

The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa.

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

The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8.

The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8.

A peek into the Eames House.

A peek into the Eames House.

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

House of Cards.

House of Cards.

An interactive activity for the young.

An interactive activity for the young.

More from the Eames collection.

More from the Eames collection.

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

The Moebius Band.

The Moebius Band.

The Eames design philosophy.

The Eames design philosophy.

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

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

Fabrics designed by the Eames.

Fabrics designed by the Eameses.

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

Photographs by Charles Eames.

Photographs by Charles Eames.

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

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

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

An invasion of pumpkins

3 10 2012

Step into the Flower Dome, one of the two cooled conservatories at the Gardens by the Bay, this October and November and what will greet you is the surprise of the orange glow of 1,500 pumpkins, on show as part of the Autumn Harvest seasonal display at the Flower Field. The 850 square metre Flower Field, the centrepiece of the Flower Dome, has as part of the Autumn Harvest display, been decorated with some 18,000 blooms – Sunflowers, Marigolds, Lavenders, Heucheras, Calla Lilies, Tomatoes, Kales and Chrysanthemums, which mixed with scarecrows, wheelbarrows, hay, hay rabbits, a cornucopia, and different coloured ears of corn, gives that sense of the time of harvest that is associated with the warm glow of autumn.

Some 1,500 pumpkins will colour the Flower Field orange.

The Flower Field will be decorated with scarecrows and wooden wheelbarrows to give a sense of the harvest season in the warm glow of autumn.

They are sunflowers ….

and some 18,000 blooms as part of the Autumn Harvest display on the Flower Field.

The pumpkins, a fruit which ripens in the autumn, are at the heart of the display. A total of 10 varieties including green marbled and white miniature pumpkins with a combined weight of 1 tonne have been flown in from Oregon, USA, specially for the display. Amongst the 1500 pumpkins and exotically shaped gourds, there is one that will certainly catch the eye – a giant pumpkin, the diameter of which I have been told is about 1 metre!

The giant pumpkin.

A rabbit made of hay.

Autumn Harvest will be on display from now up until the end of November and is part of the changing display on the Flower Field that reflects different seasons and festivals through the year. More information on the Gardens by the Bay, opening times and admission charges to the conservatories can be found at the website.

Varieties of corn and a cornucopia – the horn of plenty also decorate the Flower Field.

Autumn Harvest provides a wonderful backdrop for photos.

Other recent views around the Gardens by the Bay

The 30 metre high waterfall off the Cloud Mountain in the second cooled conservatory – the Cloud Forest.

The Supertree Grove at sunset.

The OCBC Skywalk at the Supertree Grove.