April 27, 2017

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by Najeer Yusof

WHEN Ms Dawn Sim, 30, needed a babysitter to watch her son while she was away, all she had to do was put up a post on the Chip Bee Gardens’ Facebook group.

“There was this 14-year-old Canadian girl, living two streets down, who responded and she has been helping me out for a month already,” she said. The resident of six months added: “Just the other day someone was requesting for a ladder on the page. This is a really wonderful initiative that brings the residents in my community closer.”

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Unlike the Chip Bee Gardens of the past, which was formerly a British military estate, the community today comprises a mix of locals and foreigners. This change in the demographics of Chip Bee Gardens is one of the issues that the seventh edition of OH! Open House’s annual art walk will highlight. Chip Bee Gardens is an estate comprising single and double-storey colonial houses in Holland Village.

This year’s art walk explores the historical significance of Holland Village and it is done through three 45-minute tours. The Chip Bee tour will feature art installations in residents’ houses. The tour will draw attention to the social and lifestyle changes in the community due to evolving demographics, and architectural remnants from the British era.

Encompassing the theme of “Borders”, the tour will feature artwork such as Creep in Three Movements by artist Yen Phang. Mr Phang, 38, used inked and stained toilet paper which he layered and bundled across a resident’s living room. His installation, placed among the objects of the house, seeks to portray “artwork as a pest”. This is to address the relation to existing developments and incoming changes to Chip Bee Gardens.

 

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Mr Yen Phang, 38, with his installation, Creep in Three Movements. He inked and stained toilet paper before layering and bundling them. His installation can be seen in the resident’s living room, as part of the Chip Bee tour.

 

OH! is organising two other tours: The HDB tour and the Hakka Cemetery tour. The HDB tour, which is themed “Goods”, will showcase artworks that appreciate the value of everyday objects defining one’s identity.

 

Mr Joel Chin, 31, with his installation, Echo, which is a display of porcelain items. Using a power tool with a sanding bit, he removed all motifs on the porcelain items to reflect a loss of identity. Within these items, he placed a speaker that plays a recording of his attempts at learning the Hakka language. His work can be seen in the HDB flat, which is part of the HDB tour.
Mr Joel Chin, 31, with his installation, Echo, which is a display of porcelain items. Using a power tool with a sanding bit, he removed all motifs on the porcelain items to reflect a loss of identity. Within these items, he placed a speaker that plays a recording of his attempts at learning the Hakka language. His work can be seen in the HDB flat, which is part of the HDB tour.

 

“Rituals” is the theme of the Hakka Cemetery tour, which seeks to highlight the concepts of repetition, order, loss and remembrance. This tour is self-guided.

 

Don't Ask Me Where I Come From, a sculptural installation by Mr Ivan David Ng, 26. His work, made from rock, stone and clay, reflects his Hakka heritage. His work can be seen within the field in the Shuang Long Shan Hakka cemetery.
Don’t Ask Me Where I Come From, a sculptural installation by Mr Ivan David Ng, 26. His work, made from rock, stone and clay, reflects his Hakka heritage. His work can be seen within the field in the Shuang Long Shan Hakka cemetery.

 

OH! Open House Art Walk is an art exhibition that ventures outside of museums into the heartlands, showcasing the heritage of these neighbourhoods through art. The past eight years have seen them set up in Marine Parade (2011), Tiong Bahru (2012), Marina Bay (2013), Joo Chiat (2015) and Potong Pasir (2016). This year’s art walk will run on Saturdays and Sundays, and will take place from Mar 4 to Mar 19. Ticket are priced at $25.

 

Featured image by Najeer Yusof.

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by Elias Wee

DON’T play with your food – that’s what some parents might say to their naughty kids at the dinner table.

But for some adults, getting creative with food is paying off. When treated with a little care, and a dash of creativity, food can become an avenue for artistic expression. Sometimes, the hardest part can be just eating these edible creations.

Here are four women, who have turned their penchant for food “play” into something more – an income stream, successful blogs and best-selling cookbooks:

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Ms Shirley Wong
(Little Miss Bento)

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Pikachu Bento. Image from Little Miss Bento blog.

She calls herself a bento artist – the Japanese-style boxed lunch or bento as it is commonly known has infinite variations of rice, vegetables, eggs and meat.  For Ms Wong, 34, creating bentos and playing with food has become her art form. A quick look at her most recent blog entries, filed under “Kawaii Bento” (Kawaii means cute, in Japanese), makes this clear. Pokemon, Star Wars, Snoopy, and Hello Kitty bentos – Ms Wong has taken the traditional bento to the next level. According to her, bentos combine her love for cute things with the delicate flavours of Japanese cuisine.

Ms Wong makes these bentos for herself and her family, and “occasionally accedes to a friend’s request” for a bento. Her love for Japanese culture began when she was a student watching Japanese drama series, and later manga and animation.

Making bentos, according to Ms Wong, was difficult at first.  After innumerable hours of practising and many kitchen disasters, it now takes her an average of one hour to complete a piece. Ms Wong, who began making bentos in 2011, started her blog in 2012 primarily as a way to document her creations. Her dedication to the craft saw her doing much online research, reading bento cook books, and making regular trips to Japan to learn about sushi art. 

She has clearly overcome newbie issues and bento-making has become more than just a hobby for her – her popular Facebook page has over 37,000 likes and her Instagram account has over to 230,000 followers. She has also authored two cookbooks – on how to make your own bento, of course. 

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Ms Carlyn Law
(Eat To Draw)

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Kiki and Kendra gently rowing down the stream. Image from Eat To Draw Facebook page.

Look, it’s a whale! No, it’s really a sweet potato!

What about that one? A banana or a rocket ship blasting off?

Stay-at-home mum Carlyn Law, 40, cleverly reinterprets the seemingly simple ingredients she uses in everyday cooking into quirky drawings. She posts these works on the Eat To Draw Facebook page and Instagram account, where each of them is accompanied by a short narrative. Often times, she creates characters too – like Orlando the owl or Ollie the otter.

Drawing and painting – even for just five to 15 minutes in the midst of preparing meals for her 13-month-old – lets her imagination run wild, said Ms Law, who is a former food writer and public relations director. And she has now parlayed her hobby into classes that start from S$38 per session. She held her first Eat To Draw class during the June school holidays, and hopes to organise monthly classes in the future.

Her goal? Encourage “creative thinking and imagination through food and art”. She also thinks it’s a great way to introduce food to children “and have a chuckle”.

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Ms Susanne Ng
Loving Creations 4 U (chiffon cake)

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Rainbow Castle Chiffon Cake. Image from Loving Creations 4 U blog.

Ms Susanne Ng, 33, started baking chiffon cakes two and a half years ago for her family when she realised they contained less sugar than a regular butter cake. She immediately “fell in love” with the chiffon cake, she said.

The former biomedical engineering researcher then started “conducting experiments” and creating novel chiffon cakes that were then relatively new to the market. This all started when she noticed that cakes sold in shops were often too sweet, too heavy and usually covered in fondant or cream, while chiffon cakes were very plain looking and unexciting. This motivated her to get creative with chiffon, allowing her imagination to run wild and creating exciting patterns and shapes while ensuring the cake remains soft, fluffy and not sickeningly sweet.

Well, the chiffon cake is clearly a passion – one that she now earns an income from. A one-tier chiffon cake sells upwards of S$100 while a two-tier one sells upwards of S$200. Not only does she sell the cakes to family and friends, she has authored a best-selling book – it was a ST bestseller the week it was released in January this year, and the first print sold out within three months – on how to bake her cakes. Her second book on decorating these cakes will come out in October.

Ms Ng is best known for her rainbow chiffon cake, but her other chiffon cake creations have taken the form of a koala bear,  a two-tier snowman with reindeer, and an Elsa doll. She documents much of her efforts in a blog called Loving Creations 4 U, which she runs with her friend, Ms Tan Phay Shing.

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Ms Tan Phay Shing
Loving Creations 4 U (macarons)

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Unicorn Macaron Carousel. Image from Loving Creations 4 U blog.

Sharing the same blog, Ms Ng is the “chiffon cake lady” while Ms Tan Phay Shing, 36, is the macaron specialist. Also from a research background, Ms Tan transforms the usual round macaron – a sweet French meringue-based confection – into myriad interesting forms, including giraffes, hedgehogs, unicorns, pirates, bunnies, bears, and many more.

Ms Tan got into baking after being influenced by a food group she saw on social media, though she remained cautious about making cakes due to the sweetness. However, when she saw Ms Ng’s chiffon cakes, she was inspired and decided to try her hand at them. Since then, she has explored many creative avenues in baking but, creative macarons is the key area of her innovative work.

Her attention to the sweetness of her creations means that all her recipes have as low a sugar content as possible and she has even developed reduced-sugar options for the macaron shells. She does this by substituting some of the icing sugar with rice flour and reducing the amount of meringue used. Ms Tan also tries to use natural colouring wherever possible and the best ingredients she can get her hands on.

Like Ms Ng, her hobby has become a professional endeavour – she published a macaron baking book in March this year and also bakes to sell. Loose customised macarons are priced between S$4 and S$5 each, larger macarons for cake toppers are between S$7 and S$8 each, and her macaron carousels are between S$65 and S$70.

 

Additional reporting by Kathleen Bei.

Featured image by Little Miss Bento on Facebook. 

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THIS weekend, we take a look at some science behind art and design:

Wouldn’t these make our lives easier?

Here are some life hacks you wouldn’t want to miss…

 

Art in a new dimension 

 

Presented to you by DRAWING PENCIL, enjoy these art pieces from a different angle. It is termed as anamorphic art, where a flat image can be transformed into a three-dimensional one using a cylindrical mirror.

 

Lost city unraveled? 

Nope, it is a natural phenomenon that happened approximately five million years ago. Watch to find out how it was actually formed.

 

Adorable and edible

Kids would love these, wouldn’t they?

 

Featured image from DRAWING PENCIL Facebook page by Jonty Hurwitz.

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A heart-shaped miniature sculpture, created by self-taught artist Jasenko Djordjevic on a graphite pencil, is seen in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX2BPZV

REUTERS

Self-taught artist Jasenko Djordjevic from Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not draw with pencils. Instead, he sculpts them into tiny pieces of art. Djordjevic started sculpting on pencil lead in 2010 and has since made more than 150 pencil sculptures. He has tried to apply for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records but the organisation has replied negatively, saying there is no category for his work.

Jasenko Djordjevic, a self-taught artist, works on his miniature sculpture on a graphite pencil in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX2BPV5
Jasenko Djordjevic works on his miniature sculpture on a graphite pencil in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. Photo by: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic.

 

Jasenko Djordjevic, a self-taught artist, shows his miniature sculptures on graphite pencils in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX2BPX9
Artist Jasenko Djordjevic shows his miniature sculptures on graphite pencils. Photo by: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

Jasenko Djordjevic, a self-taught artist, shows his miniature sculpture on a graphite pencil in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2BPTG
A miniature sculpture of the Big Ben clock tower on a graphite pencil. Photo by: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

A miniature sculpture in the shape of a bottle, created by self-taught artist Jasenko Djordjevic on a graphite pencil, is seen in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX2BPZW
A miniature sculpture in the shape of a bottle, created by self-taught artist Jasenko Djordjevic. Photo by: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

A miniature sculpture in the shape of a home, created by self-taught artist Jasenko Djordjevic on a graphite pencil, is seen in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2BPV9
A miniature sculpture in the shape of a home, created by Jasenko Djordjevic on a graphite pencil. Photo by: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

Jasenko Djordjevic, a self-taught artist, works on his miniature sculpture on a graphite pencil in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX2BPWW
Jasenko Djordjevic, a self-taught artist, works on his miniature sculpture in his studio in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina April 26, 2016. Photo by: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

Featured Image and Video by Reuters.

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By Felix Cheong

THE man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

So proclaims American writer Mark Twain. But what did he know? He was a dead white male who lived in a time when the Web was what spiders made and being gay meant you were happy. There was nothing else to do when you had time to kill, save dive into books cover to cover, or dive under the covers with your spouse.

Fast forward 100 years and reading is now a sunset hobby, very much like beyblade and planking. That’s according to the National Arts Council (NAC). Its first National Literary Reading and Writing Survey last year found that only 44 per cent of the 1,015 Singaporeans and PRs surveyed said they read at least one literary book a year. (“Literary” here refers to fiction, poetry, drama, graphic novels, creative non-fiction and probably all our articles on The Middle Ground).

The survey, conducted with the best of intentions and via street interviews, also dredged up what I’ve already known all along – only 11 per cent read books by Singaporean writers. And by Singapore writers, they’re talking about ghost writer Russell Lee and teen romance hack Low Kay Hwa.

Unsurprisingly, this squares with my experience; only two members of my immediate family have read any of my 10 books. Not even my wife has read them all, even when I offered to record my own reading and turned them into audio books she could listen to on the bus. No go.

The NAC’s survey seems to fly in the face of other happy-go-lucky stats. For instance, last year, Singapore boasted one of the highest literacy rates in the world (among residents 15 years and above), at 96.8 per cent. This was higher than the global average of 86.3 per cent. This means, to paraphrase Twain, that Singaporeans can read but choose not to. Well, at least not literary stuff anyway.

And why should you? After all, you can save time by watching the film or TV adaptation. For instance, the BBC has compressed Tolstoy’s hernia-inducing tome, War and Peace, into a high-class, stiff-upper-lip TV series, complete with an eye-candy cast in Lily James and Jessie Buckley. Here is Tolstoy’s epic story as he had never meant it to be, a Cliff’s Notes in splendid sound and colourful vision, corsets and all.

Moreover, we have to live up to our reputation as a pragmatic people who give no quarter and ask for $10 in change. Why read anything literary when, as English poet W.H. Auden says, “poetry makes nothing happen”? Mr Lee Kuan Yew must have taken this to heart, for he once declared that “poetry [and by extension, anything literary] is a luxury we cannot afford”.

This explains the anomaly that while Singapore students are driven to drop literature in droves, we still claim the Angus Ross Prize (awarded to the best performing non-British candidate in the ‘A’ Level English Literature exam) year after year. In fact, Singapore has monopolised the prize since its inception in 1987 (with the exception of 2000). It was awarded last year to Hwa Chong Institution student Raymond Scott Lee.

This is because prizes make people sit up and take notice. Rankings bring in investors and expats who believe we’re a cultured society (until they see our Third World manners upclose at the food court), that we’re closer to an island paradise than the Singapore Tourism Board brochures depict. That’s the pragmatic trade-off. It’s a gambit to say we’ve arrived as a First World nation, a way to assert our insecurity.

As a writer, I am, of course, resigned to this state of affairs. It hasn’t changed since I published my first book in 1998. And it won’t be changing anytime soon. Just don’t read too much into it. Literally.

 

Featured image by Natassya Diana.

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by Ryan Ong

THE appropriate amount of ang bao money is debated every year. Despite several centuries of practice, we have yet to develop a proper, codified system of determining who’s a beloved relative, and who’s a total cheap ass. I have made many requests for the creation of a proper ang bao index, to which SGX has told me to please stop writing, and definitely don’t drop by their office with my Power Point presentation. So instead, I will explain the correct system once and for all here:

by Kong Chong Yew

PRESENTED by Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore: Inside Out is a showcase of Singapore’s contemporary creative talents that seeks to inspire new perspectives and challenge existing impressions of our country. The show draws to a close this Sunday, December 6, after a tour of major creative cities: Beijing (April 22 – 26), London (June 24 – 28) and New York City (September 23-27).

Catch it before it’s gone!

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HOW TO GET THERE: The showcase is located at Tan Quee Lan Street, directly opposite Bugis Junction mall. If you are taking public transport, take the D exit from Bugit Station on the Downtown line. Alternatively, a free shuttle service provides stops along the showcase, National Gallery and Singapore Visitors Centre. In case you missed it, check out our coverage of National Gallery here.
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MIRRORED TRUTH: The first work one encounters is a Half-Hearted Bridge by Vertical Submarine. Look closely as the installation plays on the one’s perception, as well as the translation of the Chinese words to Hokkien.
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PLAY: Right beside The Cube is a collection of 3 works. The sound sculpture by artist Zul Mahmod sets the tone of the space, playing off the text curated by writer Alvin Pang. Singapore-based gallery shop Supermama completes the experience with its artefacts.
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RED DOTS: Partnering with National Archives of Singapore, Supermama brings together 50 Singaporean creatives and their interpretation of cultural and historical accounts, transcribing them into objects. The work is aptly named Little Red Dot.
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BURNING MAN: Titled Inside/Outside, performance artist Jason Lim creates his installation over a span of four cities over 25 days. He prefers not to reveal the meaning of the work, leaving its interpretation to the audience as they experience the piece. Jason will be on site from 1.30pm to 6.30pm.
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QUICK DEPOSIT: Bank of Kinetic is a showcase of works from 50 Singaporean creative studios and practitioners. As the name suggests, it is curated by creative agency Kinetic. The Bank is a recognition of the value of the works and the hope of its ability to inspire.
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TOUR GROUP: Part play, part tour of the showcase, The Actors’ Tour features actors assuming the role of the artist. Here, actress Jo Tan performs in front of an audience as she takes on the persona of fashion designer Elyn Wong. Catch the tour at 3.30pm and 5.30pm on today, and at 1.30pm and 3.30pm on Sunday.
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IT’S ALIVE: With architect Chang Yong Ter, fashion designer Elyn Wong, choreographer Lee Mun Wai and record label Syndicate, The Collaboration seeks to create a sensory and moving experience for the viewer. You are welcome to sit on the log.
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SOUNDSCAPES: Music Rooms by Ujikaji Records maps the sound of Singapore with an exploration of the a range of music genres. Sit back and relax while you sample twenty songs of local creations.
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MARK MAKING: As a part of The Actors’ Tour, actor Kay Kay Nizam speaks about the feelings of artist Farizwan Fajari being a misfit. Better known as Speak Cryptic, he continues his work with headphones on as the crowd watches. The public is encouraged to leave their mark in the space alongside the artist. Farizwan will be on site from 1pm to 7pm on both days.

 

Featured image by Kong Chong Yew. 

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by Clarabelle Gerard

WE’VE seen a growth of interest in Singapore art the past few years and if you’re wondering why, perhaps the name of an art exhibition on Nov 29 featuring Singapore art at Christie’s in Hong Kong might give you the answer: Convergences.

More people are interested in how Singapore reflects the convergences of interests from different races and cultures carried to the country by immigrants from Asia and around the world. Artwork by Singapore artists visually narrate the history of our country over time – especially when it is hard to recall a past altered by modern developments that have swept our city with great speed. Singapore art seems to be a way through which artists or art collectors can hold on to the past or embrace the present by finding a peaceful resolution through an appreciation and understanding of the past.

In an auction preview before the exhibition, “Convergences: A Special Sale of Singapore Art”, Wang Zineng, Head of Sale for Southeast Asian Art, mentioned how the volume of Singapore art work and the corresponding transaction numbers have increased significantly in the past five years. People are more becoming more aware that before Singapore’s global establishment as an economically developed nation-state, it did hold a rich cultural history dating back into the late 19th century.

Appreciation for Singapore art was reciprocated through monetary means when an oil painting named Balinese Dance by Singapore artist Cheong Soo Pieng fetched a record price of HK$7.72 million (S$1.408 million) at Christie’s notable auction of Singapore art. Here are other Singapore art works that also beat records in the art exhibition.

1. Balinese Dance by Cheong Soo Pieng

CHEONG SOO PIENG (SINGAPOREAN, 1917-1983), BALINESE DANCE
CHEONG SOO PIENG (SINGAPOREAN, 1917-1983), BALINESE DANCE

Price fetched: HK$7,720,000 / US$1,000,753

Previous record by Artist: HK$5,920,000 / US$763,053  for Making Up bought on Nov 22, 2014

Cheong Soo Pieng (1917-1983) was one of Singapore’s pioneer modern artists, and a key proponent of the Nanyang style of art. He is known for his paintings of Malay women depicted with elongated limbs.

2. Nanyang Landscape by Chen Chong Swee

CHEN CHONG SWEE (SINGAPOREAN, 1910-1986), NANYANG LANDSCAPE
CHEN CHONG SWEE (SINGAPOREAN, 1910-1986), NANYANG LANDSCAPE

Price fetched: HK$212,500 / US$27,547

Previous record by Artist: HK$118,750 HKD / US$15,312 for Nanyang ladies bought on Oct 6, 2014

Chen Chong Swee (1910-1985) was also one of Singapore’s pioneering first-generation artists, and an art educator, writer and painter. He was the first to depict Singapore subject matter in traditional Chinese ink.

3. Boats in the Singapore river by Lim Cheng Hoe

LIM CHENG HOE (SINGAPOREAN, 1912-1979), BOATS IN THE SINGAPORE RIVER
LIM CHENG HOE (SINGAPOREAN, 1912-1979), BOATS IN THE SINGAPORE RIVER

Price fetched: HK$200,000 / US$25,926

Previous record by Artist: HK$150,000 / US$19,338 for Still life with rambutan bought on April 6, 2014

Lim Cheng Hoe (1912-1979) was Singapore’s first generation watercolour artist and a a founding member of the Singapore Watercolour Society in 1969. Unlike some of his contemporaries who were educated in Chinese art and aesthetics, Lim was Western educated and essentially a self-taught artist.

4. At the Market by Tay Bak Koi

TAY BAK KOI (SINGAPOREAN, 1939-2005), AT THE MARKET
TAY BAK KOI (SINGAPOREAN, 1939-2005), AT THE MARKET

Price fetched: HK$525,000 / US$68,056

Previous record by Artist: HK$475,000 / US$61,262 for Tending to Buffaloes In The Rain bought on May 25, 2014

Tay Bak Koi (1939-2005) was was an artist acclaimed for his portrayals of fishing villages, kampung scenes and urban landscapes. His style tended toward a blend of realism and fantasy, and he was known for his recurring stylised imagery of the buffalo.

5. Beauty even Gods find Ravishing by Teng Nee Cheong

TENG NEE CHEONG (SINGAPOREAN, 1951-2013), BEAUTY EVEN GODS FIND RAVISHING
TENG NEE CHEONG (SINGAPOREAN, 1951-2013), BEAUTY EVEN GODS FIND
RAVISHING

Price fetched: HK$400,000 / US$51,852

Previous record by Artist: HK$275,000 / US$35,467 for Scarlet Glory upon Midnight Blooms bought on May 25, 2014

Born in 1951 and based in Singapore, Artist Teng Nee Cheong’s art is well known for its bold colours and composition. His work usually features the combinations of a few motifs, especially flowers, textile patterns, and unique positions of figures.

6. By the River by Chia Yu Chian

CHIA YU CHIAN (MALAYSIAN, 1936-1991), BY THE RIVER
CHIA YU CHIAN (MALAYSIAN, 1936-1991), BY THE RIVER

Price fetched: HK$687,500 / US$89,121

Previous record by Artist: HK$200,000 / US$25,794 for Penang bought on May 31, 2015

Chia Yu Chian (1936-1990) was the first artist from the Straits Settlements to gain a French government scholarship to study art in Paris at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts de Paris. Still life painting was one of his fortes and his works usually depicted figures in various shapes and forms based on his daily observations and acute sensitivities having spent a few months on and off in the hospital.

7. Nature’s Melody; Everlasting Bliss; Flora and Fauna; Peace and Harmony by Lee Hock Moh

LEE HOCK MOH (SINGAPOREAN, B. 1947), NATURE’S MELODY; EVERLASTING BLISS; FLORA AND FAUNA; PEACE AND HARMONY
LEE HOCK MOH (SINGAPOREAN, B. 1947), NATURE’S MELODY; EVERLASTING
BLISS; FLORA AND FAUNA; PEACE AND HARMONY

Price fetched: HK$350,000 / US$45,371

Previous record by Artist: HK$237,500 / US$30,591 for Wings of Happiness bought on May 26, 2013

Lee Hock Moh is a Singaporean artist born in 1947 whose detailed and vibrant orchid paintings have won him recognition both locally and internationally. Trained in traditional Chinese ink and Western oil painting, he has developed his own distinct style of representing nature by combining Western art techniques with traditional Chinese ink painting.

8. Pandas by Tan Swee Hian

TAN SWIE HIAN (SINGAPOREAN, B. 1943), PANDAS
TAN SWIE HIAN (SINGAPOREAN, B. 1943), PANDAS

Price fetched: HK$1,540,000 / US$199,632

Previous record by Artist: Calligraphy (Bought in on March 29, 1997)

Tan Swee Hian, born in 1943, is an artist who has received multiple awards both locally and internationally in the fields of literature, visual arts and the performing arts. In 2006, the Singapore Post released a set of 11 stamps based on Tan’s artworks.

9. Archipelago 1, 2 & 3 by Chua Ek Kay

CHUA EK KAY (SINGAPOREAN, 1947-2009), ARCHIPELAGO 1, 2, & 3
CHUA EK KAY (SINGAPOREAN, 1947-2009), ARCHIPELAGO 1, 2, & 3

Price fetched: HK$875,000 / US$113,427

Previous record by Artist: HK$400,000 / US$51,589 for The Season of Seagulls bought on May 31, 2015

Chua Ek Kay (1947-2008) is the first Chinese ink painter to win the United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Award in 1991 and is revered especially for being the bridge between Asian and Western art. His paintings are mostly a blend of traditional Chinese art forms and Western theories and techniques.

10. Light the Caretaker by Ruben Pang

RUBEN PANG (SINGAPOREAN, B. 1990), LIGHT THE CARETAKER
RUBEN PANG (SINGAPOREAN, B. 1990), LIGHT THE CARETAKER

Price fetched: HK$187,500 / US$24,306

Previous record by Artist: SG$10,620 / US$8,606 for an untitled piece bought on May 5, 2013

Ruben Pang is an artist from Singapore who graduated from graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts in 2010 and is renowned for his vibrant and kaleidoscopic art. Without a preconceived image of the final composition, Pang’s artistic style allows him to project elements of his psyche as the painting process evolves through his painting, scratching and erasing by the use of brushes, hands, palette knives and sandpaper.

 

Featured image TPhotography Gallery by Flickr user SchristiaCC BY-SA 2.0.

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Renn and Aira standing beside their art exhibition. Image sourced from Facebook user: holycrap.sg

by Bertha Henson 

SO A couple of siblings had to remove their art pieces from a cafe Gallery & Co. at the newly-opened National Gallery of Singapore (NGS). Their parents cried foul, the mother went on social media and posted the incident on Facebook as “URGENT INFORMATION” in caps. There was even a video of their children crying and about how one of them made the artwork while going through the all-important Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) year. It appears that that latter sentence has since been deleted.

What to make of this kerfuffle by Holycrap, a family collective of four comprising Claire, Renn, Aira and Pann Lim (hence, crap) who wanted to exhibit When Renndom Met Airany: A Visual Duologue by Renn and Aira Lim? There were supposed to be a total of 19 artworks about the siblings growing up together and inspiring each other. In the days leading to the opening on Nov 24, a series of (mis)communications between Holycrap and Gallery & Co. (and the National Gallery somewhere in the background) led to a re-configuration, fewer pieces and more books on display and finally, the word came that the number of pieces should be cut down to three. That was when the family decided to walk out entirely.

The MSM has picked up the story, and it is making the rounds on social media. It is a human interest story (crying children!), it has some art politics (what kind of expression is permitted?), bureaucratic structures (rules are rules!) and some wonderful quotes by the aggrieved mother trying to explain to her children why their work had to be taken down.

So of course, there will be plenty of viewpoints. Like whether children – Renn is 11 and Aira is eight – should be treated this way, the sort of space devoted to the arts in Singapore, and whether the National Gallery was being too autocratic about the use of space.

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The family has come under some scrutiny as well, for letting it all hang out on social media with phrases like “shocking and disrespectful handling” and “incredulous sadness and extreme disbelief”. They have been mocked for belonging to a select elite who can afford such luxuries as teaching the children life skills through art. To be sure, the language was emotive and meant to tug on heartstrings. Gallery & Co. has apologised profusely describing its mis-communication as a “fatal” mistake. It’s taking on all the blame. But as in cases when big organisations are involved, you sense that the National Gallery was to blame.

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But seriously, take out the crying children and the extreme words and what really is the issue? It’s about a couple of artists who had to take down their work because of a miscommunication over rules.

To recap: an exhibition of 19 works was “commissioned”, the individual artworks approved, but the method of exhibiting (hanging on walls) not approved. The rules state that gallery staff strictly approves all “exhibitions”, however this particular one was not, because no one thought of it to be an exhibition till it was installed for whatever reason. The “exhibition” would therefore need to be made to look less like an exhibition and the number of artworks cut down. This process eventually became too much of an infringement of creativity for the parents and, combined with what they described as disrespectful behaviour from the staff at NGS, they walked out.

If you want to take the discussion further we could discuss whether National Gallery is being too uptight about the rules given that its objective is to promote south-east asian art; or discuss the supposedly hoity-toity NGS representative who spoke to Mr Lim. You can segue into a discussion of what is an exhibition –  too many paintings on a blank wall with the name of an artist? –  and whether retail outlets should only stick to selling artworks instead of, hmm, stealing the limelight (?) from the magnificent pieces curated by experts on display at the main gallery. Or whether workshops must accompany exhibitions or whether there should be more sale items than exhibitions.

But that would be getting into the nitty-gritty, and affect the lives of only a few (Unless you were a hawker, for example, you wouldn’t quite care about the coffeeshop owner’s rules on what can be sold or not sold or what type of stall front is allowed. You go there to eat.)

Of course, you can also wonder why the National Gallery didn’t bother to correct this earlier newspaper article about Gallery & Co., which said that the multi-concept shop hopes to entice gallery visitors to stay on after browsing the artworks, with two eateries, shopping and programmes such as art workshops AND pop-up exhibitions.

As for whether the mother is making too big a deal of this affair, well, that’s individual parenting styles for you. And in the social media age, there just happens to be a tool for everyone to vent about supposedly bad or unfair treatment. The more important issue is how people should respond to such incidents.

Maybe like this:

We’re really sorry Renn and Aira that you had to be disappointed in this way. But there is always a next time. So cheer up. It’s really, really not so bad at all.

 

Featured image from Holycrap’s Facebook page.

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Gold watch showing 8.30.

THE big news this morning seems to be about childcare centres and MRT spaces… but let’s start with something a little more intriguing. Art smuggling for most people is something seen in books and movies, but a real case has come up here that’s resulted in the return of a million-dollar sculpture from the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) to the Indian government. The bronze sculpture of the Hindu goddess Uma Parameshvari was among hundreds of artefacts stolen by art dealer Subhash Kapoor. ACM bought the sculpture from Kapoor in 2007 for $900,000. The incident has cast questions on ACM’s acquisition process. Apparently, there could be more among ACM’s collection that was stolen by Kapoor.

From next year, close to 170 childcare centres will cap their fees at $800 a month after receiving grants under the G’s Partner Operator scheme. The news comes about a month after Singapore’s largest childcare operator, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which operators 153 childcare centres and 215 kindergartens, said it would raise its fees next year. Good news, probably – if the difference of about $80 or 10 per cent makes a big difference to you. Seems parents might be better off sending their children to childcare centres that are just cheaper – grant or no grant.

Which by the way, is how much? No specific figures were given but about $250 million has been set aside by the G for the next five years to fund this scheme and another for HDB-based centres that caps fees at $720, reported ST. $250 million seems like a lot of money for a 10 per cent discount.

Quick question: How much is 15 per cent in real terms? The answer depends on the base figure, which is missing from all the news this morning gushing about LTA’s announcement yesterday that it would give commuters more space at MRT stations. Mind you, it’s “up to 15 per cent” and by “2018” – more than two years away. How much is this 15 per cent worth to you? Media reports did not say how much the upgrades would cost, but said it would start in the middle of next year.

Today, the trial of the Kovan double murders will start, and all eyes will be on the verdict of the City Harvest Church trial, which comes tomorrow. We’ve got stories on both, so stay tuned!

 

Featured image by Najeer Yousof.

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