Hello, I’m still here

First post for 2015! Oh my poor, neglected design blog. But this is about to change.


A couple of days ago, the newspapers reported that Scotts Square was looking quite empty, with tenants not renewing their leases and spaces remaining unoccupied. Pop-up curatorial space K+ is putting two such spaces to good use; we saw K+ featuring Floral Obsession, a garden-y art installation on the ground floor.

 On the third floor was K+ featuring Sokkuan’s newest project, Sadako’s Unfashionable Fashion Diary. 

I couldn’t resist buying the book she made; I got a signed, numbered copy of “Sadako’s diary” that Sokkuan had worked on for the past three years. I remember interviewing her a few years ago, when she designed a mirror celebrating the Bloody Mary for Absolut Vodka. She brought her alter ego doll, Sophie Black, to the photo shoot, which was a hoot. And now I have one of her works, yay!

Find out more about K+ here and Sokkuan here.


Friday Night Lights

The Singapore Night Festival got rained on tonight; luckily a lot of the performances and installations were indoors (in the National Museum and the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), for example, and even inside the Armenian Church).

We started the evening with Follies For É Birds (that use of “é” to replace “the” here is such a major pet peeve that I almost skipped this performance-exhibit thing, but I’m glad I didn’t) at the National Museum. Highlights of the dance included these adorable children playing at feeding time, and the dance number with them in colorful bowlers and ties.

Divine Trees, the Night Lights installation projected onto trees on the lawn in between the National Museum and the Singapore Management University was eerily lovely, as was Dresses of Memory at the Armenian Church.




On our way there we caught William Close play Beethoven’s Fifth on the Earth Harp outside the National Museum.

The Night Lights show on the facade of SAM, Spirits of Nature drew a crowd, too, but it wasn’t as spectacular as previous years’.

There’s more to see at the School of the Arts and the National Design Centre, but the rain got the better of me…but Singapore Night Festival has one more night tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t get rained on again!

In the artist’s studio

Someone, I can’t remember who and when, once said that there are artistic people and there are creative people, and they don’t always have to be both artistic and creative.

There’s no denying that local painter Wyn-Lyn Tan is artistic. A visit to her studio demonstrates her creative side, too. There’s a bit of a MacGyver in her painting technique, and in the mixed-media pieces she is experimenting on. There are bits and bobs that show that necessity is the mother of invention, and there are pieces that reveal some innovative ideas. You’ll understand what I’m trying to say when you see her works-in-progress; and sometimes she lets you in on the secret with some of her finished works. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek.





Arty party

Went to Singapore Art Museum (SAM) on my need-to-clear-leave-day to check out Sensorium 360*, an exhibition featuring contemporary Southeast Asian and Asian works that are meant to engage senses beyond the visual.


My favorite piece was Goldie Poblador’s May Puno sa Dibdib ng Kamatayan (There is a tree in the heart of death), which is “an installation with perfume and sound”. The artist “translated sonic notes into olfactory ones, creating scent compositions” based on some songs that resonated with her.


Other pieces were delightfully fun, like Pinaree Sanpitak’s noon-nom, 55 breast-cushions that literally made the viewer feel being cradled to the breast when she sat amidst the soft sculptures, and Li Hui’s Cage, an iodide laser and fog installation. I also had fun with Tad Ermitaño’s Twinning Machine 4.0, a video installation that allowed me to take a selfie of my projected image, and Linda Solay’s Continuum of Consciousness, which combined sculpture, sound and the scent of spices.





Also checked out Medium at Large, SAM’s year-long exhibition. I missed the video Cloud installation inside the chapel, had some fun with some of the pieces, and then was not uplifted by the more socio-political ones — so much so that I had to go back to Sensorium 360* for some happy scents-and-sounds.



My arty day ended with a paella dinner with K & T at The Arts House, before a concert by Edwin Orlando…whose encore was accompanied impromptu by the Joel Navarro.


An hour at the musuems

Had some time to kill in between church and a friend’s birthday brunch, so I checked in on the free exhibits at the National Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.



A Changed World at the National Museum traces the development of Singapore art through the 1950s-1970s. I liked the earlier seafaring/port pieces, because of the colors and the idyllic-despite-hustling scenes. The nation-building stage was also interesting because of the industrial scenes. If these are considered the beginnings of Singapore art, they’re very different from those of its Southeast Asian neighbors like the Philippines and Indonesia, which are marked by colonial violence and revolutions. Er, I didn’t really read the literature.



At SAM, the permanent exhibit with these happy greetings told a different socio-political story, seen through the eyes of the country’s young contemporary artists like Dawn Ng and Dyn.

SAM’s seasonal exhibit (with free admission), called Untitiled, was fun. This was an interactive installation where viewers were challenged to name untitled works. I found these three most interesting, not only because of how they appealed to me aesthetically, but more because of the titles previous visitors gave them (it’ll really help if you zoom in to see the handwritten titles on the right side).


For example, Cheong Chai-Hiang’s wooden, mixed media sculpture was christened thus:
Morning wood
The life of a chopped tree
Screw woodcarving (I feel you bro)


Angeline Choo’s oil painting:
A rose by any other name
The winner takes it all
Hold your panties

20140302-151415.jpgAnd this piece, which was not in the catalogue:
Execution by bad music
The death of the Walkman
“We know what to put in your ears” –Putin’s Russia

A Changed World is on exhibit at the National Museum till March 16.
Untitled is on exhibit at SAM till April 27.

5 things I learned at Art Stage Singapore

This post could just as well be titled: Art Appreciation for Bimbos.

First off, I’m no art expert. My meager collection consists of a pair of tiny watercolor scenes of San Gimignano by Gino Corsi, bought when I went on a road trip through Tuscany with my aunt; and a silkscreen of a Singapore heritage building by Safaruddin Bin Abdul Hamid (aka Dyn), commissioned by IKEA for its democratic art campaign. I once had a Gabriel Barredo candlestand, which the reclusive sculptor gifted when I interviewed him about his home, but I left it in Manila, and I don’t know what’s become of it.

Secondly, my philosophy on art is this simple: whatever makes you smile. So whatever the pedigree of the artist or the provenance of the work, if it brings a smile to your face, it’s good art. The ballerinas of Edgar Degas make me smile; his other stuff, not so much. Joan Miro always makes me smile, and dream, and remember — that, to me, is fantastic art. It was nice to see some Miro paintings at Art Stage Singapore.



For the most part, this edition of Art Stage Singapore made me smile. It didn’t blow me away as in previous years, but I enjoyed it. So seeing art that made me smile, and not, taught me a few things about myself on the Saturday afternoon I spent at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center.

1) I’m a magpie. I was enchanted by Iranian artist Reza Derakshani’s party-inspired pieces. They had glitter.

2) I love, love, love color. And geometry, apparently. Like Israel-born artist Yaacov Agam’s polymorphic works, and Singaporean artist Jane Lee’s tiles.


3) I generally like art about urban design, architecture and furniture. Like Australian artist Joanna Lamb’s light sculptures, Singaporean artist Michael Lee’s treehouse piece, and this voyeuristic apartment building that I couldn’t identify.




4) I really like Japanese artist Fumihiro Takemura’s acrylic three-dimensional maps and table settings, and someday I hope to own one of his works.




5) I generally don’t like art that makes you think about the sadder things in life. A lot of works (by Asian artists) are socio-political by nature (others like to deal with disembodied guts, for whatever reason — I don’t care about those works). Some pieces, like the Mark Justiniani installation exhibited at the Southeast Asia platform in Art Stage, are so pleasantly done however, that the somewhat-depressing subject matter can be forgiven.

Here are a few more scenes from Art Stage Singapore 2014. It ends today (January 19); luckily the bigger galleries have their own space at Gillman Barracks (and the really big galleries at Ion Orchard), and hopefully they’ll have some of the Art Stage pieces there.


















(So much fun to caption some of these photos: Shine bright like a diamond, Cake decorating is an art, I don’t understand this too, Is the wolf really humping R2D2? (Yes, the name of this sculpture by Norwegian artist Dolk is “Puppy love”), etc.)

Illustrations by Garance Dore

Now that you’ve seen my amateur hand at pencil, pen and paper (previous post with my sketch of a bahay na bato), here’s the work of a real illustrator:

I love the French illustrator/fashion blogger Garance Dore‘s work, which I found years ago via Fashion Is Spinach, when Miss Spinach used to live in Singapore. The above piece is an art print selling for $400 on Garance Dore’s website. The one below is from one of her blog entries, and is currently my desktop wallpaper. Pretty things do inspire 🙂


This one (below) is her work for a Kate Spade collection. I almost bought the handbag, but I didn’t like the plasticky material.
Another reason I like her is her very real, and often entertaining, posts. Like this one.