Be Visually Stimulated By "Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow" Exhibition At The National Gallery of Singapore
Titled ‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’, it’s the first large-scale retrospective of her works in South-East Asia from the 1950s to present. To date, Kusama has amassed a vast body of work that cuts across different disciplines – filmmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, fashion, poetry, fiction and public spectacles. You might have noticed the rows of trees decorated in numerous red dots in Orchard, or visited the dotty concept store of Louis Vuitton in the past years. Yes, they are all artwork inspired by the famous Japanese artist named Yayoi Kusama.
Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese avant garde, is one of the world’s most influential artists who still lives today in Japan. Winning admirers around the world, she is best known for her signature use of polka dots as patterns and textures. Apparently, Yayoi Kusama’s works have been influenced by her nightmarish hallucinations and psychological trauma when she was young. It is said that she was born in a problematic family where her father had affairs and her mother never appreciated her artworks. She has been suffering from hallucinations since young and claimed that animals would talk to her now and then. As what she said, “if it were not for art, I would have killed myself long ago”. In some sense according to her, it is exactly those mental difficulties that “give her a generating and inspiring force for art”. Even now at the age of 88, she continues to paint.
My photo essay on Ipoh's Burps & Giggles Cafe & SG's Potato Head Cafe《绘本里的咖啡时光》is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 17 August 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
Tai O Heritage Hotel, in the heart of Hong Kong's oldest fishing village on Lantau Island 香港古迹游: 时光倒流大澳文物酒店
Hong Kong is a city in constant flux, reinventing itself virtually every day. New buildings seem to appear overnight, shops are suddenly transformed, and everyone is always on the go. While Singapore has been criticised for not preserving a sufficient amount of its colonial architectural past, Hong Kong has been just as guilty, perhaps even more so, of failing to protect its built past. Yet one kind of building in Hong Kong has managed to escape the demolition balls.
Nestled in the Lantau Island is Tai O, otherwise known as the Venice of Hong Kong. Over many decades, Hong Kong has gone through rapid changes and as one of the world's leading financial hubs it is easy to forget its humble origins when it first started out as a fishing village. Tai O is now a hugely popular spot for locals, expats and tourists alike and is one of the very few places that still reflects the true history of this beautiful bustling city. Surrounded by vast blue stretches of ocean, its iconic stilt houses built above the water with luscious green hills as its backdrop, Tai O is a uniquely charming place and the Tai O Heritage Hotel is an unusual blend of the city’s history and its preoccupation with commerce.
大澳渔村是上一次香港行，其中一个让我印像很深刻的地方。大澳文物酒店（Tai O Heritage Hotel）前身为大澳警署，位于香港大屿山大澳石仔埗街渡轮码头旁的小丘上。19世纪末的白色古典建筑，精致优雅。虽然规模不大 (只有九间海景房)，但是因为酒店属于二级历史建筑，又多了几分复古风情。遊走大澳，不妨考虑在饶富历史的文物酒店住上一晚，偶尔放缓城市人的急促脚步，去感受香港独有的水乡情。其实无论是大澳还是大澳警署，都是一段香港的历史。在这里停歇，细听这里的一砖一瓦，揭开一页页影响深远的历史故事，对城市人来说，是一种享受。
Manual machinists are skilled, dexterous individuals who drill, cut and shape items both manually and with machine tools. Working in industrial shops or plants with blueprints and specifications, machinists produce anything from bed springs to auto parts.
Working with exacting precision is a large part of manual machinists' jobs. They are responsible for cutting, slicing, drilling and in some cases repairing the very machines that they work with. Machinists must operate with care at all times. Safety is important when working with steel, glass and metal. Some of their work involves heat-processed or lubricated items as well, and the machines and parts they use can be heavy and dangerous. Manual machinists usually develop skills working with specific equipment, tools and shop machinery while enhancing their manual dexterity on the job.
It's sad to say but manual machining is a dying trade. This trade is dying in a big hurry. Cheaper imported tooling and the decline of manufacturing in this country are causing most machine shops to either shift their focus or close down. Jobs are scarce and there's no hope for a reversal either. What few jobs that are left won't last much longer either. The good days are long gone.
It was on a walk through Jalan Besar that I spotted this Hup Yick Engineering Pte Ltd hardware shop (exact address is 84 Horne Road) and here I met Mr Yee Chin Hoon, a machinist aged 69 who has been practicing his craft for more than 50 years, since he first worked for his father as an apprentice at 16. Mr Yee is one of the last few manual machinists in Singapore. Mr Yee is hoping that someone is interested on an apprenticeship with him to learn the ropes so that Hup Yick will carry on. But with no takers, it is likely that Mr Yee will retire soon. A book titled "The Machinist" was launched recently by three aspiring designers to commemorate this disappearing skill in Singapore.
Some of China's most famous 20th century identities lived in Shanghai and many of their former residences still stand. Because of its relatively young age, Shanghai does not have the ancient historical sites similar to those found in Beijing or Xi'an. But, in its favor, the city attracted some of the most influential and important people in both politics and culture in a critical phase of Chinese history. Some of the Shanghai residences of these notable figures have been preserved and some are open to the public. They offer a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who helped shape modern China. One of them is the former residence of Soong Chingling in Shanghai which is still maintained as a shrine to her memory. I had the chance to visit the place.
July is a happy month for me. A lucky month as 7 years ago I launched my blog.
7 years. Wow. That’s indeed a long time. And many things changed – from the way I take photos while traveling to the way the blogs look today (trendy magazine-like themes, focus on photos etc) to the way I promote my blog and get my articles shared for the relevant audiences to find them.
In time, this blog became a treasure for me. It’s a place where I share my travels, discoveries, curiosities and I often find myself remembering some wonderful moments, precious places visited, and, more importantly, wonderful people I met in my travels or online, through the social media networks I use.
I also realised that it’s about making the best out of it and doing what I like. Over the past years I’ve not only learned what I like doing most, but I’ve also learned what I don’t like. I’ve learned not to look at what others doing and just follow your own trail instead. What may be successful for one person will not be a guaranteed success for someone else.
I can’t end an article on the 7 years blog anniversary without thanking each and every visitor. This blog is written for you – hoping that each article is interesting, useful, relevant, fun or helpful for your travels or in life. I just want to say thank you so much for allowing me to share my life with you and that I am so grateful you are on this journey with me.
7 years gone by. Now entering the eighth year of this blog. More to come !
Kyoto is a special place to pick up memories and life pieces together and one can always be inspired so much for the understanding of the life. Thinking about exploring the streets of Kyoto on my visit to Japan brings back some great memories of that beautiful city. I thought I would share a series of Kyoto street photos that I took in black and white because sometimes an image just begs to be presented that way.
I love black & white photos (my long-time friends know that I majored in B&W street photography years ago before 'entering' into the colour world). I like the color-blind world. Color- I don’t need it. I just need to take a picture. So in black and white I can get rid of distractions and keep it simple. I have to admit that most of the time they even suck me in and make me walk down memory lane. To a lot of people, many of their memories are best brought back by B&W and so any B&W photo will conjure a general nostalgia.
I’m so nostalgic. Some people might not like it. But that’s my way. Some people understand my pictures, that’s fine. I just miss Kyoto.
My photo essay on Kyoto's Old Gion, home to Geisha《古香古韵的京都街头寻找艺伎身影》is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 17 June 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
(A dying art) Chinese Street Opera In Singapore, Lao Sai Tao Yuan Teochew Opera Troupe 新加坡有上百年历史的老赛桃源潮剧团
Ever since embarked on the photojournalism path, I have developed a deep interest in documenting changes in Singapore and other countries. I devote much effort in capturing other striking images of Singapore society, much of which has since vanished, like, from changing street scenes, vanishing trades, to traditional Chinese Opera and other cultural practices.
When it comes to evoking the mystery and charm of ancient China, few art forms can compare to Chinese opera, with its kaleidoscopic costumes, distinctive falsetto singing punctuated by gongs, and intricate gestures rich with symbolism. Despite serious competition from more modern forms of entertainment, traditional Chinese performance art in the form of Teochew opera continues to persevere in Singapore as a beautiful and timeless craft. One of the few remaining troupes in Singapore, the Lao Sai Tao Yuan (老赛桃源) Teochew Opera Troupe has been performing for more than 150 years, and continues to sustain the art form. Special thanks to Lao Sai Tao Yuan Teochew Opera Troupe, on this occasion — a god’s birthday, celebrated at Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery in Toa Payoh — I am backstage with their crew of opera actors and musicians.
Being a female, I don't have any personal experience with barbershops, however, I wonder how many modern men today visit one. Yes, I know that some shops cater to women, but for the purpose of this photo blog post I'm talking about the barbershop as a male-centric business. A barbershop, by contrast, is a testosterone filled establishment. Barbers are professionals who have accepted the responsibility of the caring for men’s hair and grooming.
In the past, the local neighborhood barber shop used to be the place where men went to discuss news, politics, sports, women and anything else on their minds. Secondly, barbers know men's hair and how to cut it properly and into any style. Thirdly, they can get a shave while they're at it, a close, comfortable shave. Getting a shave at a barber shop is an indulgent experience for any guy, because they know what they're doing. They have the right equipment (you won't find a single disposable plastic razors in sight), know how to moisten the face with a damp, hot towel first and use special moisturizers and lotions that prevent razor burn. After a barber shop shave, a man will somehow feel ready to take on the world.
If you think local barbers = your neighbourhood pakcik who gives you a buzz complete with a smattering of talcum powder, then you are in for an education. It's time to think of barbers as grooming traditionalists and that's what you'll get the moment you step into the Hounds of the Baskervilles (yes, it's actually the title of a crime book novel series authored by Sir Arthur Conan Dooyle, featuring the famous detective Sherlock Homes).
With a polished Victorian gentlemen’s aesthetic straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel, the aptly-named Hounds of the Baskervilles is Singapore’s first traditional Western barbershop. The decor and service immerses guys in a traditional barbershop experience with a measured attention to detail, from the immaculately coiffed barbers to the handsome vintage furniture the shop is kitted out in.
Tokyo teems with dozens of markets and shopping areas, and sometimes it actually feels like the entire city is a single mega shopping district. When I was in Tokyo, I spent quite a lot of time at Ameyayokocho market, a series of walking shopping streets. The name of the market actually translates to “candy shop alley,” and while you will find some sweets vendors, it’s now turned into an everything alley.
The market is more of an afternoon and night market, so if you go in the morning, most things will be closed and the streets empty. Go in the afternoon or evening, and it’s a completely different story.
The history of Ameyoko is equally fascinating. There used to be a lot of candy stores in the street all perfectly lined up in the early post-war era, thus the name “Ameya-Yokocho”, which literally means ‘candy store alley’. Alternatively, there’s another theory that “Ame” refers to America, thanks to the American army goods that used to be sold here post-World War II.
张园: 典型的老上海里弄风情 Old Shanghai, China: Historical Zhang Yuan (a.k.a Zhang's Garden) with vanishing architecture
你可以没有听说过 “张园”，但也无法改变这是个有历史，有故事的地方。张园虽然就位在上海最热闹的南京西路站旁，但却很少有人关注，相当可惜。这里浓缩了百余年的兴衰变迁。如今的张园，有 108 幢房屋，是上海种类最丰富、保存最完整的石库门建筑群。由于至今还有大量居民居住，充分的 “人气” 也让它的生命力至今流传。
Shikumen (which refers to an endangered form of architecture and city planning. Brick buildings within alley complexes fronted by a stone-framed kumen or gateway), is a style of housing unique to Shanghai, as it blends the Chinese and Western architectural styles. Shikumen, which are two or three-storey townhouses, have a front yard that is enclosed by a high brick wall. At one time, Shikumen-style neighborhoods accounted for more than 60 percent of the housing in the city.
Since the 1990s, many shikumen-style neighborhoods have been demolished to build new residential or commercial buildings. It wasn't until many of the houses were replaced by skyscrapers that residents began to realize such monuments of Shanghai's past deserved to be preserved. If you want to see what a typical shikumen is like, you'd better hurry.
Lets us now step inside a traditional shikumen-style house to discover the authentic Shanghainese way of life. I had the rare opportunity to actually walk through one of these Shikumen houses - Zhang Yuan (also known as Zhang's Garden), which was quite an interesting experience. This is an iconic place in Shanghai.
Tokyo is Japan's biggest and most modern city, but even here remain buildings where you can feel history. As Japanese architecture has traditionally envisioned buildings as temporary and expendable, in part due to the constant threat of fires and earthquakes, Tokyo has been left with fewer examples of historic architecture than places like Europe and the UK. Nevertheless, the neighbouring districts of Marunouchi and Ginza still contain a number of buildings that have, through a combination of luck and love, managed to stay standing, providing an ideal opportunity to enjoy a walk around town and see a blend of old and new architecture.
JR Tokyo Station's Marunouchi Station Building is a historical building that was constructed in 1910s. The distinct style of using red brick and white marble became an architectural style that combined British architecture will still reflecting the atmosphere of Japan in that era. The 3rd floor's domed roof was crushed during the fire bombings in World War II, but it has been reconstructed to look exactly as it did in 1914. This should definitely be a stop on your trip so you can experience the retro atmosphere of this beautiful building.
My photo essay on《香港大坑炳记茶档生活文化鲜活见证》 is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 29 April 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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