In these times of rising activism on climate change and other environmental issues, a new band of campaigners has joined the fight: street artists. Street art has typically focused on megacities and urban festivals. But I noticed that a generation of digitally ultra-connected artists has been encouraged to spread their brushes and spray cans elsewhere – to forests and seas – and to creatively question our relationships to the natural world. Leveraging their ability to reach one of the largest and most diverse audiences – anyone passing by – street artists are increasingly using their public works to address current issues, not the least of which is climate change.
Recently, I found an example of climate activist street art in Singapore, which shows that artists can actually bring an alternative and responsible message to the public through their work. Titled “The Birds in Our Backyard”, the series of wall art relates to human-wildlife conflict and how to live in harmony with feathered neighbors. They are all painted over ten columns located at Block 218B and 218C Boon Lay Avenue in Jurong West HDB estate. The lead artist is Ms Dorcas Tang, a climate activist and artist based in Singapore.
Ms Tang has garnered much attention in recent months for her advocacy on Instagram, (@earthtodorcas), which raises awareness of important climate issues ranging from extreme rainfall events and food waste to climate justice and conscious shopping. I find that her art is wonderful and non-confrontational, so it is perfect for spreading words about environmentalism and climate change to a broader audience. Such climate-conscious works enable us to think more critically about the impact humans are having on the environment and how we need to act in a socially responsible manner in order to conserve and protect our planet.
My Photo Story on Bicycle-Themed Cafes in Singapore《脚踏车骑向咖啡馆》Published in Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 on 10 July 2022
我的《脚踏车骑向咖啡馆》摄影文章登在七月十日联合早报的小城大事版 zbNOW/早报现在。 感谢、感恩!
每当周末到来，就是 Cafe Hopping 的好日子。约上闺蜜一起探索隐藏在城市里的个性咖啡馆，度过一个悠闲的周末，卸下日常生活压力。咖啡文化日趋流行，新加坡有越来越多以脚踏车为主题而设计的咖啡馆，成了许多人相聚的热门地点。这些咖啡馆从装修风格到经营理念，都离不开脚踏车这一元素，将咖啡和脚踏车完美结合。一直觉得脚踏车和咖啡总有着一种近乎天然的契合度，因为爱骑脚踏车的人几乎都喜欢喝咖啡，所以当脚踏车邂逅咖啡，一动一静，就会产生精彩交集。无论是脚踏车迷还是咖啡痴，这些咖啡馆都可以让人远离喧嚣停下来休息喝咖啡，进一步了解脚踏车文化，或是与朋友小聚的闲暇时光，或者是买一辆喜欢脚踏车模型带回家。
Happy Sunday! My photo essay on bicycle-themed cafes in Singapore is published full coverage in zbNOW/早报现在 today. Thank you so much to zbNOW/早报现在 !
Coffee and cycling have always gone hand in hand, perhaps because one fuels the other, and that goes both ways. These bicycle themed cafes are based on different concepts and they are not only meant for people who love bicycles. They are places where everyone is welcome and even if the customers aren’t bicycle lovers when they walk in, hopefully they will be by the time they walk out. They are cafes which are passionate about cycling, but are also places where people with all interests can feel at home. The key interest at these cafes is to enhance and grow the culture of enjoyment around coffee and cycling :)
There is nothing I like more than being able to "kill two birds with one stone", or in this case, seeing two cities in one trip. When I went to visit Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2022, I decided to take the train from Copenhagen Central Station to Malmö (blog post here) and Lund which turned out to be my best time in Sweden. Lund is very close to Copenhagen as well as Malmö, so you can easily reach Lund for a nice day trip around the town. There are multiple departures every hour and the train journey takes only 45 minutes.
Lund is one of Sweden’s oldest cities and many of the buildings in Lund are historicist creations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries thrives alongside modern buildings. It is said that you can spend your whole life here without seeing all the quiet little corners, all the beautiful buildings and details. Interestingly enough, founding dates all the way back to Year 990 when Lund was then a part of Denmark (there have been so many wars fought between these Scandinavian neighbors that at one point Denmark ruled everything, and then Sweden did, and then repeat).
Gone are the days of boring, run-of-the-mill cafes. These days, cafe owners try to differentiate their business by throwing in a theme, hence the proliferation of cafes based on cartoons, movies, pets, and also hobby-based themes such as bikes. I have curated a list of bicycle-themed cafes in Singapore that you may or may not know. Bicycle themed cafes, like cycling itself, is booming, not just as a sport but also as a lifestyle.
Coffee and cycling have always gone hand in hand, perhaps because one fuels the other, and that goes both ways. When cycling meets coffee, both bring people together for great conversation while enjoying something they love. Both bring a connection whether between long time buddies, significant others, or someone you just met.
These bicycle themed cafes are based on different concepts. Some bicycle cafes are coffee shop / bike repair shop hybrids, while others provide a full-service restaurant with a bike-friendly atmosphere and cycling-inspired décor. Whatever the case, these bicycle cafes are hubs in their cycling communities and provide a friendly, welcoming space that encourages the cycling culture and the active lifestyle. Even if you’re not an avid cyclist, you’ll still enjoy them. Whether you’re stepping off on a weekday morning commuting to work, looping around the nearby park or cruising through life on a relaxed weekend afternoon, they are all bicycle friendly business where you can enjoy a warming coffee or a quenching brew, so do check out this list.
我的《芬兰：如梦似幻 步步惊喜》刊登在今天（六月二日）的联合早报旅游封面。感恩、感谢 zbNOW/早报现在 !
Happy Thursday! My photo essay on Finland Winter Trip is published in full coverage in zbNOW/早报现在 today, thanks so much to the press house for the kind publication When writing this photo essay, it brings back many beautiful memories of Finland. I MISS FINLAND SO MUCH.
Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world for the fifth consecutive year, with a score significantly ahead of its peers in the World Happiness Report 2022 ranking. Denmark kept its second place!
I love LEGO. I like that LEGO is brilliant quality. I like that it encourages dexterity and spatial awareness and is great for both independent and collaborative play. Most of all, it’s fun.
Whenever I see my 6-year old young niece playing with LEGO, LEGO is basically about building your own stuff. There is something pleasing about developing the LEGO building expertise needed so that you just knew which bricks you needed to make a sloping house roof, or how long a gap you could leave between the wheels on a bus and still make something that would “go”. Or developing that knack of being able to prise apart two flat LEGO planks that had become jammed together. I always enjoy seeing what other people create using LEGO, as well as the wonderful models that are showcased at any LEGO exhibition.
Recently, I brought my niece to a LEGO exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre, named “Brickman Wonders of the World”, which consists of over 50 large-scale iconic landmarks of the world. The exhibition was created by an Australian, Ryan McNaught, who is Brickman’s managing director and a LEGO Certified Professional himself. The whole preparation phase took him and his 6-man team more than 5,000 hours and over 1.4 million LEGO bricks to bring the ideas to life.
摄影文章也包括其他狮城的独特创意的游乐场，全都是由丹麦工作室 MONSTRUM 和新加坡的 Playpoint Singapore Pte Ltd 工作室合作建成。大家一起玩耍吧!
My photo essay on the Crooked House Playground at Brumleby in Copenhagen, Denmark and Yishun, Singapore is published in zbNOW/早报现在 today! Really much appreciated.
The photos and essay include some other themed playgrounds in Singapore, all of which are co-designed by Danish Consultancy Firm, MONSTRUM and local design consultancy firm Playpoint Singapore Pte Ltd. Thumbs up to them too. It's time to take a break and have fun at these playgrounds!
Cycling is a way of life in Denmark. Danish people love to cycle. Cycling is an important means of transportation in Denmark and you can't look in any direction in the city without seeing a bicycle because 90% of the Copenhageners own a bike. Furthermore, Denmark is actually one of the greenest cities in all of Europe as well. We all know biking and environmentalism go hand-in-hand. In fact, I think only the Netherlands can beat Denmark when it comes to cycling.
Throughout my trip in Denmark, I have taken pictures of idle bikes that I found interesting. It’s not uncommon to see bikes left in the most random of places. If you were to visit Denmark, you would surely run into many of these.
Copenhagen's Beautiful Parks: Queen Louise Bridge & The Lakes, Nørrebroparken, Superkilen & Langelinie
Denmark regularly battles its Nordic neighbors for the top spot on the World Happiness Index. It is ranked as the 2nd happiest country in the world, with Finland clinched the top place, based on the recently released World Happiness Report 2022. After I visited it recently, I completely understood why. It has the perfect size, you can go everywhere on foot or bike, it is not overcrowded and it is so relaxed, while at the same time one of Europe’s gastronomic, design and cultural centers.
But, one of the things that impressed me the most, are its beautiful parks. Here, you can find a wealth of natural areas, which attract both local Copenhageners and tourists looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. I came to realise that Copenhagen is a city with a strong spiritual connection to nature, evidenced in its enhanced eco-consciousness. Wherever you go, many places are enclosed by greenery. Besides Frederiksberg Gardens (read my post here) which is one of my favourites, there are other fantastic green areas all easily accessible by foot or bike.
Copenhagen has another awesome attraction known as the Guinness World Record Museum. What originally began as the classic and fascinating book known as the Guinness Book of World Records has since morphed into a full-fledged Guinness World Record Museum located at Strøget in Copenhagen dedicated to the strange and incredible achievements of people (and even animals, in some cases) from around the world. The most incredible world records from all over. The fastest, highest, strongest etc. That’s what you meet at this museum.
There are more than 500 exhibits in the museum: the figures of the tallest and the fattest people in the world, the tallest buildings in the world gallery, Michael Jackson - the king of pop music and Merilyn Monroe - the queen of dresses exhibitions, the World of Toys gallery, to name a few. I enjoyed delving into the interesting facts, figures, and history of various world records both popular and obscure, as well as the people (or animals) who set them. Here are some photos of the many figurines to give an idea of what you will get to see in the museum.
This is an iconic bridge named “The Circle Bridge” that I discovered while travelling in Copenhagen. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson designed it and it was opened in 2015 which has become a much-loved Copenhagen landmark.
Located in a busy part of Christianshavn neighbourhood in Copenhagen, the Circle Bridge serves more than 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists per day, while allowing house boats and sailing boats to pass under. Achieving this is not as easy as it may seem given the relatively low height of the bridge, too low to allow conventional sized sailing or motor craft to pass under.
When I was in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark in February this year, I came across many great murals. You may have read my previous post that exploring street art at Freetown Christiania is definitely an adventure not to miss when you are visiting Copenhagen. It is literally a trip to another world where norms and laws of a regular society do not apply. People engaged in street art always want to express themselves even though they use a different medium such as plain walls and walls of buildings. A major difference of street art from the traditional art is its goal of communicating a socially relevant message to everyday people.
After exploring Christiania, I continued to embark on a street art discovery journey in Copenhagen. In the district of Nørrebro, there is also quite a large amount of street art. Most of the murals I found are large and covers the entire wall of a building. In recent years, Nørrebro has changed from a traditional working class district to gradually becoming a hip area with gourmet restaurants, innovative craft beer and local design. Many students and artists now live in Nørrebro. The street art in Nørrebro reflects the diverse community which brings a warm and welcoming vibe to the cosmopolitan area.
My Denmark travelogue continues.
As most of you know, I really enjoy photographing visually dynamic street art and look to photograph street art whenever I travel. What I love most about street art is how it opens up previously derelict areas, such as city laneways, and brings them back to life attracting locals and tourists alike. Street art has a lot to do with the revival of inner city neighborhoods and districts in cities all around the world. I am totally supportive of that policy.
The most unusual place that is often recommended to visit in Copenhagen is Freetown Christiania. The free state of Christiana has been in existence since 1971, when a group of squatters took over some deserted military barracks and established a commune. Around 900 people live there today, and it is not a part of the city that just anyone can move into: waiting lists are years long, and hopefuls must be genuinely engaged with the community in order to be accepted. Christiania is a hippie commune in simple terms, and most importantly an autonomous living, completely independent from the Danish government. It is quite a controversial place because the legal status of Christiania isn't clear. In general, the idea of Christiania's residents is to create a neighbourhood where freedom and self-expression are the main values.
The view of Christiania is completely different from the usual Copenhagen street of neat brick lanes and rows of colourful housing estates, because in Christiania, art is the essence that gives color to the place. Street art in Christiania is quirky and out of the ordinary. I’ll let the photos below speak for themselves.
In celebration of Louis Vuitton’s bicentennial birthday, an amazing number of imaginative trunks were created by 200 visionaries as part of the "200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries: The Exhibition". These trucks recently landed in Singapore on 4 April 2022. This travelling exhibition debuted in Paris, and Singapore is the first international destination following the European location. #LV200 project
This colourful and intriguing travelling art exhibition is a welcomed respite for luxury retail on the sunny bay. A tribute to the French maison’s innovative legacy, the exhibition showcases the original and unique pieces that were created in collaboration with a mosaic of talents from all walks of life, including BTS, Fornasetti, Lego and Supreme, and that is only a handful out of the sum total of 200 customised trunks you will see at the exhibition.
The #LV200 project remains a fully philanthropic undertaking where the artists have directed all their fees to 15 charitable organisations across 13 countries, selected for their focus on uplifting young people through their creative endeavours. Each visionary personalised a metaphorical canvas 50 cm by 50 cm by 100 cm, approximately the same dimensions as the emblematic Louis Vuitton trunk that Vuitton created in the 1850s, making it their own with abstract concepts and dreamlike expressions.
Here are some of the creations you can see at the exhibition and the personalities behind them.
In recent years, many artists from all over the world have been playing with scale and introducing us to a smaller way of seeing things, and awakening our inner child. Miniature art transports us to a poetic location, from an unexpected angle, where precision is essential. Miniature art, much appreciated globally on social networks under the hashtag #MiniatureArt makes the leap with the first exhibition in Singapore recently.
The exhibition titled “Hong Kong: Through The Looking Glass” is co-organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board in collaboration with Joyful Miniature Association, and is part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s establishment. The two-week exhibition debuted in Singapore on 4 April 2022 after successful tours across various cities in China and Japan. The exhibition showcases 40 handmade miniature models by talented Hong Kong artists to give the public the chance to discover Hong Kong through miniature art in real life.
This exhibition offers nostalgic views of various locations in Hong Kong from a different perspective and a unique vantage point. They took me back to the places and reminded me of the joys of exploration and checking out neighbourhoods when I travelled in Hong Kong. When I reminisce, it makes me want to travel back in time to enjoy all of the fun experiences in Hong Kong again. If you are a long-time follower of my blog, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of Hong Kong which is a haven for street photographers.