Anyone who knows me knows I am a massive fan of street art. I personally enjoy street photography, so in a way, street art massively appeals to me. I seem to have this sixth sense for sniffing it out in the city that I live in or every new city I visit. I always find them in some very surprising locations. Through my travels I have to come to recognise the styles of some of the world’s better known artists, and found some new favourites along the way.
For an added bonus, the relatively new Our Tampines Hub in Singapore has also provided some new street art gems, including work by a Singaporean artist, Ceno2. Ceno2 is, without doubt, one of my favourite street artists, and stumbling upon his art pieces while exploring a new mall was like finding the holy grail of street art. Whenever I make a wrong turn, will always result in finding something just as wonderful. I also spotted pieces by other artists like Chai Chee Seam and RSCLS, such as Zul Othman, who goes by the moniker Zero @zero_rscls, Adeline Tan @Mightyellow, Ink and Clog Studio and Wu Yanrong.
I am drawn to street art because it is usually reflective of the personality or quirks of the neighborhood where it is located. Simply put, it conveys a vibrancy and a story of the community where it exists. Thus, by including it in my photos can give my viewers a look into the culture of the place and what it may be like to be in that particular setting.
I visited another interesting exhibition recently, and this time, it is at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (“SCCC”). The exhibition is titled “Moo Moo Park”, Asia’s first drive-through exhibition. For the purpose of this exhibition, the SCCC carpark has been transformed into a space where you can enjoy artworks on display by foot or in an electric car.
Why I think this is an interesting exhibition because the exhibition used interactive and immersive technologies to celebrate the Year of the Ox with a special focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, in an aim to spread greater awareness on efforts we can take for Mother Nature. It highlights how art, technology and sustainability can work hand-in-hand towards a better future.
There are original artwork by 8 local artists, including Almostasthma, Andre Wee, ANTZ, Danielle Tay, Howie Kim, Mithra, Puffingmuffin and Tobyato, whereby they interpret elements of Chinese culture and transformed their digital drawings into 3D installation art, selfie filters and augmented reality murals powered by Spark AR from Facebook. Each artwork has a special focus on the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals, such as air pollution, the future of sustainable mobility, as well as endangered habitats.
The Star Wars Identities exhibition has finally arrived in Singapore, its final stop of a world tour that has spanned six years. I need not travel to a galaxy far, far away to get up close and personal with the original costumes, props and artefacts from this beloved film series. The force is so strong !
Stepping stone of my childhood; great, classic storytelling that still works nowadays. It was the first sci-fi franchise I ever watched. I was so young then, and for me, Star Wars wasn’t ever about the films. I don't remember my exact first time watching, and I was raised on it. I will always love the Original Trilogy “A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi” – without it there’d be no Star Wars. No Star Wars means no LucasFilm or LucasArts. One of many incredible things about Star Wars is that every time you think you've mapped out every aspect of how different a world without Star Wars would be, you think of something else. To put it more succinctly, why we all love Star Wars so much is because like us, it never stopped growing - and that’s really important.
I judge movies based off first experiences with them, and re-watch value. Pixar’s “UP” is my all-time favorite movie simply for the fact that every time I watch it, I experience the same emotions as the first time I saw it in the theater. Star Wars' Original Trilogy has the same effect on me. It is colorful, exciting and the story is phenomenal. I know this only scratches the surface of why I love Star Wars.
Even if you don’t love or enjoy it, everyone knows what Star Wars is. The original trilogy serves as the second act of the nine-episode Skywalker saga. It was followed by a prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005, and a sequel trilogy between 2015 and 2019. Collectively, they have been referred to as the "Skywalker Saga" to distinguish them from spin-off films set within the same universe.
We have been celebrating these past few weeks different festivities since the start of 2021, however, even in these unprecedented times, we still have much to celebrate. For many countries in Asia will be celebrating February 12 for the Lunar New Year, so Gucci thought of no better way to ring in the new year by releasing the Doraemon x Gucci capsule collection, honouring the 50th anniversary of the iconic cosmic cat from Japanese manga and anime.
Gucci describes the Doraemon as “Born on September 3rd, 2112, a cat-type robot was sent from the 22nd century to help a young boy called Nobita with secret gadgets from his four-dimensional pouch. A playful character, Doraemon hates mice and loves Dorayaki, a sweet pancake.”
The collection features over 50 items ranging from coats, to t-shirts, jackets, bags trainers and scarfs that combine the brands classi GG monogram with an array of Doraemon motifs. The classic GG monogram serves as the base on coats, jackets, shorts and track pants that are adorned with Doraemon motifs throughout. Doraemon brings a welcome pop of blue to the brand’s classic monogram pattern.
In the last couple of years I have come to appreciate street art. There are so many reasons why people love street art and why it is becoming more popular or important for people of all walks of life. Street art is an important part of history and identity for many metropolises, and sometimes even has the ability to breathe life into communities. I have tons of Singapore street art / wall mural pictures and I will continue to blog about them bit by bit in 2021.
I have a lot of great memories of Bras Basah Complex, so today I decided to dedicate a post on wall murals at this place. The Bras Basah Complex has been a familiar place to many Singaporeans for the past three decades. The commercial-cum-residential complex became Singapore’s well-known City of Books, an unofficial yet representative name just like the Beach Road’s Army Market, the Arcade where moneychangers ply their trades, or the famous Sungei Thieves Market with their second hand goods. I used to buy books and stationery at this place when I was a student. I still frequent Bras Basah Complex very often nowadays, not to buy books, but for the endless supplies of art materials from Art Friend for my painting works.
Most of these vibrant and cheerful wall mural paintings at Bras Basah Complex were created by students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts ("NAFA"), as part of Central Singapore CDC’s Painting Smiles initiative. This arts initiative was titled "Painting Smiles" which aimed to bring smiles to visitors or residents through the use of bright and therapeutic colours on wall murals. There are also some other wall murals done by local street artists.
I cannot believe how crazily wet the weather has been in Singapore, since the start of 2021. I mean, it was only one or two days when there was the sun out and shining but it has been pouring so heavily that all I wanted to do was to go jump on puddles. With the hot, humid days which happen almost year-round, rains are surely some sort of a breather. December to January and early February are considered “winter-like months" in Singapore. Not really winter but here do experience very low temps at this time of the year.
The day that I took these pictures was a gray and rainy day. I kind of loved it. Most people are displeased when they check the weather and see a forecast for rain; whether it's pouring down while you are schlepping to work or messing up your weekend plans with a persistent drizzle, the rain isn't the most popular type of weather. I guess you could say I am the Elsa of rainfall; not only has the rain never bothered me anyway, I actually happen to love rainy days. More than anything, I find myself longing for a nice rainy day. I really do love raining days.
There is something about a gray, rainy day that causes you to stop and reflect. I know my opinion isn't a terribly popular one, but I stand by it. It’s unexplainable – rainy days just feel so peaceful. That is of course as long as you don’t have to be stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic. Rain by itself is quiet and cleansing. In turn it asks that we be still as well and who isn’t in need of a little stillness these days. Rain or shine, I always plan to savor the time.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness that time is subjective. Does it feel like 2020 went on forever? Did lockdown drag, and can you even remember how you spent your time when you weren’t living under COVID-19 restrictions? You are not alone. For many, 2020 has been the year in which the constancy of time was lost to the upheaval of coronavirus.
Clocks were invented to help us track the passage of time - and yet in some moments when staring at a clock, we are made aware of just how long a second can feel. For some people who enjoy working from home, the days have whizzed by. For others desperate to travel, time has slowed to a crawl.
And just like that, it’s almost 2021. The start of not only a new year but the beginning of a new decade. I guess many people, like myself, are glad to put 2020 behind us and move forward with a fresh start. It was an incredibly difficult year filled with new changes and uncertainty. I have been looking forward to a new beginning for some time now. We are humans, and we require some semblance of hope to keep us pushing forward. Rather than focus on the negative, I thought it would be fun to do something uplifting as I set a course for a new decade. Many including myself have taken this time off as an opportunity to do something they may not have thought to do: take up a new hobby.
It was a comfortable 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Rotterdam. I must be honest, I didn’t know what to expect as my train came to a stop. I thought perhaps just a smaller version of Amsterdam awaited me.
But from the moment I stepped off the platform, I realised I was wrong. It turned out Rotterdam is one of the most modern cities I have been to. And it’s a side to the Netherlands and in fact Europe as a whole I hadn’t expected. I knew very little about the second-largest city in the Netherlands before I decided to go to Rotterdam. What I discovered was a modern, vibrant city full of architecture, art and culture.
During my visit, the weather was very beautiful, so I spent most of my time outdoors just walking, enjoying the city and the incredible architecture around the city. The majority of Rotterdam was destroyed during World War II which is why Rotterdam is so different to Amsterdam. The city has been rebuilt and is now filled with modern, sleek, innovative, creative and unusual buildings. My favourite thing about many of the buildings was the way a slick skyscraper would stand next to a quaint little house, emphasising the uniqueness of them both.
Right next door to Amsterdam is Haarlem – yet another little lovely, quaint city that charmed me during my trip to The Netherlands in December last year. While I do love Amsterdam, I really love exploring other Dutch towns. I love such charming, medieval city with ancient buildings and cobbled stone streets and therefore this Haarlem, a typical “Dutch” town, is also one of my favourite.
Easily accessible (only 20 minutes from Amsterdam) yet a world away from the major city nearby. This is totally my kind of destination. It reminded me a lot of Amsterdam, but on a quieter note. The pace was a little slower, though filled with life, the presence of tourism less paramount, yet the locals were supremely welcoming. I enjoyed every minute and I often hear Haarlem described as a little city. As it is one of the most densely inhabited metropolitan areas in Europe, this reference is more an interpretation of its village-feel than its populace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought travel and tourism to a standstill, and I'm not sure when it will restart. I’m sure everyone else is feeling the same way as the world is practically melting in front of us. However, that should not stop me from completing my travel blog posts. I went for a two-week long trip to The Netherlands in December last year and I didn’t know that would be my last trip for a long time. I can hardly believe it has taken me this long to share this, and I have to say, long overdue. But I think it’s always better late than never at all. So I will be rolling out some blogs this month to conclude the few remaining highlights of my Netherlands trip, with this post on Utrecht.
Travelling throughout the Netherlands on a whirlwind week of adventures in December 2019, I finally arrived in Utrecht. I made my way by train to Utrecht (the journey takes only 25 minutes by train from Amsterdam), a city that has come to be known by many as “Amsterdam’s cool little sister”. And indeed, I think it's one of my favourite cities in the Netherlands.
Charming is perhaps the best word to describe Utrecht. Utrecht is home to enchanting canals, medieval streets and fascinating monuments. This is a city that thrives on mixing old and new, urban living and green space, tradition and innovation. Cobblestone streets hum with chatter as the locals sip coffee and catch up with friends, while every bit of the canal is put to good use – even right down to water level, where wine bars, sports clubs, cafes start right at the water’s edge. What sets them apart is the “lower level” - below the street above - where the warehouses were located in olden times.
I visited the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) last weekend. SIPF is a worldwide biennial gathering of minds commonly pursuing the advancement and appreciation of photography. The biennial event is back for its 7th edition. Set amidst a pandemic, this year's theme #SIPF2020 is "Departing and Arriving", a theme that seems extremely fitting with our current circumstances.
The concept sounds very simple, yet a complex one. Prior to the pandemic outbreak, the theme "Departing and Arriving" seeks to explore our migrant histories and identities in both the local and global context. In the process of witnessing and experiencing the changes that have taken place in our world, the theme has evolved to take on a reflective outlook at the human condition. In the trajectory of arriving at a new normal is the discovery of a deeply rooted desire for a better tomorrow.
This year's SIPF blew me away and redefined everything for me. Allow me to bring you along with me on this journey of Departure and Arrival, but with a little disclaimer – I’ll be featuring some of the fine artworks I got to witness and I do not showcase all of them in my blog. I will leave some of them in suspense, because I think there are actually so much more to see for yourselves and explore at the festival.
Singapore's 1st Art Exhibition in A Department Store: Four Letter Work by I Am Not David Lee, An Anonymous Artist
I visited an interesting art exhibition recently. It's Singapore's first art exhibition that is held in a department store, ie, Takashimaya Department Store in Orchard Road. The art exhibition is titled "Four Letter Work" by a local artist, I Am Not David Lee. The "Four Letter Work" exhibition was launched on 13th November 2020 with almost no information. There isn't much social media presence about this artist. Apart from the fact that this artist is from Singapore, and that this is his first solo exhibition, I know next to nothing about this artist. He is obviously not David Lee, the retired footballer.
So who is this anonymous artist?
With the Internet and social media serving as a vital aspect of our day-to-day lives, we have become accustomed to finding out everything about anyone or anything with just a few clicks of a button. The amount of information available to us is astonishingly overwhelming, and so, keeping your identity private is no easy feat. As a result, more and more artists are releasing their art or music while maintaining an anonymous profile. By withholding their true identity, these acts may able to create an element of mystery and anticipation, which often proves to be incredibly effective in capturing the public's attention.
One of the artists that I think can be most associated with this idea of anonymity is Banksy. The idiosyncratic and brilliant street artist, who remains to this day anonymous, has captured the attention and the hearts of millions of people worldwide. While to this day the person known as anonymous artist Banksy has yet to be identified, we can still understand and chart much of the person’s history and repertoire.
Lets now take a look at this "Four Letter Work" exhibition by I am Not David Lee.
在新家坡这么高度商业化的城市，每个人的脚步都匆匆忙忙，倘若你停下来，或许能看到不一样的风景。这个春雨迷蒙的季节，我们倒不如找一家宁静的咖啡馆，小资地发个呆，享受营营役役的人们没有的品质生活。不管是喜欢咖啡馆还是喜欢咖啡的人，多数含蓄、内敛、收放自如，懂得释放工作的压力、懂得享受生活的美妙, 一如给人无限回味的咖啡，香醇、柔滑、优雅、深沉。找一个阳光灿烂的下午或者是大雨过后的清新早晨，推门而进，在 cafe 里面专心致志地发呆，大概也是人生最重要的乐趣之一了。
慈济基金会新加坡 (Tzu Chi Foundation) 旗下有4间分店静思书轩。我光顾了其中2间：第一间坐落在沈氏道，而另外是位于义顺的慈济人文青年中心。我踏入两间书轩时候，就好像从一个喧闹的世界，转换到另一个平静的世界。静思书轩以禅的概念来做室内设计，给人一种平静祥和的感觉。静思书轩以竹装饰室内的墙壁，带出东方的气息与禅意。禅式设计真让人平和幽静的书轩让我的内心也随之安定。内播放着古典钢琴配乐，让人在舒适的环境里整理思绪。
以下是静思书轩分店位于沈氏道 along Sims Avenue。
My Hong Kong Photo Series《减速香港》Published in LianheZaobao 联合早报 光影之“世界未戴上口罩时”版 Newspapers on 15 November 2020
My long awaited Hong Kong photo series titled《减速香港》 taken using slow shutter speed and under my pen name 蓝天游 is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报光影之“世界未戴上口罩时”版 full coverage dated 15 November 2020 ! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you made my day! :)
Interactive Wallpainting in Singapore With Augmented Reality Story Inside: "The Great Story of The Infinite Drawing" By Elly Oldman
As part of the Singapore National Arts Council’s Arts in Your Neighbourhood initiative in conjunction with vOilah! France Singapore Festival 2020, there is an interactive wall-and-floor painting displayed on a wall in Geylang Bahru, telling an augmented reality story. It is called "The Great Story of the Infinite Drawing" by a French artist named Loona, but you might already know her as Elly Oldman.
Elly Oldman began to draw The Infinitive Drawing on Instagram in April 2017. You can see it here: @theinfinitedrawing. It is > 13 meters long and carries on growing every week. The actual Infinite Drawing is very hard to display in real life given the length and width. Hence the wall mural was brought to life with the help of an augmented reality activity with additional animated illustrations by Singaporean artist Marina A @mrn.a
The Great Story of the Infinite Drawing was created to be an educational story, with an ecological and solidarity-based message: taking care of the environment and respecting the people around us is important. The story will be elaborated below.
The wall mural is interactive, and people will be able to scan parts with their smartphone to watch augmented reality videos. These videos will tell the quest of a little girl and her robot across various worlds, giving clues to understand the mystery behind the huge painting.