Close to Culture, Close to Creativity, Spot on Asia.

Musical​ ​Strumming​ ​in​ ​Loneliness​ ​

Posted on July 23, 2016

Buds Theatre was set up in 2007, as a group that aspires to stage relatively new works and create productions with social relevance. Over the years, Buds Theatre Company has gained recognition as a place for aspiring artists and is a breeding ground for new graduates from arts institutions gather artistic experience.

IN-HOUSE SERIES 2016 is part of an intimate ‘living-room style’ series, which shares plays written by their youth theatre members followed by a dialogue session around that theme. Sharing the common theme of ‘loneliness’, youth writers Wisely Chow and Nor Narisha Ibrahim managed to present their works Hold On and The Heart is Just a Muscle respectively.

(1st row) Wisely Chow and Nor Narisha Ibrahim; (2nd row) Stanley Seah, Sahirrah Safit, Rebecca Lee and Claire Devine

(1st row) Wisely Chow and Nor Narisha Ibrahim; (2nd row) Stanley Seah, Sahirrah Safit, Rebecca Lee and Claire Devine

Is there a particular message you wish to send across in the plays you have written?

Narisha: I would like audiences to realise that, in spite of the pain and sadness inflicted on us by others, it is one’s self that has the strength to carry on, and that even the greatest of pains can be healed when we will ourselves to pull through those sad days.

Wisely: I have a quote which encapsulates my sentiments well, “We’ve come tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration and some positive vibrations. We want to leave you enough to last you for the next six months.” – Mavis Staples (an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist)

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The artist worked with Masao Nishikawa on the colour treatment of these installation photos.
The artist worked with Masao Nishikawa on the colour treatment of these installation photos.

Dawn Ng: Disappearance into a Variegated Rainbow

Posted on July 18, 2016

How to Disappear into a Rainbow is multimedia artist Dawn Ng’s installation by way of colour portals. The new Aloft at Hermès is transported into a kaleidoscopic labyrinth of shades, comprised of daybreak hues and juxtapositions of pastel blocks and mirror panels. In this interview, the author taps into the artist’s view of what meaningful aspects of identity and culture could be derived out disappearing into this sea of colour palette.

Prior to this exploration of a variegated rainbow labyrinth, Dawn had embarked on other studies of colour, emotion, nostalgia and identity.

Portrait of the artist

Portrait of the artist

How have these experimentations in Colour changed over time?

The palette in my work is often reflective of the pervasive mood and tenor unique to the current point of time in my life.

When did your exploration for Colour begin and why has it been of such interest to you? Was there anything you had set out to achieve in the explorations of Colour?

The colours were derived from a spectrum of daybreak hues. I wanted to create an abstract sense of moving through the soft pastel colour planes of an early horizon — that child-like, ephemeral place between sleep and consciousness. The colour portals represent different passageways or doors, and their symbolic and psychological ability to usher a person from one place, time, or self, to the next.

There is no pedantic takeaway message. I believe the more people think, the less they feel, and the less they are able to just be. I wanted to take people out of their everyday realities and immerse them in a surreal landscape of colour, in which they can simply get lost. Getting lost is a meditative and cathartic act. No one gets lost anymore. It’s impossible with the technology we have in this day and age. I think to encounter and engage with something we are not sure of is a beautiful thing, to go through that naïve sense of exploration brings us back to being a child again.

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Vertolk: Leather, business & challenging norms.

Posted on June 26, 2016

Hong Jiun, Entrepreneur (Singapore)

Hong Jiun, Entrepreneur (Singapore)

Hong Jiun, SINGAPORE

Entrepreneur, VERTOLK

Why leather?

It is probably one of the more organic and fascinating materials out there. To know that a piece of hide you’re touching comes directly from animals after being tanned is rather intriguing. In a way, it is reusing every good part of what occurs naturally, where the skin of an animal is reused to make functional products.

Durability of a well-tanned skin is another key factor. I would say that for makers, we are concerned with how well something we make works for the client. Not just being aesthetically pleasing but also that it can serve its function continually for years to come.

On a personal level, I have always liked leather goods and am always on a lookout for unique and well-made products. This might be why I went to leather and not wood or ceramics or textiles.

Making process 2 by Vertolk

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Photo by Isabella Ow
Photo by Isabella Ow

5Stars: Understanding National Values Through Art

Posted on June 5, 2016

It is a tribute to Singapore’s 50th anniversary in 2015 and its national values of Peace, Justice, Equality, Democracy, and Progress.

Five of Singapore’s eminent artists Ho Tzu Nyen, Matthew Ngui, T.K Sabapathy, Suzann Victor and Zulkifle Mahmod were invited and commissioned to create large-scale works inspired by these themes. The artworks, spread across SAM’s exhibition spaces, offer a view into how these humanist values could be envisioned for the future. The exhibit provides a sacred space of sorts, one that opens the floor for deep reflection and discourse to flourish from appreciation.

The author had the privilege of experiencing the multi-platform installations of this exhibit, as well as the chance to pick the brains of participating artists Ho Tzu Nyen and Matthew Ngui, and co-head curator for Of Equal Measure and Bloodline of Peace, Joyce Toh.

Photo by Mimic Productions Berlin

Photo by Mimic Productions Berlin

Value: Justice
Artist: Ho Tzu Nyen
Title: No Man (2015)
Materials: Six-channel audio-video installation

As a national value, the notion of justice need not veer away from how it would be defined in the judicial court of law. In the video installation, entitled No Man, justice is presented in an otherworldly and cross-worldly dimension, and applying haunting overtones to the theme. Artist Tzu Nyen has acknowledged taking Meditation XVII: Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, a 17th-century poem by John Donne, as a jump-off point for his artwork. The metaphysical poem ruminates on the consequences of man’s actions, in accountability to a greater God and as a deep reflection on the meaning of humanity.

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Photo by Devon Wong
Photo by Devon Wong

Seeing Past Appearances: Lessons Learned in a Chinese Spa

Posted on May 9, 2016

“Bryan, you’re more Chinese than me.”

We locked eyes; his blue, mine brown. The moment concluded in an instant as we burst out laughing.

“Yes. I am.”

Here we were, two waìguórén (foreigners) sitting in an opulent dining hall wearing our respective blue and pink bath robes, exchanging stories about life abroad while we munched on pickled cucumbers, tofu noodles, and slices of watermelon. I looked more the part, with my jet black hair and almond eyes, pitted next to Bryan. But after one week in China, I could still barely mutter a xièxie without feeling like an impostor. Bryan had three years on me.  He’d mentioned some of Guilin’s local attractions during one of our lunch breaks at the Chinese Language Institute, and I’d been itching since to investigate this fabled “Chinese Spa”. 

For journalistic reasons, of course.

To date, I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for 4 years.  Dodging traffic and eating questionable street food rarely warrants novelty anymore, let alone an upset stomach.  It has become a way of life.   But walking off the cobblestone streets of Guilin and into one of the town’s most luxurious hotels for a night at the spa was almost…otherworldly.  I had spent a week sightseeing around this “small town” (a small city by Canadian standards).  But it hadn’t yet struck me that this was really it: The ‘REAL’ China, I’d set out to look for.

Photo by Devon Wong

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