Friday, June 28, 2013

My first visit to "Princely Treasures: From the House of Liechtenstein" exhibition

"Princely Treasures: From the House of Liechtenstein" is an exhibition that I have been waiting for. This exhibition is held at the National Museum of Singapore from 27 Jun - 29 Sep 2013.

I was excited to be one of its first few visitors when the exhibition open to the public on 27 Jun 2013. There was a considerable number of visitors at the exhibition even though it was a Thursday morning.

The exhibition has caught my interest because it features a selection of 91 masterpieces from the Liechtenstein Collections. The collections contain major works of European art spanning five centuries. It is among the most important private collections in the world. Some of these masterpieces are representative examples of High Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-classical art styles.

Given that the opportunities to travel overseas to see original masterpieces by brilliant artists has yet to be very easy for the average Singapore citizen, the exhibition allowed visitors like myself to appreciate first-hand the works of great masters such as Raphael, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Canaletto, Waldmüller and so forth, without having to travel out of Singapore. I am feeling very thankful that Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, the National Museum of Singapore with the support of various sponsors have made works of important European artists accessible to the people living in the Singapore.

Compared to art styles such as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, I am less familiar with art styles such as High Renaissance and Baroque. When I was visiting this exhibition, I was especially intrigued to realize how Renaissance and Baroque art has in some ways influence the way people think about visual art.

Raphael's Portrait of a Man was the only work by Raphael that was featured in this exhibition. Yet, from the placement of this work and the marketing material, it was clear that this was one of the masterpieces that is being featured in this exhibition. This is also one of the works in this exhibition that was imprinted strongly in my visual memory. Somehow, Raphael has the gift of immortalising the sitter. The use of bold colours in the sitter's dressing against an atmospheric background in this painting seemed to have made the image of the sitter in this painting stick vividly in my mind.

Raphael's Portrait of a Man.

There are many other works in this exhibition that are worthy of mention. One of the works is Anthony Van Dyck's Portrait of Maria de Tassis. I was in awe at Van Dcyk's mastery of the art of portraiture. Notice how the lace and the folds of the fabric were being painted in Van Dyck's Portrait of Maria de Tassis and you are likely to be mesmerized like I was.

Accompanying this exhibition is a display of historical portrait paintings from Singapore's National Collection It was an interesting experience to compare and contrast the paintings from this section with the rest of the exhibition to appreciate the typical conventions of portrait painting between the late 19th century and mid 20th century.

It appears that Princely Treasures: From the House of Liechtenstein has a strong focus on portrait paintings. While this is possibly so, I do wish to stress that the artworks that are being exhibited in this exhibition ranges from paintings, prints, tapestries, sculptures to decorative art objects. Please do check out the decorative art objects in this exhibition. I have found a few of them extremely intriguing. I shall visit this exhibition again in the near future.

The guided tours will commence on 8 Jul 2013 (according to the exhibition's programme guide). Each guided tour will be limited to 15 participants per session on a first come, first served basis. The meeting point will be at the entrance to the exhibition galleries 1 and 2, at the basement of the National Museum of Singapore. The guided tours are subjected to the availability of the volunteer guides. Admission fee to the exhibition still applies. (Please take note that there will be no guided tours on 20 Jul, 21 Jul, 8 Aug, 9 Aug, 28 Sep and 29 Sep.)

Princely Treasures: From the House of Liechtenstein
27 Jun - 29 Sep 2013
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897
Opening hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily.
Admission: $10 per adult

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bukit Brown Our Roots, Our Future (29 Jun - 7 July 2013)

Bukit Brown: Our Roots, Our Future
(In Mandarin and English)
29 Jun - 7 Jul 2013
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Venue: Chui Huay Lim Club,
190 Keng Lee Road, Level 4, Singapore 308409
For media enquiries, please email

This is an event for heritage and nature enthusiasts to look out for. All Things Bukit Brown and Chui Huay Lim Club will be presenting an exhibition and a series of talks on the Bukit Brown Cemetery tracing its history and significance to the development of Singapore.

Bukit Brown Our Roots, Our Future has four themes: history, our pioneers, tomb culture, the living cemetery.

For more information, please visit: Bukit Brown: Our Roots, Our Future by a.t Bukit Brown
For the full programme of the talks, please visit: Our Roots, Our Future: The Talks by a.t Bukit Brown

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Teochew Cultural Festival - Teochew Music and Opera at the Teochew Building

If Teochew Music and Opera interest you, please visit the Teochew Building at 97 Tank Road this weekend.

On the evening of 14 Jun 2013, I have had the great pleasure to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Teochew Cultural Festival at the Teochew Building. This is the first "Teochew Cultural Festival" presented by the Ngee Ann Cultural Centre, a subsidiary of Ngee Ann Kongsi. The theme for the festival is Teochew Music and Opera.

Teochew Building.

After the Open Ceremony, members of the audience were treated to various performances that showcase Teochew Music and Teochew Opera. Members from Er Woo Amateur Musical and Dramatic Association, Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association, Eng Tiang Huat, Nam Hwa Amateur Musical and Dramatic Association, Hwa Siah Musical Association and The Teochew Drama Association have came together to make the event a great success.

Although I do not understand Teochew, it was very helpful that the organizers provided both English and Mandarin subtitles that accompanied the Teochew opera and the Teochew vocal performances. I have found it equally useful to focus on listening to the background music, especially the rhythms of the percussion section, so as to appreciate the emotional nuances that the performers were attempting to convey.

I learnt from the programme notes that the origins of Teochew music can be traced to the reign of the Tang and Song dynasties. As for Teochew Opera, it is a genre of Chinese opera performed in the Teochew dialect with over 450 years of history.

Other than appreciating the Teochew Music and Opera performances, I have had the pleasure to learn more about Teochew Music and Opera by viewing the various artefacts that were on display in the exhibition hall. The exhibition will be held daily from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. from 14 - 20 Jun 2013 in Teochew Building.

Here are the upcoming programmes that will be held in conjunction with Teochew Cultural Festival - Teochew Music and Opera.

15 Jun 2013 (Sat) and 16 Jun 2013 (Sun):
2.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m. Teochew Gongfu Tea Ceremony
3.00 p.m. - 4.30 p.m. Teochew Music presentation by Hwa Siah Musical Association

Teochew Gongfu Tea Ceremony. Uploaded on 15 Jun 2013.
I learnt more about tea appreciation from the tea master.

Teochew Music presentation by Hwa Siah Musical Association.
The performers showed dedication to their art.

14 Jun 2013 (Fri) to 20 Jun 2013 (Thu):
11.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m. (daily) Exhibition on Teochew Music and Opera

Teochew Cultural Festival 2013 - Teochew Music and Opera
Teochew Building
Ngee Ann Exhibition Hall and Auditorium
97 Tank Road
Singapore 238066
Nearest MRT station: Dhoby Ghaut.

Event page:

Saturday, June 08, 2013

artFIESTA 2013! at Emily Hill

It was my very first visit to Emily Hill at 11 Upper Wilkie Road. My main driving force was to experience the  pre-war building at Emily Hill. The secondary reason was to check out artFIESTA 2013! organised by Maya Gallery. artFIESTA 2013! presents a series of exciting art activities to spend the weekend on 8 and 9 Jun 2013 at Emily Hill.

Visitors to artFIESTA 2013! can find themselves treated to a series of art activities such as face painting, batik painting, sand-art drawing, art jamming and more. Some of these activities are free while others are charged at a fee.

On the second level, local author Hidayah Amin of The Mango Tree drew her participants into the fascinating world of story-telling. I learnt that the story-telling event is available only on 8 Jun 2013 (Sat).

At this event, I met Karto who makes beautiful hand-made pin-hole cameras with love and passion. I learnt about the art of taking photographs with pin-hole cameras from him. Thanks to Karto for sharing about pin-hole camera with me. His sharing seemed to make the science and art of pin-hole camera come alive.

One of the activities that intrigued me was the sand-art drawing. With the guidance and help of the artist, Ms Tan Sock Fong, I created a sand-art drawing of a tree. It was fun to experiment making art with a medium that was new to me, i.e. sand.

After my visit, I learnt from award-winning blogger, Mr Jerome Lim, that the white building that sits at 11 Upper Wilkie Road was previously known as the Osborne House. It was subsequently turned into the Japanese Consul-General's office in 1939. To learn more about this building, please read Jerome's A last reminder of an old-fashioned corner of Singapore.

If you are looking for a family-friendly art activities this weekend, artFIESTA 2013! may be worth a good consideration.

For more information, please visit:

artFIESTA 2013!
Organised by Maya Gallery
Venue: Emily Hill, 11 Upper Wilkie Road
Date: 8 - 9 Jun 2013
Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Suggestions to get there: Find your way to Wilkie Edge. Walk along Wilkie Rd. After Wilkie Terrace, continue to walk until you past 68 Wilkie Road. Look to your right and you will see some stairways that leads up to Mount Emily Park. Walk up the stairs and you will find Emily Hill, 11 Upper Wilkie Road fairly nearby.
If time permits, please make time to visit Displacements at 13 Wilkie Terrace.

For more information, please contact Tel: 62911760,

Friday, June 07, 2013

Launch of the DVD: Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes

Many thanks to the invitation of the National Museum of Singapore, I had the pleasure to attend the launch of the DVD, Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes, in the morning of 7 Jun 2013 at the Gallery Theatre of the National Museum of Singapore. Member of Parliament, Christopher de Souze, was the Guest of Honour for the event.

The DVD, Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes, is commissioned by the National Museum of Singapore. It is directed and produced by local filmmakers Gozde and Russel Zehnder. The production is based on the book Wartime Kitchen: Food and Eating in Singapore 1942 - 1950 (2009, Editions Didier Millet Ptd Ltd and National Museum of Singapore). It reveals the practices of food rationing and the conditions of the unpredictable food supply during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore.

National Museum of Singapore. Taken in May 2013.
This DVD is a six episode documentary series. During the launch, the first two episodes of the documentary series were screened. Each episode features a demonstration of a wartime recipe by write and food consultant Christopher Tan. The food demonstrations were so well presented that I was yearning for food during the screening during the launch.

The Question and Answer session with the filmmakers gave me a glimpse of the challenges that were faced when producing this DVD. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges was finding willing and living interviewees who have experienced the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. I learnt that a few of the interviewees who had been interviewed for the book Wartime Kitchen: Food and Eating in Singapore 1942 - 1950 had passed on by the time the production team started filming for Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes. It seemed even more critical to produce this documentary series as soon as we can so as to document a turbulent episode of history for future generations to remember.

Watching Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes reminded me that my generation is very blessed to live in a time when there is generally abundant access to food. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945, the common people has to cope with food rationing and limited food supply. As I watched the documentary series, I feel grateful that I have everything that I need in my life.

Interesting, I realized that we in Singapore have been quite dependent on sources of food which are exported from outside Singapore. The documentary series reminded me that we as a community will have to start thinking about how we can produce sufficient food for everyone in a sustainable way. I realized that I am lacking in the knowledge and skills to grow my own food should circumstances necessitate it. How does it feel to be close to the land? How could I grow food crops such as tapioca, kang kong and papaya?

This is a meaningful documentary series to collect. It reminded me of the turbulent times that people have to overcome during the Japanese Occupation. I was reminded not to take food and the peace we have for granted.

I watched each episode of the documentary in the comfort of my own home and was delighted by the care and attention that has been put in to make this documentary series possible. I very much like the idea of the six collectable recipe cards of wartime dishes. These recipes would have been hot favourites for aspiring chefs who would like to recreate these wartime dishes. The wartime dishes that were featured were:

  • Tapioca Vadai, 
  • Kangkong and Sweet Potato Lemak, 
  • Sotong Masak Kiam Chye, 
  • Betik Masak Titek, 
  • Lobster a la Bystander and 
  • Baked Fish Custards.

It is fascinating to learn more about the Japanese Occupation by exploring the experience of food consumption during that period. With creativity and ingenuity, people have created interesting wartime recipes that kept them alive!

Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes is available for sale from major book stores such as Kinokuniya.

Also see:
Eat to Live - Wartime Recipes By
Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes (Episode 1: Food as Power and Control)
Eat to Live: Wartime Recipes

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Displacements. At 13 Wilkie Terrace. The launch party.

Displacements. 13 Wilkie Terrace.

1 Jun 2013 (Sat):

I came to say 'hello' to a 77-year-old house that I do not have direct memories of.
My visit to the house reminded me of memories from my past.
As this house would be demolished soon,
While I say 'hello' to it, 
I knew in my heart that I would soon say 'goodbye' too.

It was a pleasant evening. The weather was about to drizzle. I strolled along Wilkie Road with one of my friends, JL, to head towards a 77-year-old house at 13 Wilkie Terrace. We hastened our pace as it would drizzle any time.

My imaginations ran a bit wild. I started to imagine what a simple yet lovely walk it would have been if I were living in 13 Wilkie Terrace and every day, on my way "home", I was treated to a leisure stroll along Wilkie Road. The low-rise buildings allowed me to gain a clear view of the skies. At night, I could count the stars if I wish to. The other houses along my way "home" would greet me each day until one day, a major change happened. 

Back to reality. I read that the house at 13 Wilkie Terrace was sold in 2013 to Roxy-Pacific Holding and it will make way for urban renewal in the Mount Emily/ Selegie area. Before the demolition of this house, 16 artists will interpret the theme of displacement in this soon-to-be demolished 77-year-old family home of the Chia family. Their works and interpretation will be presented in Displacements, a community arts exhibition and event program held at 13 Wilkie Terrace from 2 - 23 Jun 2013.

The house at 13 Wilke Terrace
As I walked up the stairways that would led me to the house, I was welcomed by stone table and stools. The bench reminded me of stone benches that I would find in the school-building which I had studied in as a Secondary School student. Conversations tend to take place when people sit next to one another. I hope the residents of and visitors to this house would have memorable and interesting conversations around the stone table.

There is an open-space area just outside the house. Maybe this space would have previously been the playground for the children? Last evening, the open-space became one of the favourite gathering places for the guests who attended Displacements' launch party.

The launch party.

As I entered the family home of Chia family, there is a distinctive plaque inscribed with Chinese words. It is placed in a conspicuous place that no-one could miss. From the words on the plaque, this plaque was presented to Mr Chia Pak Shoon when he moved to 13 Wilkie Terrace. The four Chinese characters in large fonts read 傑構崇高. These were written in the traditional Chinese script. As best as I could deduce, if rewritten in simplified Chinese script, the words on the plaque would be 杰构崇高 which would essentially mean 'an outstanding and noble structure'. I was fascinated with how the plaque could trace the history of the house.

My friend and I ventured about the house. I was more intrigued with the design of the house than the artworks that were on display. The high ceilings and the fans in the house reminded me of Jiang Xia Tang along Lor 35 Geylang which I have visited a few years ago. My friend noticed that the wooden doors in this house opened like a pair of couplets, one to the left and one to the right. She also noticed that every room that we visited had a wash basin.

13 Wilke Terrace.

The design of the glass windows somehow reminded me of the now demolished Nanyang Girls High School building which was located along Kings Road. That school building was where I had spent four memorable years of secondary level education in. The Russian Doll that I saw in the house reminded me of the Russian Doll that I have seen in my maternal grandparents' home. It was interesting to realize that my very first visit to this 77-year-old house could trigger me to recall memories that is not directly related to the house. Is this what collective memory is about?

In the background is a pigment ink print on fine art paper, Fragment, by Marcel Heijnen.
The furniture we see is from Carpenter and Cook.

Looking down, from one of the windows.

I took a special notice of the stairways. I imagined stairways as important spaces that people would have to pass through in order to get from one level of the house to the other. Maybe the stairways were one of the favourite exercising corners for the people who used to live in this house?

Displacements. The Community Arts Exhibition and Event Program.
While I was more captivated by the house itself, I reminded myself that Displacements is a community arts exhibition and took a good look at the works of art that were presented.

I found myself intrigued by Michelle Lim's Memories in Motion. Take some meditative moments to observe how the light shines through each of the porcelain pieces and you may, like myself, find awe and beauty in our everyday objects.

A part of Michelle Lim's Memory in Motion.

Also noteworthy is Yen Phang's Ecdysis #2. Thanks to the title of this work, I went to look up the dictionary and learnt the meaning of a new word! Ecdysis is the moulting of the protective outer covering in many invertebrates. The artist questions how we define ourselves through this artwork. In the exhibition catalogue, Yen Phang stated "We continually shed our old selves to reveal new, self-sought meanings for our future...". I felt grateful for the opportunity to speak with Yen Phang during the launch party. He shared with me a little more about the plaque that was displayed in the house and how Displacements was conceived.

Yen Phang's Ecdysis #2.

In this space, two works interact with one another as if they were engaging in some kind of dance.
Yen Phang's Ecdysis #2.
Karen and Alex Mitchell's "No Due Date".

Karen and Alex Mitchell's No Due Date has left an impression in my accompanying friend. She felt that the concepts of borrowing and displacement which are explored in this artwork was in some ways very relevant to the house. This is one work to contemplate the notions of borrowing and displacement. I particularly like how this work interact with Yen Phang's Ecdysis #2 like two artwork dancing with one another.

Nicola Anthony's Pass It On.

Nicola Anthony's Pass It On is one of the artworks that caught my eyes. It was simply not possible to ignore the brilliant red colours shouting from the thousands of saga seeds that were gathered from all over Singapore. As the lights throw themselves onto the artwork, it was interesting to see how the reflections from the artwork threw themselves onto the walls. I like the organic feel that seemed to radiate from this work. It reminded me of the occasional times when my friends and I would pick and gather a few saga seeds to keep as memento. Did you have a memory of yourself picking and keeping saga seeds? 

Interestingly, each saga seed has a story behind its seed collecting process. the stories are available at My saga seed number is 4791. What is yours?

There are many other noteworthy works that are being presented at Displacements. I shall not write about all the works. If you are curious about Displacements, please visit the house at 13 Wilkie Terrace to experience the house and the works personally. I wish that the next time when I visit Displacements sometime this month, I could catch the performance by Sören and Jessica.

As I left the house last night, I also felt a sense of sadness and nostalgia to bid farewell to 13 Wilkie Terrace. Good-bye. Thank you for the memories.


2 - 23 Jun 2013
13 Wilke Terrace, Singapore.
Exhibition hours:
Tue - Fri, 3 p.m. -8 p.m.
Sat and Sun, 2 - 8 p.m.
Admission is free

Directions to get there:
13 Wilkie Terrace is within walking distance from Selegie Road. The nearest MRT stations are Little India Station (8 minutes away on foot) and Dhoby Ghaut (15 minutes on foot). To walk there, walk to Wilkie Edge, then up Wilkie Road until you see Wilkie Terrace. Turn into Wilkie Terrace and walk up to house number 13.

Parking is available along Wilkie Road, Niven Road, Peace Centre and Wilkie Edge.

Please also read
Displacements - Goodbye Forever by Karen Mitchell.
A celebratory show before demolition begins by Bruce Quek.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

A visit to Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb

On a lovely afternoon in May 2013, I visited the exhibition Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb. This exhibition held at the ArtScience Museum showcases six mummies, including those of two animals (the cat and the ibis). The exhibition is presented through the collaboration of the British Museum and the ArtScience Museum.

The replica of the significant Rosetta Stone
As I walked into the exhibition, the replica of the Rosetta Stone reminded me of the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. The Rosetta Stone is significant to Egyptology. It contains hieroglyphic scripts and holds a valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs.

The mummy Nesperennub and the virtual unwrapping technology
The next part of the exhibition was visually extraordinary. Visitors like myself were presented with a three-dimensional documentary film of the virtual 3-D unwrap of the mummy of Nesperennub, an Egyptian temple priest who lived 3000 years ago. The virtual unwrapping technology allowed experts to see what is inside the mummy of Nesperennub without having to physically unwrap the mummy.

I have found it particularly interesting and well-focused that the storyline of the exhibition centred on Nesperennub and the world of priests. I learnt that Nesperennub was a fan-bearer. This was considered a very significant role because fan-bearer would have the privilege to be close to the Pharaohs.

Another interesting artefact in this exhibition is the reconstructed copy of Nesperennub's head. Stereolithography was used to construct the head. The model of the reconstructed head of Nesperennub was presented with a shaven head. I learnt that it was a common practice for priests from ancient Egyptian to have their heads shaved.

At the end of the exhibition, visitors could see the mummy of Nesperennub. I was in awe to see it. I was particularly fascinated with the elaborate designs that were on the painted cartonnage case.

Ancient Egyptian's beliefs and practices
During my visit to the exhibition, I learnt more about the religious beliefs behind the funeral practices of the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Egyptians believe in life after death. I was intrigued by the process of mummification. In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be complimentary workshops on embalming for ticket holders during the weekends and selected dates in June. I missed the embalming workshops. Nevertheless, I managed to learn that the embalming process would take approximately 70 days to complete.

The Wedjat Eye Amulet was one of the small-sized artefacts that had caught my interest. This amulet is associated with the god, Horus. This is a protective amulet that is believed to have healing and protective powers. As photography was not allowed in the exhibition, I gladly sketched the various artefacts that had caught my interest onto my notebook.

From my sketches, you could probably guess it that other than being interested in the Cat Mummy, I was pretty intrigued by the canopic jars that bore the faces of the the Four sons of Horus, namely Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef and Qebhsenuef. The canopic jars contain the internal organs of the mummy.

Suggestions to enhance our visitor's experience to this exhibition
I strongly recommend visitors to attend the complimentary guided tour. The audio guide that can be rented at a fee of $3 is also a very useful companion that would enrich a visitor's experience to this exhibition.

To enhance the experience, it is also strongly recommended that visitors who visit this exhibition as a family could engage in a specially-designed quest. The quest bags for this activity could be collected at the Activity Quest booth found on the same level as the exhibition galleries. Simply bring along a photo identification card  to rent one of these quest bags.

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb reminded me of the exhibition Eternal Egypt: Treasures From the British Museum which I had visited at the Asian Civilisations Museum in 1999. That exhibition also presented artefacts from the British Museum's collection. If you ask me, thanks to the spacious size of the gallery spaces of the ArtScience Museum and the interesting storyline behind this exhibition, I prefer Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb. 

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb
27 Apr - 4 Nov 2013
ArtScience Museum
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
Opening hours: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. (Last admission at 9.00 p.m.)

Also read:
Finding out mummy's little secrets by Jerome Lim
Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb by Benedicta J. Foo
Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb Uncovered by
Mummy Secrets of the Tomb Exhibition at the ArtScence Museum by
Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb by Laura Freeman