Jan 28, 2015
Dec 21, 2014
Dec 14, 2014
Is the community centre necessarily at the centre of a community?
It is hard to answer in the affirmative for most of the community centres in our neighbourhoods.
Their architecture is often one of exclusion: surrounded by a wall, gated. On your visit you would be confronted by an empty hall/fast food joint/carpark/basketball court - a singular entity whose identity is announced on the building facade with a government logo and sharp red text.
One afternoon wandering around a neighbourhood, we strayed into a community centre we felt hopeful about.
It comprised a cluster of small 2-storey buildings. As such, there is no discernible lobby or "main" entrance. The buildings are around a courtyard. At one corner of the courtyard are benches in front of a outdoor TV screen. There is no wall defining the compound, and no gate keeping anyone out. One building houses a canteen on the ground floor. Another houses a teaching kitchen that we saw being used as a soup kitchen.
And then there was this strange, cheesy prop - a red chariot led by two winged white horses. Someone or more likely a kind of "community" had agreed to crochet a colourful patchwork to hide the horses' nakedness. Perhaps they had hours of conversation and song in the process.
Of course the centre of a community is never a building.
Nov 22, 2014
Christmas Island by Bob Dylan
Our neighbourhoods have changed in sophistication through the years. Lifts now stop at every floor and have 24-7 camera monitors. The new energy-saving lights in the corridors are fitted with motion sensors. And even the festive lights and decorations our neighbours put up are beginning to rival those at Orchard Road in ambition and their enthusiastic blinking.
Hopefully Christmas in our tropical neighbourhoods will always remain a time when families and friends gather to share our lives in these modest homes or under the starry shade of our miniature public gardens.
Oct 12, 2014
Breaking up with a plant is hard to do.
The colours fade, the foliage thins, there appears to be an alien invasion of bugs or mould, and a rot grows from the roots. Or for whatever reason, you must part ways. It is not rational. You just don't want it anymore. The way you may grow tired of a shirt and it languishes in your cupboard, untouched, for years.
But unlike a bag of old clothes or a broken-down television set, it doesn't quite belong to the "bulky refuse" bin at the void deck. It has a life, after all. It is not "refuse" or "litter".
And so you gift your plant to the neighbourhood.
A public garden, where it lives - rain or shine - in equal measure as all other plants and trees. Not quite the same as being in a jungle or forest, but nonetheless a step closer to nature. Only its pot remains as a reminder of its past, unbroken.
But if it persists, its roots may break through and it may taste a different earth.
Jul 3, 2014
We've always enjoyed telling stories through drawings, under our studio moniker ampulets. Over the years, some of these drawings have gone into magazines and shows. There are a few that we are especially fond of. Some of you have told us that you feel the same way too!
Neighbourgoods bring you four of such drawings in a limited edition of archival quality prints. Three of these drawings were first shown and sold at PHUNK's fundraiser exhibitions from 2011 to 2013, and the latest in a soon-to-be released book on Singapore's public housing.
They tell of music and new beginnings; dreams and freedom; heroes and peace; and home, one with a fat cat.
These prints will be happy to tell their stories on the walls of your office, home, or just about anywhere else in your neighbourhood.
Limited edition of 20 Giclee / Archival Print
Hahnemühle German etching paper (310 gsm)
11.8"x15.7" / 30cmx40cm
Signed, Titled, and Numbered (with Certificate)
available via firstname.lastname@example.org
available via email@example.com
"Morning has Broken" (2013)
Morning has broken" from Cat Stevens' 1971 Teaser and the Firecat album has been playing in our heads. But the song actually had an earlier life as a Christian hymn, with lyrics by children's book author Eleanor Farjeon in 1931. The song celebrates each morning as if it is the first day on earth. It calls upon our sense of wonder at creation and nature, as well as the hope for new beginnings. We are asked to imagine every morning, the birth of a new day, as if God was re-creating, remaking the world. How beautiful an image and feeling - to be able to leave behind every morning, all that has passed, all worries, all regrets.
"I don't wanna Arowana" (2012)My brother kept a majestic looking 20-inch silver arowana. His dream was that the arowana's luck-giving powers would help him strike one of the top prizes in Toto or 4D, and bring the family great fortune. It died last month after spending 2 years in its 50-inch wide tank. What a sad fish! It never did fulfil my brother's dream. My dream is to live a life free from greed and envy; a life – and eternity – that is rich with immeasurable love, joy and peace.
"Be Still" (2011)When asked who inspires us most, we were stumped by the question for a while. There are so many people we admire for their talent, courage, generosity and imagination. But if we had to name just one name...
The Nazarene carpenter Jesus was born 2000 years ago. He ordered the stormy winds to be still, healed the sick, silenced religious leaders, told off the rich, showed love to the poor, and died so that he could save. Yet even for those whom he has saved, it is all too easy to be buffeted by the storms of disease, wants and fears; or be buoyed up by optimism of youth and the power of wealth. In the midst of life's storms, we eventually find a security and peace in knowing that what anchors us need not be any of these. If only we would be still.
"Bui Bui" (2014)Every void deck has a cat with many names. At ours, there is one we call Buibui.
Buibui used to be looked after by a neighbour on the 6th floor who would provide food and the occasional shelter. When they moved away, they kindly brought Buibui along. But she soon returned, unable to adjust to her new surroundings. Buibui is now beneficiary of a family on the 10th floor and adopted by the host of old ladies at our void deck who meet every morning to chat and every night to chat some more. She lounges where they do and allows them to chide her for getting into fights or getting her fur all grimy. We are a little like Buibui. After living at our flat in Toa Payoh for more than 10 years, we cannot imagine living anywhere else where the old ladies will not wave and smile at us in the cool night air.
Jun 29, 2014
"I was born the very year my family moved from a kampung into a HDB flat. Unlike my 6 older siblings, I do not have fond memories of growing up with chickens and pigs wandering about, or that secret thrill of eating fruits stolen from a neighbour’s tree. In fact, when briefed about the exhibition, I drew a blank for the first few seconds – “Local fruits? Do we grow fruits in Singapore?”
"In the same way, it is both funny and sad that if we ask kids today where does beef or rice come from, the immediate answer would probably be: “supermarket”. If the question was asked about a fruit like the pineapple (a fruit once widely cultivated as a cash crop and canned in Singapore), would the answer also be “supermarket”, the same answer if the question was about strawberries?"
Jun 12, 2014
May 31, 2014
|《我們家樓下的小野貓 實在是越長越肥》 |
Drawing for a friend's HDB project.
Every void deck has a cat with many names. At ours, there is one we call Buibui.
Buibui used to be looked after by a neighbour on the 6th floor who would provide food and the occasional shelter. When they moved away, they kindly brought Buibui along. But she soon returned, unable to adjust to her new surroundings. Buibui is now beneficiary to a family on the 10th floor and adopted by the host of old ladies at our void deck who meet every morning to chat and every night to chat some more. She lounges where they do and allows them to chide her for getting into fights or getting her fur all grimy.
We are a little like Buibui. After living at our flat in Toa Payoh for more than 10 years, we cannot imagine living anywhere else where the old ladies will not wave and smile at us in the cool night air.
Mar 1, 2014
If, like us, you live in a HDB flat or an apartment, what is a door or whatever doorway you can call your own?
Some doors are like the last line of their inhabitant's defense against the world. They have mirrors to ward off evil. Incense holders to appease the angry gods. Wire and plastic to keep out the neighbourhood cats. Curtains to frustrate the curious.
Some doors are always dressed for the occasion. And the occasion is always auspicious.
Most doorways right outside our flats serve function. They extend what little storage space our HDB cubbyholes afford with cupboards and shoe racks.
Many doorways also inadvertently express our urge for a piece of the earth and the life it gives. And we bless it with useful herbs, plants whose names mean wealth or health, and flowers to please the eye and spirit.
The door shuts out, even as it welcomes those who know it as home.