Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Importance of Details

These sketches describe the work carried out by NUS students under the tutelage of Kok Ming in a restored shop house in Malacca; other than the skill in the details - I also like how the series of small sketches explain the logic and craft behind each piece of work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Scribbling on the wall

After completing the building - we realised that the mural that was promised would not be be forth coming, and that we are left to our own resources to provide 'art-work' for the space on the wall. Without much money left in the project budget, purchasing a piece of art was out of the question, as would leaving the space empty. It was then we came across the scrap metal in the client's yard; remnants of a recent plant machinery overhaul. The tangled mess of stainless steel tubing used to be part of a high pressure network supplying gases to one of the production processes no doubt. Now, it was to be sold by weight to the scrap dealer. 

one man's trash is another man's treasure

raw materials for 3-D graffiti

setting the stage for an intervention with Ah Hin and his argon-welder

making it up as we go...

three afternoons later...

the poem is "whose earth is this?

with all the components in place, it does not look half bad. :-)
I am often asked about the meaning of this piece - is it the crescent moon?, are they hands clasped in prayer or the map of Borneo; I simply smile and answer, 'yes'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chinese cough remedies

I was coughing badly for the past 4 weeks - the two doses of anti-biotics did not help so I decided to give Chinese herbal medicine a try. This meant going to Carpenter Street in the old part of town to visit Dr. Bong who comes highly recommended by my mom. He prescribed 24 doses of powdered herbs to be mixed in half a cup of warm water and taken three times a day. 

I read somewhere *that our memory of scent and taste is retained more deeply in our memory - often bringing on powerful recollections of past events related to a particular smell. The taste of the muddy mixture reminded me of my 'Ah-mah' (maternal grandmother) remedies administered in the first seven years of my life when I lived with her.

In them days, the powdered herbs were administered via a rolled piece of paper and 'blown' into your mouth (or the back of your throat if you have a cough or sore throat). You are not allowed to swallow for a time to allow the medicine to work and in those minutes, the gritty texture stuck to the back of your throat and lodged in your windpipe with each breath. 

from the bottom of the driveway
These are my 'drawings from memory' - of grandma s house at Jalan Tabuan. It is no longer there. It burned down one night in 1987, I was in Australia studying for my degree. When I was told the news over the phone; my mom mistook my stunned silence for a bad connection, perhaps not aware of how much the 'old house' and my memories there meant to me.

a continuous line of timber shutters provides protection from weather
Seven years of my life was spent there; new born till Primary One after which I stayed over on most weekends until I was ten - almost all my childhood memories had something to do with the rambling old house and its 4-acre jungle of a 'garden'. I remember the gravel driveway that wound up a small hill to the house - it was alright if you were in a car but most of the time we were on foot or on bikes which meant that you had to struggle against the gradient and the bumpy gravel.

the drive runs under the house where most of the time a small grey-blue Mazda is parked until Grandma goes for her card-games

Closer to the house, gravel turns to concrete and you catch sight of the house - a powdery blue timber structure with shutters on the first floor raised on brick piers one storey high.The formal living and dining rooms were on the ground floor while the bedrooms were upstairs, the kitchen with its wood-fire stove was in a separate single storey structure. The highlight of each week was lunch at Grandma's where she holds court with hot soups and an equally fiery temper.
the doorway on the right leads to the formal living room

the corridor, the stairs to bedrooms and the kitchen block