Category Archives: Art

Wedding DIY: "Here Comes the Bride" Flowergirl Banner

Jasmine: I’d seen weddings where flowergirls carried in a banner bearing the words, "Here comes the bride", and had always found that cute. I thought that making a basic banner from scratch would be a fun (and hopefully, easy) way to incorporate some crafty goodness into our wedding. Following this, I also made another banner that read "I’m not the bride".

So here goes nothing.

Step 1: Cut out ten hearts in two different sizes

Cut out hearts (a mixture of Webster’s Pages and Graphic45) and write the words, "Here Comes the Bride", on them. I had planned to use cardboard letters, but they were way too small, so I had to painstakingly write, colour in, outline and then use 3D accents on top to give the lettering a shiny, raised look.

A pic my sister snapped at random.

Trying to avoid finger cramp

Charlene, our self-appointed New Media Consultant, is really doing a great job, not only helping us capture candid moments, styling her own photoshoots, uploading all pictures and creating our montage (which she likes to point out would "cost us hundreds" elsewhere!).

Step 2: Embellish!

I added crystal accents and Prima flowers to the smaller hearts on the ends of the banner, and also looped the ribbon so that it would be easy for little hands to grasp it.

However, I thought that the scrap of tulle netting provided the best finishing touch, making the banner a tad more whimsical.

Step 3: Secure hearts with ribbons

I used a variety of trim- the music notes ribbon was from Daiso!

 

Layer different textures of ribbon in the same colour palette (in this case, cream) for a rich, dimensional look.

Step 4: Step back and admire!

The back view

The front

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Wedding DIY: "I’m Not the Bride" Flowergirl Banner

Jasmine: We wanted to surprise our guests during the wedding processional, so we had our last and littlest flowergirl, Kirsten, hold a sign that said, "I’m not the bride".

We had six-year-old Elliot and four-year-old Faith walk out holding the "Here Comes the Bride" banner, followed by two-year-old Kirsten with a sign that read, "I’m not the bride".

Here’s how to make an easy banner for one pint-sized member of your bridal party to carry.

Step 1: Cut out two hearts

Step 2: Make a border

I actually depleted all my supplies of brown cardstock making the "Here Comes The Bride" banner, so these were actually strips of paper cut from the leftovers of that project and folded concertina-style.

It doesn’t matter if the border is composed of different papers; in fact, that can make for an even more visually interesting look!

Step 3: Decorate!

As you can see from these closeups, I tried to keep the colours (milky jade green and mocha brown) consistent with the "Here Comes the Bride" banner, but also accented it more heavily with purple to tie it in closely with the purple theme as well as my handbouquet.

I used liquid pearls to outline the words with tiny green dots. Added random flowers, a glass button (hidden behind the white flower) a paper cutout and a rhinestone embellishment.

And here’s a look at the almost-finished product. Found myself almost loving the back more than the front! I used distress inks to outline the striped heart and give it a faded, vintage quality.

The back view

Remember what I said about not being afraid to use different papers to make up the same border? I thought the contrast was pretty stunning here!

The front

Alas, we realised that this banner was too small and that guests might have difficulty making out the words on it, hence, I decided to do an "enlarged" version.

Here’s a size comparison:

And here’s the final product!

I simply used a brown marker to write the words, and then went over it with glossy accents, which is a transparent 3D paint which gives a raised effect.

Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of the "here comes the bride banner" as the photog turned to photograph Andrew at this point. Heh. However, here’s cute little Kirsten stoically carrying the "I’m not the bride" banner at our wedding! Check out all the paparazzi behind!

The flower garland for her hair was made by my Ee Ee, and the purple tutu by Andrew’s cousin Evelyn (whose daughter Faith was also our flowergirl!) Daphne, Kirsten’s mum, also rushed to bring Kirsten down to the wedding though her son was ill. Apparently, that morning when Kirsten woke up, she took one look at her flowergirl costume and said, "I want to go". Aww!

Looking at this pic just brings back so many happy memories of all the wonderful people who went the extra mile to make our day possible- thank you once again!

NYC Again – Subway Art!

Andrew: As mentioned earlier, there’s just too much to blog about NYC until Dearie gave me the idea to blog about the subway art that we had seen! Interestingly enough, we had also been sufficiently impressed by the art that we have a significant collection of photographs with the subway art.

Jasmine: I’ve always thought that entrances are so important yet so underrated, whether it’s a hotel reception, or a front page for a website, or the window display for a store. It sets the tone for what the visitor can expect, and when done well, serves as a portal into a different frame of mind.

That’s why I really liked how site- and context-specific some of these art pieces were, with deep respect for the historical purpose of the neighbourhood served by the subway. 

I understand that our very own Circle Line has some site-specific installations too, but as I’ve never quite paid attention to them (or perhaps the meanings are too obscure for me), I can’t quite comment. That’s a shame, considering I take Circle Line to work daily, but then again, my objective is standing around looking as pregnant as possible so that some kind soul gives up his seat for me. Heh.

Andrew: I have blogged about the Circle Line art in my own blog in two parts – Part 1 on Marymount Station and Part 2 on Dakota Station. Though not all pieces were successful, I applaud the efforts and look forward to more of this in our subsequent MRT lines! There’s so much room for artistic expression, that is linked to culture, history and location, in Singapore.

Here’s our collection of noteworthy photographs of Subway art in NYC. I’d like to add that what was significantly different about the NYC pieces was the element of interactivity and play to them – subway users could actually be ‘part’ of the art pieces and have fun with them! They actually have NYC Subway Art tours, which we might sign up for the next time we go.

MTA Arts for Transit, For Want of a Nail, at 81st Street – Museum of Natural History Station

Jasmine: On entrances, I thought that this was a great way to “welcome” one to the American Museum of Natural History. Some might say it is quite literal, embedding mosaics of insects on the subway walls, but it was perfect as subway art, which I feel should be accessible above all else. After all, commuters walk past hurriedly in seconds and won’t have time to register art that is too subtle. Therefore, to me, subway art needs to be simple yet visually arresting- nothing too deep or profound, as the subway is not the destination in itself but the gateway to one.

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Andrew: Yes, this photograph on facebook had some people commenting that I actually had a ‘fun’ side. LOL. Of course I do!

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Jasmine: What a beautiful, unexpected corner in the station! A train had just gone past, hence I was trying to catch my hair. In person, the 3D effect of the raised mosaics was stunning too.

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Andrew: We were actually in a rush to the Natural History Museum as our itinerary was quite packed that day (so much to do in NYC), but we ended up spending about 15 – 20 minutes just taking photos!

Keith Godard, Memories of Twenty-Third Street at Twenty Third Street Station

Jasmine: Not many might know but Twenty Third Street used to be the vaudeville, fashion and entertainment district up until the 1920s! With this history of costuming and millinery, the artwork of different hats (or roles, played by entertainers) was most appropriate, and also fun for us to participate in, as the hats were at different heights!

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The only chance I’ll get to wear a top hat

Andrew: This piece of art was at the station near to the Flatiron building. An interesting anecdote that I discovered as I read up more about this piece was that the Flatiron building, being taller than the buildings around it, caused the area to be very windy. That was indeed true during our visit there! Anyway, many young lads thus came to the Flatiron area, hoping to get a glimpse of some ladies ‘stockings’ as the wind blew up their skirts. Apparently, a glimpse of stockings was something shocking in that era. When spotted by police, they would run, and together with the windy conditions, that would cause many hats to fly!

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My chic-est hair accessory yet

Samm Kunce, Under Bryant Park 2002, at 5th Avenue, 42nd Street-Bryant Park Station

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Jasmine: This was very meaningful as it was under the veritable New York Public Library. The tree roots seemed to connote two levels of meaning: firstly, the more literal meaning that it was below ground level, and secondly, a clue as to the landmark it served, the Public Library, as books came from trees.

Andrew: The lines are from James Joyce’s Finnegans’ Wake and were meant to be read in a an Irish accent. There were many other quotations along this mosaic, from Carl Jung and even Mother Goose nursery rhymes ("Jack and Jill”), catering to many different audiences. One could spend a long time just ‘reading’ while walking along the line.

I recall there was an attempt to incorporate poetry along our MRT lines – perhaps this approach can be taken as we now have signifcantly ‘larger’ MRT lines, like the transit stations (Outram Park). We could use the walls of the walk-areas to incorporate similar art pieces!

Tom Otterness, Life Underground, at the 14th Street, 8th Avenue station

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Jasmine: Ohhh… this was my favourite piece of subway art in New York! Legend –ok, actually Wikipedia– has it that the artist became so obsessed with the project that he created four times the amount of artwork he was commissioned to produce. As a result, you can see more than 100 pieces of bronze sculptures scattered across the subway station, and making great use of existing structures in the station.

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Jasmine: The artwork was deemed too “cute” (which is why I suspect people love it so much), which undercut its critical edge about greed and the “impossibility of living in New York”, as some of the figures are seen holding money bags or being eaten up by alligators. Now, we were in a rush, so we didn’t get to explore all the more significant sculptures, but whatever we saw, we liked lots, like this one, which the theme of construction.

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Jasmine: And another representation of life in New York, which we also thought mirrored us: the husband hurrying the wife along while the wife is distracted by yet another thing to see/ shop. Just mentally replace the drain cover that she’s holding with some shopping bags 😀 (Andrew: Wow – that interpretation is really a stretch. Though on some days the shopping bags did feel as heavy as a drain cover.)

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Andrew: Another fun piece, which I thought would be fun for audiences of all ages. The cute figurines would be attractive to kids and just walking around trying to ‘spot’ the figurines was also fun! For us, it was interesting to think about what the figurines and their activities represented about construction in NYC.

What a brilliant way to bring arts to the masses and into everyday life. I applaud this effort and do hope that it is brought into Singapore someday, in a more extensive way.

Easter Crafts and Activities with a 1 Year Old

Jasmine: This week, we did a few simple activities with Dylan to commemorate Good Friday and Easter. Because I was on bedrest, the activities had to be restful and allow me to stay seated or better still, lying down.

1. Bunny Book

The first was easy, (re)reading a bunny-themed book to Dylan. This was a gift for Dylan’s full month from James and Felicia, and Dylan seems to like it more with each successive reading. This time, he squealed with delight when I made him do the actions to the various lines.

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Andrew: Hmm, you sure you read the book or just took a photo? The book’s still in the box.

Jasmine: HEY. I read the whole book. What were you doing, watching Amazing Race again?

Andrew: Oops – heh. Anyway, just to add, in terms of reading him stories, we did read him the story of Jesus’s resurrection from the rhyme bible that night. 🙂

2. Lighted Easter “Egg”

Jasmine: I wanted to calm Dylan down before bedtime, so I pulled out the trusty LED light balls, and placed one in an Easter egg/ chick (actually an old toothpick holder) to symbolise how the grave could not contain Christ’s resurrection and light. The other three lightballs, I placed in a coconut wood bowl from Bali, to symbolise a nest.

These lightballs and clear ball provided variation and helped extend the activity, as Dylan could move the chick to cover them and produce different colours.

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A closeup of the clear ball, with the three LED lightballs illuminating it from below.

3. Suncatchers

Jasmine: Sent Dear out to buy more laminate stickers from our neighbourhood Popular store, and came up with a quick “craft” activity for Dilly.

I say “craft” in inverted commas because I’m not sure cutting up cellophane triangles and getting baby to stick them on is considered very crafty/ artsy, but anyways.

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Our sophisticated, state of the art supplies included the Daiso dustpan and toilet roll, for different ways to pour and scoop the cellophane onto the laminate sticker.

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We opened up the laminate sticker so that Dylan could just stick them on immediately. Dylan could practise his fine motor skills by picking up and manipulating the triangles of different sizes. Sometimes he “accidentally” threw them on and found that they had stuck, other times he would intentionally try to place a triangle on after we showed him how we did it.

Andrew: Actually, from my observations, it seemed like Dylan was more keen on eating all the cell0phone bits, dumping them all on the floor and crumpling the whole cellophane sheet. Case in point below:

20140425_202350Jasmine: Excuse me, that was Dylan being creative and playful. Sigh, the difference between a mum and dad’s perspective.

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Getting his fine motor skills on

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The finished product, which can not only be used as a suncatcher, but also a placemat and a mask, it seems…

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Andrew: Best part of this activity (and most of those above) is that they are mostly low cost and can capture his attention for a long time (which is about 40 minutes).

Jasmine: On a sidenote, Dear gifted me with this Matryoshka Russian doll ring from NYC jeweller, Noir! It was quite pricey but we managed to obtain a discount (by feigning reluctance to buy it due to the missing rhinestone) so it came within our acceptable budget. Yay!

She is a gorgeous gold-plated, hand-enamelled doll with paistaking detailing everywhere…

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But what really stole my heart was the fact that she had a tiny, peanut-sized Russian doll inside! It seemed like a timely token for Easter weekend. Considering that I am expecting a sweet baby girl this Russian doll ring (fashioned like a mother protecting or nurturing the daughter within her) seemed to symbolise the new life growing inside me. (With an argument like that, can still refuse to buy for me?? Haha I doubt it. Take Literature, people, it comes in handy when you least expect it.)

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Andrew: Well, there was no life for my wallet after buying that, that’s for sure.

Jasmine: Thank you dear for the ring, I love it! But now that I’m on bedrest there’s nowhere to wear it to… *Hint hint*

Sensory Bottles and Baskets

Jasmine: I love sensory bottles. They’re all sorts of awesome. It’s dirt cheap (you can even put dirt in, I bet), (Andrew: oh boy, I wouldn’t put it past Jasmine to do that… *images of Jasmine digging up dirt from downstairs, or rather, getting ME to do it).
Jasmine: That’s genius dear, can you shovel some for me after you knock off work? As I was saying, sensory bottles take seconds to assemble and you can introduce baby to different things that would otherwise pose choking hazards to him.

We have written previously about toys for 6-12 months and toys for 12-18 months. Well, I guess most DIY toys can be played with at all ages, just with higher levels of dexterity and creativity as the child grows. Sensory bottles are a perfect example of a DIY toy that will appeal to all ages.

OH and just for fun, this structure we saw at Hokey Pokey must be the mother of all sensory bottles! All kinds of funny things like glitter, dice, feathers neatly encased in clear tubes that you could slide through clear tunnels and retrieve from the bottom. Methinks I can replicate this with masking tape and some 1-litre Coke bottles!

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This is our humble current collection of sensory bottles, of different weights and colours:

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From left:

1. Yellow glitter with water. This is Dyl’s favourite bottle. He loves shaking the bottle to stir up the glitter, and then throwing it aside, only to return to it again. Ironically, it looks like a sparkly version of the honey water it originally contained.

2. Furry pipe cleaners.

3. Elderberry sauce with a squirt of dishwashing liquid to create tons of frothy bubbles. Even I find this very gratifying to shake as the bubbles and red coloring swirl together very nicely.

4. Foil strips cut from a Lay’s chips packet. This is very lightweight at the moment. I’m meaning to add a couple of tiny bells for added shine and jingle.

5. Two types of pom poms, ones with “hairy” glitter that Andrew finds disturbing and the normal colourful ones.

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No Mummy, it wasn’t me…

To be on the extra safe side, I scotch-taped the caps of the liquid bottles.

The materials (glitter, pipe cleaners, pom poms) cost maybe $10 in total and took maybe 10 min in total to assemble over a couple weeks?

A look at the "full" collection, with some new additions:

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I also made a matching pair of day and night bottles.

The night bottle is made with blue food coloring (thanks to my SIL who gave me the eight colours she used for her rainbow cake so I can now make a whole other set of rainbow bottles), glow in the dark stars and bits of tin foil. The day bottle is made with a milk powder sample (to simulate sand), wooden picks for kaya toast and the train set from Dylan’s 1st birthday cake.

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I also made another pair of bottles with baby oil, and these are my favourite, I really liked the way they turned out! One is a lava bottle made with purple neon paint and blue glitter which bubbles up quite prettily, and for the other, I simply threw some pom poms and acrylic letters in! They move through baby oil slower than they move through water so it’s quite nice watching these bottles.

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Dylan likes exploring and rolling all the bottles. I thought of setting up a sensory bottle bowling alley but he prefers just throwing everything about and seeing them move.

Andrew: To be honest, Dylan really does treat them like bowling pins.

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Jasmine: He is so excited about them, he’s even learnt to climb up the coffee table to knock them over one by one! Tsk!

As a bonus, with the extra pom poms, I also made a pom pom drop and shoot toy consisting of a toilet roll (wrapped in the packaging the pom poms came in, hence the pink) and a plastic container. The original one got broken by Dilly, so I replaced the lid.

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Andrew: the furry balls creep me out!

Jasmine: Once again, another example of how Dilly doesn’t use the toys as intended- instead of dropping the pom poms into the container, he turns it sideways and uses it as a… kaleidoscope of sorts. Heh.

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Andrew: He also loves shaking it very hard and seeing the balls fly in all directions, which is how he broke the lid of the previous version of this toy.

Jasmine: Yes, sigh, inevitably, it ends up as a pom pom rocket launcher, which sends pom poms helter-skelter across the room.

20140409-212706.jpg And instead of going for the pom poms, Dilly finds a stray balled-up receipt instead

The one thing easier to assemble than sensory bottles is sensory baskets!

This is a tactile basket comprising loot from our latest shopping trip to Spotlight and Daiso, namely a microfiber porcupine mitten, laundry dryer balls and a mini dustpan, which he has really grown quite fond of this week, "sweeping" the floor whenever he sees Granny doing so.

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And this is a pair of sensory baskets to teach Dylan about square and round shapes!

In the square basket, we have a busy book, soft blocks, water blocks, a tooth box from Dylan’s man yue, and a Jonathan Adler salt-and-pepper shaker cardboard box from our honeymoon in NYC. Try to choose squares that have rounded corners to be on the safe side, as Dylan cut his lip chewing on the tooth box and we had to take it away.

In the round basket, we have a mirror, a set of free Coca-Cola coasters from Carls’ Jr, quite a few balls of different textures and sizes, an old eye cream jar and a bumblebee maracas.

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Andrew: I always thought Dearie had a flair for creating things, which was evident when she was doing her scrapbooking. I’m glad she is now channelling her creative energies into making engaging toys with learning value for our son, instead of focusing on her more ambitious home remodelling projects. (Jasmine: Oh dearie, you don’t know that I am currently conceptualising a coffee table with built in ball pit and light table for Dylan and baby sister. Once I’m done ideating, I’m calling our contractor for a quote.)

Jasmine: I’m having fun making all these DIY toys and it’s great when some of them actually prove to be a hit with Dylan!

DIY Toys for Sensory Play

Jasmine: Being maidless this and last week, we’ve really had to step up our efforts to be home early and take care of Dylan. One of the ways I’ve found is to make "toys" to occupy both of us meaningfully. Truthfully, we are still in trial and error stage, as Dylan loves certain toys but will only spend a couple minutes on others. The challenge is hitting upon the right "toy" or interest that will keep him engaged and stationed in one place, especially since he loves to run around with his walker.

We have previously written a similar post on DIY and "free" toys, but that was catered towards the 6-12month range. Now that Dylan is shifting from honing his fine motor skills to working on his gross motor skills, we have tried to create learning experiences for him that allow him to push, pull, throw… you get the drift.

These activities are classified by four key types of learning to help baby explore and manipulate his world:

1. Put in pull out practice

-Colander and fuzzy wires

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So, this looks like a crazy sci-fi helmet, but it was a really simple idea that took about 15 seconds to make, inspired by a milk tin with holes cut out for straws that we saw at Blue House. Dilly is very eager to pull out the fuzzy chenille wires, and he’s even successfully threaded one or two back in.

 

-Pom pom drop and shoot

I cut a hole in a takeaway container and stuck a toilet roll in, so that Dilly could drop pom poms in and see them land inside the container. No pictures because Dilly broke the container in his excitement. Haha.

 

-Doing the laundry

Child labour! Nuff said!

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This was a spontaneous and very fun activity for Dilly. He loved sticking his head and hands in, feeling the warmth and moisture of the inside of the machine, and pulling out every single piece of laundry there was. In fact, we stuffed the load of washing back in three times because he was enjoying himself so much.

p.s. I just love his duck training pants.

 

2. Messy play

This is an area of play which I really want to expose Dilly to more, as it’s crucial for stimulating creativity and appreciation of ambiguity.

 

However, I am quite put off by the fact that I will end up doing all the cleaning up. I also wanted to do some painting or homemade playdough activities but given Dyl’s eczema, I’m uncertain about how his skin will respond and having to manage any allergic reactions e.g. waking up throughout the night makes me quite mess-averse.

 

-Gooey sensory bag

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I guess my compromise is to do messy play activities that I can handle, rather than not try at all? So I squeezed some toothpaste and shampoo into a plastic bag, and let Dylan smear the two different colours. The gooey-ness and coolness of the stuff also made it a different experience from his other toys. I would have liked to tape it to the window so he could see through the bag, but couldn’t find scotch tape at my mum’s place.

 

-Lava sensory bag

I also made another sensory bag using baby oil, fluorescent paint and ziploc bags. The idea was that the lava bags would look like lava lamps. However, I couldn’t find glow in the dark paint so I settled for non-toxic neon paints.

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My first attempt was classic Pinterest fail:

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Through this sensory bag, I actually wanted to introduce Dilly to early science, namely, how water and oil don’t mix, but it seems that I needed to be schooled in that, as I cleverly poured in orange paint followed by green paint, which immediately combined to form what Andrew called the curry colour above. My running out of transparent baby oil and substituting it with olive oil just made it look even more like a bad curry. Lunch appetite, gone.

Oh well, at least there were some good lava-ish bubbles.

This below was the second lava sensory bag. Dilly chose the neon orange colour himself… by erm, pointing at one out of the six little tubs of paint! I also scotch-taped the ziploc opening for added security. However, I was watching him the whole time so I was not too worried about the bag breaking and him ingesting anything.

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I’m planning to make a pair of sensory bags to teach Dilly about night and day next. My idea is fill both to the brim with baby oil so they become much more fun to press and squish. The night bag will have glow-in-the-dark stars while the day bag will have glitter and perhaps the train set saved from Dilly’s first birthday cake, for a burst of multicolour 🙂

More, perhaps, to come! (I can just hear Andrew and my mum groan.)

3. Sensory play

-basket of brushes

Dilly loves brushing his hair- well, the intention is there, even if the brush is sometimes upside down or brushes his ears and neck instead. My mum put together this wonderful collection of brushes with different levels of softness for him to explore.

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It’s also got a “sorter” (actually the ice cube tray from my play kitchen when I was a little girl) of oversized pom poms and a sensory bottle of lucky stars. Looks like my mum is even better at Montessori than me, what a great surprise!

-tactile sensory bin

We went on a Daiso/ Spotlight mini-shopping spree of sorts and got a microfiber mitten, laundry dryer balls and a dustpan.

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You can also see the Daiso LED light balls and cellophane paper which I used to make his light box. The LED light balls were actually a recommendation from our church friend Pearlie, who used them quite beautifully in coloured sand play with her preschoolers.

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Never too early to do the chores

To my utter glee, my baby is rather ticklish. He squeals and squirms away most delightfully whenever we put any of these above items, especially the laundry dryer balls, to his face or feet.

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I especially love running the laundry dryer balls (a cheapo substitute for those pricey baby sensory balls, which essentially look and feel the same) over his arms and legs and hearing him giggle.

 

-Yakult pit

This is GREAT for keeping him in one spot for a good 10-20 min each time. Dilly loves the sound of the bottles rattling against each other, and throwing them out at us.

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He is also getting really clever at finding other uses for the box, like climbing out and using it as a walker, or turning it on its side and exploring it like a cave. Now, all we have to do is get him to pick those bottles up 🙂

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I have since collected several kitchen and toilet paper rolls and added them to the box for texture. Even my mum’s friend, Auntie Winnie, has contributed to the box! Just this Sunday she told my mum, “I have something for you”, and gave her five empty Yakult bottles! Hahaha so sweet! She has been following us on Facebook! Awesome present!

We also made the Yakult pit “glow” by throwing the Daiso LED light balls in.

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4. Light and colour play

-colour sorter made from muffin tray

From start to end, this took maybe 10 min to do? I simply cut out circles from construction paper, pamphlets and even a Yakult foil, and put objects of matching colours in.

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Dylan’s favourite use for this “toy”, however, is turning it upside down and seeing all the carefully sorted, colour-coordinated objects scatter everywhere. Thanks baby.

This is the glowing version, again with those LED lights. The laundry dryer balls fit perfectly in that muffin tray, too.

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-lightballs and scarves

Inspired by our church friend’s sand play activity, I did one using translucent scarves for Dilly coz I a) didn’t have sand and b) was afraid Dilly would eat the sand.

I put a mirror under for added light and a peekaboo effect when Dilly pulled the scarves off.

This is how it looked with the lights on:

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And with the lights off:

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-lightbox

I would say this was one of my most ambitious (and therefore, most procrastinated) undertakings. Most of the projects above take a couple minutes at most to assemble but this one took about an hour when Dylan was napping.

I cut the cellophane papers into different shapes and pressed them into laminated stickers for durability. Then I put the light balls in a large plastic container and called it a lightbox.

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Honestly, I half-imagined that Dylan would quietly and intently investigate the colors and shapes, and was even abit disappointed when he kept throwing all the shapes off. Dear tried to comfort me by saying that Dyl liked the lightbox but he was playing with it differently than intended- indeed, Dyl kept shaking it so vigorously I feared the lights would break.

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However, i found a way to achieve my "lesson objective" by stuffing all the shapes in the box so Dilly could see the colours changing as he rattled the box about. And by letting him do things his way, the little boy’s attention was kept all the way until his night feed.

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Even more useful as a stool… kuakua

Guess it was a good lesson for me, as a parent and as a teacher- every child has his unique learning style and preference, and don’t always play with/ learn things in the way that we expect. But when children do something differently, we should encourage them for thinking innovatively instead of insisting that they fit in our preconceived mold of how and what they should be learning.

Ending off with a picture of Dilly surrounded by all his “toys”. His favourite was the treasure basket, which he kept pulling all the different fabrics and hats out of!

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And now, finally a word from Andrew…

Andrew: I found these “toys” extremely useful when I had to spend a night alone with Dylan. He was just entertaining himself when I had to watch my Survivor.

Jasmine: Huh? That’s it??

Terracotta Warriors @ ACM

Andrew: Dearie and I love to go to museums, but we don’t often have the time to go down. ACM is a place that holds pleasant memories for us as it was one of the places we went for our first dates and the first time Jasmine and I met in a social setting outside of NIE was at Timbre, near ACM for a friend’s birthday. I had heard good things about the Terracotta Warrior exhibitions, hence we squeezed in some time to go down during the week to check it out!

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Andrew: Before we entered the exhibition halls, there was this series of clay figurines which captured the process of making the terracotta warriors. The exhibit captured almost every step of the construction of these warriors and the very tactile and drab feel of the exhibit conveyed very dramatically the torturous and demanding process of making these terracotta warriors.

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Jasmine: At the foyer, we were ‘treated’ to a display of contemporary art. I guess the placement of the artwork was suitable as it seemed like a parody of the original terracotta warriors, standing positions and all, but I actually grimaced quite a few times walking around this hall. Having quasi-classical Oriental figurines holding fire-engine red laptops and handbags seemed so tacky. Although the explanation given was that the artist was making commentary on the impact of consumerism and affluence on Chinese culture, the ‘artwork’ was far more apt for a shopping centre than the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Andrew: We had seen some of these exhibits at the National Museum before and weren’t impressed then – we weren’t impressed this time as well.

Jasmine: We are a family friendly blog ok, but I should warn you that for the first time in Andrew Loves Jazzy history, we will be posting a picture which depicts genitalia!? Tucked away in one corner was this glass case of naked figurines. These two are eunuchs. Don’t look too closely.

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Andrew: It was Dearie who pointed me to this exhibit and I was really rather amused by it. There was actually another set of statutes of non-eunuchs, with genitalia rather subtly carved in. Heh.

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Miniature version of the Terracotta warriors

Jasmine: I was really impressed with the suit of armour. It probably was my favourite exhibit in the gallery because it was visually imposing and more importantly, had a great story to give it depth. When archeologists found thousands of these limestone plates lying scattered in a mass tomb, they couldn’t figure out what it was.

It was only upon closer inspection that these were suits of armour which had been hung upon wooden stands. (80 suits have been excavated so far and work in that part of the tombs is still ongoing.) After many decades though, the wood had decomposed, leaving the limestone plates lining the ground.

Since then, they’ve been restrung and interlinked with copper wire in a fish-scale formation:

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Interestingly too, these pieces of stone armour are acknowledged to be too heavy for a soldier to wear them in battle, so debate is still continuing over the function of the armour.

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Jasmine: One of the highlights of the exhibition was the specially-created iPhone app! We actually went back three times to find all the hieroglyphic symbols. It was interactive and engaging for us and I can easily imagine kids having great fun seeing history come to life, literally. Although the app really only boasted that one function, the 3D concept has much potential for converting a new generation into museum-goers!

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Andrew: It was really a novel and effective idea to introduce an iPhone app to jazz up this exhibition. There was a guided tour to follow using the iPhone app to tell the story of a terracotta warrior. We weren’t patient enough to follow that, so we ended up just making use of the most ‘kiddy’ function of the application. It was really fun and most interesting of all, these figurines which appeared weren’t ‘static’, but actually animated. They would move in and out of the screen or move forward.

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Andrew: The animation above was one of the most dramatic animations in the exhibition. The Chinese character on the wall as ‘pan4’ (traitor) and it was huge! When I put the camera over, we only saw the tunnel initially with the glow of a flame. Gradually, this soldier would climb out of the tunnel and look around menacingly. It was fun! Heh.

Jasmine: These archers are virtual animations too. What gives them away? The fact that they cast no shadows.

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Andrew: This bell 3D graphic had an added dimension of interactivity and we could swipe the screen to ring the bell. Heh. What cheap thrill!

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Andrew: And of course, we save the best for last! These were the actual terracotta warriors shipped all the way from China.

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Andrew: The warriors had such a great aura of mystique about them. I found myself inexplicably drawn to them and was fascinated at just how much history was contained in these sculptures.  It was rather creepy too as it seemed like the warriors were looking at us out of the corner of their eyes.

Jasmine: Very delicate and detailed austere facial expressions on each of the soldiers. This exhibition was also laid out in a way that would mimic the original layout of the Xi’An tombs, as the soldiers were in the centre of the gallery, led by the general (who is much taller than the foot soldiers to connote his high rank), flanked by horses on both sides.

For more on the Terracotta Warriors, visit The China Guide (which is a commercial enterprise but the research is surprisingly comprehensive):

http://www.thebeijingguide.com/thexianguide/Terracotta_Warriors.htm

Andrew: It was a good exhibition indeed, which brought both classic and contemporary elements together very well. There was something for children & adults, for the history buff & someone who just dropped by due to curiosity.

Biennale at National Museum

Andrew: In spite of our bad experiences with the Biennale thus far, Dearie and I decided to give it one last shot with the exhibition at National Museum (actually I ‘tricked’ her into going by telling her about the dress exhibition, knowing that there was no way she would turn down a dress exhibition! Heh.)

Jasmine: Hmph! And may I just point out that Andrew made us proceed to the Biennale first, where we spent almost two hours, as opposed to our paltry fifteen minutes at the dress exhibition.

Andrew: Although this was the least advertised venue out of all the venues, it was ironically the one we enjoyed the most and the most thought provoking of all!

Here are some of our favorite pieces:

Compound by Somheap Pich

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Andrew: ‘Compound’ is the first exhibit that you see upon entering the museum and I felt it was perfectly placed. The photo doesn’t do justice to its architectural grandeur. I really liked the mix of modernity and tradition in using rattan to create a modern architectural structure.

Flooded MacDonalds by Flex (Copenhagen, Denmark)

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Andrew: Our experience at the previous two Biennale exhibitions left us apprehensive about video pieces and we often left after 2 minutes of each video installation (except for the twins one). This piece had us sitting down and discussing its implications for almost 15 minutes.

In this piece, the artists recreate a MacDonalds stall and flood it, responding to the “apocalyptic language in the mass media, as well as humorously evoking the threat of climate change.” Dearie and I both had rather different interpretations of it.

I understood and appreciated the piece through its conscious replication of famous apocalyptic scenes in movies and saw many uncanny parallels within that MacDonalds stall and human landscape. There were many shots of a huge Ronald MacDonalds collapsing as the flood waters rose and that brought back memories of the Statue of Liberty being destroyed in many apocalypse movies. There were also shots of flood-waters ‘washing’ into the seats of MacDonalds, which looked a lot like a seashore being flooded. I saw this film as a parody of the over-dramatized apocalyptic imagery employed by movies. Interestingly enough, the film was completely silent, making it even more eerie and haunting than the stirring soundtracks of many apocalyptic films.

Jasmine: I was quite captivated by the director’s take on waste caused by over-consumption, which was quite evident in several scenes where the deluge of water was littered with Macdonald’s paraphernalia. This seemed to resemble the amount of waste caused by human excess.  Numerous slow-motion, underwater shots were used. The floating debris gliding past the camera was reminiscent of space, which is also a gravity-less environment, so I read that as  a visual metaphor for the exporting of waste into outer space.

stored in a jar: monsoon, drowning fish, colour of water, and the floating world, 2011-11 by Tiffany Chung (Ho Chih Minh)


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Andrew: One thing we really liked about this exhibition was that the pieces were actually aesthetically pleasing and good to look at. Most contemporary art prides itself on being disgusting, shocking and off-putting, but this piece was alluring and it drew you in. I spent so much time just walking around the ‘floating island’, appreciating the intricacy of detail and immersing in Chung’s utopia.

This was actually meant to be Tiffanny Chung’s creation of an alternative model of urban development, where ‘floating life’ is the way of life. I really liked the attention, not just to aesthetic detail, but to the scientific detail (like how the water pumps and pipes would be arranged, where the buoys would be etc.).

Jasmine: Although "beautiful" is a rather cliched word to use, there’s no better way to describe this piece.  One issue that I often encounter with contemporary "art" is the lack of artisanal merit or craftsmanship in the piece. Chung’s piece, however, drew me in without requiring over-elaborate  explanations or shock tactics.

In addition to being well-made and well-conceived, the piece was also well-displayed. Everything worked together to create the effect of surreally floating islands, from the spot lighting which cut through the glass surfaces and threw some interesting shadows on the floor, to the wires which suspended the glass in midair.

‘Spring and Autumn’ series, 2004-10, Shao Yinong & Muchen

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Andrew: This was another beautiful piece with many war-time currencies woven onto black cloth. The weaving was so fine and the lighting was perfect in highlighting the subtle shades of colour and shadows in the dollar note design. Apparently these notes were created using traditional Suzhou embroidery techniques, to suggest the ‘fragile nature of political and economic power’. These notes were obsolete bank notes from different countries and periods, which carry symbolic images of leaders, heroes and mythical figures. While the artists wanted to highlight the fragility of power, they also ironically created a very captivating piece which conveyed a great sense of awe.

Jasmine: Another interpretation I had of the piece was that it intended to elevate currency, which we normally deem as a base and mundane transactionary tool, to the status of high art, by rendering it in intricate embroidery and fine metallic threads to create the impression of something precious and valuable.

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Andrew: I just liked the symbolism of this piece a lot. It was supposed to show how status was symbolized by how ‘high’ you were in the residential building. Scaria also intended to critique how the buildings in New Delhi seemed to be designed more to impress others for their ‘ingenuity and specularity rather than functiong as a living space.’

The use of a spiral staircase was indeed intelligent in highlighting that as spiral staircases are purely aesthetic and have no additional ‘functionality’ as compared to usual staircases. (Jasmine: I would have to gently disagree here dear; spiral staircases are often used to save space in cramped quarters. See for instance lighthouses or shophouses.) Putting it as a spiral staircase also adds to that sense of ‘exposing’ the structure as every individual unit is seen and every unit is revealed as being the same. In fact, looking into the unit, you will notice there’s nothing in side at all, it’s all empty. It was a visually appealing and engaging piece as I found myself wanting to walk around the piece and peek through the various windows. (Jasmine: Another feature of the spiral staircase is that it doesn’t require any weight-bearing support from surrounding walls. Aesthetics aside, the artist may have chosen a spiral staircase as it provides viewers with a 360-degree view that a normal staircase wouldn’t.)

Story lines By Beat Streuli

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Andrew: This was another video installation which I thought was very successful. I generally have no patience for video installations which merely show people walking or various landscapes with no discernible storyline, but I thought that this video installation was very thoughtfully crafted. There were 3 screens on which scenes of street life in New York and Singapore were projected. The expressions on the individuals were varied, yet all so revealing, drawing you in and inviting you to think about what might be on their minds. It was also fun to notice the little things that make Singapore Singapore, like the design of the railings, memorable colours of our SBS buses etc.

Special of the Week

Jasmine: While the subtitle of this blog reads, "because she’s changed my life", I’ve to admit that Andrew has changed mine too. One of the ways in which Andrew has profoundly influenced me is in the area of dining. Andrew and his family are avid foodies, so over the past year and a half of dating, he’s opened my eyes to the fact that there are more restaurants out there beyond Mos Burger and Long John Silver’s. Yep, the girl who used to classify Mos Burger as fine dining  is now considering trying out a degustation menu when we get our bonuses!

This layout was inspired by our love for good food at great prices (and the fact that there was nothing else to do but watch crappy TV on a Wednesday night):

Special of the Week

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Jasmine: I also got to play with the craft punch that Andrew bought for my Valentine’s day gift! It’s remarkably easy to use- thanks Mr Chong!

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More detail shots:

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Jasmine: And the man himself, who happened to be wearing the same Raoul shirt as the picture in the layout:

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(Andrew: I have not worn this shirt for the entire year and it was just such great timing that I wore it on the day Dearie wanted me to photograph the scrapbook page. This picture also brings back great memories of my first birthday spent together with Jasmine. She actually spent two days preparing for this celebration by baking a chocolate cake and preparing a sumptuous meal plus drinks. We drove all the way up to one of the pavilions in Mt. Faber and had a candlelight dinner. That was the sweetest thing any one had ever done to celebrate my birthday. The scrapbook page is just as beautiful as my memory of that night!)

Open House 2011

Andrew: Jasmine and I always have this mock-argument about whether Toa Payoh or Katong is better. (Jasmine: What do you mean "mock argument"? I’m dead serious…) I argue that Toa Payoh is infinitely more convenient than Katong. It is even nearer to Orchard Road – Dearie’s ‘second home’. Yet, Jasmine remains firm that Katong is much better because it has so much character and history – which I, unfortunately, can’t deny. It has so much history and character that it was the choice of this year’s Open House Exhibition 2011, an art exhibition that brings art out of the museum and into people’s homes.

Jasmine and I were rather disappointed with the first installation of OH last year (which we wrote about here), but I must say that the both of us did enjoy this year’s OH. As with most art exhibitions, there were the usual hits and misses, but it was overall an enriching, fascinating experience that made me feel that I was temporarily transported into another world.

Our tickets entitled us to a free scoop of bandung ice-cream with every scoop we bought at Scoop of Art, so we sat down and had some ice-cream since we had time to spare before our tour began.

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We began our tour at 5.15 p.m. and made our way to the first stop…

Blk 32 – Kei’s apartment

We didn’t take any photos in Kei’s apartment, but the exhibit in this place was a series of Zhao Renhui’s photographs of dolphin sightings in East Coast in the past. I’ve never really been able to appreciate Zhao Renhui’s works, but this series did capture my attention as I initially could not believe that the photographs were Singapore. Yet, undeniably, the pictures were so alluring and ‘romantic’ with the warm glow of them that I just started to imagine a more idyllic, scenic Singapore in the past, much like New Zealand. When the intention of the photos were eventually explained to us, I was even more interested to go back and look at the photos again.

Blk 32- Anthea’s apartment

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Andrew: I can’t remember who did this, but it was meant to recreate how the view from the window would look like at night with the holes mimicking the ‘patterns’ of windows from the flats at night.

(Jasmine: I felt that this "curtain" –for lack of a better word– should have been installed in the first home to convey the sense of someone from the inside looking out. That would have brought the entire exhibition full circle upon reaching the installation at the last home, which toys with the notion of someone from the outside looking in.)

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‘Untitled’ by Willy Lee – We were told that this piece of art was also used to cover up the cracks in the wall of the flat.

(Jasmine: The cracks were caused by seismic shock, and the abstract paintings, with its hurriedly filled-in lines captured the artist’s response to the tremors. )

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Jes Brinch’s installation which literally turned the room upside down.

One gripe I have with the overall Open House experience was with the issue of time. There were points at the exhibition which I felt I really wanted to stay and appreciate what the artist was doing, but due to time constraints, we could only spend at most 5 minutes in each place.

I really enjoyed the experience of being in Anthea’s house and appreciating the various art pieces. It was evident from the decor of the place that this was an intensely privately individual who had clearly defined her home as a space for only one person and nobody else. There were some of her own art pieces in the house and they were rather shocking pieces, which I felt ‘pushed’ me away from the home.

However, the art pieces chosen told a different story, revealing a person who still wanted to be attached to the world while being private, like the curtain which replicated the window view without having to actually draw the curtain. The upside down room was just so fascinating that I really wanted to enter, but it was so interesting that the moment I stepped in, the guide immediately told me, “NO, Don’t STEP IN, it will break!” She had a very panicky tone which just reinforced that tension between drawing in and keeping away which I felt throughout this home. I’m not saying that this is what the home-owner is like, but this is my interpretation of it based on the dialogue between her home and the art pieces.

1st Bengawan Solo

DSC_0814Before we went up Blk 58, our tour guide informed us that this was the first ever Bengawan Solo in Singapore!

Blk 58 – Lift Landing

Andrew: The most fun piece of the whole Open House has to be Yen Lin Teng’s installation. She created images of bicycles, lifts and bird cages using black tape and these images could only be viewed if you stood at certain points. We really had a lot of fun with this piece!

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Can you tell which railing is real and which is made of duct tape?

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What I found extremely fascinating was how Yen merged her ‘tape drawings’ with the existing furnishings of the space (like the picture above). She even added black-tape on the existing lamps and lights to ‘include’ them in her art piece. This was a piece that was so distinctly site-specific that you could never imagine it existing in a gallery or museum. This piece challenged my notion of art as being decorative and aesthetic. What her piece did with the space went beyond merely decorating it to creating so much more that people could do and enjoy about the space. I liked it!

(Jasmine: I too found this extremely successful because it was so accessible.  It was not what one would call highbrow art, but anyone, from a seasoned museum-goer to a random passer-by , would have fun interacting with this whimsical work . Its out-in-the-open location also took the concept of Open House one step further, by creating public art meant for the masses to enjoy.)

Blk 58- Mel and Marcel’s apartment

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A sculpture made of clay by an Indonesian artist, which was meant to contrast hardness and softness. Every other clay "house" was inscribed with the silhouette of a withering tree, which made me wonder if the artist was commenting on the state of the modern family.

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Andrew: Mel and Marcel are art collectors themselves and all of the piece shown above belong to them. I admit that I was more fascinated by their book collection in their study than the art pieces above. The art pieces were interesting individually, especially one piece done by a Vietnamese artist which had chairs swept away by a flood with a pop song faintly inscribed in the background.

It was rather obvious from what our guide told us that Mel and Marcel were collectors of Asian contemporary art. I heard a radio programme a week ago on Asian contemporary art and the artist was commenting on how artists in Asia lack the infrastructural support that artists in the West have. Hence, while there may be just as many budding artists in Asia, they do not have as many exhibition spaces where they can really showcase their work prominently. Perhaps they can really consider bringing this Open House concept overseas then as I can immediately imagine how some of these pieces would be greatly enhanced in an Indonesian/Vietnamese residence as opposed to a rather ubiquitous exhibition space which will suppress rather than bring out the meanings of the piece.

Blk 54 – Josephine’s apartment

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Andrew: Every house has an art piece like the one above which is meant to be a eulogy written by the owner(s) of the residences.

(Jasmine: A good attempt to provide a connecting thread amongst all five houses through the "Eulogist" pieces. However, while they were useful in providing some background on the owners, the "Eulogist" pieces seemed more like a display of stylish topography rather than actual art. It seemed to be the home decor version of those little white cards in museums  that explain art pieces.

If Open House had a souvenir store, they might do good business selling customised Eulogist photo frames and postcards.)

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Andrew: There were many art pieces of gymnasts training and a video installation (which was a compilation of these paintings) in one of the smaller rooms.

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Andrew: In the middle of the kitchen was this installation titled ‘Tremor’, which would vibrate every few minutes and we would hear the glasses rattling against each other. This was meant to replicate the tremors that residents in Marine Parade experience from time to time.

What photographs cannot capture was the accompanying sound-scape that was being looped in this house, which I thought was more effective than the art works themselves. I can’t say these pieces really worked for me. If the intention was to create a sense of sympathy towards for these gymnasts, then I felt it didn’t quite work as I felt rather distant from them. The ‘tremor’ piece was interesting, but rather oddly placed in this residence and didn’t seem to cohere with the theme that the other paintings were conveying.

(Jasmine: I also took issue with the lack of polish in its presentation.  It looked like an amateur cocktail bar or school music project.)

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Our only (but failed) attempt to get a shot of ourselves

Blk 5 – Angeline’s apartment

Andrew: As the tour guide pointed out, this installation was rather well-placed as the final piece of this tour as it really brought to the forefront the theme of voyeurism, which was actually what we had been doing throughout the tour.

When we entered the house, there was actually a dropcloth draped to cover up the living room, with only small little peepholes throughout the cloth. There were even peepholes that required us to climb up a small ladder to look in. On the other side of the cloth was the installation composed of items which were Angeline’s. There was also a woman, who was supposed to be ‘playing’ Angeline, living her life as per normal on the other side. She would sit down, walk around, play the piano while we peeked in on her through the peep-holes.

We tried taking photos through the peep-hole and the result was rather eerie:

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This was another piece I felt I wanted more time to just admire and experience. We spent way too little time here for me to fully take in what the piece was trying to convey. All I got from the piece was that it was an attempt to make more obvious the voyeurism that we had been engaging in throughout the entire tour.

(Jasmine: This site-specific installation was created using Angeline’s belongings.  I thought that this was one of the best pieces because its amplification of our voyeurism (going to strangers’ homes) forced us to confront rather difficult ideas such as intrusion, privacy and personal space.  I felt guilty (for eavesdropping on what seemed like an intensely personal moment) but at the same time fascinated to see more. Being made to crouch or climb to see through the peepholes reinforced that sense that we as voyeurs are not just accidental consumers but active seekers too. )

Andrew: Coincidentally, Angeline – the owner of the place – was home when we were there too and she was dressed almost like the woman who was supposed to play her!

So, all in all, OH 2011 was indeed a fulfilling, though admittedly rather rushed experience. Overall, I think visitors would benefit from a more flexible tour arrangement which allows them to choose how long they want to dwell at each pace, though I understand the space and time constraints. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed the experience a lot and are looking forward to OH 2012!

(Jasmine: We encountered a couple of homes where the various pieces of art seemed disjointed, so perhaps the curators could consider commissioning art along a broad theme for next year’s OH?)

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