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Exhibitions & Art

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As if mastering the art of penning beautiful script isn’t difficult enough, calligrapher and entrepreneur Ruth Tan has taken to bringing words to life by constructing original, movable calligraphy sculptures in her debut exhibition, Words Within, held at SPRMRKT from July to September 2016. The 10-piece installation with its pivoting words and secret messages—some cheeky, some thoughtful—was one of our most interactive exhibitions yet. We catch up with Ruth on her inspirations, studio life and everything else!

1) What inspired you to create Words Within?

I think language is a wonderful tool for us to express ourselves, and some words trigger associations that we have experienced in our lives. Words Within is an offshoot of that idea that words in themselves could and often do carry meaning in themselves for the speaker/writer and whoever she’s conversing with. It’s also something that fascinates me because I work with letterings and one day I was just wondering about how letters could be expressed as a physical machinery as opposed to just flat and two-dimensional, which is what I often do for weddings, corporate events and in workshops. This curiosity kept bugging me so I decided to marry the two—word associations and movable words—alongside funny quotes I’ve made up or heard before, to delight an audience.

2) It sounds like there’s a lot you’d like to express and which more than words can say, forgive the pun, is this something you feel about the English language?

Haha yes I think so. I don’t often know what to say because there is a lot going on in my head—it’s like taking too long to decide which food to buy at the canteen and in the meantime all the queues start to form and snake, so I just go with the easiest, shortest one. Because of the copious amount of things going on at one time—and I am pretty easily distracted—whatever I end up saying on the spot would often be a lesser (and probably less confusing!) version. 

3) Why these 10 words and phrases? 

I picked words that visitors could easily connect with! My two favourites are:

ExpertI talk to myself sometimes because I need expert advice

This is a tongue-in-cheek quote that refers to the need for us to listen to our own intuition. I don’t think others’ advice are always right or suitable for our context. We need wisdom to know when to listen to what, and when to trust our gut!

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Can you find the secret inscriptions?

Dreamthe distance between your dreams and reality is called action 

Most of us dream of something bigger than ourselves… that’s a good thing. But even greater would be to put it into action. Don’t procrastinate till it is “perfect”. Get it rolling and keep at perfecting it!

4) You’ve chosen a really unique career to be in especially in Singapore—why calligraphy and what does being a calligrapher in Singapore/Asia mean to you?

I think this kinda fell into my lap! I was an analyst in civil service, then a secondary school teacher. I couldn’t continue teaching any more given the tug-o-war between the long hours and my family. It eventually became obvious that I have to give up a regular job. Not working was not a choice for me either; I am always curious and seeking out new adventures.

When blogshops were popular in the late 2000s, I decided to have a proper webstore and try my hand at online retail. We had a good run with many roadshows including with Takashimaya, and the now-defunct Borders bookstore, and even ran the first ever MT tape exhibition, craft workshops and retail in Japan with the venue sponsorship from National Library Board. When the opportunity struck for my own brick-and-mortar, I knew right away I wanted to include in the retail store a small corner for craft workshops. I have always been craftsy … lettering, sewing, painting and all that. So coupled with my experience in events, one thing led to another and before I knew it, the craft business expanded very quickly. That’s when my studio The Workroom was born.

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Ruth is head honcho at studio-outfit, The Workroom. Together with a team of passionate instructors, they organise creative workshops and accept commissions for exclusive events.

I started off with barely a handful of instructors, all of whom had no experience in teaching, but were passionate about their art. Given my background in teaching, I found that I was in a good place to design and structure lessons better. It was a natural progression for me to dive headlong into teaching calligraphy and committing to commissioned work. I now work with a team of calligraphers, craftspeople and artists to teach students and provide art services to our private and corporate clients. It has been immensely satisfying ride so far and we have had opportunities to work for clients from all walks of life, from brides-to-be to celebrities and luxe brands.

As for being a calligrapher in Singapore and Asia… frankly I don’t think of it as extra special from other kinds of craft. There are other forms of art that are a lot more intricate and laborious and I really admire people who invest their lives in that. For me, calligraphy is both extremely gratifying and practical form of art. For one, I get to use my skills to add a special pizazz to special events and that’s really moving for me, to be able to contribute to and share a part in clients’ happy occasions. I always tell my students that calligraphy has also got to be practical. For most of our purposes, we really are learning calligraphy to communicate in a beautiful way to others. There is little point in being “beautiful” but illegible… for example, if we are writing placecards, and the guests cannot identify their names, can you imagine the confusion and discomfort? I enjoy typography, design and lettering, and I have learnt italic, copperplate and modern calligraphy. I would like to continue to share my knowledge and skills with new learners, and to share the beauty of writing with clients for their events’ needs. 

5) Have you had any strange/interesting requests because of your skill as a calligrapher?

Not really, unless you count designing a lettering for a client’s tattoo as strange! It is the most unusual request to date, and I thoroughly enjoyed working on it. The client was superb to work with. She knew exactly what she wanted and communicated it very clearly so I could work in the right direction to process the exact thing she had in mind. Right now among the projects I’m working on, the most interesting one is to letter a Bible verse for Class 95FM DJ Jean Danker’s wedding. This will be printed on her aisle runner! I can’t wait to see the end result.

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“Reunited today with Ruth! She used to helm a store in holland village called the little happy shop (check her out now at http://www.thelittlehappyshop.com) and I never forgot her positive spirit and great energy. Fast forward to today and she’s going to be the one handwriting all my place cards/wedding invites/aisle runner/coffee cup sleeves… basically everything that requires words, she’s the woman behind it!…”  (Photo credit: @jeandanker)

6) We understand you have also been holding calligraphy and other creative craft workshops for the past 6 years—who are your students and would you be able to describe what a class at The Workroom is like?

Most of our students at the studio are ladies in their 20s – 40s from all walks of life. Increasingly we also have expatriates and foreigners on holiday in Singapore! I’m always very grateful for everyone who take time off to learn from us… we know how precious weekends are! A typical class at the studio is very hands-on. The students usually go straight into the making/ crafting, and everyone on the team is more than eager to share all that they know, from history to where to get supplies and tips to make your art better. We make effort to sincerely sustain the community we build. I also now have two of my students now on the team, teaching their own students how to write lovely calligraphy. Class size varies depending on the craft… something that requires a lot of 1-1 coaching such as fine art botanical painting would be restricted to a very small size of 4 or 5 students, whereas modern calligraphy classes are often capped at 10 pax or so.

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Workshops held at The Workroom (Photo credit: @theworkroom.sg)

7) From your website, you’ve listed that you’ve worked with quite a number of big corporate clienteles such as Chanel, Dior & SK-II, would you be able to share some of the more exciting projects you’ve done with any of them?

Sure! For Chanel, the client was from the Fine Jewelry store in Takashimaya and the brief expanded from just live calligraphy service for their VIPs on the Valentine’s weekend, to coming up with original watercolour paintings of Chanel’s iconic representations such as the plume (feather) and the camillia (flower). VIPs then get to choose a famous quote by Chanel to be written on one side of the card, and to have her name (or the name of the recipient) on the side of the illustration.

More recently, I wrote for SK-II’s invites to their VIPs to the global launch of their Masterpiece Pitera collection — the most luxurious series of all. The launch was to be held in Tokyo and among the invites I was writing, there were those going out to big names around the world.

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Brush lettering for SK-II (Photo credit: @theworkroom.sg)

The two most unique calligraphy services I did were for IWC and Clarins. Writing placecards for guests was commonplace, but for IWC’s private luncheon for their VIPs, I wrote placecards for the beautiful, exquisite ladies’ watches. The styling was so on point with each watch displayed among flowers (and with my placecard) in a glass bell-jar. For Clarins’ trade and media event at Gardens By The Bay, I wrote patrons’ names on Tree Certificates —these are certificates to thank patrons for their support for their green project to plant trees in Northern Thailand. It was such a treat!

8) What would you consider to be your dream project? 

It would be a dream come true if I would have the chance to work with Guo Pei Couture. Guo Pei is a Chinese high fashion designer and she makes the most beautiful couture pieces, based on traditional Chinese imperial court design. I really admire her beautiful pieces with stunning structure and texture and intricate embroidery. I wonder what it would be like to combine modern calligraphy or lettering on high fashion!

9) Coming back to art, what made you decide to showcase your debut exhibition at SPRMRKT?

SPRMRKT is extremely supportive of indie art and crafts. It is my pleasure to accept Sue-Shan’s invitation to create a series of lettering for the exhibition! As a commercial artist, we don’t always have the time or space to create for our personal projects… this exhibition gave me a great opportunity to do just that!

10) Who are some of your favourite artists or what are your favourite artistic periods?

My favourite artist is Claude Monet. When I had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum last October, I was in awe standing before the original works. They were immense and breathtaking and so much more than I had imagined. I am particularly drawn to the French Impressionist paintings, and Monet’s works are always precious to me. There is a sense of freedom, tranquil and solace in his works. Impression, Sunrise (1872) and the earlier Water Lilies are my favourites. 

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Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet

 

11) What’s next on your art calendar—are you exhibiting anywhere else after SPRMRKT? If no, why not?

I am currently working on returning to library@orchard for the 2nd run of ‘Calligraphy Travels’. As with 2016’s exhibition, the contributors for 2017 will be calligraphers from Singapore, and I hope we will delight patrons with a gorgeous display of letters in different calligraphy scripts!

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Ruth doing a watercolour demonstration at a modern calligraphy workshop held at library@orchard earlier this year (Photo credit: @theworkroom.sg)

12) Any final thoughts you’d like to share about your debut exhibition Words Within?

I hope everyone enjoys checking out the hidden quotes/messages within!  

Missed the exhibition? Get in touch with us (contactus@sprmrkt.com.sg) to take a closer look!
For more information about Ruth, her team and their creations, step into The Workroom.

Glossary

Bloom – Plant yourself where you may bloom.

ShineOne day the people who didn’t believe in you are going to tell everyone how they met you.

BaeBe mine always.

ExpertI talk to myself sometimes because I need expert advice.

LaobanDon’t let this face fool you. I roll like a boss.

ArtistI am an Artist. Sleeping is an art.

DessertDessert is not an option. It’s why I started eating in the first place.

DreamThe distance between your dreams and reality is called action.

ShoesRoses are red, violets are blue | You can keep the flowers, I’d rather have shoes.

CertaintyNothing is certain except death and taxes. And laundry.

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The opening reception for “Mystery Island” was held on 9 March, debuting a new collection of hotly anticipated works from artist Mojoko aka Steve Lawler. Read more about the artist spotlight on Mojoko in Harper’s Bazaar and in our recent blog entry.

 

 

The hang took place a day earlier and we snapped some shots before the crowd came in:

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From left: Generation Gap, Burn Burn Burn, Mysterious Island

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Mirror Man and Spirit Animal

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DJ JINMART showing his support in nautical stripes against The Witchhunter General and Who Killed Laura Palm

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At the backroom from left: Goldrush, Vampire Weekend, The Magicians Tomb, In The Shadow Of The Palms and Temple Of Dhoom.

There were also folios to browse the print editions of the framed ceramics.

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Mojoko also brought the actual screen-printing frame for Mirror Man – paint stained and all

And impossible to miss: the Jalan Bizarre Sculpture sits among our retail shelves with a miniature witchmaster general seated at his right hand.

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Made from wood and impaled with steel nails, JB has his share of admirers

Guests began to stream in from 7pm…

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Artist Mojoko speaks with a few firstcomers

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Family support! 🙂

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DJs JINMART and Ginette Chittick getting the party started with a curated set of Tarantino-inspired tunes!

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With their ladeled cocktail – Taste Of The Orient – made specially for the reception by the good people at Kite!

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Centre of attention

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Mojoko with our director, Sue-Shan!

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We also had delicious heritage snacks thought up Chef Joseph and the kitchen team! With the likes of fried risotto balls on sayur lodeh, pork floss crostinis, chicken satay skewers and rice krispies…

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Cheryl from Articulate Consulting in an animated moment!

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Taking the conversation outdoors

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Even his shorts are stained that blue!

It was a lovely evening and we want to thank everyone for taking the time to come down! Mystery Island runs from 10 March to 10 May so do swing by SPRMRKT to check out the work up close!

Thanks again to Cheryl from Articulate Consulting for co-curating another great show 🙂

Contributing writer: Hui Li

 

 

It’s been 2 weeks since our space was transmogrified into a vessel of blue & white — taking us where palm oil plantations abound and curious customs are set beside the onslaught of modern culture. We talk shop with the man who conceptualised Mystery Island and a little more… 

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Mystery Island is a small exhibition showcasing a new collection of works from Mojoko.

1) You share the same name as a British house music DJ — how has that been? 

We know each other for many years as I own www.stevelawler.com. It was an old flash website and if you go there, it uses a pack of Marlboro Lights as an interface. And when you rollover, it becomes an Asthma Puffer. He is asthmatic and smoked Marlboro lights, so he thought I was some freaky stalker. But no, it’s just a small world.

2) To be inspired by B-movies and trash TV, you had to start somewhere. Which show was it that got you hooked and when did it begin? 

Alternative culture has always appealed to me, it was not one specific film, but the whole aesthetic of trash cinema. The stuff my mum wouldn’t let me rent out from the VHS store. They had an air of mystery about them and such incredible graphics that were hard to shake out of your head. 

3) At Mystery Island, why is everything in blue and white?

Its inspired by the Asian Antiquities – a series of Fake Antiques. Good quality, precious pieces hand-printed onto ceramic and framed in 18th Century frames I have picked up along my travels.

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Vintage frames were given a new coat of paint and a new lease of life.

4) Is Singapore “Mystery Island”?

Partly. It is an amalgamation of Traditional South East Asia and current affairs.

5) Could you draw out your plight if you were a character on Mystery Island?

Not really but it would involve Palm Oil and Slash and Burn.

6) You mentioned wishing more artists would do art for a social cause and you’ve led the way with an installation for the Yellow Ribbon Project. How did this opportunity arise and what advice would you give artists planning on doing the same?

Funny I don’t remember saying this. But Yellow Ribbon was a very bizarre project, I would do it again any day. Really enjoyed the experience. It was arranged by Singapore Art Museum as a kind of Mentor programme where I worked with inmates of Prison to create an installation for the front lawn of SAM. working with the police and the prisoners at the same time was very eye-opening.

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Prison Door: An art project between Mojoko and some of the inmates of Changi Prison Singapore. A mixed-media installation, the inmates painted their hopes and dreams of Freedom and Liberty on the inside of an old prison door. The project was part of the Yellow Ribbon Project 2013. (Credits: Mojoko)

7) You’ve been in Singapore for 13 years now and since we enjoy our food — where are your go-to places when you eat out?

Wah Lok for Dimsum, P.S. Café at Palais Renaissance for Ang Moh food then for hawker fair I often eat around Balestier / Thompson / Lavender.

8) Tell us about your favourite heritage snack.

So I like Ice Kachang and white rabbit sweets. Not really sure if they count as heritage snacks. I love Satays. 

9) Coming back to your work, you’ve had exhibitions in the most unconventional places such as private houses, neighbourhoods like Chinatown and now at SPRMRKT; collaborations with retailers, artists and private commissions — which do you really enjoy doing the most and would like to pursue in the years ahead?

I like large-scale installations, being granted a large space would be ideal right now. I think people enjoy a new venue as much as they do the art. The excitement of discovering a new place heightens the overall experience. I have always been a fan of unconventional spaces, and will pursue this and experiment with different ways of showcasing art.

10) Any exhibitions or collaborations you’ve recently been to that made you stop and go “WOW”?

teamLAB is always on the cusp of technology and Art, they are opening a new show at Art Science this weekend. I will sure to visit that.

(The landmark permanent exhibition titled Future World features 15 interactive digital art installations by Tokyo-based art collective, teamLAB, and will be open to the public at the ArtScience Museum. Credits: The Straits Times)

11) What are you working on next?

I’m preparing a solo show in Taipei and I’m curating a group show in Big Tokyo in the summer at Diesel Art Gallery. Singapore can expect to see a large format Colour Print show at some point this year. 

“Mystery Island” runs from 10 March to 10 May at SPRMRKT. If you’d like a copy of the catalogue, drop us an email at contactus@sprmrkt.com.sg.

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The opening reception for “My Tokyo State Of Mind” was a RSVP only party held on 14 January 2016, with invites sent out online and via our event page.

Tokyo-State-of-Mind-EDM-Final.jpgPreparations were already underway the day before as we worked with Cheryl of Articulate Consulting to arrange all of the work on our walls.

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“My Tokyo State Of Mind” is a collection of 43 ink portraits ranging from pop icons…

 

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and pin-up girls…

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to prints drawn from nature and myths.

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Lucky Guns finding a snug place on our retail shelves

All done by the end of the day and ready for launch night!

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Though Mr. Fix could not grace us with his presence, he was very much there with us in spirit through this clip he made specially for the exhibition.

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Ceiling projection!

The evening began with a little primping, with help from Bobbie and her wonderful crew at The MakeUp Roomimage1 2.JPG

Ice cold craft beers courtesy of Eastern Craft  tabled and ready for clinking.DSC_6211

Assorted cream puffs by Amiral Patisserie decorated with a nod to Jap Pop and the artwork!

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DJs Ginette Chittick and JINMART warming up the house

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The first of the guests arriving and taking a look at the backroom hangs

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Beers beginning to flow as more guests arrive

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Serving up housemade kamikazes

 

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Taking home digital copies 🙂

Modern Asian snacks by Chef Joseph were so popular we didn’t manage to take a picture of the grilled risotto 😦

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Egg & Roe Crostini

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Mixed Mushroom and White Truffle Oil Crostini

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Chad Potato Salad with Mayo & ‘Togarashi’

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The night ensued with some poring over the portraits…

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Rock ‘n’ Roll legend David Bowie’s passing 4 days earlier made these ‘Rebel Rebel’ prints all the more poignant.

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Bump-ins and getting acquainted… DSC_6272.jpgDSC_6509DSC_6463

Smiles for the camera…

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Our resident geishas with the amazing Sae of Amiral Patisserie

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Our director Sue-Shan with Cheryl from Articulate Consulting

Not forgetting the outfits and our subtly applied geisha rock theme…

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And these game poses!

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Thank you all for coming down and we hope you guys had fun because we hella did! More photos from the night can be found on our Facebook page.

For more information about the exhibition and art for sale, write to us at contactus@sprmrkt.com.sg.

“My Tokyo State of Mind” runs from 15 January to 6 March at SPRMRKT so if you didn’t manage to swing by on launch night, it’s not too late!

Contributing writer: Hui Li

MY TOKYO STATE OF MIND

Artist: Zane Fix / Curators: Articulate Consulting & SPRMRKT

15 Jan – 6 Mar 2016

We’re all getting pretty excited about the upcoming launch next Thursday and here, we bring you closer to the wonderful world of this one kool kat:

Q: Your dad was a professional musician and you were once in a rock and roll band, could you tell us more about your band and why you decided to move on from music? 

Well, I was working as a professional musician for several years.  I worked as a sideman on the bass for some of the most popular and successful pop/rock groups in the 80’s, touring the world in a way that is not really done anymore, since people don’t buy records anymore and the arena gigs are not really a regular part of the business. Then I played bass and guitar with some of the famous old timers from the 50’s era during their last hurrah tours; that was really great because I got to meet and work with the guys I grew up listening to as a kid!  After that I was in two nationally successful glam rock style groups, Lovemaker and then Starr which culminated in a major recording contract.  However, by 2001, the bottom all but dropped out in the music business, particularly in the rock genres that were my niche, so, utilizing my talents and particular interest in pop art and Japanese block printing, I reinvented myself as a visual artist.  Overall, one heavy trip!

 

Q: Do you still play any instrument in your free time? Would you be able to share a recording? 

I play music a lot, though I haven’t played in clubs for over 5 years.  I play piano, guitar, and drums these days. Here’s a little bit of rock n roll for ya!:

 

 

Q: Do you listen to any music while creating art? 

I never listen to music when I am doing my art…I work to the music in my head.

Q: You mentioned in another interview that your mom wanted you to take up architecture and that’s what you did. Did you find the degree useful in achieving what you’re doing now? Would you have studied something else? 

You have to remember that I studied architecture 40 years ago.  When I was in school, we did all the drawings by hand; old school drafting, with layers of precise layouts and measurements, before final drawings in ink were prepared.  Very time consuming, and a great lesson in discipline.  I utilize the same techniques when I prepare my original artwork, and all that discipline (which is involved in being a musician, too) is ingrained in my brain.  That is the key to what I do as a pop artist.


Q: It seems that both your parents were influences in your life. What does your mom do? 

Before I was born my Mom was in advertising art; Madison avenue stuff.  She is 84 years old now, and pretty much does whatever she wants!

Q: We had a pop up show of your work a couple of months back last year and it sold very well. Did you know you had fans in Singapore? 

I guess I’m finding that out.  Since you guys began promoting this exhibition, I have been getting several notes from people that live there.  It’s pretty cool.  I guess the key is that if people like the work, they will buy it, and it will become known by more people. The better it sells, the sooner I can get there!

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A pop up and 5 day exhibition at SPRMRKT in July 2015

Q: Hailing from one of the more exciting boroughs in New York, Brooklyn, do you see yourself living anywhere else outside of the city? 

I guess I am a true New Yorker.  As of now, I think I’ll stay where I am.

Q: Have you been to Japan? What about Japan did you enjoy the most? 

I have been to Japan many times, and spent some extended time there exploring woodblock printing and sumi-e painting.  I guess my favorite part was Kyoto in all it’s splendor, in every season.

Q: At SPRMRKT, we’re a lifestyle cafe serving all day breakfast, brunch, salads, sandwiches, cakes and more. What are some of your favourite food/cuisine? 

I like different kinds of foods.  Maybe my favorite cuisine is Italian.  I also love cooking, and am pretty good at it, if I say so myself.
 Q: Would you be able to share with us what you like to cook?  
I love to make a fresh tomato sauce.  I start with olive oil, plenty of garlic, peppers (red, orange, or yellow) & anchovies.  As that mix is lightly frying up, I add some fresh parsley, oregano, and basil.  Next comes the fresh plum tomatoes (seeded and chopped). Then the juice of a whole lime, more fresh parsley, oregano and basil; cover and simmer for a while, then turn off the fire and let it sit for a while.  Later, I make whatever pasta I’m using, and let the sauce cook a bit more during that process, adding a bit more fresh herbs and a pinch of sea salt and some black pepper. Serve with generous amount of grated Romano cheese. Another simple sauce is olive oil, lots of garlic, a bunch of anchovies, lime, and a bunch of fresh parsley; I call it “the Al Pacino”; very, very Brooklyn!! I can eat that at least 3 times a week!

Q: You did a commission for a food court. Please tell us more about that. 

That was one of several commissions I did last year.  It was for a creperie (Bar Suzette) by Grand Central station.  I have done work for this company before, and the owners and I understand each other.  Of course the pieces were pretty damn big, and were printed digitally, mounted and laminated.  In the end, they came out great and I think I created a very recognizable set of graphics for the location.  It is interesting, because I do many commercial commissions including restaurant decor, cd jackets, logo designs, portraits, etc…and once they are done, I rarely ever see them again!!

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Q: Any new works in the pipeline for 2016 that you’d like to share with us? 

A couple, but best not talk about them until I start doing them!

Q: Although we won’t get to see you here in Singapore, we’re certainly feeling the zeitgeist of My Tokyo State Of Mind. Would you be able to send us a self-portrait/selfie imagining yourself in Singapore? 

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Thank you!

Longing to be Knotted together FA

“Don’t wait, do.

You can spend your energy to complain about the opportunities you don’t have, or focus on creating and making things happen.

This is what I am.

I started from scratch, and I consider this as a chance…

My name is MEGA for a reason.

It’s not much about other people.

It’s a constant competition with myself.

I want to do more and to become better every day of my life.”

– MEGA

Born in France and currently living in Bali, MEGA is an artist who has chosen to live a life on his own terms, resurrecting a deep respect for the art of illustration after a life-changing motorcycle accident. Read more here.

“Longing to be Knotted Together” was borne from a personal near-death experience, after which the artist decided to relate his personal pain and anguish in a way only he understood best – through visual expressions of colour, imagery, musings, pop-culture, and his unwavering love for life. The trauma and energy which resulted from the accident allowed him to open his heart and mind in order to simultaneously preserve and reveal the raw elements from both his mental and physical universes within the inner workings of his mind.

Now at SPRMRKT, Singapore marks the end of a heroic and extensive touring exhibition, hailing previously from an epic adventure across Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Paris, Berlin and Marseille.

 

 

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 1, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 3, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 3, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 4, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 5, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 6, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Framed works greet guests as they enter the space.

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 7, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

 

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Black and Red screen-print #90/100 framed and displayed against our cement walls.

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 8, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 9, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 10, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

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Close-up of the numbered, signed, and embossed black and pink screen-print.

The masked creatures featured in each print are part of an on-going art series he calls ‘La Société Des Griffeurs’ that continues to string together his entire body of work.

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Longing To Be Knotted Together 11, 50 x 70cm (unframed), #81/100 – #90/100

 

 

 

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Adjusting during the hang.

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Framed pieces in the inner section of the space.

The series of eleven screen-prints are limited edition, with only ten pieces of each design remaining. Each 2-colour hand pulled silk-screen poster is printed on heavy-stock art paper and every #90/100 edition is currently framed and on show at SPRMRKT.

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MEGA and his wife could only stop by SPRMRKT very briefly…

To find out more about MEGA: I Love MEGA

Special thanks to Articulate Consulting for helping put together a striking show and congratulations MEGA on your first solo exhibition in Singapore.

SECRET INGREDIENT

Artist: Nicola Anthony / Curator: Daniela Beltrani

15 Oct – 30 Nov 2015

Q: Nicola, let’s start with what you’re going to do at the final performance at SPRMRKT on 27 Nov. 

NA: For the final performance I will be transposing more secrets to the window installation to give an airing to the confessions gathered during the final days of Secret Ingredient. I will be spending time focusing on the performative act of writing, sometimes writing in mirror image as I stand on the other side of the glass, other times writing upside down. Through the process of this exhibition I have become very used to writing on a different plane to what is usual.

Q: The entire exhibition has been captivating from collecting confessions before the opening reception of Secret Ingredient to your collaborative performance acts with curator, Daniela. Both of you created quite a spectacle two Sundays ago. Daniela, was this the first time you performed a piece in a public place? How long were you seated outside SPRMRKT? Nicola, could you describe your first experience or how you felt?

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Anonymous Secrets. Collaboration & performance by Nicola Anthony & Daniela Beltrani. Photo credit: SPRMRKT, October 2015

DB: Thank you. We are glad about the positive response. No, I have performed in many public spaces in Singapore and abroad, that is an essential part of my performance practice (next week I’ll be in Melaka and perform in an abandoned/deconsecrated church). Anonymous words was first performed in June 2013 in a house destined to be torn down (that’s where I met Nicola! 🌸). We were @ SPRMRKT for only 45 minutes because of time restraints, but we could easily do as much as we did at AAF (105 minutes) and I dare say even more. Nicola agreed with me. We intend to continue the series…

NA: Bringing Anonymous Secrets to the public that weekend was a really intense and wonderful experience. By eliminating our other senses, we became hypersensitive to the minute sounds of people nearby, watching, breathing, considering if they should join in. And when someone steps close to whisper to us, the sense of touch also comes into play as hands are held and secrets are shared.

I have been collecting words through the Word Collection Project for the last ten years, which has been a fascinating journey into the human mind. It has been an exciting evolution of this ongoing practice to collect confessions for SECRET INGREDIENT. Through working together, the opportunity to bring together our two projects arose and so even though the exhibition is coming to an end soon, it has also been the start of an ongoing collaborative performance series that I am really looking forward to continuing!

DB: YES! The main idea is to keep eyes and mouth closed, so that our ego does not interfere in the process of unburdening of the sitter. How many times we offered solutions to friends who perhaps only needed to be heard and not judged? So words spoken in intimacy by a stranger become words written by us, thus collected and acknowledged.

Q: Does the idea of collaborating then become a source of inspiration or just a tool to help you express your ideas? What was it like working with one another?

NA: It is both. I think new ideas such as the performance and the Artist Multiple grew organically because of our collaboration as artist and curator, and it creatively expanded our working relationship to encapsulate more. Collaboration can help you push boundaries. For example I am on new territory with performance, and Daniela is pushing her own boundaries with more physical making processes involved in creating ‘Box of Secrets’*.

For the actual roles as artist and curator, yes we each have our own distinct areas here, but I also saw my work take influence from our dialogue, and simultaneously her curation was shaped in part through my use of sea, waves, organic lines – resulting in the flowing hang of the artworks as they undulate across the space.

*Box of Secrets is currently being sold at SPRMRKT for SGD 29. Limited in production and while stocks last.  

Q: So some of the best ideas evolve organically between artist and curator. What other successful collaborations have u done before? Would u be able to share some of the less successful ones too or ones where u felt u needed more control as an artist ?

NA: I have tried many kinds. Most recently I created a sculpture which was also produced through a collaborative process with the community – working with over 5000 local children for them all to become part of a light sculpture called Ouroboros (Marina Bay, Singapore, 2015). I know they inspired me and I think I inspired them too!

I have worked on projects with many other artists through our Edible Art Movement projects. In this I was guiding the overall concept and inviting other artists to bring their creativity into the installation. I have also collaborated directly with visual artists which brings the partnership right into the heart of the creative and visual process.

DB: For me it was not so much as pushing boundaries as blurring them to the point that the experience is no longer about art and ego but life and humanity and spills over those boundaries altogether. It has also allowed me to appreciate Nicola more not only as a sensitive artist but a sensitive human being. The quiet and meditative approach of the stamping has been a grounding experience; I only wished that I had done it more in her presence whilst she was making her mark on the boxes. As for the performance it has opened the door to standalone series which branches/ complements her research into words and my practice in company of a visual artist (since often my performance art practice can be quite solitary.)

In terms of curator-artist, I enjoy the organic and intense relationship particularly when it entails the artist making new works. The exchange was extremely healthy and even and I felt we both learnt something. I have had one unsuccessful experience of working with an artist whose ego was often in the way and despite the exhibition not showing signs of strains, on a human level it felt like a very contracting experience.

Q: Thanks for sharing Daniela. Secret Ingredient was certainly a hit with our audience.

Coming back to the exhibition at SPRMRKT. Nicola, you created a site specific installation, taking references from the historic Telok Ayer neighbourhood, such as rice and joss sticks to form the basis of your work on sewing hoops. We’re curious to see where Secret Ingredient would appear next. Are there plans to recreate Secret Ingredient elsewhere?

NA: In terms of the artworks, many of them have sold, so the exhibition complete was truly a one-time event. My remaining artworks will still be available for purchase and may be continuing their journeys into future exhibitions too.

Meanwhile the secrets themselves seem rather too precious to replicate on another window. I feel they were entrusted to me specifically for this exhibition. I will be archiving them on my website so they are still available for reference, and perhaps this archive would work well as a physically printed archive or publication in future to add to the outcomes of Secret Ingredient.

Q: You were also found collecting confessions at the Affordable Art Fair this year and similarly carefully executed them on one of the glass windows at the main entrance. You even attracted some attention where one passerby commented that your work reminded her of Yoko Ono. Was Wish Tree a source of inspiration to your work at all? Where do other sources of inspiration come from?

NA: I love the idea of wish trees. Coincidentally there is one outside the 170 year old Singapore Yu Huang Gong temple on Telok Ayer, which I added some wishes to during my walks around the area whilst making the Atlas Series artworks.

Yoko Ono’s work often has a poetic side, so her use of words and means of engaging the public has often inspired and influenced me. I think a key conceptual difference with the confessions is that instead of promising the wishes would be unread and then buried, I am promising the confessions will be ‘aired’, given a chance to be shared with others, and perhaps leading to a sense catharsis or at least a chance for the individual to address them. In the end quite a few confessions were indeed confessed wishes, but many others were looking to the past rather than looking to the future.

S: Were there any confessed wishes you might like to share with us which you thought were beautiful? Daniela, did u give one? 

NA: (with reference to the confessions collected at SPRMRKT) Oh, so many amazing ones! I was genuinely moved, the whole spectrum of human emotion is there. Some were quite poetic and reflective – “True self awareness is the understanding that we are all characters in someone else’s dream”; some show a wonderful moment of goodness in life – “I have found the one that completes me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”; while others were poignantly beautiful in their honesty and the depth of what they revealed – “I’m sorry and I miss you everyday. I do love you, my aborted child”.

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Taking confessions at SPRMRKT by Nicola Anthony. Photo credit: SPRMRKT

Some of my favorites were from children who may not have so many dark secrets yet, what a wonderful thing to have a confession of “I love you mummy”. In the end we can see this very essential human element of family filtering through to adult confessions in both positive and negative ways: “I was lied to, out of love, and out of other people’s human weaknesses, during my upbringing…” or “Mum I miss you everyday, you were my best friend and I never knew how truly unconditional your love was until I had my own child. I wish you could meet her now.”

DB: (with reference to the performance act for Anonymous Secrets at SPRMRKT) For me it was the children’s ones that struck me and belied timid or unspoken and innocent desires: “I want a kitten” or “l never kissed a girl” but l admit that the openness of the space only offered a short and language-based sharing. People never sat and only shared in passing, standing. Unlike what l experienced in 2013, where the privacy of the space allowed the sitters not only to verbalise (one even spoke to me in Spanish) but also to cry, to touch me, to hug me, to hold hands with me. Then, it felt a more complex engagement than words, which is why I often rely to silent performances so that I can encourage the audience to abandon intellect and words and retrieve the language of the soul more accurate and authentic than words could ever be…

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Anonymous Secret. Collaboration with Nicola Anthony at SPRMRKT. Photo credit: Luca, 15 Nov 2015

Q: Do you cook?

NA: Yes! I love to cook and have lots of Asian recipes passed down from my father’s side, and English recipes passed on from my mother’s side.

Q: Would u share any one of them with us?

NA: My family is very ‘fusion’ in a rather unusual way, and I am constantly finding things that have been brought over from Asia and then anglicised, for example when my family first arrived in the uk Chinese style noodles were not possible to buy, so I have a family recipe for a curry with a fresh coconuty/tamarind/limeleaf flavour but served over spaghetti – obviously very wrong but I wouldn’t eat it any other way!

But as we are in Asia now I will share a European tradition we have every Christmas. In the 16th to 19th century, salt beef was very popular in the English navy as a way of preserving food. My family doesn’t eat beef so each year we buy a big joint of lamb, squeeze a massive sack of lemons, add a lot of salt and preserve the raw meat in it, before roasting it after a few days.

Q: And since we’re on the topic of food, there seems to be recurring associations to food in your work and you even founded an influential club called The Edible Art Movement. What does food mean to you?

NA: Ironically while you would think this comes from my English relatives, this recipe comes from the Anglo-Indian side of my family, where the British presence in India many years ago had an influence on the cooking traditions. So food and family and history are very interlinked for me. For example my Nan’s Bread and Butter Pudding, the recipe for which originated in London during the Second World War. Food is really a big influence in my life – and conceptually it links with history, geography, environment, science, biology, personal memory, cultural memory, the senses… It’s a very rich subject to devour. This is why myself and my fellow co-founders began to develop creative art events as the Edible Art Movement.

Q: We hope to try that curry spaghetti and bread n butter pudding some day. Any final thoughts about your show at SPRMRKT?

NA: It has been a fantastic time. An experience where the public really responded in a heartfelt way, surprising and moving me with their confessions and secrets, which shaped the artworks I produced. The SPRMRKT team has been wonderful – embracing some very experimental ideas, enabling a platform for live art, installation on the window, performance art, the launch of our Artists’ Multiple, and audience interaction – all within one exhibition! And of course it has been a fantastic period of development for me, especially with Daniela’s valuable guidance and inspiration as both curator and collaborator.

So from me, just a big thank you to everyone who made this possible, to the public for their response and support, and to all the new collectors who purchased artworks.

***

 

ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW

“More than 15 minutes” takes a current approach on Warhol’s famous expression “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. In social media’s world of instant fame and celebrity, this phrase has never been as omnipresent as it is today. “More than 15 minutes” is thus about slowing down, taking time to appreciate the present and discover the real personalities around us.