Saturday, 31 August 2013

Church of the Holy Family at Joo Chiat, Katong

View of the church from across the junction
Church of the Holy Family
During my Uni days, weekends meant a bus ride to East Coast Park for an afternoon of in-line skating along the beach. My bus’ route passes this Catholic church attended mainly by Eurasians living in the region. The Church of the Holy Family was established in 1902 here. The church building has gone through a few incarnations, but this current embodiment was consecrated in 1999, just before the new millennium. Apart from the very dramatic roof design, which was what caught my attention initially, the real pièce de résistance is the massive 16-panel stained glass on the side of the building, above the centrepiece altar, depicting the Holy Family and 16 scenes from Jesus' life.

Stained Glass Panel
The stained glass window by Joel Mone
My recent trips to Europe gave me a new appreciation for stained glass art featured on religious buildings. A little digging and I learnt that Joël Mône, who incidentally also crafted the stained glass panel for the chapel at CHIJMES two years prior, is the creator of the stained glass piece for the Church of the Holy Family. The artist, whose main artistic influences include Piet Mondrian, M. C. Escher and Claude Monet, was commissioned to create it for the church by the Vitrail Saint-Georges atelier in Lyon, France. Apparently, the architect and the church gave him complete autonomy with the colour choices, staining method, themes and composition of the stained glass. An interesting point to note is that the glass pieces blown plated pink-gray have been specially designed for this glassware at St Just St Rambert, France.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Scanteak at Joo Chiat

Scanteak at Joo Chiat: The outlet first started at this iconic location...
Scanteak at Joo Chiat is the 400 square foot of land that Mr Lim’s empire started. It now spans more than 100 retail outlets and flagship stores in Germany, Singapore, Taiwan, Brunei, Japan, Canada and USA.

I remember my college days when I’d flip through furniture catalogues and select their beautifully crafted teakwood products to fill my imaginary future dream home, complete with perspective drawings.

Now, I have my dream home. The price has gone over my pocket book’s capability. Hello, IKEA, here’s to reality.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Ice Cream by Design...

Creamier Ice Cream at Toa Payoh Lorong 1

Creamier, I was told, is an ice cream shoppe opened by designers. But that does not matter. When it comes to food, the proof is still in the pudding. In this case, it’s in the ice cream.

When I got here, I was told that the waffle is a ‘must try’. So that’s what I did. I asked for the waffle topped with a ball of Horlicks and chocolate chip ice cream. After a 15-minute wait, the sweet treat arrived. The waffle was nicely sweet and delightfully crispy outside. I was suspicious of the ice cream though – it tasted more like something with banana. They probably got mine mixed up with someone else’s – my dessert arrived before someone who ordered before me.

Ultimately, the texture of the waffle was okay and the taste of the ice cream was nice, but I still prefer Gelare when it comes to waffle ice cream dessert.

Epigram’s Pop Up Sale

Epigram Popup Book Sale

Were you there at Epigram’s pop up sale? It turned out to be more of gathering of us sketchers who were there. We had a rollicking good time chatting with and sketching one another. And of course, I ended up picking up a few titles from the book sale.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Of Pintu Pagars and Ceramic Tiles: The Singapore Peranakan House.

Peranakan-style house #157 along Tembeling Road, Katong.

Detail of the ceramic tile featured on the columns
The Peranakan house stands out from other pre-war houses with the inclusion of the pintu-pagar (literally ‘fence door’). It allowed privacy to the home dwellers without interfering with the ventilation of the house. The Perankan house is also differentiated with its use of decorative ceramic tiles that are as intricately designed as their sarong kebaya blouses.

I spotted this particular house along Tembeling Road in Katong and was intrigued by the intricate carvings of the teakwood pintu-pagar. The ceramic tiles on the columns, discretely incorporating the yin-yang symbol (see left picture), also attracted me. The Peranakans (or at least the ones I know) are a traditional and superstitious tribe. It shouldn’t be surprising, if the original intention of the tiles also included those of the spiritual persuasion, apart from the obvious aesthetics ones.

Incidentally, I remember this area well. When I was a wee-bit, my dad used to bring to me to his friend’s place in Siglap for visits during the weekends. I usually end up playing in the huge garden at his friend’s bungalow. As I grew older, the beach at East Coast Park was also a regular venue for our family picnics. It was filled with memories of me trying to swim in the sea, my little brother getting really dark in the sun and of course, my mum’s delicious fried bee hoon for our picnic lunch. Those were the days of simple, joyous and fun.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Building at the Junction of Koon Seng and Joo Chiat Road.

Conservation Peranakan-style shophouse at the junction of Koon Seng and Joo Chiat Road.
Historical Namesake of the Place

Koon Seng Road is named after Cheong Koon Seng (b. 1880 - d. 1932) in 1934. Before that, it was known as Lorong East Coast. Cheong Koon Seng was one of the first 13 students of Anglo-Chinese School. He went on to build the old Theatre Royal and Star Opera Company which used to be located along North Bridge Road. Professionally, Mr Cheong was an auctioneer, a real estate agent and a charter member of the first Rotary Club of Singapore. Meanwhile, Joo Chiat Road is named after "King of Katong" Chew Joo Chiat.

Koon Seng Road was a predominantly used for residential purposes, but it had a bustling atmosphere as a business centre with all the shophouses lining the street. The area was originally a Peranakan enclave until the 1970s when Peranakans began moving to other parts of Singapore. Secret societies used to be very active in the area then. Triad gangs such as Gang 18 and 36th Pai 'controlled' the area around this road. Old kampongs that use to be situated around the vicinity proved to be good hiding places, especially for their  weapons. Although violence was limited to inter-gang fights and did not affect the residents directly, those who grew up in the area in the 1950s would remember scenes of violent fights that were fervent and common then.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Park Connector along Whampoa River at St George's Lane

The rain stopped in the late morning and I had the chance to sketch this in the afternoon after work...
The PUB and NParks has been working collaboratively to develop the waterways and waterbodies traversing the island in a network of rivers, streams and ponds.

Driven by the vision of sparkling rivers with landscaped banks, kayakers paddling leisurely in the streams with clean waterways flowing into the picturesque lakes, Singapore has undertaken the challenge of transforming into a City of Gardens and Water. 

Over the years, Singapore has gradually developed a pervasive network of about 8,000km of waterways and 17 reservoirs for our water supply. To realise the full potential of this water infrastructure PUB has launched the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme in 2006. It is a strategic initiative to improve the quality of water and life by harnessing the full potential of our waterbodies. 

By integrating the drains, canals and reservoirs with the surrounding environment in a holistic way, the ABC Waters Programme aims to create beautiful and clean streams, rivers, and lakes with postcard-pretty community spaces for all to enjoy.

This is the area near my neighbourhood. I have seen and experienced the place since I was a child. It was a river, then a canal and now a rather visually pleasing water way of trails, tracks and tree-hooded walkway. This neighbourhood water park also integrates a few outdoors gym and exercise grounds, children's playgrounds and also a couple of gazebos with attached BBQ pits.

Every evening, you'll see residents taking casual walks in the cooling breeze and joggers blazing the tracks. Meanwhile, the BBQ pits are almost always busy during the weekends, bustling with families and friends gathering, while enjoying the taste of freshly charcoal-grilled meats by the riverside, under the shelter of the gazebos.

Beautiful. Useful. Space.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Poppies in bloom: we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...

Bright vermillion poppies blooming in the summer heat at the poppies at the Botanischer Garten/Flora in Cologne, Germany
So the cleaning lady was at my place today. The session forced me to take a look at the remaining luggage left to be unpacked: my sketches from the trip. This is the first in a whole set of drawing including loose sheets and a whole Moleskine sketchbook. I'm going to be taking my time to upload them... scanning is no joke.

I decided to visit the Cologne Botanic Garden (Botanischer Garten/Flora) on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year thus far (then). The blazing sun brought out the intense colours and beauty of the flowers in bloom at the garden. It also meant that I dehydrating fast. I have never drank water at a faster pace than when I was there that day.

I was particularly attracted to the poppies there: a collection of flower beds filled with nothing but poppies. Of course, one can also find the very iconic opium pods. I couldn't resist sitting down to draw the very loud and ostentatious blooms. After all, how often does one see so many poppies at once? It is a controlled/banned horticultural product in Singapore.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Al fresco in the torrid tropical temperatures? Thanks...

Friends hanging out al fresco at a cafe in the central business district.
When I travel to countries in the temperate zones, one of the first things I always like to do, is find an al fresco cafe. I'd order a cuppa and bask in the sun while enjoying the fresh cool air. It's like sitting in an aircon room while watching the world go by. Relaxing and careless.

However, I find al fresco seats intriguing and whimsical in the local tropical context. Sitting in the heat and humidity when there are air-conditioned options is a no-brainer to me. It's no joke dressing up to go to town and then sit while melting in the torrid heat. It is, therefore, no surprise then, that most of the time, it's the foreigners who form the majority of the numbers sitting out there, al fresco...

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Lei Garden at CHIJMES | 利苑

The al fresco seats at Lei Garden, CHIJMES from across the sunken courtyard.
I first experienced Lei Garden's dim sums at the Orchard outlet at my aunt's recommendation. Well, it was her treat too. The spread on the menu is pretty much what you'd expect from a dim sum place. I was satisfied with the taste and presentation of the restaurant then.

I didn't know about this one at the CHIJMES and was intrigued when I saw it on my last official sketchwalk with the USKSG. The al fresco seating arrangement is positively refreshing in a place as hot and humid as this.

I might return to try their dim sum before the place closes down for an overhaul of the whole complex.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Going back in CHIJMES and getting a feel of Insomnia...

Insomnia (pub) at CHIJMES
Miraculously, work ended earlier today and I was able to make a trip to town. Inevitably, I found myself back in the good ol' CHIJMES. I guess I really wanted to capture the feel of the place before it goes into a massive overhaul and the whole façade and atmosphere of the place change.

Guess what...? When I got there, I promptly got Insomnia...