Saturday, 29 November 2014

A day at the Bonsai Gardens...

Bonsai Gardens at the Chinese Garden, Jurong.
Saturday’s sketchwalk began the day before: I had a pot of green tea late in the evening and did not get to sleep till 4 a.m., Saturday morning. The morning showers dampened the spirit to venture to the west too (a 90-minute train journey, no less).

Since I had already packed for the trip the evening before, I thought, “Might as well…”

So it was in the late afternoon, after another brief shower, that I found myself with the tranquil grounds of the Chinese Garden.

Designed by Taiwanese architect Prof. Yuen-chen Yu and built in 1975, the space is modelled after the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping, particularly during the Sung dynasty period. The ‘Bai Hong Qiao’ bridge, for instance, follows the style of the 17-Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

One of the other highlights include a Bonsai Garden, which houses a collection of over a hundred beautifully manicured bonsais imported from Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. Opened in June 1992, the Suzhou-style Bonsai Garden cost an estimate $3.8 million to build. This 5,800-square-metre garden with Suzhou-style buildings (incorporating a main hall of 50 square metres) and landscape houses a collection of over 2,000 bonsais imported from China and other parts of the world.

The Bonsai Garden has taken on a new look. Newly revitalised, it is designed as a largest Suzhou-style Bonsai garden of its kind outside of China. Within the enclosure, a Bonsai Training Centre has been launched. The public are encouraged to sign up for the course, taught by resident Bonsai experts from Shanghai and Suzhou and learn how to prune and care for Bonsais and how to appreciate the beauty of this unique artistry.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Garçon! Une cafe, s'il vous plais!

Some time late last year, I was on a café-hopping staycation and I chanced upon this quaint café that is done up in a truly Parisian vibe: the small cast iron tables, the bentwood chairs, chandeliers, wooden countertop bar, etc.

I went in hoping to sample their fare, but alas, their kitchen was closed! I settled for a coffee and a sketch. The result was this:

A few days later, I went in for a dinner platter to share with my fellow sketchers and the food from the kitchen helmed by Chef Colin was truly heavenly!

Fast forward 9 months ahead, the drawing caught the eyes of the publicity people at Café Gavroche. They expressed their appreciation of my sketches and asked if I accepted commission projects. At this point, honestly, I do not think there is a better form of compliment to my work. Because, truly, I do not think I will ever get over the judgment that my primary school teacher gave me:

“Your art, it’s not good enough for the Art Elective Program*”

Yes, I remember you, Mrs Pauline Toh of May Primary School.

But that’s in the past. Back to the present.

After a visit and a sumptuous, scrumptious lunch from the kitchen of the Brasserie Gavroche (compliments to the generous chef, again!), I set off on the project… a picturesque and atmospheric view of each of the Gavroche establishments.

The results of the collaboration:
Brasserie Gavroche
Daniel Smith Watercolour on St Cuthberts Mill Waterford paper
I am looking forward to and finding time for my next visit to the place… lunch or dinner company, any takers…?

*The Art Elective Programme (AEP) is designed to enable students with artistic abilities to undertake an enriched Art programme. The art curriculum in the AEP covers historical and theoretical studies in Art, places emphasis on creative processes and exposes students to a wide range of media and art forms. (Details here.)