Thursday, December 1, 2011

Art Brings Education to Life

Void: Utopia by Lim Shengen at SAM

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival returned for its seventh year from 5 to 16 January 2011. Organised and curated by The Necessary Stage, the festival featured interactive events and artistic exchanges. It showcased over 20 works and performances from artists of several genres from 10 countries all over the world. These include dance, theatre, music and visual arts. The festival’s line-up included ticketed performances as well as free admissions to special exhibitions.

However what differentiated this arts festival from any other is its original concept to examine how art can be used as a tool to educate. “Identified for its ability to impart knowledge, art can be used to acquire new perspectives and insights to what people already know, especially for the youths,“ said Melissa Lim, Festival Manager.

However, not only can art educate, it can also be used to indoctrinate, especially when there is a lack of active engagement and discourse, both of which are elements crucial to the process of education. Shahrin Latif, Project Management Director explained: “The process of art creation can also be informed and educated by the interaction with audiences and communities, and through the Festival's works, we will also look at how artists experience learning processes as they create art.”

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival ushered in the brand New Year by officially opening with the exhibition, two Fringe Highlights from India and

Singapore, one of which is Achinto Bhadra’s Another Me: Transformations from Pain to Power which offers a glimpse into the stories of female and child survivors of abuse and abandonment.

Another Me: Transformations from Pain to Power

The other highlight is School of Hard Knocks by home grown collective, the little dröm store, which celebrates the much-loved and remembered playgrounds of yesteryear.

School of Hard Knocks

These two highlights successfully struck a cord with youths. Tina Wong, 22, university student felt very strongly about Achinto Bhadra’s Another Me as she thinks that this documentary really touches the hearts of viewers. “It definitely promotes awareness amongst people, especially youths, of the unpleasant side of people’s lives in another part of the world that we are not exposed to and to me this is how art and education becomes one,” She shared.

Darryl Tay, 21, polytechnic student also expressed his appreciation for the highlights: “School of Hard Knocks is particularly close to heart for me. Playgrounds were like our schools when we were young, a place to learn about life and to let our imagination run wild.”

Something About Education But Not Exactly by Leung Chi Wong - Installation at Esplanade

The 2011 festival was held at several venues, namely, Esplanade – Theatres at the Bay, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, The Substation, The Arts House and ION Orchard. It also featured its strongest Asian line-up yet, with artists from Japan, China, Singapore, and, for the first time ever, India and Korea. Several works also made their first ever appearance in the festival, with four works making their Asian premieres and 10 works their world premieres.

There were also seven new local commissions, among them was the new play by two former TNS collaborators Sean Tobin and Natalie Hennedige, “What Did You Learn Today?”.

“I was really captured by the play which is about the darkness and tenderness of teaching and learning. I find that the theme is well brought out through the actors’ way of communication with the audience and it made me feel that I’m not only enjoying art but also learning through it,” expressed Jaslyn Tay, 19 Polytechnic student. In line with the theme of the Festival, there will be a special segment entitled Back to School, featuring a selection of works that deals with the concept of education in school or engage educators and students as part of its creative process.

“Not only was the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2011 a platform for art that provokes and inspires, it also seeked to enlighten and exhilarate and this is how art can bring education to life,” said Alvin Tan, Artistic Director of The Necessary Stage.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Birth of Local Shopping Sensations

New Singaporean-owned multi-label stores and brands popping up around town


Located at Scape, A curious Teepee celebrated its soft launched on 16 Dec 2010, in conjunction with Yvan Rhodic’s (photographer of famous online street style site, The Facehunter) book signing. This unique space is a boutique, café, bar and even events venue all rolled into one. “Our concept store sprouts from the idea of living a life more inspired,” expressed Tracy Phillips, founder of A Curious Teepee.

Featuring local brands such as Sunday’s Shop, Mae Pang, Ownmuse as well as international labels including Bless, Sandqvist, Chris Habana and Triwa, amongst others, the store packs a good mix of fashion and lifestyle items together. Known to serve the best coffee along orchard road, A Curious Teepee’s café-bar even purveys gourmet coffee provided by local coffee roaster, Papa Palheta. Patrons can also enjoy free wi-fi. Undoubtedly a great hangout space, retail therapy included.

Celebrating their grand opening together on the 27 January 2011, a whole new row of local boutiques have popped up side by side at orchard central’s level 2 The Runway.


Started by three design schoolmates, Afton Chen, Ruth Marbun and Louis Koh, the Reckless Shop’s new flagship, located at the second floor of Orchard central is a well designed and comfortable space lined with plots of carpet grass and features concrete runways. The label encompasses the whole spirit of the co-founders as risk-taking, fun loving and adventurous. Unconventional and off-beat as it sounds, it is in line with the brand’s personality.

“The main concept of Reckless Ericka is ‘Euro-centric’. We focus on balancing classic tailoring with edgy use of silhouette and colours, and constructing avant-garde silhouettes with classic details,” explained Afton Chen.


Previously having retailed at other boutiques such as To The Nines and Blackmarket. Local designer, Sabrina Goh’s label Elohim now retails exclusively at this new store SABRINAGOH. Sabrina takes inspiration from architectural forms and structures with stark silhouettes, portraying at once images that are both strong and vulnerable. The boutique also stocks other indie labels such as L'ile Aux Ashby, see you tomorrow and soe.hoe.

Sabrina said: “In every collection there is a fusion of menswear and womenswear, symmetry and asymmetry to develop unexpected forms and interesting details in my clothes”.


The multi-label indie store that prides itself as the go-to for edgy local and international labels was set up by Jasmine Tuan and Quincy Teofisto. This new outlet, Blackmarket no.2 sports a raw finish, featuring hand painted signs, concrete floors and unpolished wooden tables with nails sticking out its sides, the space is definitely original and unique and echoes the brand’s image as the commercial rebel.

“We are retaliating and rejecting all the ideals of commercial bombardment and creating a concept space which fits our ideals,” shares Jasmine.

Blackmarket no.2 stocks labels such as Young and Restless, Gian Romano, Proud Race, Al & Alicia and many more.

Stylish Local Site-ings

Local street photography websites, your new inspiration and guide to style

My Cherry Magazine

Besides running an online boutique, Nicole Then does freelance photography. After getting a Digital Single lens Reflex (DSLR) camera as a graduation gift, the 24-year old fell in love with photography. My Cherry Magazine was then launched three years ago.

When choosing her subjects, Nicole looks out for those with a unique sense of style, good clothing proportions and a personality that comes through in the way these people carry themselves. Making sure she is not limited to any age, gender or genres of style also gives the site more diversity.

To Nicole, Singapore can be a very stylish nation. “I have met many who are stylish and also some who only need few tweaks to achieve a great look,” She explains. “There is definitely potential to be developed, especially for the young who may constantly expose themselves to more sources of inspiration from different media,” added Nicole.

To this street photographer, make-up is important for women. However it should be there to enhance a person’s look and not to distract. Hence, she avoids snapping anyone with heavy make-up on as “her natural beauty would be hidden”.

La Mode Outre

British-born James Bent was originally a design-consultant who snapped street shots as a source of inspiration for his short stories. It never occurred to him that his street-style photography site would gain so much popularity.

The 31-year-old found a niche for his style of photography. Being inspired by other street style photographers such as Scott Schumen of the Satorialist and the man behind Facehunter, Yvan Rhodic, James stared his website more than half a year ago.

La Mode Outre features people who look good, unique and interesting. According to James, it is a misconception that Singaporeans are not as stylish as foreigners. Perhaps it is the weather that is cramping the style of Singaporeans. “There are people here whom I see and think, if they were spotted in New York or Tokyo, they would still look cool and be able to hold their own,” James expressed.

He explained, “I think that it is not necessary to dress expensively in order to look good. As long as something is aesthetically pleasing and you know how to pull it off, wear it. The look is more important than the label and I admire people who look great on a budget.”

Five friends started this street-style fashion blog in 2009. Later on, it expanded into a fashion research and marketing company. Derrick Choy, Co-founder of the site, says capturing stylish Singaporeans on camera can be much more difficult than it seems.

He explained, “On a bad day, we only get two or three shots and good days are very rare”. The photographers of Project Dress Code are always on the lookout for trendsetters. The look that impresses them is one that is deliberate and most importantly, individualistic.

To the Project Dress Code team, most Singaporeans dress in a style which is safe and conservative. There are rarely people who are daring enough to rebel and express themselves in unconventional ways. Fortunately, with more fashion events being held in Singapore, Singaporeans also become more exposed and fashion-conscious and get inspired to dress better. It is also at such events that the team gets to capture more interesting personalities.

“There has been progress in the past few years. We can safely spot about six out of 10 people who dress stylishly along orchard road.” Said Derrick.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hidden Treasures

Tucked away specialty cafes that are worth seeking


Discover the amazing versatility of eggs at Hatched, where breakfast is served all day and is customizable to satisfy any palette. Customers can choose from pre-conceived options on the menu (A highly recommended dish would be the Le Rossini, scrambled eggs with foie gras and truffle oil) or design their own dish: baked, boiled, fried, poached or scrambled eggs with add-ons like black forest ham, smoked salmon or wilted spinach.

For those who are not feeling egg-friendly that day, a juicy cowboy burger is available to tickle the taste buds: a hearty patty served on an English muffin with sautéed Portobello mushrooms and a fried egg. “Customers can even email us their special request in advance for more unique meals and we will try to whip up something good,” said Hatched supervisor Claudia Manap.

Seek it:
#01-06 Evans Lodge, 26 Evans Road.
Tel +65 6735 0012

Papa Palheta

Forget the menu at Papa Palheta. Here, customers order classic coffee items (latte is a hot favourite) and decide how much the coffee they get is worth. Papa Palheta only accepts tips instead of charging customers for their coffee (customers tip $3.50 per cup on average). Specializing in roasting and serving specialized coffee, Papa Palheta’s concept is not exactly that of a café, but more of a coffee retail boutique.

They sell coffee beans, and their quaint little space is more like a “showroom” for customers to try out the coffee before buying the beans. However, most customers keep coming back for the good coffee, friendly and personable service and relaxed ambience.

“Papa Palheta is quite unlike the usual places around town, if you drive along the road, you wouldn't notice us at all because there's no signage. But the good thing is, a lot of people see us as a secret haven to enjoy coffee” says Dennis Tang, one of the partners of the cafe.

Seek it:

140 Bukit Timah Road.

Tel: +65 9799 0420

Arteastiq Tea Lounge by Marxx

Despite its location in town and being way easier to seek out than the previous two cafes, Arteastiq is often missed as is it tucked away behind the showroom of contemporary European furniture house, Marxx, in Mandarin Gallery. Arteastiq is originally an extention of Marxx furniture boutique, to cater to their clientele. “As a styling house, we wanted to provide a space for our customer to consider their purchases,” explains Vanessa Chow, Retail Manager of the boutique.

However, Ever since it’s opening, Arteastiq has served many who visit the cafe especially for their individually brewed beverages and to enjoy the quiet and luxurious space which is kitted out with items from Marxx and shows them off to great effect. Arteastiq’s most popular drinks include the fruit teas and dessert teas, some of which are infused with alcohol and others topped with their premium gelato. Their apple cake and savory wraps are also hot favourites.

Seek it:
333A Orchard Road #04-14/15 Mandarin Gallery Singapore
Tel: +65 6235 8705

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Alternative Nightlife for Youths

In the often straight laced country like our Singapore, most people would think that there are only a couple of ways to go out for some fun after sundown – the usual clubbing, dining and catching films would come to mind. Thankfully, there are still more interesting activities to explore and discover at dusk, but only if you know where to look. This time, The Culture Y Journal has come up with a list of alternative activities for your night out that is not to be missed.

Tickle a funny bone at 3 monkeys café

Bored of listening to the same old jokes over and over again? Why not attempt to be your own star? At 3 monkeys café, anyone brave enough would have the opportunity to stamp your own brand of humour in this place and entertain the crowd as a standup comedian! The cheekily-decorated restaurant and bar definitely sets the stage, with its readily fun crowd who’s always up for anything. It is definitely unconventional fun and you could possibly discover a hidden talent. If sitting back and relaxing is more your idea of fun, catch resident comedian Kumar and he sends his audiences into peals after peals of laughter.

Picnic-ing takes on a new high

Ever imagined what it would feel like to picnic amid the glittering lights of our very own urban oasis in the middle of the night? Now you can experience it for yourself. Rest your aching feet after hours of shopping along Orchard Road and spread your picnic mat out on Orchard Central’s 24-hour rooftop garden and chill out. Whether it is time spent with your date or a group of friends, the relaxing ambience makes for a great location to chill out, as well as a great opportunity to take in the great view of the orchard skyline and people watch from way up high.

Support the young and trendy

Be in the know on cool indie acts in Singapore. AT *SCAPE Youth Centre, a myriad of activities await you. Check out a series of concerts featuring renowned performers such as alternative band Copeland, the Frank Gambale Trio as wll as other emerging local bands at the new second level auditorium WAREHOUSE, or the freshest talents at the *SCAPEalbum launches that happen periodically at the Youth Centre and Lab. You can also do your part to support the local young entrepreneurs during the weekends, when bazaars are held at *Scape.

Entertainment that wouldn't cost you a cent

At Orchard, it seems like all he world’s a stage. With international busking acts that are beginning to set up makeshift performance spaces at every corner. Look out for a Charlie Chaplin look-alike statue, with a comedic yet strangely eerie stance that only changes about every five minutes. Besides such quirky acts, also treat yourself to more physically challenging performances such as fire spitting and acrobats. You can even park yourself by the gleaming façade of Ion Orchard and catch blockbuster movies for free on the huge screen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mind Games

Three iPhone strategic games to challenge your minds with


Trainyard for iPhone combines simplistic graphics design with puzzles of a higher complexity. The concept of the game is to get all the trains into the correct stations while avoiding a collision. The first several levels will get players familiar with basics but after that, it will be a head-scratching good time.

The basic concept of Trainyard is simple: to route color coded trains from their departure points to the correct destinations by laying tracks. Sometimes, every train must arrive at the same destination and at other times, the game requires the managing of crossing paths and the switching of tracks to get each train to the right terminal. At more complicated levels of the game, the player will even have to combine trains or arrange for them to change color in order to complete the level. It is a clever concept, simple to grasp but with a lot of variety. The game is hindered only by its finer touch controls—it is not quite as responsive as it could be, especially for players with bigger fingers, track-laying may be somewhat finicky.

Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope distinguishes itself from the rest with its vibrant visuals, and fitting sound design. It employs an incredibly simplistic form of gameplay, and an even simpler story to act as a background; the player, has candy, and must make sure that it reaches the adorable monster, whilst also ensuring that it picks up the three stars that are placed precariously about the screen set. To do so, you have to cut/stretch/loosen/jiggle/shift the rope(s). As the levels progress, they become increasingly difficult, with new gameplay mechanics introduced, including bubbles that make candy float, and spikes that simply break the candy into bits.

Astoundingly, when playing Cut the Rope, every one of the introduced gameplay mechanics feels intrinsic to the experience. Every time a new mechanic is included in the game, the puzzles adapt to suit, and so the player is forced to think about the game in a completely new way.

Cat Physics

In Cat Physics there are two cats, the player’s job is to get a ball from one cat to the other the other. In this game, there are no complicated controls to master. Simply drag the arrows which influence the direction of the ball into place and tap the cat to begin. It offers the player instant gratification from the moment the game is start up for the first time. On each single-screen level there are various obstacles to overcome, buttons to push and springboards to propel the ball, plus teleports and breakable bridges later on. You amass points by ensuring the ball travels the shortest distance between the two cats.

After completing each level, players will earn between one and three stars, and while getting one star is simple, getting all three takes real skill as it represents the absolute shortest distance the ball can travel between the cats. Returning to a previously completed level can often see players using the arrows in different ways than first time around, opening up the possibility of finding a new route across the screen. Cat Physics is a lot of fun and there’s plenty of replay value. The physics are excellent, with the ball bouncing and rolling naturally. Graphically, Cat Physics is simple but attractive enough.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let There Be Light

Asia’s First Sustainable Light Art Festival Illuminates Marina Bay

Lumenocity Singapore

i Light Marina Bay, Asia’s first sustainable light art festival was held from 15 October to 7 November 2010. The festival celebrated Singapore’s nightscape with the use of energy-efficient lighting while creating awareness for energy-saving lighting technology for the urban environment. The event received a good response, with all guided tours fully booked in advance.

From 7.30pm to midnight, the Festival featured a Light Walk comprising over 26 dynamic light art installations and sculptures as well as interactive and performance-based art displays from talented local and international design luminaries. The Light Walk spans The Helix Bridge, The Floating Platform, The Esplanade, One Fullerton, The Promontory @ Marina Bay to the City Gallery at the Waterfront Promenade.

i Light Marina Bay is presented by The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with a creative team helmed by Mary-Anne Kyriakou, the Festival Director, together with Singaporean co-curators Kelley Cheng and Randy Chan.

Being the first major light art event in Asia, the Festival was set as a regional platform for the exchange of ideas and technology, artistic expression and public engagement through beautiful light art works with intelligent light usage. A key component of the Festival is the participation of both local and international light artists and designers who have created new, site-specific works addressing the theme of people, place and time.

“Besides creating a distinctive skyline and attractive public spaces around Marina Bay, URA worked with partners to offer a rich array of activities and events to enrich visitors’ experience,” said Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer of URA. “i Light Marina Bay is one such event. We hope that the show gave visitors an immersive experience of creative art works in a night setting in Marina Bay, and encouraged the community to discover and enjoy the Bay and many of the wonderful attractions around it,” he added.


i Light Marina Bay is conceived as a festival which creates a dynamic visual night environment through the use of energy-efficient lighting for the community to enjoy. The ‘i’ in the name alludes to the festival’s innovative content, the intelligent use of lighting as well as its international lineup of creative talent. It is also an invitation to everyone to get involved in this free outdoor celebration of creativity in a new community space.

Among the international artists are Francesco Mariotti from Switzerland, Ingo Bracke from Germany, Warren Langley from Australia and OCUBO from Portugal. 10 local artists have been selected from the artistic submissions received as a result of a call for entries that took place earlier.


They include contemporary artist Michael Lee; lecturer Angela Chong; architect Aamer Taher and the lighting design team from Meinhardt Light Studio Singapore. The selection was based on the creativity of the light installation design which should be stimulating and engaging for the public, the feasibility of realising the idea and the use of smart technology and/or design for energy efficiency.

“i Light Marina Bay presented new ideas for light art and architectural lighting in city environment through stunning light art sculptures and designs,” said Mary-Anne Kyriakou, Festival Director. “It also encouraged cross-cultural exchange of ideas between the local and international artists as well as initiate an understanding of innovative approaches that reduce energy consumption and light wastage, while energising urban spaces.”