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.