Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Tribute To My Mother (1931 - June 14, 2007)

The representative picture which i want to remember my beloved late mother is none other than this black & white photograph; "sepiaed" by time, of her working on the Singer sewing machine which she owned.

I remember her working ever since i developed consciousness of my surroundings. Her CV was a colourful one as far as i could remember: Washer woman, seamstress, child-minder, ironing lady, coffee-shop attandant (when she was a young girl, according to her - working in my grandmother's coffeeshop in Tiong Bahru).

She used to regale us of her being able to skip two levels to the upper primary when she was in Ai Tong School years ago. And of course we would ask her many times how she foiled her mother's plan to give her away - she had overheard a conversation between her mother and an interested family. She ran away from home as a result but then her mother changed her mind and kept her with her own children. It was quite common to 'buy-and-sell' children simply because of the lack of family-planning measures.
My mother imbued in me a never-say-die spirit in life. When her right arm was immobile, she used her left hand to clothe herself. She even ironed our clothes with her single, precious arm. Sadly, she learnt how to rest only when she was wheelchair-bound during the last two years of her life.

I will continue this page when i have adequately dealt with the loss...

This entry below was written on Saturday, October 15, 2005

Just as the dove symbolises Peace and a heart symbolises Love, the iconic image i have of my mother is this picture. She is, in my heart and my mind, associated, collocated with the sewing machine -- The manual, foot-pedalled sewing machine which was her ricebowl. She is now 70 years old and very alive indeed.

For many productive years of her life, she was intimately linked to clothes - she made and sewed clothes for people. But mainly sewed. Bags and bags of them. She also sewed and altered the length of our pants and shirts. She practically raised 5 of us with this trusty machine. While she used this 2-wheeler to earn her keep, her other half used the four-wheeler to bring home the bacon. So none of the 5 of us had any silver spoon in our mouths; we would be thankful if we had a bronze one. The process of seeing raw bales of cloth being marked out and then cut, and then subsequently sewed and transformed into wearable fashion is something i must commend this woman for. She is my wonderful mother.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Possibilities come when we Pause

It is a *truism that many Singaporeans are discovering for themselves (which is a great thing). The rut that we find ourselves getting into; or which have got into for so long as we do the same things day in and day out is so glaring that we just plod along EVEN knowing that we are in a rut.

"Just stop and smell the flowers" is a cliche which is waxed but never followed simply because we think that people will get ahead of us when we "let go." Well, Velcro was literally born when one lovely summer day in 1948, a Swiss amateur-mountaineer named George de Mestral took a walk with his faithful dog and then post-walk, discovering the little burrs which got stuck to his pants. The rest, as they say, is history. (Visit this url for the details

For those who have discovered the malaise and sought treatment, a sense of inner calm and serenity would have pervaded the person's inner man (spirit and soul) and most probably that enlightened person would then have taken the 'road less travelled.'

I met one such person two weeks ago and his courage and spirit is so inspiring that i went to visit him in Toa Payoh, the location of his current venture - Pauseability. Moses is definitely one character who does not travel the broad path. Just visit Moses and spend some time doing something artistic which you have wanted to do for so long in his shop and talk to him - then you will find out. Visit this url or better still, take a trip down his avant garde shop at Toa Payoh Lorong 1.
(2012 update: It is no longer there but we appreciate the guts).

My soul was literally bursting with inspiration, so much so that if not for the fact that i have two young boys to tend to, i would have done something similar. My wife passed a complimentary $5 voucher for use in his shop and i read about his 'handwritten' brochure. In five minutes i was driving to Toa Payoh.

I entered into the realm of CARPE DIEM - a soul so filled with the need to seize the day that he is willing to rent an entire shopfront of a princely space to engage; to cajole, nudge, enthuse the rest of the human race in our little dot on this planet to PAUSE.

Someone was painting Van Gogh's Sunflower when i entered the shop.

"It's worth the $9, " said Joe calmly. All his days' work is over. His time for some Re-creation.

Moses' shop has just opened for about four months. I salute him for veering off the well-taken route. And it's not that he is a hippie. Nor that he has toomuch money or has no plans about his future.

I wish him all the very best in trying out something different. I will be seeing hime more often (even though i have plenty of art materials at home and quite a creative soul myself). There will definitely be possibilities.

*A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning, except as a reminder or as a rhetorical or literary device.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

MORE Schnauzers!!!

Excuse me, I need to take a leak (no. 5)
Grr! Don't take pictures! (no.5)
A mix between a Schnauzer and Scottish Terrier (no. 3)
Backview(no. 2)
Side (no.2)
Right (no. 2)
Mother and Child (no. 2 and no. 3)
My favourite (no. 5)
Here's looking at you!
Wanna play with me??
I wanna play ball
This is my better side...
This is a nice ball
Hey, what's that?

Post 2005 schnauzers

This is my smallest schnauzer created so far; and i love the stance. I put the boy and the bird bath with bird in a setting and i think it looks just great. I particularly like the happy, peaceful look of the boy and the harmonius tableau - Just a fine day to take his dog out. No worries of any natural disaster or any mad gunmen shooting people in the streets. The dog is minding his own business ;-)
The boy is my first human in this proportion using a Korean clay and i really like the effect. The birdbath is another one of my favourite items in my collection currently.


Amongst all the animals and things which i create out of clay, my favourite and most inspirational pieces must be schnauzers, never mind the weird spelling and the difficulty in finding the letters on the keyboard. And I don't even own a real one.

Schnauzers are clever creatures, according to my internet research. Its origin came from the German word "schnauze," meaning "muzzle". The dog is generally friendly towards people and besides the need to maintain its wiry coat, take care of its eyes, kidneys and other ailments and not overfeeding it (it is known to put on weight quite easily), schnauzers are very good dogs for land-scarce Singapore. They take to apartments rather well and they age very slowly and they will keep you happy for a long, long time. There are a few schnauzer-owners around my vicinity and i like to observe their movements and behaviour - it'll make my sculpture more realistic.

My love affair with the dog began in 2005 when i saw a few pictures off the internet and i did it in a air-dried Japanese white clay (the heavy sort) (picture, above right). I used some armature and i was very satisfied with the texture which i could create with ease. Then i discovered that i could do it rather competently and since then i have a way with schnauzers. It's fate meeting destiny, i guess.
It's the detail that makes the sculpture look good, besides the proper placement of the eyes and nose and the parting of the matted hair, ears, whiskers etc - once any of these is misplaced, then it might look like another breed. As i create dogs, i also come to realise that God is really creative - a tweak in the position here and there and it becomes another breed. Stunning. And really, only God knows how many breeds of dogs there are in this world.
Well, one day when my two boys are old enough, i'll consider getting a nice, well-behaved one.
This cute dog is made from DAS air-dry clay ;-)