Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Days 420-422 Water Garden

I am a water garden. 
I am home to rare orchid and sacred lotus, 
wild flowers and rambling reeds.
Life in my pond is quiet but vibrant,
restraint but free. 


My water garden was of humble beginnings. I still recall how on that really hot Sunday afternoon, I took out an egg crate I kept for years and started building the rock surfaces. The Abandoned House was crying out for a water source and it was between a well and the deep blue pond. I chose the pond. 

The pond's first life after I laid the tiny pebbles and poured some E-6000  over, was a plastic plant from an old project called "Heaven For Dead Cars".  I wanted something special amidst the foliage so I thought, why not a lone stalk of pretty flower?

The rare orchid in my myriad flora collection was the obvious choice. This was a flower made by a Thai artisan bought from a stall in my favourite flea mart, Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. I think it is a variety of the super rare Lady Slipper Orchid.  

The next weekend, I poured more glue into the pond. This time I used an epoxy mix from Elmer's that promised Super Fast something. It wasn't very super anything nor fast. 

I was soon bored watching glue dry so I decided then my pond would be a water garden. I found more discarded flowers, like the lotus buds and placed them into the middle of the pond.

These rather realistic succulents which I love, I planted at the side of the pond.

These dried flowers were souvenirs I plucked when I was in Australia. I knew I could use them in one of my projects someday.

Rambling reeds, another plucked apart dried flower and the pure white paper lotus in full bloom were additions I made on the 3rd weekend when I poured the last layer of E-6000.  The glue had bubbles teeming, suggesting vibrancy and life.

When I brought the house out for a shoot and the various plants by the pond started swaying in the breeze, for a moment there as I looked through the lens of my camera, I saw myself standing over my water garden, dreaming up poetry and enjoying the wind in my hair.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Day 417- The Perspective Of A Fruit Tree

I was "growing" a fruit tree for the Abandoned House when I was once again confronted with the issue of "scale". It was some rambutans I bought from a Thai artisan which I wanted for my tree but these rambutans were a little on the big side (even by my very imprecise standards). 

As some of you may know of me, I am not one to measure down to the last millimeter for a flawless 1:12/24/48 scale. After all, the same object can be different things in different scale. For instance, my Abandoned House could be a 1:48 chateau or a 1:24 shed or even a 1:12 pigsty.  Conversely, an object can, and do, come in many sizes. There are large, medium or small sunflowers or tables or maybe even....


So at the end of the day, how do I tell when something is of the right size? Simple, really. It just must look right, 

Or if it doesn't quite, we can always call it a dragon fruit tree instead of a rambutan tree, maybe even a red durian tree. 

Surely our small world can be anything we want it to be, right?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Day 417-418- Garden Variety

Ginger flowers

There's something soothing about the commonplace.  

Star Lilies

In its uncomplicated and unremarkable way, it works its magic. 

Digging, potting, seeding. 
Earth, gravel, dirt. 

  Oleanders In A Wheel

In the mundane routine, I find my calm. 
In the ordinary of my flowers, I find my pleasure. 

And in watching fresh blooms growing side by side a passing one, 
I find my gratification. 

Perhaps this is the secret to success,

our ability for pleasure in the simple. 


The base for the abandoned house and thus the garden.

I often find myself veering longingly for my miniatures when I am most stressed at work. In the last weeks, expanding the garden of my abandoned house has worked wonders for my nerves. 

Even in gathering moss from the garden, I found myself smiling. 

Is it like that for you too?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Day 418- Spanish Guitar, Desert Rose

In the days when I was void of any creative inclinations, inspiration came to me from the most wonderful sources and in unexpected ways.

Last month, it came to me in a tiny box filled with ginormous flair. I see dedication, commitment, perseverance. In his Spanish guitar, I saw his music. 

Placed alongside a beautiful white shawl from Seville and the desert roses sent to me last year, there was a harmony that made me want to sing along.

Thank you, Contar for the Spanish guitar which every detail you handmade down to the last string. And thank you to your sweet wife for the shawl that she knitted, warming me to my very core. Dear Arantza, thank you too for the wonderful desert roses. 

But mostly I want to thank all of you who with your gifts have inspired me to return to my art which I have neglected for a while.


This may be a good time to let my friends here know that my mailing address changes every 2-3 years. Regretfully, I have found out that a friend's gift was sent to my old address. It was not forwarded to me as I have moved since 2 years ago. Even as I write, I have just moved again into this new place on 15 Sept.  I hope that the gift was returned to the sender because as with many gifts exchanged in our world, they were made with so much heart, it will break mine if the gift was lost. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Colours of Bangkok

External Wall of Building With Birdhouses as Mailbox for Tenants

This trip took a while coming, happening almost 7 months since Indochina. After much persuasion, we agreed on a short sojourn, our 1st holiday. Bangkok seemed ideal as SuZ was there for work. We were also in the thick of the coup and the city was quiet.

Flower Arrangement at Anantara

Garden Sculpture in Anantara 

It was new and lush

 House by the Mangrove River

but it was also old and quaint.

Water-Vendor sailing away from Bangkok Seaview Restaurant

We saw a Bangkok we never knew and ate at a restaurant sitting in the middle of the ocean where the only form of transport to and fro was a long boat.

Seats at Bangkok Seaview Restaurant

Great food, good friends, laughter and love.

 Street Food

Coconut Dessert

Condiments for Coconut Ice Cream

And of course, the inevitable Chatuchak Market, coconut ice cream and all the miniature supplies I will need for a while. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Day 410- Sarees And The City

I had planned this for a while, making a box vignette for Winni on her birthday the way I did for Uncle Vasu's 80th  just a few months back.

I wanted to make a box that is essentially her, someone who wears the most outrageously mini dresses but would occasionally don a traditional saree for her boyfriend (she a Catholic, he from a family of a devout Hindu); a beer guzzler who loves to dance but whom I have never seen drunk; immaculate hair except in the rain; a fierce foe but also a loyal and devoted partner.

One side of the box reads: I am not a sari kind of girl but sometimes for love, I kind of am.

I completed the vignette in an afternoon.

She wears a saree of course but it is one of glitter and suede with a veil in the boldest print and brightest blue. Like a leading lady in a Bollywood movie, she dances under a tree but her tree blooms in a burst of untamed hues and she has wild flowers in her hand and hair

 and yet.....I felt something missing.

Until I found this bottle of Tiger beer 

 and finally, I think I have made a box that is essentially her.

Sarees & The City


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Celebrating National Day

Mass rapid transit train (metro) running in front of a block of flats

We celebrate National Day today. 

Exactly 49 years ago, Singapore gained independence from Malaysia after a rather unceremonious expulsion from the Federation due to racial tension.

Flat with playground featuring Dragon slide

Since then, this country celebrates the 9th of August, rejoicing in how through the very difficult early years, we have built a nation where people of different races now call home.

Flat with clothes hanging out- a typical sight

Typically, in the days leading up to our National Day, many events with themes revolving around the country's achievements are organised. 

Of special interest to me this year is the Recycled Project organised by Yeo's, a  Singapore company that pioneered the use of tetra pak .

Hundreds of kindergarten children came together to build miniature blocks of  HDB flats (our public housing) using Yeo's tetra pak drinks packaging.

90% of Singaporeans live or have at one point in their life, lived in such a flat. Today, more than 80% of us still do. 

Looking at how creative the little ones were with these recycled packaging truly inspired and amazed me. All the attention to details made me want to build one too.

Vertical gardens are more and more common in our high rise these days

Most of the material used was the packaging of course but there was also paper, plastic, straws and strings.

The children even used little cut-outs of themselves to illustrate how myriad the households in a flat can be.

Many of the flats were of course decorated with flags and string pennants to commemorate the National Day.

What I especially love though are the playgrounds, so many of them reminiscent of my own childhood.

Playground with Dragon Slide

Park made entirely with paper

"Water Tanks" and "Pipes"

Walking through rows of these miniature structures, I was brought back immediately to all of my childhood homes, the last of which I left for good only after I turned 26. 

So kudos to all the little children and their teachers and thank you for the special memories. You are all creative geniuses.

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