Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Farewell, Father of Singapore...

Yesterday, we woke up to know a piece of  news that sadden Singapore. The Father of Singapore , Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had left us after battling in Singapore General Hospital due to pneumonia. We know this day is soon to come  because his health had been failing and yet when the news was announced, we could not help but grieve.

Hence, this week, instead of continuing a post on playground fun, I am to dedicate this post to him. 
I am going to share with you photos I had taken during Little One's last excursion to the Learning Gallery at the Singapore Art Museum last June. 

Portrait of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Self-Portrait (No More Tears Mr. Lee) by Jason Wee

His inspiration comes from the iconic 9th August 1965 moment when Mr Lee broke down on TV while announcing Singapore's separation from Malaysia. He used 8,000 Johnson and Johnson bottle caps because Johnson and Johnson is famous for their baby shampoo "No more Tears".

Why using no more tears bottle caps?
The artist is conveying now Singapore is doing well, Mr Lee need not to cry anymore (No more tears).

8,000 Johnson and Johnson's shampoo bottle caps, creating a portrait by opening or closing the caps.

Self-Portrait (No More Tears Mr. Lee) by Jason Wee is currently at Learning Gallery of Singapore Art Museum
It was not easy to build a nation then. It was tough times. But he did it. He successfully lead his team to build Singapore. I doubt there are many people who are as capable and influential as he is.

Little One is not aware who Mr Lee is. All I can tell her is that the Singapore that she live in is built by a team led by Mr Lee. I hope, in years to come, I can let her know more stories of Mr Lee.

Farewell, Father of Singapore,
we will remember how you brought the 3rd world Singapore to her present day. You are a great, amazing man! We shall miss you! Now that you are away, we wept for you. At least, you are with your beloved wife. It is somewhat consoling to think about that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Little One @ Hort Park

We are not new to Hort Park. It is a 23-hectare park located in the South-Western part of Singapore. It is the first one-stop gardening lifestyle hub in Asia that integrates gardening related activities together under one roof in a park setting. This park is unique because it gives you ideas how you can decorate your garden or balcony if you have one. They have showcase garden design.

If you love gardening, you can check this park out especially Gardener's Day Out which happens quarterly. Do check here for more details. Though I have been to the park countless times but I have not gone for any gardening events as yet.

The park is a rather small, you could walk through it and get done with it within an hour. (Our fastest record was within 15 minutes because we were just passing through to Pasir Panjang Nursery Open House). You will not find any fun activities such as cycling although there are people who picnics in the park. (I personally do not recommend as there is not much shade) The only fun activities for the children is probably the playgrounds, the swings around the park and fishes in the Water Garden near the Hort Centre. To add on, it is rather hot towards noon till late afternoon. Then, why do I keep coming back?

One practical reason is that it is probably the nearest park to our home. It is rather serene view with loads of pretty plants around, particularly the view of the Hort Lawn from Level 2 of the HortCentre. It makes me relax. I love the vegetable garden which the scarecrow stands. I am toying with the thought of growing my own vegetables but where should I plant them. I do not have a balcony and the sunniest spot in the flat is the bedroom. I like the English gardens that the Park had recently included. Sitting in a swing with such nice view is calming, not to mention, my favorite part of the playground as a child is always the swing.

Hort Park entrance @ 33 Hyderabad Road. Little One used to love playing with the mosaic wall.

Little One loves climbing these stairs
Swing! Swing! Swing! Swinging in such ambiance increases the happiness level! 

Such pretty gardens!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

1st Exposure to Amezaiku

In the midst of Chinese New Year, which is celebrated on the first 15 days of the 1st Lunar month of the Chinese Calendar, I attended and exposed myself to Japanese Candy Art Sculpturing (Amazaiku). On the 3rd March, it is Hina Matsuri Festival (Doll Festival or Girl's Festival) which is celebrated in Japan. I am very interested in cultures and hence went ahead to the Lecture & Demonstration on Amazaiku conducted in Japan Creative Centre (JCC).

I brought Little One along too as there was no one who could take care of her that day. There were also a few parents who brought their children along.

The whole session was conducted by Ms Minori Baba, a Japanese born in Kobe. Before the session start, she prepared her ingredients required for amazaiku in front of us using a portable induction cooker.
A sticky glob of hot candy. 

Ms Baba speaks Japanese and fortunately, there was a translator to help translate to English. She introduced herself as a passionate candy sculptor artist. She loves to cosplay and she works at a Japanese Radio Station as a DJ. As that day was Hina Matsuri, she introduces to us why Japanese celebrates this special day. At the same time, she introduced various types of Japanese sweets which are enjoyed during the celebration , before proceeding to introduce the traditional Japanese Art Candy Sculpturing "Amezaiku".

Introducing the Hinamatsuri Sweets

What is Amekaiku?
It is a traditional Japanese art of sculpturing candy into various.animals, things and characters. Today only about 40 people are practicing the art in Japan. Ms Baba started her candy art skills in 2006 and she mastered her amezaiku skills by herself. Since then Ms Minori has been doing candy art shows everywhere, she is able to handle hot candies which are of 80-90 degree celsius without gloves in order to sculpture a candy into different forms. Her amezaiku equipment includes a special scissors called "Nigiribasami", brushes and food colouring. Sculpting candy had to be done fast before it hardens.

The artists start with balls of soft candy,dyed with food colouring, attached to the end of wooden sticks. The candy is pinched, pulled and cut into the desired shape. Finishing touches, like eyes, the whiskers are painted on with food dyes.

In the past, amezaiku artist blew into the balls of candies to help enlarge them but nowadays, for hygiene purpose, they use pump instead.

After the lecture, Ms Baba demonstrated amezaiku in front of us. According to JCC, she is the only candy sculpting artist who can make candies while singing a song. Ms Baba made 3 candies, (a dragon, Ponyo in a shape of a goldfish, and Totoro) in front of us. It was such an eye-opener! The candies were given to 3 lucky children. The candies can be stored for a few months if not eaten. I was glad Little One enjoyed watching the making of candy art!

Ms Baba singing to the tune of Totoro while making one. She used a pump to pump the body of Totoro.

Look at these cute candies! Too lovely to be consumed in my opinion.
I believe Amezaiku is a dying art in Japan because it is not easy handling hot candies at 80 degree Celcius. Many beginners burn their hand. Candy Sculpturing Artist such as Ms Baba had trained herself to get used to the heat. She had trained herself to make these amazing and beautiful candies. The reason she likes doing amezaiku is because of passion. She loves to put a smile on everyone's face when they see her candy art.

I could not upload any of the video I have taken at JCC. But here is a video of Ms Baba sculpting Hello Kitty. Hope you enjoy watching too!

Ps: The video of Ms Baba in action is on  my facebook page

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