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Cool Contemporary: Jennifer Chalklen

Red Bus Photography

New Zealand artist Jennifer Chalklen didn’t put brush to canvas until she moved to Jakarta five years ago. The mostly self-taught painter has since shifted to Singapore, been awarded an NPE Art Residency for contemporary artists, and exhibited her work in a solo show at the LUDO Gallery at the Visual Arts Centre. She talks to Pip Harry about how and why she made the move from digital marketing for a ski and surf company, to an artist’s studio in Joo Chiat.

Where are you from originally?

I spent my childhood growing up in a little rural town just outside of Tauranga, New Zealand and lived in Wellington, before moving to Asia. I now live on the East Coast with my husband and three kids Taylor 11, Meya 9, and Archer 5, and a fur-kid Sansa, a rescue puppy that we adopted from Causes for Animals. We’re coming up to three years living on the little red dot.

Where did your love for art begin?

I have always loved art and as a kid I was very creative: sewing and drawing in an abstract way. But I didn’t select art as a subject in school, instead I went into rowing training, and more academic subjects.

Art wasn’t your first career?

No, I worked in digital marketing for clients like Huffer, Billabong, Rip Curl, Solomon, Quicksilver, Ski Himalaya and Playstation. I did a bit of everything: writing weekly surf reports, developing advertising copy and making animated gifs.

When did you first start painting?

I only started painting portraits and doing figurative work when I was living in Jakarta about five years ago, and I stubbornly decided to teach myself how to paint portraits in a realistic style with oil paints. I had a lot of images and ideas in my head, but I didn’t have the technical ability to transfer them onto canvas, and I wasn’t able to say the things that I was feeling or wanted to express, so there was a big gap. I learnt by Googling stuff, YouTube videos and trial and error. It’s still a constant learning curve.

What do you like about being self-taught?

It gives me a kind of self-governance over my artistic direction, what I’m learning, what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. Plus, I really dislike authority and being told what to do, so formal classes don’t really work for me in that sense. But I need to be always learning new skills or trying something new

How do your surroundings inspire your current artwork?

After visiting New Zealand, my paintings become greener, and trees and animals find their way into my work. My colour palette is more vibrant in Singapore than the muted tones I was using in Jakarta, which were almost the same colour as the sky from the constant congestion. I found visiting Tokyo incredibly inspiring – it was complex, frustrating and confusing at the same time, a complete sensory overload.

There’s almost photographic detail in your work – are you personally detail orientated?

No! Which is why my painting style is still a surprise to me. My personality type is quite chilled out, messy, and disorganised. My desk is usually a disaster zone. I always thought I would be an awesome abstract painter wearing overalls, covered in house paint, using big bold brush strokes, which I think is more representative of my personality, but my work doesn’t come out in that way.

Describe the process you go through to develop a painting?

Normally a painting will develop in my peripheral, after glimpsing an image, a person, or a dream, and it will stay there for a while. If I don’t get it down, it will slowly vanish like the memory of a dream. I then gather reference images from live models that I photograph, or artist reference images online and then start to develop the work. My style is visual extension of my thoughts, ideas and experiences, it is almost like a form of meditation or prayer on a canvas.

Where do you like to work?

I work in my Joo Chiat studio, which is a space that feels like mine, outside of being a wife or a mother. I can exhale as soon as I walk inside and it allows me to get into the headspace I need to create. Also, our apartment does not have the space to make a mess, so to save my marriage, it’s much better to keep things separate.

What’s next?

I’m also in discussions with a gallery owner and another artist to open up a new gallery space in Singapore in the next few months, which would be great. We’re currently looking for property, so hopefully the real estate gods will shine on us in a favourable way.

Contact Jen through her website www.jenniferchalklen.com or Instagram @the_secret_art_gallery

ANZA Tours: Into the Dragon’s Lair

In a bid to learn more about Singapore’s traditional art scene and get into the countryside, I’ve joined a group of fifteen intrepid ANZA Tour members on the Journey West tour; heading to Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle in Jalan Bahar, then onto Bollywood Veggies for lunch. As we arrive at our first stop, tour guide Gek points out a family of wild boar grazing on the nature strip. It’s clear we’ve left the urban jungle behind.

Mouth of the dragon

The family-run Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle (85 Lorong Tawas via Clean Tech View, thowkwang.com.sg) is home to Singapore’s last firing dragon kiln, and the island’s largest variety of porcelain and pottery ware – a vast collection of earthen pots, colourful Peranakan bowls, and blue and white china.

The brick, wood-fired kiln, built in 1940, roars to life only a few times a year these days, taking 24 hours to reach a blistering 1,260°C. As the dragon is currently sleeping, we are allowed to step inside the 36-metre belly of the kiln, where a few thousand pieces of pottery are loaded in for each firing.

At its height, the kiln would be fired four times a month, going through a steady cycle of packing, firing, cooling and unpacking. “From the 1940s to 1970s, there was a thriving pottery industry in Singapore, with 20 dragon kilns in production, and Jurong’s white clay considered ideal for producing the cups used for the numerous rubber plantations on the island,” says Gek. “When the rubber plantations closed, there was demand in the 1970s for orchid pots. Unfortunately over the years, all but two of the kilns have shut down.”

Preserving traditions

With their lease up in 2021, and redevelopment looming, Thow Kwang and other Singapore cultural icons need continued support to preserve their legacy. “You need a lot of manpower and it’s much more time-consuming than gas or electric kilns, so why bother?” Gek asks the group. “The answer is that the ashes interact with the pottery and glaze, so each piece is different. That’s what the artists are after – the unique variations in colour and texture. Also, it’s a tribute to old Teochew and Chinese traditions.”

“You start digging a little deeper and you find all this traditional industry going on in these little hidden pockets in Singapore,” says tour member Fay Ford. “It is a real shame there isn’t the demand for this style of pottery firing, even though they still have the facilities here and the volunteer manpower. If it dies out because of infrastructure changes, it will be a shame, because it will gloss over important Singapore heritage.”

Bollywood bound

Laden with pottery purchases, we head for our second stop on the tour: rustic Bollywood Veggies (100 Neo Tiew Road, www.bollywoodveggies.com) To get to the organic farm we travel along heritage-protected Lim Chu Kang Road, lined with thick angsana, mahogany and rubber trees. The Heritage Road Scheme was launched in 2001 by the National Parks Board, to conserve the scenic and significant tree-lined roads of Singapore.

Bollywood is a 10-acre slice of green paradise, away from the bustling CBD, which runs educational programs, cooking classes and farm tours. It’s owned by eco warrior Ivy Singh-Lim and her husband Lim Ho Seng, ‘farmpreneurs’ who believe in sustainability and connection to the land. We happily potter through tropical fruit orchards, butterfly sanctuaries, medicinal garden beds, and more.

Escaping the heat of the day, the group gathers at Poison Ivy, Bollywood’s farm-to-table restaurant to enjoy a delicious Indian fusion feast, finishing with fig tea and moreish banana cake. As we make our way back to Singapore’s condos, skyscrapers and busy streets, it’s nice to know this heavenly rural patch still exists in Singapore.

ANZA Tours runs regular excursions to all corners of Singapore, uncovering its hidden treasures. Book here: anza.org.sg/tours

Top 10 Singapore Urban Art

Sky Mirror courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

1. Sky Mirror, Anish Kapoor, 2010
Location : Lily pond at ArtScience Museum
This elegant stainless steel, reflective artwork from a Bombay-born British sculptor, sits in calm lily ponds overlooking Marina Bay, reflecting the sky and the iconic lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum.
Fast fact: Sky Mirror weighs a whopping 1,800 kilograms!

2. The Bird, Fernando Botero, 1990
Location: UOB Plaza near Raffles Place
It’s hard to resist stroking the chubby feet of this very sweet, very plump bird, created by famed Colombian sculptor and figurative artist Fernando Botero. Made entirely of bronze, it represents peace, serenity, and joy.
Fast fact: Another Bird can be found outside the airport in Florence, Italy, with the same weighty proportions.

3. Nutmeg and Mace, Kumari Nahappan, 2009
Location: ION Orchard
This iconic two-tonne bronze sculpture is an interpretation of an opened nutmeg seed. It connects the mall with its past as a nutmeg plantation in the 1930s and is symbolic of trade prosperity.
Fast Fact: Nutmeg and Mace, as well as Urban People and Panda Family are part of CapitaLand’s extensive public collection in Singapore, which includes sculptures, murals, mosaics, stained glass, paintings and calligraphy. art.capitaland.com


Courtesy National Arts Council

4. First Generation by Chong Fah Cheong, 2000
This exuberant bronze statue group shows five boys leaping into Singapore River. The sculpture acts as a reminder of simple pleasures and highlights Singapore’s transformation over the years, with the river now surrounded by towering skyscrapers and hotels.
Fast Fact: Other bronze statues The River Merchants, From Chettiars to Financiers and A Great Emporium are located nearby and are part of the People of the River sculpture series.

5. 24 Hours in Singapore, by Baet Yeok Kuan, 2015
Location: Front lawn, Asian Civilisations Museum
This interactive audio sculpture installation of five stainless steel balls is more than meets the eye. Local artist Baet Yeok Kuan has incorporated familiar sounds of daily life in Singapore, from traffic in suburban heartlands and MRT trains, to the chatter in wet markets and coffee shops. With the passage of time, this sculpture will become a slice of history.
Fast fact: Kuan’s distinctive sculptures can be found in many public spaces in Singapore.

6. Panda Family by Julien Marinetti, 2013
Location: Westgate Mall, Jurong
The Panda Family features four pandas sitting in identical poses, with the father at the head of the group. The subject hints the proximity of Westgate to the Chinese Garden, whose pagoda and pavilions are prominent landmarks of Jurong.
Fast fact: The colours splashed on the pandas have meanings: orange and red for the sun, pagoda and pavilions; blue for water and sky; and green for nature.

7. Reclining Figure by Henry Moore, 1983
Location: OCBC Centre
This monumental, semi-abstract bronze sculpture was created by famous British sculptor, Henry Moore, whose work often features female figures in recline. It’s position by the water makes it even more serene and striking.
Fast fact: Measuring over 10 metres in length, Reclining Figure is one of the largest sculptures that Moore has ever created.

8. Urban People by Kurt Laurenz Metzler, 2009
Location: ION Orchard
Commissioned specially for ION Orchard, this set of six caricatured urbanites invites shoppers to hold their hands, give them high fives or link arms. Their bright colours and poses with shopping bags, briefcases and newspapers capture the vibrant shopping and business district of Orchard Road.
Fast fact: Look closely – the woman in purple is carrying a silver shopping bag with an ION Orchard logo.

Courtesy of the National Arts Council

9. Pedas, Pedas by Kumari Nahappan, 2006
Location: National Museum of Singapore, Fort Canning Entrance (Level 2 Exit)
In this commission by the National Museum, artist Kumari Nahappan represents a common local ingredient: chilli. Standing at almost four-metres tall the artist used chilli to reflect Singapore’s multicultural society – as the ingredient is found across many Asian cuisines.
Fast fact: Nahappan pursued a successful interior design career before studying fine art at the Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore and Masters of Fine Art from the RMIT University, Melbourne.

10. Jelly Baby Family by Mauro Perucchetti, 2012
Location: Plaza Singapura
These colourful pop art style resin sculptures at first seem cute and cuddly, but the Jelly Baby Family series stems from Perucchetti’s interest in cloning and his mixed horror and fascination with the possibility of cloned human beings. Do their smiles look more sinister now?
Fast fact: The Jellies have toured the world – being exhibited in London, Paris and Rome, before finding a permanent home in Singapore.

Download free public art walking guides from www.publicarttrust.sg/Public-Art

Creative Keepsakes: Louise Hill

Photos: Louise Hill

Once you’ve seen a Louise Hill artwork, it’s hard to forget. A kaleidoscope of bright pastels, intricate patterns, vintage Asian themes, photography and illustration, they’re completely unique, and the perfect memento of time spent in Singapore. The London born artist is accustomed to expat life; she lived in Paris from age six to 10, spent a couple of years in Melbourne, and then had stints in Shanghai, Hong Kong and finally, Singapore. She now resides in a “modest” Black and White house in Medway Park with her husband Ryan and teenage twin boys, Ezra and Jude.

First brushstrokes

Louise studied art and design at two London art schools before joining her father’s design company as an apprentice. “I cut my teeth there, focusing mainly on wine label and spirits packaging design. I worked from the ground up and can still remember being nervous about calling a printer for the first time to specify points and picas (design measurements) – we didn’t work with computers in those days.”

From there, Louise spread her wings in the corporate world. “I spent a few years at Crabtree & Evelyn, then Marks & Spencer, followed by Ian Logan Design for several years, where I finally did learn to use a computer! Then I took the opportunity to go travelling for a while, when the design industry hit a bit of a downturn at the very end of the 90s.”

The Melbourne connection

Louise set off with a backpack and her now husband Ryan. “We travelled from India along the Spice Route to Australia for a year out. However, instead of returning home to the UK as planned, Ryan got a job and we ended up in staying in Melbourne for three years.” The couple set themselves up in the hip, artistic suburb of Fitzroy and Louise freelanced as a graphic designer and worked part-time as a guest lecturer at RMIT University. “I was actually quite terrified at the prospect, as I’m not comfortable in the limelight and I felt utterly out of my comfort zone, but I really enjoyed my time with the students.”

Shanghai surprise

When Louise fell pregnant with her twin boys, she felt a longing for home and family. “At five months pregnant we left Australia to return to our little seafront apartment in Brighton.” But after a couple of years of double duty parenting the couple had itchy feet once more. “We were drowning in twin feeds, nappies and hyperactive boys, so we eagerly accepted a job for Ryan in Shanghai,” remembers Louise. “We were craving more adventure and the promise and privilege of help from an ayi!”

As she raised her boys in Shanghai, Louise dabbled in logo design for fellow expats, but struggled with the language barrier as she dealt with local printers. “My Mandarin really only stretched as far as the market and the taxi driver. So I decided to think of another way to have my own business that would also be portable.”

Finding her niche

After a move to Hong Kong, Louise wanted to work from home to be with her boys, so she initially tried her hand at bag design, before coming up with the idea of creating prints that reflected her surroundings and Asian culture. “I designed my ‘Hong Kong Ferry’ print, sold it to a couple to friends, who told me they would love to see more! I then realised that I had a good small business model.”

Inspired by living in Shanghai, Hong Kong and now Singapore, Louise creates digital mixed media artworks that are layered, vibrant and textured. “I instinctively take inspiration from my own surroundings and daily life observations, so I started with Hong Kong themed designs followed by Singapore when I moved here. I love to add in the colours, patterns, favourite places, buildings and cultural curiosities we enjoy as foreigners living abroad.”

The perfect keepsake

A Louise Hill print has now become a must have for expats leaving Singapore and Hong Kong. “A lot of people say that they see something different each time they look at the design, something they hadn’t noticed before; they love the vibrancy and uplifting nature of my work. Many people say that they simply bring back lots of happy memories of the place that they used to call home. I have also sold to local Singaporean customers who enjoy the celebration of their culture.”

Louise’s work is available on her website www.louise-hill-design.com

Netball: Merlion’s Perth Tour

A thrilling trip

“We met at the airport for the start of our astonishing journey. We were full of energy and enthusiasm for what we knew was coming later, and we hopped on to the plane with excitement. When we reached our destination, the cool Perth air was refreshing, compared to the Singapore heat. On arrival, we drove to our Scarborough hotel, overlooking the beach and ocean. This spot is popular with surfers, although none of the team braved the ocean. It was absolutely magnificent! After some amazing pizzas, we were all absolutely exhausted before the tournament had even started.

The next day was an early 6.30am start! We were so thrilled for the day ahead of us. When we reached the State Netball Centre for the championships, we found our first court and started to warm up in the cold. The 45 outdoor courts were occupied with close to 270 teams from all over Western Australia, as well as a few teams from Singapore participating. There were age groups from U12 upwards, with a range of divisions in each age group. The games were great to play in the crisp open air. We put in our best and went through the rest the day with smiles from ear-to-ear. Although it was cold, we had a tent just for our team and the parents who had accompanied us, and we were well prepared with our personalised ANZA blankets and tracksuits.

Highlights and tough matches

After a quick freshening up later in the evening at the hotel, we went to a restaurant near the Perth Netball Arena. The highlight of the day was when our teammate Zara represented ANZA in the opening ceremony, and we then got to watch a live match between WA Fever and the Sydney Giants. It was a wonderful experience and we danced in our seats in the stadium, along with many other netball teams.

The next day flew by. We played another three tough matches, but as always it was fun. When we got back to the hotel we luckily had some spare time in between the end of the matches and dinner, so we decided to go to the pool. The water was freezing cold, but we still went in and played water polo with a couple of other hotel guests. After this we went to a lovely Thai restaurant, with amazing food bursting with flavour.

On Monday, after our last match, we packed up, and then dined at a riverfront restaurant on the way to the airport. While the four action-packed days in Perth went by so quickly, I loved every single minute of it. From the weekday training sessions leading up to the tour, buying the ‘merch’ and of course one of my biggest achievements of the weekend: my ‘cleanest room’ award I won with my roommate Zara! All jokes aside, I reckon the best part of this whole experience was being able to share it with all my new friends, and sharing every loss, every laugh and even every nap in between matches.

A big thanks!

Thank you to Coach Eva, Coach Jocelyn and Team Manager Jo, and all the parents for their time and effort, including the fundraising and organising for this lovely experience. All the team members received various individual awards over our time in Perth, and I would like to finish by quoting Alice who was quite famous for her hilarious acceptance speeches: “I would like to thank my legs for supporting me, my arms for always being by my side, and my fingers because I can always count on them!”

SIGN UP for ANZA Netball’s 2018/19 season, commencing 1 September and your little netballer could experience exciting travel and playing opportunities like this! For more info head to anza.org.sg/sports/netball/


The River Resort, Laos

Two nights’ stay for two people in a Deluxe Room at this jewel on the banks of the Mekong River incl. breakfast.

Prize Value: $480

A “Jewel” on the banks of the Mekong River in the south of Laos, The River Resort is a haven for casual elegance in nature Entering the Resort by stone walkway across evergreen rice paddy, guests Cine a verdant, naturally landscaped parkland with 400 meters of stunningly beautiful Mekong Riverscape.

The Resort features 28 stylish, spacious guest rooms in Villa style (22 with panoramic Mekong and wondrous Sunrise views, and 6 with lush views of rice paddy, ponds and ancient trees), all having indoor and outdoor showers and private front terraces for casual relaxation whilst enjoying the Resort’s spectacular natural setting.

Terms and Conditions:

Each voucher is valid for a 1 night stay with breakfast for 2 people.

Valid for stays through May 31st 2019.

Advance booking is required, to book please contact dream@secret-retreats.com

Reservations (dates of stay) are subject to availability only.

The voucher must be presented upon check-in.

The voucher cannot be redeemed for cash.

2 nights (2x1night vouchers LA005-SRG-2018-01, LA005-SRG-2018-02)

Date of Issue: November 06 2018 – Valid Through May 31 2019

Villa Samadhi, Singapore

Two nights’ staycation for two people in a Crib Room incl. breakfast, welcome afternoon tea and evening cocktails at the Chandelier Bar.

Prize Value: $790

Set amidst the verdant greenery of Labrador Nature Reserve, the secluded Villa Samadhi is a 20-room boutique hotel that offers travellers a sanctuary of heritage, nature and rustic-luxury. Housed in a 1920s colonial garrison, it is designed to be reflective of its history, and exudes an old-world charm that evokes the romance of a bygone era.

Rejuvenate in the alluring chambers that seamlessly fuse modern amenities with an unmistakable character. From the plush Cribs that open out to the shuttered corridors and leafy vistas, to the charming Luxe Sarang that features a private plunge pool and garden, each room is adorned with vintage centrepieces and custom-created pieces, lending every chamber its own distinctive character.

For the gastronomes seeking a unique experience, adjourn to the award-winning Tamarind Hill that is situated just a two-minute stroll from the hotel via a jungle boardwalk. Indulge in over 100 Thai and Burmese creations that were created from family heirloom recipes, or sip and savour the house-infused Gins and signature cocktails at the Chandelier Bar.

Terms and Conditions:

Accommodation shall be provided for a maximum of two persons per room only

Kindly present this voucher upon check-in

Advance reservations are required, and the voucher number must be quoted upon reservation

Bookings are subject to availability and blackout dates apply

Samadhi Retreats reserves the right to refuse acceptance of any vouchers that have been altered, defaced or exchanged for cash

This voucher may not be redeemed or exchanged for cash, Valid until 30 May 2019

Satri House, Laos

Two nights’ stay for two people in a Deluxe/ Junior Suite in this former royal residence incl. breakfast.

Prize Value: $870

Located in the heart of the city, Satri House was built in a very attractive Colonial Style in 1904 at the turn of the last century as the residence of Prince Souphanouvong, often referred to as the “Red Prince” because of his political affiliations. He later became the first President of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

Refurbished in 2002 by Mrs. Lamphoune Voravongsa the residence has been enlarged with the addition of six more colonial style buildings consisting of 14 Deluxe rooms, 14 Junior suites and 3 Satri House Suites.

Satri House’s facilities include a Restaurant, Garden Bar, Gallery & Library room, Outdoor Swimming Pool, WIFI internet, Spa and Massage. With 31 unique and exquisite rooms, that are beautifully furnished, it is a place steep in atmosphere and equipped with all modern comforts.

Terms and Conditions:

Each voucher is valid for a 1 night stay with breakfast for 2 people.

Valid for stays through May 31st 2019.

Advance booking is required, to book please contact dream@secret-retreats.com

Reservations (dates of stay) are subject to availability only.

The voucher must be presented upon check-in.

The voucher cannot be redeemed for cash.

20 Dec – 31 Dec/ 1 Jan- 28 Feb 2018

2 nights (2x1night vouchers LA002-SRG2018-01, LA002-SRG2018-02)

Date of Issue: November 06 2018 – Valid Through May 31 2019

Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa, Phuket

Four nights’ stay for two people in a Deluxe Room incl. breakfast at the home to Phuket’s most buzzed about beach club.

Prize Value: $920

Expertly designed for ultimate relaxation, Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa offers 172 modern rooms, suites and villas all featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular views of either the stunning swimming pool or the surrounding lush hills of Phuket island. The hotel is conveniently located near the Laguna area and only 20 minutes from the Phuket International Airport. With four dining outlets to choose from, indulge in a first-class gourmet experience with vibrant, distinguished flavors, fresh ingredients, and a variety of menu selections sure to tantalize all taste buds. Guests looking for an energy boost will enjoy the signature Five Element spa journeys at Sanctuary spa, designed to balance the body using elements of wood, fire, earth, water and metal. Located just four minutes from the hotel by car on pristine Layan Beach is the 2,000-square foot multi-level Dream Beach Club – Phuket’s most buzzed about beach club.

Terms and Conditions:

To make your reservation contact via email:- reservations@dreamhotelphuket.com

Please present the original certificate upon arrival, room booking must be made at least 7 days prior to arrival.

The gift voucher is non-transferable, cannot be exchanged for cash, cannot be sold and cannot be used in conjunction with other on-going promotions.




Hilton, Bali

Two nights’ stay for two people in a Deluxe Ocean View Room in the prestigious Nusa Dua area incl. breakfast.

Prize Value: $950

Situated in the southern part of Bali, in the prestigious Nusa Dua area, Hilton Bali Resort is only 20 minutes’ drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport via the new Bali Mandara Toll Road.

Sitting atop a 40-meter cliff, with stunning views of the Indian Ocean, the resort offers 389 well-appointed rooms and suites and 19 luxurious villas. The resort is famous for its breathtaking sights from the majority of its rooms, extensive lush gardens and one of the most picturesque secluded beaches on the island. Tropical atmosphere and Balinese traditions are reflected in the design and warm service delivery.

As a choice destination for events and conferences, the resort offers variety of indoor and outdoor options including two conference centres with pillarless ballrooms as well as ocean-facing wedding chapels. An array of recreational facilities including 4 interconnected swimming pools, Jungle Kids Club, 8 semi-outdoor private spa villas and 6 dining options specializing in Japanese, Balinese and International cuisine.

Terms and Conditions:

Valid from 07th November 2018 – 07th May 2019

For reservation contact – hiltonbali.reservations@hilton.com,  no late than 7 days prior to arrival.

Not valid during high season periods & special events

Confirmation will be subject to room availability

Present the original gift voucher upon check in

Non redeemable for cash