Posts

time

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I stopped wearing a watch soon after J died. It wasn't conscious at first. I thought I could wear one of his, but it didn't feel right. I have since given all of his nice watches away except for a $25 Casio and a GShock Frogman he bought soon after we got together.  Before he died, I would refuse to wear a watch on weekends. It was a sign that I was "off" from work - my time was mine - and his. What is your relationship to time?Some of us are horrible at keeping time. We are constantly late. Some of us pack too much into a day, and we fail to understand how much time is needed for most of living. Some of us just work away - giving ourselves to whatever it is that demanded our attention at the present. Some of us live in a kind of diseased nostalgia, unhappy with our present and not seeing much of a future. And some of us are always making plans. And if we are not making plans, we are dreaming, constantly dreaming of something that is not yet here, may never be.I rece…

nurture

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The word “nurture” is often used as the antithesis of “nature”, as if it is artificial, a forceful intervention. This weekend, I watched two of my couple friends, one with their 3-month old baby and the other with a 2 year old toddler, care for their child. I think of “nurture” instead as “care”. To nurture is to care, and vice versa. It is to give labour to looking after the welfare of another, to give attention to what will best help or serve another. It is not artifice. It is not the imposition of your own will. Because we often cannot determine the outcome of our “nurture” and “care”.  It is now midnight and I have just spent the last hour watering several sets of plants, and changing the water for some cut leaves and flowers. I remember J sometimes “complaining” to me how much work is involved in looking after his plants - a complaint I mostly ignore because “Eh, you asked for it what.”. I empathise more fully with him now. It is a lot of work indeed - not that it takes up large …

15th of the 7th month

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This guy waxes and wanes. He represents your heart, my heart or nothing.  This is one of those days I wonder how at 45 I still have this surfeit of emotion? Surely it must be spent by now.  

On my walk tonight I see hell money strewn about the pavement; I imagine diabetic ghosts imbibing rows of Yakult, Ribena and those carb-heavy offerings the PM would nag about in his National Day address; I think what inconsiderate and frankly filthy habits disguise themselves as tradition and worship - I admit, no amount of romanticizing Toa Payoh tonight will take away this realization that, no it is not hell but yes, it looks like a freakin’ ghetto. This is not righteousness. It is just defeat.

At 45 surely I cannot still feel as when I was 25. So I try to keep my eyes looking up instead. And there is that moon. That guy waxes and wanes. He represents your heart, my heart or nothing.

because

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Because we needed a distraction, a friend suggested that we exchange short written reflections on beauty, titled "Because Beauty". She wrote 2 and I wrote 2 too. Then COVID happened and we stopped. Other things took over to distract.
Because it started to rain just as I was about to go for my post-dinner walk, I sat down before my laptop and saw this folder "Because Beauty". So let me share the 2 short pieces I wrote from that time instead -
BECAUSE BEAUTY Dec 2019

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was beautiful, and he separated the light from the darkness. 

And on the second day, God made the land and sea. He saw that it, too, was beautiful.

On the third day, trees, plants, grasses – yes, beautiful.

On the fourth day, the sun and moon and…

moving on

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Portrait of Pa J in his 20s
The last 10 years of suave-looking Pa J‘s life without Ma J were unhappy ones. His health deteriorated until he was mostly bedridden the last year. Ma J‘s death hit him hard., He seemed to have some regrets over her last days. They were married for over 50 years and were never apart. She bore 7 children, scolded them into adulthood, cooked amazingly delicious food and looked after all his needs. In turn he cared for her and did everything to provide for his family. After she died, laughter went from the otherwise jovial Teo family.    

Caring for Pa J really bothered J. He saw the flaws of his father and his physical deterioration as a mirror of his own future. The tensions among his siblings (typical of large families) added to his feeling upset. He used to joke that Pa J’s flat was “Sadville”.  

Pa J didn’t know that J had died. This weighed on my mind. It was sad that this old man, who was so lonely and disappointed with his kids, should think that his youn…

the beholder

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I said sometime ago on this blog that I'm done saying Goodbye. And while friends advise against "dwelling on the past", sometimes the "dwelling" catches you even though you didn't think you had hit the "rewind" button.  My excuse was having to archive the stuff on J's mobile phone so that I can terminate the phone line and take over his iPhone which has a better camera than mine. Of course, this meant looking (again) at over 17,000 photographs on his phone.Here’s one I found when everyone was still using “hipstamtic” for square IG photos - remember?? I share this cos vanity has overtaken me again and I just think we both look so damn fit (and relatively young, and J still grumpy) in this photo that it feels unreal. That year I think I could run up and and down the 6km macritichie trail under 45min. I can still walk that trail now, maybe in under 2 hours haha. Oh well. A different time. A different body.  

J obviously didn’t take this photo, alth…

time in your hands

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In my hand is a seed of time, made by Taiwanese artist @hanyunliang, a friend made at the Singapore Art Book Fair years ago. Around my wrist is the shadow of a vertebrae caught in a loop of time, made by the lovely Argentum. The artist’s work is the transmutation of matter, space and, with photography and film, maybe even time; and in the process giving meaning to form, and form to meaning. For artists who work with clay, stone, metal, wood, it always feels like there’s something noble and romantic about their labor. What a gift, to be able turn these raw elements into things of meaning and beauty.

be the fool and slave of my heart

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I am a printer’s daughter after all. When I opened this new tin of ink (check out the label) and scooped out a chunk with the scrapper, i could smell the lovely oil and my heart did a little backflip. This week’s orders will enjoy a more “pro” print!
When I learnt pottery it taught me a lot about patience, the importance of an anchor, the balance between push and pull. With clay, people, ourselves. I remember the “life lessons” from my printmaking classes more than 10 years ago (blogpost July'06, blogpost Aug'06, blogpost May'07). And even now, this spate of printing on the weekends have reminded me of them. - 1) There are no shortcuts in life, really. For a lazy person like me whose mind is always seeking a easier way to do something, this is a constant lesson when making art. So much is practice, repetition, improvement, asking why and trying to find those answers. Take the time to make sure each step is as best as it can be. And take the time to listen for when you let …

Furrie & Shortie Issue 3

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I have been neglecting this blog because....I started a new one!  It is largely to share the work-in-progress pages of Furrie and Shortie Issue 3: Be With Me. After a short break in June, Issue 3 online will return this coming weekend in July. I should be done with  Issue 3 by end August. But who knows when the print version can be ready... With COVID19, it is hard to tell what things may be like. I do like this tension between a desire to plan, and the freedom of living day by day. The desire to plan comes from work. The day-by-day living is practice.

46 going on 16

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My second ceramics teacher is a millennial. She asked me to write “A Letter to my 16 Year-old Self” for an online magazine called "Strawberry Generation" she had started with a bunch of friends, to encourage other millennials. I agreed because I belong to a generation who still believes #MustListenToCher (and would probably know who else Cher could be). If you are easily bruised, I've placed here the homework I submitted for your reading:

Grammodes Geometrica

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I was having dinner last night with the artist who made the image in Photo 2 for the upcoming ampuletsX7 exquisite corpse project. She was assigned the butterfly “Painted Jezebel” as a theme. Towards the end of dinner she pointed out “hey, a moth” outside the window behind us. ⁣⁣

light

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I love how light fills the flat. But this afternoon, sitting by the window for lunch, I could feel the heat bearing down on my back. And I suddenly realised: the windows have blinds! Silly me. I have not lowered these blinds for more than a year and have forgotten about them. When I did, the room immediately cooled. The blinds filter the light and in the first photo you can see the difference. ⁣

beauty

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The pursuit of beauty seems noble. Especially a beauty that is not slathered in gold or diamonds. A modest beauty - if there can be such a thing - a beauty seemingly attainable by everyone yet noble because it requires the mind’s eye to be honed. This is a romance. It is a fool’s game. It is pleasurable.

welcome (except to you, lizards)

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Just as I finished repainting the door and gate to my flat on 1 May 2020, I searched blogspot for all our previous attempts to paint this door....starting with this > 4 Sep 2006 , 2 weeks before J formally registered ampulets studio as a business.

Left Behind

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Amps decided to make our own Singaporean version of Sanrio's SumikkoGurashio (Left in a Corner), the Left Behind.

It's strange how people tell me which character they relate to. Hmmm, I don't think I relate to any of them specifically! But it was good fun to write and draw them. My fave, if I have to name one, would be Ed, followed by Carma.

Still walking

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Today started like any other day when we would go to MacRitchie - lazily, then a sudden rush to get out of the house. Quick! Before the sun rises to its height!

Here's looking at you, kid.

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When you look at the lifeless body of someone, they never quite look like themselves.

Facing Reality

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An old doodle by J, words by Y. Found this while archiving, Amps humour.
Grab drivers are slowly but surely taking over the role of taxi drivers in most areas, including dispensing folk wisdom.

In each season

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A Sun won a bunch of awards at the Golden Horse, edging out Wet Season in the Supporting Actor, Best feature film and Best director categories.

on the hunt

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My neighbour's flat has been empty for over a year now.