This year has flown by – I’ve been up to my knees in rice plants in the paddy fields of Indonesia, growing an artist’s paddy field sculpture in Singapore city, travelling in South India and unravelling prayer threads to turn into woven artworks. I’ve been quite ‘offline’ this year – but I now share some of my inspirations and learnings below.
Growing a Paddy Field in the cosmopolitan city – a project with Edible Art Movement
During May and June 2014, I was coordinating a big public art project for the Edible Art Movement. The results were poetic, interactive, beautiful, and spoke of the roots of life in Asia.
Rice and Asia are deeply associated, and paddy fields in many cultures are the site of community gathering, singing, story-telling, spiritual and creative expression to mark particular points such as planting or harvest. When EAM was invited to create an art installation to be placed in the outdoor Public Plaza in the middle of Singapore’s newly renovated art district, we decided it was a chance to explore this concept further by bringing the rural paddy field into the modern metropolis.
We wanted to draw a subtle connection between the eating of rice, this simple grain that links all the countries of Asia (and the West too in fact), and its history – especially the sense of creativity, cultivating & community behind it. So often we are disconnected from the earthy roots of life, especially in a contemporary city like Singapore – we wanted to bring this back into people’s lives through our artwork, and also make this green site a platform for art. We collected around 500 rice bowls from people all over Singapore (each with its own ‘story’ or history attached). Within these, we transplanted the rice that our artists had grown from seed.
I was interviewed about this here, do have a read to uncover more about the concept and the talented artists involved.
Find more images in the EAM’s photo album here.
Travelling and research: Journey through the rice paddies of Indonesia
I spent some time earlier this year exploring the vibrant art scene in the heritage city of Jogjakarta, where the Art|JOG fair is currently taking place. I stayed in a little village outside of the city, surrounded by emerald-green rice paddies. I made friends with some of the local Indonesians who took me to their own patch of rice shoots, invited me into their homes to see how they live and run my fingers through the grains of their harvest – grown themselves not for commercial purposes but to sustain their family for a whole year and replant next year. During this time I was doing a lot of research about the community-focused nature of rice farming, where each person is entirely reliant on the support and co-operation of his neighbours to ensure that the water nourishes each field in turn, and can flow between the green patchwork to hydrate each square equally. There are actually some schools of thought suggesting that the nature of rice farming which is a very collaborative activity, compared to wheat farming which would involve a focused group or family for instance, has a profound difference on the way cultures and societies develop and perceive neighbours, family and the self in relation to others.
Please view some of my research photography here: Photo album
Selected Artist for the 100th Feature Exhibition
In May I was selected to be included in this showcase of 100 artists from across the globe, presenting a range of styles, especially selected by the AAF committee panel.
My artwork was difficult to spot as it sold on the opening night! 100% of the sales were donated to the Official Fundraising Partner – The Red Pencil Singapore.
A new series: prayer thread, reclaimed threads, gold leaf, maps.
I was pleased to launch a new series of ‘Catchers’, my works based on the format and traditions of dreamcatchers. The pieces were hand-woven using prayer thread, reclaimed threads, gold leaf, maps on glass, and text from found books. The series was exhibited by DegreeArt Gallery, my London representation who actually flew to Singapore to collect and curate the artwork into a showcase they held at the Singapore Affordable Art Fair.
Travelling and research: Sensory saturation in South India
It’s one of my favourite places in the world to visit and absorb life. Unusual, often surprising, intense, and incredible. I was lucky enough to travel through India this March. As well as being a wonderful way to get inspiration, explore new things, meet unique characters and let the mind wander, it also gave me time away from the studio to plan my new works. I visited a lot of little towns, tea plantations and rice paddy fields too.
My documentary photography here: Photo Album
Meeting the art world giants
During my time here in Singapore I seem to meet very interesting and inspiring characters. This January I met and subsequently interviewed Art Fair director Lorenzo Rudolph, (Art Basel, Art Hong Kong, Art Stage, etc). Check out our conversation here.
Next up: Tokyo
Watch this space! I will be exhibiting in a travelling group show, which will open in Tokyo on Aug 22nd 2014.
Other happenings this year:
I made a behind the scenes video in my Singapore studio this month, for those who keep asking me where I work and how I personally get creative! Sneak preview here.
Thanks and goodbye for now, I will emerge from the studio again soon to update once more.