Sunday, October 29, 2006

And On Sunday She Rested - Well Not Quite

Sunday, the traditional day of rest. After what had seemed like a very long week, what with the Installation day, full work days in between, gallery sitting, Opening night plus packing up the non-essential stuff from this apartment, I certainly had a big lie-in today. Well I also lost an hour of my sleep because at 2 am this morning, we moved the clock an hour forward for Daylight Saving Time.

Indulging in a take-it-easy type of Sunday, I washed the new sheet set I bought yesterday, to get them all ready for the new apartment. Then embarked on my mission to use up more of the dried goods in my pantry. I baked my favourite rock buns: flour - ticked, dried fruit mix - ticked, eggs - ticked, sugar - ticked. Also was just reminded as I am typing this entry that I had left a batch of date cupcakes in the oven! Short-term memory not existent - ticked. Thank goodness the oven had been turned off and they were just sitting in the leftover warmth.

Now that all the baking's done, photos taken, I'm off to take a walk in the village, enjoy the sunshine a little and what's left of this beautiful Sunday.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Opening Night

It was finally the Opening Night of THE show. Everything culminates in this (or does it?). The last 2 works to arrive had been hung in the morning and they look great together. A stroke of luck as we had to hang the rest without taking these into consideration on Installation Day as they had not yet arrived then.

The food and wine arrived, I was a little concerned (being the greedy foodie that I am) that the finger food platters were not enough, they didn't look very big, but thank goodness someone had the good sense to hid 2 more platters in the office, away from the hovering vultures (aka poor/greedy/opportunistic art students) that were eyeing the food and wine and immediately swooped down on them when the guests went into the gallery for the speeches!

And they turned out to be more than sufficient - and delicious. I just stuffed my face (in between duty as photographer and general dogsbody) and also managed to get the recipe for the fabulous green dip (leek and baby spinach) off the executive chef. Yummy! As you can see, my interest lies more in F&B hence there are more photos of that than of the show proper.

Everyone was pleased, the 2 artists were chuffed, the speaker was happy to be invited to speak and rub shoulders with the artists, the tutor was glad that things went so well without any sort of intervention from her, and we, the student curators were satisfied with how we progressed and the end results. We didn't have a single fight amongst us during this whole journey - probably unheard of, but absolutely true. It really was a good experience, and we had a lot of fun doing it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Show Goes On

Installation day was Monday. It was hard work. By Tuesday night, my biceps and back were aching from all the hauling of these huge 2.25m x 1m media prints on aluminium sheets. They must weigh about 20-25 kgs each. These photos do not capture the grittiness and the back-breaking work we did, cos at that time, all hands were on deck and no one had the luxury of stopping to take pictures! But the end results were marvellous. The gallery looked really good. We were pretty relieved to get this all ready and works up. Tomorrow's the Opening Night and hopefully things will continue to go well. We've got the wine, we've got the food, let's get the show on the road.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Reduce The Stockpile

I went up to see the folks on the 27th floor today at work. After chatting for a while, P asked where the baked treats were, he said every time I come upstairs, I would bring some baked treats. He's been trying to see what I have in my hands but realised I had nothing with me, so he had to ask outright. Ha, so it's validation of my decision for the apartment. They look forward to my baked treats. I was absolutely right I made the right choice (for the right reason too!).

Having already packed 7 bags, leaving shoes, handbags, some more clothes, food and sauces from the pantry, left to be packed, I need to consume more food, bake more treats and basically try to reduce as much as I can in the next 2 weeks. I've lined up everything that needs to be consumed so that I can see them and be motivated to finish them up. I have to limit myself to just buying fresh food (like these mangoes) which will be gone by the time I move, no more stocking up on canned food and other non-essential food.

Excuse me, I gotta go eat something.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My Achilles' Heel

Exactly 2 Mondays ago, I received the Notice of Termination of Lease for my current place. Today, I received confirmation that my application for the new studio I inspected on Saturday has been accepted. A big weight off my back! Finally, life can go on and things will fall into place. I have no photos of the interior of this modern looking building which caught my attention, I don't know why I didn't take any. I think I got a little excited when I saw the apartment, especially the stainless steel kitchen. I now know my Achilles' heel when it comes to apartments.

It's funny, I never would have thought it would be this...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Toss Up

A toss up between 2 apartments.

Apartment 1: fully furnished studio with a built-in double bed, microwave, 2 hotplates, bar fridge, 14-inch TV, decent but small bathroom and a good-sized balcony with a cafe table and 2 chairs.

Apartment 2: modern looking apartment with a good kitchen with induction cook top, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, bar fridge, decent but small bathroom and a decent-sized balcony with a cafe table and 1 chair (that I saw from the inside since glass door was locked and I peeked through the blinds). Kitchen and rest of studio is separated by a bar counter which will double up as work space.

The head says take apartment 1 which is fully-furnished, less hassles. The heart says take apartment 2 as the kitchen is so much better, and I cook and bake so much nowadays. I can also surf the net on the bar counter there whereas in apartment 1, I will have to balance the laptop on the bed? Considering that the things I enjoy most nowadays are cooking, baking treats for the office folks and surfing the net and chatting with my friends online, my heart finally won the struggle. Getting a mattress/bed and a small TV won't be a show-stopper.

This might be a good opportunity for getting a proper futon - finally?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Laksa Tonight

In my pursuit to empty out the pantry as best as I can before the imminent move, I made laksa tonight for dinner. The weather had suddenly turned chilly, in my cotton top and surf shorts, I was feeling a little cold as I trudged from college to the supermarket to get some fresh food. Prawns were so cheap today, so I decided to make laksa for dinner, that would use up that can of coconut cream and another heavy weight removed. The curry would be good for the chilly weather too. I felt good seeing the diminishing pile of cans and packets. Sometimes one can get a sense of achievement from the most mundane things...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Baker's Dozen

I finished the last slice of orange cake today. I actually wanted something savory for the next few breakfasts, a big loaf of soy & linseed bread would be good. But it wasn't on offer, a loaf of bread for $4 seemed a bit excessive to me, so I sucked it in and decided to bake a carrot cake. I had bought a box of instant mix the other day before I received the Notice of Termination of Lease. Then I got the Notice and my first thought was that I had to consume all the food in my pantry so as to lighten the load for the move. So I used the mix but decided against making a carrot loaf but instead made little cupcakes. I didn't want to make the icing cos I don't really fancy icing on cakes. So here they are, well part of the 2 dozen little cupcakes I made. Iced cupcakes are really big here right now, they look really pretty but I don't think they would taste very good, with lashings of pink and blue icing and generous sprinkling of colourful hundreds and thousands on top.

I guess having an oven in the next apartment would be a very nice-to-have, I want to say a necessity even, but I think that's asking too much, seeing as most little studios come with a microwave and 2 little hotplates (if you are lucky). But if I don't have an oven, I guess the folks at work will be missing the little baked treats I have been taking in to work.

On a completely unrelated note, I like this other photo I had taken in Canberra, in the vast grounds of the War Memorial. The lovely dried leaves, stuck in the twigs of this bush, seemed such an unlikely subject for nature photography but somehow they caught my eye. This photo almost looks like corals underwater with fish swimming and darting in and out of the corals, doesn't it?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Quit While You Are Ahead

Maybe it's the stress of the apartment search combined with the business trip that will eat into the chunk of my apartment hunting time that is getting to me, but tonight I was in a deep funk. I want to be home. With family and friends. I pulled out the college prospectus and confirmed that if I exited my course now, I would get a Graduate Diploma. Considering that:-

1. I probably won't start a career in the Arts;
2. The quality, or rather lack thereof, of the education I am getting this semester;
3. The fact that next semester I have only 2 real subjects while the other 2 full-fee subjects are internship and the research paper, and the low likelihood of my learning anything substantial;

the notion of exiting the course at this point, which is in 3 weeks' time, is getting more real as I think about it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Someone Has Other Plans?

Having finally fallen asleep about 4 am and only having had about 4 hours of shut-eye, I woke up nursing a "lack of sleep" headache this Saturday morning. This apartment search is obviously getting to me. I ring up an agent with a promising studio, fully furnished, with security and a pool, much lower rent that what I'm paying and right in the heart of Bondi Junction. Inspection is only in a week's time. 7 whole days from now. What do I do? There aren't any interior photos of this studio, I only have my imagination and that nice description to rely on. But I also did my research on other similar studios in that building for sale, and they all have photos. They look decent. On a related note, when I was apartment hunting the first time round, my current apartment was the only one in the real estate website that I was scouring through religiously, that did not have a photo, not a single one. I was attracted by the power of the description and it didn't fail me. Maybe being a "word" person, this is my karma?

So with this mental image tucked in my back pocket, I inspected 2 apartments before lunch. Nope. After lunch, I inspected my current first choice. It was probably two-thirds the size of my current unit but with a decent-sized balcony which made a big difference compared to units without the balcony (the one I saw before lunch was such a unit, I ran for the door quite immediately). Chatting with the friendly outgoing tenant, I found out that as the studio was only recently put up for rent, only 2 people (including me) have viewed the place so far. I think I will hold my application for this until I see the Bondi Junction studio.

Maybe Someone up there wants me to have a better apartment for the summer? One with a pool would be nice... Everything happens for a reason, I've seen enough these couple of years to completely believe in that. And usually for the better too. So maybe I'll be spending my free time by my new pool this summer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Apartment Hunting Woes - Once Again


Back from work, balancing handbag and lunchbag, opened letterbox and flipped through mail. One official looking letter from real estate agent. Ripped it open ... OMIGOD! I've been served with a Termination Notice, the landlord wants his apartment back. Why, why, why? I've been a good tenant, no I've been a GREAT tenant. I've lived through 3 major issues (burnt fuse box, clogged bathroom and leaking kitchen sink pipes) and continued to pay rent promptly even when the problems were not resolved. Why me?

Went online to the real estate listings, only 2 possibilities. Had a migraine when lying in bed trying to sleep.


Rang agent. Landlord is moving back from London. My worst fears have come true, this would be the ONLY reason I thought I would be asked to move.

Went online again. Nothing else available. This is out of my control.

Lied in bed with a migraine again after I started working the dates backwards. I have to get a new place and sign the lease by 21 Oct. Desperation looms.


An apartment inspection is on this evening. I had serious reservations as the building is on the stretch where the homeless perch on the stoop of building entrances and ask (ok so they don't really hassle you) passers by for money and ciggies. But desperation is creeping up, I turned up for the inspection. The big, burly guy who regularly sits on the stoop reading his magazines, is there, at the entrance of the building where the apartment is. "Spare change, please?" continuously rang in my ears the 15 minutes I stood waiting. The agent didn't turn up, I decided to leave. Cannot see myself living there.


Went to 5 real estate agencies in the neighbourhood. Only 1 had some possibilities. Inspection this Saturday. I diligently planned my inspections in my diary to ensure my appointments are coordinated. Highlighted, underlined and ticked.

Another apartment inspection is on at 5.30 pm. Unfurnished but colleagues have rallied around and offered me a mattress, spare tv, odd table and chairs they have in their garage and store rooms. So this time round, I was willing to consider an unfurnished apartment in the worst case scenario. SMS received at 4 pm, agent cancelled inspection, to be rescheduled.

Went home and got online, nothing new was added to the listings in the last 2 hours.

And so I wait some more. I need luck more than anything.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Colourful Floriade In Sterile Canberra

The main reason I had wanted to go to Canberra was to see the Floriade. Having seen the original Floriade in Holland in 1992, I wanted to see this one. Apparently this Floriade also had its origins linked to the Dutch. The Dutch Ambassador to Australia had left his post and the beautiful tulips growing in the gardens of the embassy were left behind. The Ozzies decided not to let them go to waste but instead cultivated them, and that was how the flower show began. I don't know how authentic this is, but the learned old coot with 6 degrees (mentioned in the earlier Canberra entry) had imparted this little nugget of information.

The tulips were pretty impressive, but us humans being less resilient than the flowers, were soon withering in the heat. We retreated into the shade, with a popsicle each and admired the blooms.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sterile Canberra - War Memorial

Anyone who calls Singapore a clean but sterile city has never been to Canberra. Canberra to me, is like something that was bought a few months ago, but hasn't been taken out of its plastic wrap, to play with very often. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty, nicely laid out, neat rows of trees, clean roads but it was just too well arranged, with not much character as the building architecture does not differ much. There is also not much life, even during the day in the weekend.

I liked the War Memorial and Museum, it was interesting especially the significance of Changi Prison being where many Ozzies were interned during the Japanese Occupation. There was even the table from the old Ford factory, on which the surrender of Singapore was signed over by the British to the Japanese. Suddenly it seems like history came to life. And I actually held in my hands, an Identity Card issued in 1953 to a 74 year-old who was born in Malacca. No, it wasn't a historical artefact, although it could well be, but belonged to the oldest person on the trip. I was shown the card and quizzed on the significance of the date and as I've brushed up on my Singapore history in the past few years, I could actually tell him that that was when Malacca was part of the Straits Settlement. Right - that earned me the "privilege" of being harassed constantly by this learned old coot with 6 degrees who sought us out to impose his pompous opinions and to show off (unsuccessfully though...).

But back to the city - everything looks new. And completely planned, nothing has grown or sprouted out of necessity, there is no urban blight or sprawl. I think a city needs some chaos in the order for some character to shine through. The next time someone calls Singapore "sterile", I'll be sure to point them to Canberra.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Renaissance Singapore: Dollars and Cents

Am researching my 1,500 word essay on if and how the Singapore Biennale has succeeded in its mission in engaging the local population with the artworks and event, since success in trade and commerce is not the only success factor that we want to be good in, but also we NEED culture. As the Biennale is still on till November, it may be a bit presumptious to make any sort of conclusion now with more than a month to run, but having spoken with friends back home, the stats are as per before. Those who are already engaged in the arts, will and have visited the Biennale, not all, but some sites. Those who do not already possess some sort of interest in the arts, have not and do not seem to have any intention to go see the Biennale, despite the fact that it is the first major contemporary art show bringing together artists, curators and arts practitioners from around the world. Now this is of course a very small straw poll which I have done, but my gut feel (and my weekend guiding experience at the Art Museum) tells me that it represents the larger picture.

It take more than just one large art show to change the mindset of a whole population who have grown up over the last 41 years of independence and nation building. If we do not improve the career prospects of arts practitioners, the larger problem will not be solved. It basically boils down to dollars and cents. You can't just tell someone (ok, apart from poor, starving artists who have their passion and talent, or their belief in their talent, and a stoic constitution to plod on with so little) to forget about material well-being and try to bring some culture into his life and be a more gracious citizen. He has to reach the level of "food and shelter" in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs before he reaches "self-actualisation". So if the arts will not guarantee him the basic quality of life, he will not be jumping in at 18 to get that education (which currently seems to be some sort of vocational training in the arts, rather than a respected, properly-structured, tertiary education equipping arts students to not just do their hands-on practice, but also teach them proper analytical, writing and presentation skills, but this also relates to the calibre of students who do opt for studies in this area. It is quite a chicken-and-the-egg conundrum.) or later at 21, devote himself to a career in the arts. When he's 40, made some decent money, gotten some way in his career, he might put a toe in and go listen to the orchestra or watch a play in order to "get" some culture. But then again, he might not, he would be so used to not doing these things, and might easily prefer a game of golf or mahjong over the weekend.

So dollars and cents. Too simple a theory?

Anyway, back to my research. An extract from the Renaissance City Report: Culture and the Arts in Renaissance Singapore 2000:

Develop arts and heritage managers and administrators

Infuse business perspectives into cultural development and encourage the arts sector to maximise their market potential. Provide $200,000 per annum to develop technical and managerial skills among our arts and heritage managers and administrators. The idea is to build up management expertise, including legal and financial training. This will include study tours and attachments with overseas cultural organisations and the development of courses in arts and heritage administration at tertiary institutions.

Now if the government follows its blueprint, I should be in demand when I graduate, be able to earn decent money in this new direction and still "get" some culture. Dollars and cents, no?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mercury Rising

With the mercury rising, I figured it would be safe to hit the beach today. So I packed my bag, put on my new bathers (I checked myself out and was most appalled at the wide expanse of white flesh and was adamant that I was going to get some colour today) and went off to Coogee beach this afternoon. I guess many other Sydneysiders had the same idea, the beach was crowded, there were even quite a few brave souls who were frolicking in the water (18C only brrrr... I didn't get in). I then picked a spot, laid down my sarong and made myself comfortable. Being the careful person I am, I slathered myself with sunblock, put on my sunglasses and hat, then lied down and proceeded to read the new Jeffrey Archer I picked up at the Vinnie's shop yesterday.

I checked myself every once in a while, as diligently as a good cook would check on his roast chicken in the oven. I replenished the sunblock whenever I deemed necessary, burning was not an attractive thought. Knowing how strong the Australian sun is (huge hole in the ozone layer!), I didn't want another of those "wake up in the middle of the night and scratch yourself to death" nights of sunburn. After reading a handful of short stories, with my thighs (I know they LOOK kinda funny in the photo, like they are too fat or at least flabby, but maybe, surely, definitely it's just the angle - or so I hope) turning a deeper shade of red, I figured that was enough sun for the day (actually because I speed read, I zippped through all those stories in probably an hour so it wasn't as if I had lied there for ages). Happy that I've got some colour on the white palette with which I arrived at the beach, I packed up my gear and headed to the gelato shop and rewarded myself with a yummy rum and raisin gelato.