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Presenting our artist for the month of November: Gilles Massot.

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Gilles’ multidisciplinary process looks beyond disciplines to establish links between narratives, occurrences and parts of the world. Based in Singapore since 1981, his book Bintan, Phoenix of the Malay Archipelago (2003) deeply influenced his artistic work, which now often deals with history and ethnology while conceptually concerned with the theory of photography and the phenomenon of “recording” it initiated. He recently completed a research on Jules Itier and the first photographs of Asia done in the 1840s, and is currently exploring the relations between the history of photography and that of quantum mechanics. A recipient of the French award Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, his work has been presented in over 50 exhibitions in France and Asia. Gilles also teaches at Lasalle College of the Arts.

Check Gilles’ regular update on his residency, on a photo album on Facebook.

During most of November, Gilles will be researching and re-constructing the images of Itier’s missing daguerreotypes. Do get in touch if you would like to come and see the space and the work as it evolves! During this time, the children from Blue House International School will make regular visits to the space, and depending on their interests, will be looking at the space, the images, the photographs, the quality of the photographs, the role of photography…

At the end of his residency, Gilles will give a lecture related to photography and his work. This will happen during the Open Studio, 9 & 10 of December, 2017. Timing to be confirmed later.

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If you passed the studio over the passed few days, chances are you would have seen Agy at work on the large table in front of the window!

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Pots and pans, chopsticks dipping coiled cloth and stretching them on frames – the experiments seems to be going on well. In fact if you want to understand Agy, what she is doing and why she is doing it, I highly recommend heading over to her blog where she talks about her first week at the Observatoire.

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As I walked in on Wednesday, bringing in a sewing machine, I was greeted by lovely scents and colours in the studio, brimming with activity!

And for the last picture, here is one of the flowers that Agy uses for her blue dye, Clitoria ternatea – traditionally used in Malay cooking for making Kelantan nasi kerabu and for Peranakan kueh salat. You’ll find these flowers dotted along Turf Club Road as you walk towards the school and studio. Feel free to pick a few for your own dying experiments!

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We are happy to welcome Agy for the month of October!

Agatha “Agy” is a textile artist who is passionate about building environmentally aware communities.  Her goal is to get people to reconnect with their clothes through techniques such as repair and transforming them into creative wearables (aka upcycling).  Currently she is exploring embroidery and natural dyeing techniques as a way of reconnecting with not only our clothes but with nature too.  She holds regular talks and Restyle Your Wardrobe is one of her signature workshops where she shares her knowledge of rethinking the way we view our garments.    Agatha can be found at Agy Textile Artist, and is a founding member of Connected Threads Asia and Fashion Revolution Singapore.

Agy is planning an experimentation of colours from nature (including our foodwaste!). The outcome might be something stitched up with all the samples of the experiments. And possibly even  a garment or upcycled garment from the experiments. If you want to learn from her, do sign up for her Dying workshop at the Artground on the 28th of October!

If you want to help her experiment, drop by the studio and bring her some material. Here is her wish list :

  • Yellow onion skins
  • Red onion skins
  • Avocado seeds and skins (clean of avocado flesh)
  • Red cabbage
  • Pomegranate rind
  • Coffee grounds
  • Pandan leaves

We will update you on her experiments soon!

 

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Mish and Tam have been in the studio for about 8 weeks (or week-ends mostly) – and they have been experimenting with various processes and materials.

As part of their residency, they will be holding an Open Studio on Sunday 13th of August from 3pm till 5pm. Click here if you’d like to come!

We managed to get some insights about their time in the studio, which we are reproducing below:

Isabelle: – You came to the studio at the end of June and have been working in the studio on the weekends since then, as well as some days during the week to accommodate young students’ visits. During that time, I was wondering if your idea of what you were going to do in the space evolved, or changed completely, or stayed exactly as you had planned.

Both: – Our idea of what we were going to do in the space was constantly evolving. We had the notion of taking inspiration from what we had seen and experienced in Jogjakarta as a starting point, but then it turned out that other explorations (in slime, especially) proved to be more intriguing to us. We were constantly thinking about different things we could do with the space, and those ideas often swung wildly from one to another – performance art one day, wall installations another, etc. Then other roadblocks also happened – for example, we both really wanted to cover the entire floor of the studio in multi-coloured slime, and were excited about that for a couple of weeks, until we finally did our arithmetic and found the cost to be way beyond our budget. It was nice that we had so much room to explore though.

I: – Did you keep a strict log of what you were doing or of which experiment you were undertaking, etc… ? Or did you just “play by ear” and become more intuitively connected to your medium through playing freely with it and making?

Tam: – Definitely played by ear. The only logs we have are the ones we stole off the roadside near the studio for our slime forest. Incidentally, I’ve got three different journals that I’ve started and then tried keeping updated in 2017 alone, and all lie unloved with pages pristine in some corner of my room. A+ for effort though.

Mish: – We were very much just playing freely and exploring the nature of the materials that we had. I think it’s not in our nature to keep logs or be structured about the way we worked… plus, being elbow deep in goop half the time made it difficult to document things!

I: – Can you elaborate on the balance between “knowing” and “learning through manipulating and making” in your artistic process.

Mish: – I guess to know means to understand something, whether it is a concept or the way a certain material behaves. I would say that one might come to know something after spending some time learning through manipulating and making. The more I make art, the less I’m certain that I know anything of consequence at all. I don’t know if the balance that you refer to exists in my artistic process. More and more I’m coming to think of art as some sort of expulsion of emotion, necessary if only to prevent some sort of internal self-combustion. I tend to work by gaining a lot of input from books and lived experience before coming up with an idea for a work that ties all of it together, so I would say that my process is heavy on the “knowing” and light on the “learning through manipulating and making”.

Tam: – For me, a lot of the appeal of the creative process comes from uncertainty. At least the first stage for me has to be a temporary disconnection from the cerebral (knowing and rationalising) – all that self-consciousness would pickle my work prematurely. I often start out with no fixed ideal in mind, letting the process take me where it will. And after a bit of time playing a concept might take root, which I then consciously develop further. The final work is many times more interesting to me this way – it’s fresh, and even when it’s not so good the process carried its own value of discovery – about the medium, about myself. I don’t know about knowing, to be honest. Is it necessary? I’m interested in chance and audience participation and experience. Where does knowledge come into play? Culturally? Tangentially? I have to think about it more, but intuitively I’d say it performs a function like salt. Relatedly, I must air that I could never see art as simply the application of knowledge or skills; I feel a knee-jerk disdain whenever I hear praise of how skillful or well-polished a work is, as if that’s all there is to it. Give me your raw and crude, just so long as it arrives breathing (though ideally also flips something on its head, confounds at least one person and offends another!)

 

I:– I understand it is the first time the two of you are working together as artists. Did you work collaboratively or more side-by-side? Did one of you take the lead depending on the project or was every decision a consensus? You might wish to elaborate on the collaborative process.

 

Both: – We started off each on our own experiments: Tam was interested in exploring slime as a medium, while Mish gravitated towards 2D works with pastel and markers. Some days we would take an interest in the other’s activity and join in the fun, while other days we would inhabit different areas of the studio doing our own thing. We ended up pursuing Tam’s idea further, but all in all we’d say that the whole process was very discursive and collaborative.

I: -Can you tell us more about each of your processes?

Tam: – Oh gosh I did rant a little on the previous question and answered this there already! Pls refer above, tq. It’s relevant to note that, as a new artist and this being my first residency, I feel it’s helped me to understand better how I work (especially since working alongside Mish has made me pay more attention to our individual quirks and tendencies), which has been really valuable.

Mish:– I tend to conceptualise a project and plan it out using sketches and software before dealing with the medium. It’s not often that I would sit and play around with media with no specific end goal in mind, so it has been quite a novel experience during this residency to do so. I often wish that I worked more like this, but it just doesn’t seem to come naturally to me.

 

I: – What are your plans now? Can you take your work further? Would you be ready to plan an exhibition? DO you feel you have generated enough work to apply to show your work anywhere more public?

Both: – We’re not ready to plan an exhibition at this point, but what was nice about the residency was its open-endedness and room for exploration – we managed to explore lots of possibilities but which we have yet to resolve. We feel we could definitely take the work further if we had more funds and time!

I: – Can you let us know the details of what you plan on showing for the Open Studio!

Both: –  The thing to catch is our slime forest – a short performance-installation piece involving copious amounts of slime dribbling onto logs which we traumatised some of our new friends into salvaging with us from the Bukit Timah roadsides. (They never asked to visit us again at the studio thereafter. Art is lonely business.) We’ll also be showing some drawings and fragments from our slime explorations.

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If you spend any time at all on “make your own” sites on the internet and/or have school-age children around you, you’ve heard about slime. This gooey paste-like blobby material that you can apparently make yourself – and has absolutely no purpose other than keep your hands busy while making your mind go “ewwww!”, “ooooh!”, “aaaah!” as you manipulate it, and then “yikes!” when it unexpectedly lands on your clothes or in your friends’ hair.

This is the material Tam had decided to explore during her residency – joined happily by Mish, who also spent time doodling, letter printing, recreating images, sounds and texts seen during their recent trip to Bali.

This slime exploration soon became the main focus of the time spent by the 2 artists in the space. The exploration took many forms – from experimenting with various recipes, to exploring new artistic uses for the medium. Much time was spent on the process, understanding the physics of the medium, rather than aiming for a specific aesthetic outcome.

One of the early, and exciting outcomes resulting from discovering the slime’s properties was a kind of “forest” created by letting slime drip on a prepared landscape.

One of the early examples, recorded by Tam:

 

The teachers were invited early on to observe the material, the process and get an understanding of the potential of the material, as well as understand how the children could be interacting in their environment.

Teachers gonna touch #slime #colour #teachers #experiment

A post shared by l'Observatoire (@observartoire) on

 

Eventually, throughout the month of July, the experiments became focused, as the artists tried different glues, different additions, and tried making art pieces from the resulting material. What Tam says: “When it dries, it becomes hard. The pattern is set. But we might still cut up the design to make something new from it”.

It seems that the potential of slime is unlimited.

This June we will be welcoming artists Michelle Lim (known as “Mish”) and Tamaryn  in the studio.

These 2 artists are travelling to Jogjakarta and will be using the studio for their experiments:

We are two artists who are going on a trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia in June. On the trip, we will be collecting found objects, images and texts, and creating poems and drawings. We will do so with the intention of translating our travel experience into some form of work that can be in turn experienced by others – in a given space (as an installation, exhibition, and/or participatory work), as well as on paper (as a zine).

We hope to use the Blue House residency as a means to thresh out our ideas for the final work, as well as the space in which to enact it. Having a residency space would enable possibilities such as assemblage, performance, and participatory work.

Our project is open-ended and depends heavily upon what we encounter in Jogjakarta. Its parameters are thus uncertain and malleable, but such are our intentions as things stand.

 

The artists:

 Tamaryn is a queer Singaporean artist. Her work explores the grotesque absurdity of the everyday, and is imbued with a sense of irony and irreverence. Tamaryn tends towards experimental and ‘outsider’ modes of production. Objects from the everyday are layered into her work, alongside elements of automation and chance. She enjoys the works of Frank O’Hara, Duchamp, Dada, Fluxus, and #ignorantstyle on Instagram.

Lim Jia Ning Michelle is a Singaporean artist who is interested in the impermanent nature of emotions, relationships, and identity. Her work touches on the beauty of the everyday, and often involves an element of change with the passage of time. She works in formats accessible to the public such as text, printed multiples, and participatory interventions. She counts amongst her influences Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Yoko Ono, Robert Montgomery and Philippe Parreno.

Do come and visit! Although the artists might not be present during the week daytime, due to other work constraints, the result of their experiments will be displayed and visible through the studio window at all times.

 

 

 

When Nel walked into the studio pushing cartloads of drawings, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We had been speaking about this installation for a while and I knew that Nel had a fondness for children’s drawings. I had also seen how he had filled one of his walls at home with some of his favorites. But I wan’t too sure about how he wanted to show his collection off.

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During the 2 weeks preceding the hanging of the pictures, we had many discussions ahead of anticipating how these drawings, collected through art and craft lessons, could be used to inspire even more children’s drawings. What I enjoyed most was Nel’s naïve enthusiasm about each of the drawings. As he was be sorting through his piles of drawings, he would suddenly call out: “Look at this one! Look at that detail in the corner”, “What do you think the he meant in this drawing?” or “Look at how she drew this elephant”. Strictly no judgement means that every single drawing that passes through Nel’s hands has a chance to be looked at again, and marvelled at.

We wondered if it would be possible to sort out which drawings had been made by boys and which by girls. We agreed that while we often can, we could also be wrong, and sometimes there is no way of knowing – as expected the stereotypes often work but are not foolproof. We could also easily detect the young artists from the older ones – but many in the middle left us confused too. Nel had stories for many of the drawings, reminiscing how they had been drawn or the stories that went with them. In the end, the pictures were sorted by categories, and hung up accordingly.

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They were hung on the walls, but also the ceilings, the door and the window!

And with that – we were ready for the visitors!

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We had prepared a booklet of challenges – in case walking into such a full room would leave the visitors intimidated and overwhelmed. There were details to look for, and specific drawings to decipher. Visitors were asked to look for their portrait from the wall, many of them finding the picture spot on!

The small visitors came from Blue House pre-school and then from La Petite Ecole, with their teachers. Some came after school, with their parents. Usually, they were awed by the pictures: “Oh look, even on the ceiling!”. It usually took a while for them to finally look at individual pictures, and finally to realise there was an order to how the pictures were placed. Some children took their drawings home, while others insisted on sticking theirs among the exhibition.

We had questions for them:

– “Who did the drawings?” -“Children! Because children can draw!”

-“How do you know it’s an elephant?” – “It’s got a trunk!” -“And this one?” -“It’s a mouse, with a sock in front”.

-“Oh look, they are all tigers here, and fish on the ceiling”.

Adult visitors came too, curious to see children’s pictures and ready to discuss. The main question was: How do you draw like a child?

We were ready to discuss, with my own Picasso/child drawing installation for taller people to engage with. We collected many “children’s drawings” from adult visitors and many stories / memories from parents reminiscing about their own children’s drawing period.

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It was an interesting exhibition that seemed to get the public engaged in different ways. And then, we asked visitors how many pictures they estimated were pasted in the room and how many were in the box. Answered varied widely, depending on the age of the person answering – from 100 to 100 millions! The actual answer?

There were 2261 pieces pasted in the studio.

There were 8000 pieces in the box (estimate).

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Did you get the number right? Come claim your gift! (A children’s drawing).

And don’t forget to check Nel’s Instagram as nelysl and do checkout our hashtag #manymanyanyhowanyhow to see all the pictures!

 

IMG_3521A Children’s Drawing exhibition by Nel Lim at L’Observatoire @ Blue House

13th May till 2nd June, 2017.

Please note: Exhibition has been extended till the Friday 2nd of June.

If you plan on visiting, please make an appointment with either of us:

Isabelle – 92734991 or by email idesjeux@mac.com (Curator)  And Nel – 9645 9621 or by email MrNelYSL@gmail.com (Artist)

For this exhibition, artist Nel Lim, who teaches Arts and Craft, has pasted a large part of his children’s drawings collection on the walls, the ceiling, the windows!
The exhibition is interactive and there is a space for the children to draw, inspired by the drawings. There are also a number of challenges offered to the children, to encourage them and start them looking carefully at all the drawings (e.g. find the details, “what do you think this drawing represents?” “How many categories of drawings do you count?”, “How many pictures do you think are in the space?”…). There is also a challenge for adults, as we try to get educators/parents/artists to think about the role of free drawing in children’s expression. Finally, both Nel, the artist and myself (as the curator), would be most happy to engage in a discussion about children’s drawings on any level.
It would be our great pleasure to see you AND THE CHILDREN come and visit!
Although we try to open every day from 10:30 till 4:30 pm, we are flexible on the hours (we can be there earlier!), and will be happy to take you around the space – do give us a call to arrange a time, or by email to Nel and/or myself (See contact above)
Due to the size of the space, we recommend that group no larger than 15 children visit at a time. It is nicer if you give the children time to explore and draw at their own leisure, and for this, you should plan 20 to 30 minutes for a visit.

This May, we are welcoming artist Nel Lim in the studio!

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Nel trained as a photographer and graduated (Diploma) from Lasalle in 2010. Since then, Nel has been exploring many other avenues, from food photography to plant rearing. In fact, Nel was one of the pioneer artists-in-residence at Blue House in 2012.

But Nel also loves teaching art and crafts to children. From air-clay to recycled art and watercolour, Nel tries many project with his young students.

Within the course of the last 4 years, Nel has collected a large number of children’s drawings, or as he likes to call them, “Doodle”. He does not teach drawing, but encourages children to draw out their ideas before getting started on their large-scale or   3-D project. Once the project is done, the sketches, or preliminary ideas on paper, often get discarded. And Nel picks them up. He is even known to have picked up drawings from the bin!

Now, for the first time, Nel will take out his carefully organised collection and will display it on the walls, the windows and the ceiling of the Observatoire, for your enjoyment and inspiration.

Nel is the co-founder and main facilitator of ArtzGem, a studio that offers a variety of art classes.

You are invited to look, imagine, question – and do!

On Friday 31st of March, Madhvi gave a presentation of her work to the teachers, followed by a demonstrations of the light and Ceramics experiments we have been conducting, and then led a workshop with clay in the Atelier. Children were nowhere to be seen, as this was a day for the teachers to get in touch with their inner child and resource themselves.

During her talk, Madhvi explained how she started to learn about ceramics in India, in the humblest place, and where she gets her inspiration from.

Then we stepped into the studio. Madhvi demonstrated how adding light to a sculpture can change the focus towards the shadow rather than the object. And how moving light re-creates the effect of city on a building-like ceramic sculpture.

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Finally, we went down to the atelier, where the teachers sat on the little chairs, covered their eyes, and engaged in the workshop, making a pot with a lump of clay… in a different way.

We hope the teachers were inspired and that this will trickle down to the classrooms sooner or later!