The last nugget of gold…at least for now.
I spent just over a week in Singapore, and over the course of my time there, I developed a sense that the city-state is a little disorientated. It feels like the government is tenaciously determined to turn Singapore into a world class destination, kitting it out with luxury shopping malls, a slick metro service, shiny sky scrapers and top end attractions. It’s as if Singapore has carefully selected features of iconic cities around the world and is systematically and strategically combining them to create an ideal place.
But sadly this means major physical reconstruction and the effective overhaul of the country’s architectural history. Has Singapore forgotten that a strong sense of national identity and the preservation of important history are central to the success and appeal of a city? My short time in the country and my interactions with locals would suggest so.
Actually, Singapore reminds me of the classic line from the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi: “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot.”
It’s probably clear by now that I wasn’t hugely inspired by my time in Singapore, but that’s not to say that I didn’t find some little treasures and learn some valuable lessons. I’ll be sharing these soon.
Sprocket Rocket, Fujifilm Superia 200
I sat beside a rock, switching between quick-sketching passers by, and slowly detailing a drawing of the skyline that I returned to every time I visited the park. It had been my neighborhood retreat; a patch of green overlooking the bustling grey city. Overlooking it, but removed from it, as if offering perspective and distance from the trudge of the high-rise life. Here I could escape into a novel, disappear behind a lens, or immerse myself in my own pencil-point world.
On this particular winter afternoon, I had retuned to my skyline drawing after a considerable interlude, and I was lost in the shadows and the trees. A small girl appeared beside me, maybe three or four years old, a dummy throbbing beneath her sweet little nose. She must have been standing there for some time, because as I looked up she was ready with her question; head tilted to one side, “What are you drawing?” I held my sketchbook up to the horizon, expecting she would make the connection. Still she looked perplexed. I pointed, “The city skyline. Can you see?”
“But why are there no colours?”
I was enchanted by this little sprite of a child. She plonked down beside me and watched me draw. I had many pencils, but she was right, I had no colours. Nonetheless, she accepted my offer of joining me. Her nondescript lines and shapes, the innocent interpretation of her surrounds was far more imaginative than my own. I was transfixed.
Unabashed and unconstrained, she assumed a connection with me in a way that is all too uncommon amongst adults; a momentary friendship requiring only the acknowledgement that we are both human. We shared each other’s company as if we were lifelong friends with nothing left to tell, leaving only common knowing and common being, quiet and content.
In the midst of this magic, a close friend of mine arrived to meet me, and found me sitting cross legged on the grass with a glowing bundle of freedom. She had brought me an apple, which my new friend was also eager to share. And so we sat, three girls, eating apples and enjoying the last rays of sunlight, until the little girl disappeared again, just as quickly as she had arrived.
We sett off as the sun was peeping over the hill.
Snacks in our saddle packs, the wind at our backs,
We cycled through the winding passes,
Grass whipping past, hearts beating fast,
Whistling through the crisp morning air.
An uphill here, a downhill there,
We rolled up to a dusty intersection.
And a treasure trove of someone else’s dusty memories.
Bathurst is a small farming village in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. A concentration of creativity, it epitomizes the word quaint. My favourite spots are the Wiles Gallery, home to the work of the lovely Lucy Wiles, and her creative ancestors and offspring; The Corner Gallery, playground of the endearing Tori Stowe and her eclectic craft team; resident potter, Richard Pullen’s Open Studio; and The Workshop, a warehouse-style collective space for established and aspiring local artists. It’s also home to a few adorable antique stores, the quirky and bizarre Big Pineapple, and the famous Pig ‘n’ Whistle, South Africa’s oldest pub.
The thing I like most about Bathurst is that it reminds me that you don’t have to be an acclaimed artist selling work to top national galleries in order to make things. It challenges me to be less afraid of my own desire to create.
Fujifilm 100, LC-A+