Although varied in both style and tone, these three master lensmen from the Magnum Photos collective show that there is  more than meets the eye when it comes to the act of seeing.

Three Magnum Photos alumni—Stuart Franklin, Mark Power and Jacob Aue Sobol—are currently on show at the ArtScience Museum in an exhibition not to be missed.

Best regarded for his iconic photograph of a student challenging army tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989, acclaimed Brit photographer Stuart Franklin exhibits his long-term work, Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux, which tracks Europe’s altering landscape through the effects of pollution, flooding and the diminishing of glaciers. It also documents the positive side of environmental changes that includes the presence of sanitary water, regenerating forests in Scotland and Poland, and cleaner cities, creating an austere feel through the images.

More poetic is Brit compatriot Mark Powers’ The Sound of Two Songs, a photographic journey of a foreigner’s impression of Poland. Initially a Magnuminstigated project, the series taken over five years sees Power making more than 20 trips back to Poland as he studies the country’s changes while casting an impressionistic sojourn of its people, spaces and the interactions between the two elements.

But the most confounding is Danish photographer Jacob Aue Sobol’s black-and-white series I, Tokyo, shot with a pocket camera which gives the overall series a snapshot quality. Japan’s young punks, adolescents and everyday characters get cast in a whole new light as Sobol prowls the streets alone, capturing some of Tokyo’s most interesting street spirits. Sobol’s subjects, many of which surprisingly make eye contact with him, emote painful loss and alienation, something the photographer was also experiencing in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Outside In: A Magnum Photos Showcase is on through January 6, 2013 at the ArtScience Museum.


Leave a Comment

The veteran playwright, whose Emily of Emerald Hill is one of Singapore’s quintessential plays, talks to Terry Ong about Peranakans, pulp fiction and park life.

I grew up in Emerald Hill, which was somewhat isolated.  Most of my time was spent at Oberon, a big house that was ruled over by my grandma, the matriarch of my extended family.  

My mother was an actress, who especially loved Shakespeare. She studied at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Because of that, I got very interested in stagecraft and production work.

I also started writing at a very early age. Before I could actually write, I was dictating the stories to my mum and she would write them down. 

Both sides of the family were the “enlightened” Straits Chinese who had moved away from the old Peranakan language and dress, and were English educated. The women went to university and were “liberated” from the confined roles of traditional Peranakan women. 

I was not brought up to speak the Peranakan dialect or cook the cuisine. I never saw any ladies sewing beaded shoes or patchwork quilts either.

I wanted to be a doctor, pilot or writer growing up—a pilot because I read a lot of boys’ books about aerial battles and a doctor because many members of my family were doctors. 

I didn’t make it as a doctor, but I still do some alternative healing stuff where I can help people with headaches. 

Inventiveness and creativity turn me on.

It was most enjoyable to have Oberon (the old mansion that I lived in) recreated for the exhibition Emily of Emerald Hill: Singaporean Identity on Stage at the Peranakan Museum. The curators sent their workmen to detach the antique bowl lamps from Oberon that were hanging in my current home. They also provided substitute lamps so I wouldn’t be in the dark when I was there.

I go to Mass on Sundays, meditate on Wednesdays, exercise a couple of evenings a week, but otherwise mostly work, play, and do what I like.

I collect books, mostly pulp fiction, but I try to clear out the shelves these days. I don’t want to collect a lot of stuff that my  heirs would have to sort out and throw away in the future. In fact, I try not to accumulate plastic bags and things like that.

Books inspire me, as well as local scenery or settings that are spacious and wide, like the new Bishan or Kallang Park. They give me the feeling that even in crowded Singapore, we can have space for our souls to breathe.

I treat myself for a writing weekend retreat from time to time. I will either check into a hotel or go to somewhere in Malaysia so that I can “quarantine” myself for a few days. If I have a big writing project on, that’s what I would do. 

Mindless racist vituperation makes me sick in the stomach.

There’s not enough money to live on from writing, so I must be doing it out of love.

At the end of it all, you try to live with love in the heart. After all you don’t want the last words to be “‘Basket’! That fellow didn’t pay me….


Leave a Comment

Surprises abound at the bottom of the stairs.


Formerly known as Malt Vault, B28 has relocated from one basement to another nearby at boutique hotel The Club. The swanky spot’s still got a mean range of whiskies, regular jazz performances (its current lineup is unconfirmed at press time, but the piped-in jazz music does the job), an awesome lead bartender in the form of Aubrey Sim and $15 cocktail hour from 6-9pm on Mondays to Fridays. Still one of the best bars around hip Club Street.


This old timer (it’s been around since the mid ’90s, baby) is still a hit among the PMEB crowd working in the heart of town. With three different sections—a wine and whiskey bar, a dance floor and a live music area—there is a lot going on here every night. The bar boasts a decent selection of wines, single malt scotch, cognacs and liqueur, but if live music’s more your thing, check out the energetic sets by international band Shades which performs R&B, soul and authentic Calypso tunes, as well as local band Energy and their teeming contemporary rock tunes every night.


Located below one of our favorite mega clubs Avalon, this slick baby is the top draw if you have loads of cash to blow—you need a minimum spend of $1,500 for a table. It is also home to the Asia’s most expensive cocktail, the Jewel of Pangaea, $32,000 worth of gold-flecked Hennessey brandy, a hickory smoke-infused sugar cube and 1985 vintage Krug champagne, topped with a 1K diamond. Occasional cool gigs are also held here, organized by the people from The Republic Agency, who recently brought in Ibiza’s Matt Caseli.


Leave a Comment

What was once dated is novel again, thanks to these four new F&B joints which preserve the authenticity of their original spaces through innovative uses of contemporary design concepts, says Terry Ong.

The city’s fascination with old spaces is evident with more and more F&B places and boutiques opening in conservation areas like Tiong Bahru, Chinatown, Haji Lane, Little India and most recently, Jalan Besar, over the past two years. While most are arbitrary and forgettable with minimal conceptual design input, a handful like lifestyle café-brewery Chye Seng Huat Hardware and modish bar-restaurant-retail space Broadcast HQ stand out for their bold creative concepts which merge elements from the past and present to create authentic, original spaces that are in step with the times, reflecting the city’s current urban blueprint and milieu.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

What it was: A former hardware store, established in 1950.

What it is now: The city’s grooviest new cafe located near famous Jalan Besar, opened in August. Preserving its original Art Deco façade with iron grilles and a giant side iron gate which is also its current main entrance, it is truly an archetypal representation of restoration in the modern age. Café founder Leon Foo even worked with the original owner of the space to come up with the final name of the venue (“Chye Seng Huat” means “to flourish” in Mandarin), and created new signboards based on original 1950s design templates. “It was essential that we kept to the original spirit of this historical area, which is not only home to numerous existing hardware stores now, but also old Chinese nightclubs, hawker centers and most recently, new architectural and design firms that have set up offices in the area,” says Foo. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a hip new café concept—the city’s first 360-degree coffee bar and a thoroughly modern space which serves some of the best coffees in town.

The Big Picture: “We wanted to keep the design elements simple and honest, evoking the vibe of the original space,” says designer Elita Ong. “Throughout, you will notice lots of metal, brass and wood elements used for various fixtures and furniture. For example, tables were designed in such a way to showcase their original metal bases, while basic plywood tabletops play up the whole idea of ‘authenticity’ and ‘naturalism’. As this was a former hardware store, we also wanted to keep the material palette masculine.”

Old-meets-New: “The cream-colored walls and original iron gates were handed over to us as they were so we didn’t have to do much to them,” says Ong. “What was more challenging was to merge the spirit of the original space with Leon’s idea of incorporating a whole lifestyle coffee concept here. So we’ve decided to build different rooms and areas at the courtyard and on the second floor to hold workshops, coffee-tasting sessions and a giant roaster using lots of metal fixtures and wood too. Inside the main café area, the floor was also kept in its original epoxy-layered condition while the main island bar which holds two main counters and coffee machines was more contemporary in tone as it was designed to look like a giant teardrop.”

The Vault

What it was: An OCBC branch which operated since 1938 and ceased operations in 2001.

What it is now: A hip and contemporary bistro and bar located in Chinatown. Owners Ross Glasscoe and Godwin Pereira, the latter who also holds DJ duties at the space, chose the venue for “its historical significance,” says Pereira. “Being located in a conservation shophouse means that we have a lot of responsibilities on our hands … because we have lots of preservation issues to adhere to.” (see Pipe Dreams, left) Like most conserved spaces, the exterior of the venue remains unaltered (Glasscoe and Pereira even maintained the bank’s original iron vault door at the entrance). Upstairs is where the main bar area is located (“We wanted to create a secret hideaway concept of sorts here”) while downstairs is home to the bistro, serving contemporary Western dishes for both lunch and dinner.

The Big Picture: “We initially engaged design firm Upstairs to help us conceptualize the look of the place, which we knew was ‘industrial’”, says Pereira. “We gave them a mainframe on how to dress it up but we also wanted to set some parameters when it comes to budgeting. Budget was certainly tight for this project, as we didn’t believe in spending a bomb like the major clubs so we took matters in our own hands. We also wanted to preserve the building’s original elements as far as we could. Basically with a venue like this, the design and fittings will never be complete as we wanted a raw and unfinished look to begin with.”

Old-meets-New: “We stripped down the walls’ plaster layers to reveal the original brick fittings inside at the bar area,” says Pereira. “We wanted to show off the history of the building but at the same time add a modern touch to the space. So we installed Chengal wood flooring upstairs and plush sofas that boasted a mod Chesterfield vibe to create a more luxurious vibe. We kept the original concrete floors downstairs and added some small touches like imported Malaysian tiles to demarcate certain areas and to break the monotony of the ground floor space. Lighting throughout was also kept warm, simple and basic.”

Broadcast HQ & Open Door Policy

What they were: The former, an old trading company built in the ’20s and formerly Post Museum (2008-2011). The latter, an old HDB flat from the ’50s.

What they are now: The city’s coolest restaurant-bar-retail concept store and a contemporary European restaurant-bar with a distinctive old world charm.The creative team behind both venues—owner Cynthia Chua and creative director Jerry De Souza—are adept at transforming old spaces into thoroughly hip and relevant conceptual venues (the duo was the first to make Tiong Bahru hip again when they opened 40 Hands back in 2010, and most recently Tiong Bahru Bakery in the neighborhood). But it’s their quirky and irreverent approach to two of their latest spots, contemporary European restaurant Open Door Policy, also in Tiong Bahru, and restaurant-bar-retail shop Broadcast HQ in Little India, that are most inspired. Both venues are completely different conceptually: Open Door Policy was based on a small church in Lisbon that the duo had visited together during a holiday, while Broadcast HQ was an amalgamation of different ideas—an opium den for a private bar space on the second level, an industrial art loft at the main dining space downstairs and a dome-shaped dining area at the back of the restaurant inspired by the movie Narnia.

The Big Picture: “For Open Door Policy, we basically had to play with existing construction materials like bricks, tiles and steels, and rework these to make them look unique as their look had to be very specific,” says De Souza. “So a lot of time was spent conceptualizing the look and feel for each of the fixtures as I wanted the space to boast an old-world European setting and at the same time maintain some of its old elements like the giant iron door behind the restaurant, which we kept. For Broadcast HQ, the space itself was already beautiful and had lots of character, so I had the choice of making it a bit more playful for its interiors as there were so many rooms to play with.”

Old-meets-New: “All the dining tables and chairs, including the steel chairs, were imported from Germany and the US as we wanted an old-school European air for Open Door Policy, while floors were also kept untreated,” says De Souza. “A lot of work was involved in making sure that the new brick tiles we used for the walls looked untreated and unpolished. I also single-handedly reworked various steel elements into lighting fixtures by twisting and coating them with gold lacquer, to give a more contemporary touch to the space. For Broadcast HQ, we decided to keep various elements like the window grilles, brick walls, old floor tiles and broad wood floors throughout, but at the same time inject lots of fun, by mixing and matching elements like lace curtains, sofas made from Lurex (a brand of metallic yarn, made of laminated aluminum foil) fabric, Persian carpets and a handmade chandelier made from 5,000 chains juxtaposed against a contemporary abstract artwork.”  

Which new boutique hotel looks like it's still stuck in the '20s?



Leave a Comment

The Words

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)
Bradley Cooper
Zoe Saldana
Dennis Quaid
Olivia Wilde

Poor Bradley Cooper. Hollywood’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2011 (according to People magazine) had to executive produce his own films (this, and last year’s portentous thriller Limitless) to land serious roles. Certainly no-brainer stints in films like The A-Team and Hit & Run aren’t earning the guy any serious acting cred; hence this, a semicredible morality tale about a writer wrecked with guilt over undeserved success.

Opening Date: 
Fri, 2012-10-05
Running Time: 
1 hr. 36 min.
The Words
Terry Ong
Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Amidst the proliferation of local online shopping sites, Terry Ong highlights some luxe new arrivals and quirky finds.

Shopping online can get a little intimidating if you don’t know where to start. After all, blog shops continue to infiltrate the World Wide Web with affordable but substandard finds. Still, there are some sites that fall under the radar offering unexpected gems and previously unavailable labels. Here are our top picks for the season.


Who says affordable men’s shirts are usually poorly made? Founder Sherrey Chng-Bahuguna uses only premium fabrics with high thread counts and custom shirts, creating a value-for-money selection spanning over 40 handcrafted designs. “The only thing not extravagant about the shirts is the price, starting from just $80,” she says. Even the buttons here are carefully chosen to reflect the brand’s artisanal aesthetic. “Each shirt comes with laser-engraved BNS buttons, and is born with a unique female name like Miyuki, Ming and Ayako.” All shirts are also double-stitched for durability, with highlights such as the Sora featuring subtle white and-blue checks ($99) and formal working shirts like the Kishi ($109) which sports a classic collar and signature logo embroidery on its sleeve plackets. To further seal the deal: there’s an easy-to-use sizing chart and free shipping island-wide. 


The collections from this quirky shopping site—from accessories to postcards and even candles, perfumes and cushions—are as vibrant as its name, inspired mby the phrase “joie de vivre” (joy of living). Founder Angelina Seow’s penchant for precious, pretty objects are apparent in their selections here—cushions from Picasso ($190 upwards) bearing illustrations inspired by, you guessed it, Picasso’s cubic artworks, the site’s in-house jewelry brand notiz by Jooix with adorable animal motifs embellished with precious stones ($335 upwards), and chunky accessories from Gwen Stefani’s sought-after L.A.M.B. fashion brand, such as a statement bracelet engulfed in solid brass and plated in 18K gold ($230). “Unlike other online stores, Jooix is somewhere between luxury and indie,” says Seow. “It bridges the gap between the intangible online and brick-and-mortar experiences by creating an online shopping interaction akin to strolling down the small streets of Paris and New York—the kind lined with niche boutiques full of delectable gems.” 


Channeling looks that are hot off the fashion pages, this womenswear site is a must for hard-to-find American designer labels like Parker, Boulee, Wildfox, CCSkye and Joomi Lim. Coveted by Hollywood celebrities, these brands were previously unavailable here. “While studying and interning in LA, a friend and I fell in love with the vibrant yet laid-back spirit of SoCal (short for Southern California) lifestyle and fashion,” says founder Katheleen Painan. “So on our return to Singapore after graduation, we decided to bring the SoCal style we love so much to locals and shoppers across Asia.” The result: pictorials), plus quick style references on each product and info on which celebrity has been seen wearing them. Highlights include the long pleated maxi dress from Parker ($395) and spiked bracelets from Joomi Lim ($155 upwards). 

White Antler

For home décor pieces with an edge, look no further. Designer Linda Lim handcrafts some seriously collectible ornaments that personalized, decorative skulls; we have since evolved into being a retailer of taxidermy-inspired and rare vintage ornaments,” says Lim. “Pieces are specially handpicked from all over the world with each item being the only one in stock.” There are some one-offs that are truly desirable, like the unique Garden of Eden mixed media artwork which consists of an antler and a series of dried moss and beetles placed in a birdcage ($660), plus Lim’s own creations of handcrafted florescent skulls ($220) which are also standouts, alongside a series of photo frames and bookends ($39 upwards). The eclectic range here is nothing short of inspiring. 


Leave a Comment

Don’t miss these five shows at the new Singapore arts hub, Gillman Barracks.

Beautiful Pain
With graphic works still being all the rage, Filipino artist Luis Lorenzana’s detailed oil on canvasses certainly stand out. His depictions of wide-eyed creatures from another universe, with tentacles sticking either out of their hearts or eyes, are a joy to view. Tim Burton would have been so proud.
Now showing at Silverlens.

The Big Picture
The best show at Gillman, master photography works by the likes of Annie Leibovitz (her color photography of musician David Byrne from 1986 is simply iconic, as well as works by Henri-Cartier Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe and Robert Calidari, are featured here. It’s not very often that we get all these great names under one roof.
Now showing at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

From Picasso to the New Roman School
This is the only gallery where a work by Picasso is being flanked by two watchful security guards. Said artwork, “The Artist and His Model,” is estimated to be worth millions. There are also little-seen masterpieces like Giorgio de Chirico’s immaculate “The Troubadour,” a subtle and beautiful depiction of the human condition, and Lucio Fontana’s controversial “slashed” canvasses.
Now showing at Partners & Mucciaccia.

Marcel Duchamp in South-East Asia
The quirkiest exhibition here, this tribute to the French Surrealist features no less than 50 works by 44 artists from Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Iran and England spanning various mediums.
Now showing at Equator Art Projects.

Yayoi Kusama “Metallic”
While moving beyond her signature polka-dot motifs, Yayoi Kusama’s works are still steeped in psychedelic-infused imageries. Her latest show here features motifs previously drawn from her “Love Forever” and “My Eternal” Series from 2004, featuring abstract colors in bold colors like vivid reds, blues and yellows to produce hallucinatory effects.
Now showing at Ota Fine Arts.


Leave a Comment

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

So what’s modern love all about? This poignant predecessor to Juno and (500) Days of Summer is yet another attempt to decipher the unpredictable nature of relationships and the heartaches and daily realities that come along with it. Co-written by real life exes Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, the film has the former also playing the titular role. Celeste and Jesse Forever may not reinvent the rom-com genre but it’s still a delightful and well-thought-out entry into the canon.

Opening Date: 
Thu, 2012-10-04
Running Time: 
1 hr. 29 min.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Terry Ong
Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Hip buys abound at perpetually buzzy Orchard Cineleisure.

A perennial favorite for its late night film screenings on weekends, Orchard Cineleisure is also a sure-fire bet for some truly affordable funky finds (Bugis+, eat your heart out). Here are 10 stores to check out for some cool sartorial ideas.

Frederic Sai
Up-and-coming local designer Frederic Sai adds a dash of color to his range of long-sleeved shirts ($125) with a myriad of standout colors like orange and yellow. His latest pre-Fall collection also includes tailored jackets and blazers ($195) for the preppy set, while the consignment tees from China’s I M featuring bold graphic prints ($49) are great for layering.

Arguably the most risk-taking local label in town. Designer Kenny Lim continues to pepper his flagship store with eye-popping creations. For Autumn/Winter, tees with colorful rainbow motifs for the guys while for girls, loose blouses with all-over portrait illustrations. Want something even edgier? Check out the leather studded shoes here. $39/$49 for a T -shirt and $320 for leather shoes and wedges.

J Shoes
The latest collection features easy-to-match colors and styles, leather loafers and zip-ups in earthly browns, tans and green tones for that heritage feel, while patchwork patterns adorn trimmings for that luxe effect ($189 upwards). Also look out for the newly arrived Heritage Harborough collection ($359), which uses Dainite, a British sole manufacturer known for their high quality studded rubber soles.

Fred Perry
This staple brand for fashionable men is currently having a sale of its Spring/Summer collection. Highlights include a well-made classic black umbrella with a wooden handle ($119) and sling bags ($109). Elsewhere, desirable Autumn/Winter pieces include the red cape sleeve Harrington and Herringbone three-button jackets that are perfect for the weather ($369 upwards).

Rockstar by Soon Lee
This is the only store in town which stocks the full range of Jack Spade ready-to-wear ($300 upwards) while carrying local labels like Drifters and Sifr. The Pointer men’s shoes ($100 upwards) are also fashion-forward, while for the ladies, the intricate necklaces by local designer Woon Hung made from recycled materials ($69) evoke a rustic vibe befitting the store.

One of our favorite tee labels, they continuously churn out hip prints at very accessible price points ($35 upwards). Their small standalone boutique here has a suitably rock vibe with pictures of rock bands adorning its walls. The current collection of photo-based printed tees with evocative images of city skylines from across the globe is the one to buy.

These guys sure know how to stay on-trend. Their Salford Lads tees are great for both casual and office wear ($49 upwards) while there’s a wide variety of affordable vintage-inspired frames (all at $59) that almost look like the real thing. Elsewhere, the utilitarian range of shorts ($49) and long-sleeved shirts ($69) from in-house brand FÜrrMUSE are great for the weekends. Pair those with rattan loafers ($169) to stay sharp.

Lacoste L!ve
This is the first standalone boutique for the casual sports brand in town and the newest store in the building. Goods are spread across two levels (mostly women’s collection and footwear on level one and men’s upstairs). Special edition pieces like the leather backpack with removable pockets and color-blocking effect ($179) are a must while the colorful illustrations by American artist Micah Lidberg that adorn a range of tees and polos ($99 upwards) also stand out.

Still the place to be for a wide range of funky footwear. Although kids come here for Vans, New Balance and Nike sneakers, the more clued-in (like popular sneaker artist SBTG aka Mark Ong) visit the store for their fix on trendy, high-end kicks. Recent highlights include the five-inch tall punk-inspired black-and-white George Cox loafers ($369) and sturdy Red Wing boots ($518) that give Dr. Martens a run for its money.

One of the biggest stores in the building. At 1,700 sq. ft., Alcoholid@y stocks vintage-inspired dresses for the ladies ($42 upwards),while the men can get their various fixes through the Americana rucksack bags by Korean brand Yellow Stone ($68), Frank Wright loafers ($159) and a wide selection of standout Stussy tees ($49 upwards). If you want something a little more exclusive, check out the Danish Design watches ($199 upwards).


Leave a Comment

The fabulous DJ-producer of disco and 80s-inspired outfit Hercules and Love Affair takes five with Terry Ong.

The 80s will never die… because you can never grow tired of metallic polyester.

The difference between being a fox and a slut… is all in how you use your tail.

Modern music… is awesome (but sometimes lame).

The last time I was in a club… I had a Latin lover fantasy come to life.

The secret to the universe is… letting go.

Hercules and Love Affair plays October 3, 7:30pm at the Esplanade Concert Hall.


Leave a Comment