Singapore Art Book Fair 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hello friends :-) 

These couple of years, I've come to realize that the arts scene here in Singapore isn't all that unexciting as a lot of us perceive to be. It's not thriving, nor doing extraordinarily well but I think there's a growing acceptance and interest in independent creative home-grown works and to me, that's wonderful. I must say, there was a little break in my exposure to the arts from secondary one to three due to a little blow I received that caused me to abstain from exploring it as much as I did as a kid even up to primary six. In secondary four though, I got inspired mainly by Shermaine to explore and appreciate art in Singapore - I mean, if I can't produce art, there's no stopping me from consuming it!

And thus began my little journey and I think my favourite place in Singapore to immerse myself in arts in a really relaxed pace would be Gillman Barracks which is usually empty apart from about three other visitors but recently I've learnt that the occasionally host events, including the annual Singapore Art Book Fair which ran from 13-16 November, and I visited it with Shermaine last Sunday (16 November). It was the first time I've seen the place so full of life and activity and it was quite refreshing.

Lovely lovely company :-) 

There were new art pieces from the previous time we visited it at the start of this year, and I made a mental note then to visit it again to check out the galleries (which I did, yesterday!) 

We stumbled upon an artist who was in one of the studios working on an art piece and he's painting with a broom, which gives him a very rough surface but the resulting strokes are very controlled and his completed works of the same form are quite impressive

After walking past a few galleries, we found our way to the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) where the Art Book Fair was situated at. The previous time we came, the CCA was pretty barren with a few exhibits and I remember lounging on huge beanbags watching a film but the entire atmosphere was so different. For the lack of a better word, most of the people there appeared to be "hipsters", and I say that based on their dressing. It was quite exciting though, because the booths were all very hipster-like which provided plenty of photo-taking opportunities that would be deemed Instagram worthy. I know, the description "hipster" has gained a pretty bad rep but these were /true/ hispters and it somehow didn't feel pretentious at all? Yes, I am currently failing at putting what I saw down into coherent statements but it was actually really cool and I honestly loved the whole vibe. And I shall let the photographs speak for themselves now :-) 

Magazines from different countries/ published by independent firms - it's all very exciting because I'm personally very unfamiliar with most of the titles. Definitely eye-opening seeing everything they had to offer

Super cute knick knacks based on old-school tidbits 

This photograph is slightly blur but aren't these the cutest socks ever? They are inspired by the wrapping of old school snacks, as can be seen displayed above the socks. I was really tempted to buy a pair, but I didn't want to part with twenty bucks for something that would be hidden under my shoes anyway. 

The crowd was quite lovely, most of the stall owners were friendly and I saw a few familiar faces from the Singapore Writers' Festival

No prizes for guessing why this photo was taken ;-) 

This particular stall holder wanted his photograph to be taken, and that was quite cute 

This particular booth was designed to look like an old-school mini mart, or should I say "Mama Shop", with shelves that I remember seeing when I was younger. There was also a "Tikam Tikam" board which was something I am too young to have experienced, but my mum constantly told me about how my grandma would cut up the tikam tikam pieces as an additional income and this was my first time seeing how the board actually looked like

There were a lot of interesting things and intricate pieces of art on sale but Shermaine and myself decided not to purchase anything, though I was very close to buying a book except that it ran out when I returned to the stall. 

Outside the CCA were several food pop-up booths set up by various cafés and independent food establishments (indeed, the entire fair was pretty much hipster haven, with all the hipster cafés situated in one). It was pouring heavily though when Shermaine and myself decided to grab a bite and when we managed to secure one of the few sheltered seats, we realized we could only eat from a particular stall to sit at those seats and it was Arbite, which we didn't mind getting from.

Here we have Shermaine making the biggest decision of her life (!!!) Will she make a right choice? 

We got (or rather, Shermaine chose to get) fries and a wrap filled with smoked salmon, boiled egg and a whole load of veggies. Just as background information: neither Shermaine and I eat/ enjoy veggies very much and so it was quite a strange choice. Neither of us were huge fans of raw fish as well. What were we left with? The wrap plus boiled egg! We did try to eat everything for the first few bites though, and it was quite nasty (nothing against Arbite, we just ordered something that didn't suit our personal preferences at all) but the fries were probably the best fries I have ever eaten in my life - they were were just out of this world - I would highly recommend it! The accompanying tartar sauce made everything so much better it really warmed my tummy in the cold weather. 

There was also another stall set up by the Ice Cream & Cookie Company and I couldn't stop myself from getting an Ice Cream Sandwiches, probably drawn in by the Earl Grey flavour they were offering, and also the fact that it's pretty aesthetically pleasing!

Packaging was really cute too :-)

Earl Grey ice cream (second favourite ice cream flavour, first being Salted Caramel) sandwiched between two lemon zest cookies - it was quite a joy to eat :-)

We explored a few of the galleries afterwards before taking a couple of self-timer photos with the very intriguing bulls.


Well, we were trying to keep a straight face

And now we're blending innnnnnnnnnnnnnnn :-)

It was a very, very, very good day, and I rarely use three 'very's accompanying a positive adjective to describe my days. The Singapore Art Book Fair 2014 exceeded my expectations tremendously - I was a little hesitant to visit it because I initially pictured a couple of book vendors peddling their wares and I thought it would just be art catalogues for art investors but it was in fact so dynamic, with people selling many other things apart from books. I feel like just the food stalls being there have already make it worthwhile to travel all the way to Gillman Barracks. 

I will definitely be back for next year's installment, unless it clashes with my A Level exams, which will make me very mad.

Also, to those people who are interested in things like that, I recently headed to the red dot design museum at Tanjong Pagar and saw a notice about MAAD, branded as "Singapore's Largest Creative Marketplace" and it's happening on 12 December 2014, from 5pm-12midnight (so exciting!) and it might be similar to this from what I've seen online, though I have never been there myself before and don't really know what to expect. I will probably be making my way there and I strongly encourage anyone else who's interested in supporting independent home grown artists and their works to check it out! I used to be intimidated by seemingly "private" events like these where people all appear to be in the same social circles and know each other but that's really a myth I created in my own head - everyone's really welcoming and the artists are more than willing to share about their own crafts.

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