Thursday, December 29, 2011

A magical garden

It doesn't seem right but I'm posting it anyway. I drafted this in December & only just realised I had not posted it. A few months late.

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. We most certainly are. It's good to be back celebrating it with my family here in Singapore. On the other hand, I miss white Christmas (tropical Christmas just doesn't have the same feel about it), the oysters (a must for every year end celebration in France), the food (foie gras, charcuterie) & my French family.

Instead of jostling with the crowds along Orchard Road to see the Christmas lights, try doing it in Botanic Gardens. For the month of December, some 300 trees are lighted up in an event called Trees of the World. It's quiet, tranquil & just a little bit surreal. We had a picnic there one night & it was so much fun. It felt like our own private garden.

Nathaly's own creation
Wrapping paper for her Christmas present to me

Monday, December 26, 2011

Experience a moving masterpiece

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have not heard of what is otherwise known as the Mona Lisa of China - the legendary Qing Ming Shang He Tu. Shame on me especially since I can rattle off dozens of Western paintings & artists.

Over Christmas eve dinner, my brother raved about this exhibition & so we decided to check it out on Chrsitmas & I am so glad we did. It was really an amazing experience.

Qing Ming Shang He Tu (translated : Along the river during the Qing Ming Festival) was painted during the Song Dynasty some 900 years ago by Zhang Zhe Duan. It is a panoramic scroll painting of 5 metres & what makes this special are the details - a record of everyday life at that time - merchants, artisans, wine shops, camels, horses, sedan chairs, story teller, doctor, children.

For the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, the painting was digitally re-created with animation into what is known as "Moving Masterpiece" & making it the star attraction at the China Pavilion. The installation, 30 times bigger than the original, really has to be experienced. It's now in Singapore - after making its rounds to Taiwan & Macau.

The exhibition is divided into Pre-Show Hall - water, fire, earth, wood etc - gives visitors a background to life during the Song Dynasty - the commerce, the scholarly pursuits, urban & country lifestyle. Be sure to get an audio guide (part of the entrance fee).

Description of the Boat Men



Given that the painting is a National Treasury & insurance would have run into millions, the original is still in the Palace Museum in Beijing. This is the Stone Gate from the "Golden Scroll" copy.

Wholesale wine shop

Next stop, main hall. I was in awe - WOW the painting came alive. You could hear the sounds of the boat men, the characters moving around, the laugher of the children as they run around.....I was instantly drawn to the size of it. What is also amazing is the fact that they did both a day as well as a night scene.

Day Scene

Night Scene

The rainbow bridge
scene where a boat almost capsized

As with all Chinese scripts, you work from the right to left. The painting starts with the quiet countryside of willow trees, cottages, village & small boats. Moving along to the busy outskirts & then to the capital of Kaifeng.

I was so mesmerised. I stood at each section looking at both the day & night scenes.
The audio guide is excellent in drawing your attention to the details.

Follow the camel procession

The majestic city gate

The city well & the pharmacist

The horse drawn carriage

The bustling wine shop


Once in a lifetime experience