Tuesday, October 21, 2014

PAssionArts Festival 2014 Works Of Wonder (W.O.W.!)

Location: Orchard, Central Business District (CBD), Singapore

I did not notice the length of time which has past since the last entry, and it seemed that I have a lot of entries to make up for. Although my backlog is long, off the top of my mind was one experience I had in Ngee Ann City not long ago.

Orchard Road may be famous for its glitzy rows of malls, beckoning and seducing with brands of all types. Locals who used to haunt the place would know of another side of the famed Singaporean row: the street performers and an occasional event set in the square in front of Ngee Ann City. The latter could be a celebration of something or promotions of certain products (sometimes it was neither). I usually just walk past them with barely a glance, preferring the air-conditioned indoors, but I was unusually attracted an event some time ago - the PAssionArts Festival 2014.

The reason behind my unusual fascination was the display of various artworks fabricated from unconventional materials. A wall of painted umbrellas and a dragon of CDs were two of the array of items which gathered the most followers but the rest of them were no least impressive by themselves. It was the PAssionArts Festival of 2014, and it was drawing the attention from all walks of life.

The Lady and the Horse

The road to PAssionArts

Most of the items in this festive exhibitions were interactive although a not so discreet sign of 'No touching' discouraged visitors from being too up close and personal with the artworks. And it was understandable why such signs were needed, as the artworks were so attractive that the mass required no prodding to rush onward to get a most photogenic spot.

To my pleasant surprise, recycled items were fully utilized to spawn such lovely works. Even though the topical focus was not on recycling, it seemed to be one which different parties chose to tell the tale of a community. From a wall of painted umbrellas to a yawning dragon with a body of CDs glittering under the reflected sunlight, each work of art sought to remind visitors how much of thrash we had produced in our life and how they could be better utilized.

The wall of painted umbrellas stood colourfully under the sun, each of them a different shade and tone, with individual expressions imprinted onto the unfolded canopy. I was curious as to whether the paint would withstood the onslaught of sun and rain, but I had no chance of finding that out. Still the colourful sight was enough to lift many a spirit, with no better testimony than the throng of giggling visitors posing for photos in front of it.

Colors under the clouds


Wall of colors

The CD Dragon, as I would like to name it, was a reminder of how technological thrash had became, and how much it deteriorated our environment. To have them used as scales for a dragon was ingenious. Maybe some of them could still play their contents in a CD player, although I doubt they would fare well after being exposed to the sun for so long.

Dragon of prosperity

Dragon under the sky

CD Dragon

Ngee Ann City building was guarded by two stone lion statues, but on that day one of them guarded something else as well - a small wooden house built out of pallets. This was another ingenious piece of art where something simple could be combined in artistic ways to entertain the mass. Who would have envisioned stacking them together to form the structure of a house?

Guardian of the house

Another ingenious work was the use of plastic bags to create artificial flowers. A colorful bunch of them adorning the front of a vividly painted image of HDB front showcased how everyday rubbish could brighten up our neighborhood. A school project like this would be useful to instil an environmental sense of responsibility in the next generation.

Recycled flowers

Flora for high rises

Bus 269 to Ang Mo Kio

At one corner of the exhibition stood various 'housings', each having a different content within. I vividly remembered the one housing various bottles inside, a plaque withe the simple word 'secrets' in the front. I was drawn to this little house of secrets because a friend of mine loved collecting bottles of various colors and geometries, the weirder the better. Although the bottles contained here were rather common, it reminded me of my friend's hobby while telling a cautionary tale of how many of these containers were quickly filling our landscape.

Bottled secrets

Stairs to PAssionArts

Another colorful contender fighting for attention from visitors was a wall of masks fit for a carnival. Unlike the  wall of umbrellas where the items were arrayed in organized rows and columns, the masks were intentionally disorganized in their arrangement, creating a riot of colors clashing with each other. Each mask expressed themselves individually, ranging from pop cultural references to abstract works.

Masks of carnival

Wall of painted masks

A white cloth became the most engaging item in the exhibition. The reason was rather simple - this was a cloth with prepared outlines, with visitors expected to fill in with paint materials. It was batik making for the public, and everyone could pick up the available brush and paint to start filling in the blanks. I did not stay until the end but when I left the area, half of the cloth was already filled with colors.

Intense focus

Colored batik

Work of art

A drop of ink

One of the tents contained a panorama of colourful paper cranes hanging from the canopy. Papers of every kind, be it of plain colours or with printed patterns, were employed in the work of origami, and from the amount of cranes in the area, it was a great undertaking. Coloured strips added to the general tone under the canopy, forming a rainbow formation with a message of peace.

Piece of crane

Canopy of peaceful cranes

Colorful canopy

Rotherham Gate

As the day got later, more pedestrians joined into the fun, grabbing their friends and family members to partake in selfies and wefies. I was sure that the main goal of PAssionArts, which was to bring communities together, would have been fulfilled in this sense, for I saw people from all walks of life enjoying the activities. The works of art were not wasted.

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