Saturday, March 27, 2010

All That Glitters

It is as if we have not had enough of our quest for ancient artifacts, we found ourselves at the museum again this weekend.

It is most probably due to the wet weather that has restricted much of our plans for a weekend outings to indoors activities. It may very well be the fact that organizers bring the many world class exhibits here, in time for the March school holidays.

Either way, Wifey and I found ourselves back in another museum, this time at the Asian Civilsation Museum at Empress Place looking down and scrutinizing the many bejewelled artifacts from the mighty Mughal era.

Wifey was the most excited, anticipating our visit to the Treasury of the World, Jeweled Arts of India in the age of the Mughals exhibit this weekend, even though it will run all through June 2010.

I can imagine her excitement since it began in February, mainly because of 2 reasons...

For one, Wifey is very interested in history.

Always an "A" student in this subject, coupled with her interest in learning more about Islam since ancient times, this exhibit showcases the height of Islam thriving in India during the Mughal era - the opulence of the Mughal Empire as one of the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties the world has ever known.

And secondly, all that glitter, the bejewelled of everything, are actually gold! Wifey is passionate about ladies accessories that she actually ventured into making jewellery and subsequently going into business selling mostly handmade jewellery for a few years.

So this exhibition really struck a cord with her... she "booked" this weekend outing as the main highlight for this couple. I am excited for her and excited too to practice my skills at photography at every chance during an outing.

Mini Quran in jace cover with its gold case

Yes... Sonny was spared from this. He was more than happy to stay home. Thanks to the video presentation project he needed to do, as the nominated resident photographer and videographer of the class, and now the student exchange team, he is preparing it for the Indonesian students visit here in mid April.

It so happens, this weekend is the perfect time for our visit, as the museum is holding a Might Mughal weekend festival. Lots of activities, from dances to demonstrations relating to the era just outside the main entrance to the ACM building in the afternoon.

What is even better this weekend is the fact that there is no entry fee to this special exhibit, as well as entries to the other permanent exhibits!

Wifey and I spent hours at the museum mostly in awe, and most times on our separate ways...

No, we did not quarrel or anything like that, Wifey could not wait for me to finish taking pictures of every interesting subject I saw, and mind you, there were lots of intriguing subjects there... all 402 of them from ancient times.

Once in a while, I could see Wifey across the gallery, looking intently at an item, in awe at the fine craftsmanship of the bejewelled arts... the extend the Mughals went for a lavished life.

I have simpler taste and an objective for being there.

To me, all these items are fantasticly intricate and brilliantly produced but are just too over-the-top. Fit for a king, but are just too excessively lavished, even for a ruler of kingdoms.

My objective is to capture these intricate artifacts as an honour to the craftsmen and their intelligence and exceptional skills for producing these beautiful items, not the way of life the kings lived.

And I had a tough time meeting my objective as it takes a very steady hand to take long-exposure photography without a tripod. It will be dissapointing to bring home blurry images that cannot be used to share with others.

So I had to take them several times and taking my time doing so... the reason we went our separate ways at the exhibits. Meeting from time to time as we crossed paths, taking pictures of ourselves there.

Then again, it will be too imposing on the other visitors there with my setting up the camera and tripod, taking up walking space from them. Worst still, if they were to trip over my tripod in the darkened gallery.

Well, all that glitters in the dark gallery finally gave way to a beautiful afternoon, fresh air and dried ground when we walked out from the museum.

Before that, while at the museum's gift shop, Wifey was interested in an Islamic inspired 24 carat gold bracelet from Kuwait, with its geometric gold trimmings and black enamel settings for S$179.00. I wanted to buy her that gift since I got my profit sharing bonus. However, it was not meant to be hers...

The bracelet was just too big for her wrist when she tried it on. The salesperson could not give us confidence that the bracelet will not be damaged if we were to send it for alteration by an outside jeweller. Wifey did not want to take that risk and left a little dissappointed.

I cheered her up with a good dinner at Sakura, at the basement of Peninsular Plaza and account transfer of one grand to her savings. This is an annual thing that I do when I get my bonus but since the past two years had not been that good, the amount was not as much as yesteryears. Nonetheless, Wifey and I are grateful that we still get the bonuses.

Sonny got S$500 banked into his account while I got a S$10 third party 72 mm lens cap for my Canon EOS 450D dSLR camera. I lost the original cap for my EF-S 18-200 IS lens kit during an outing with my parents at the Singapore Zoo mid last year.

No, that will not be all for me. I am eyeing on Apple's iPad...

The rest of the money gets parked in our joint account for our future, for the rainy days.

Mini Quran set in jade cover with gold inlay and emeralds

Mini Quran golden case set in emeralds

Ceremonial shield in gold and set in emeralds

Human face with emeralds

Saddle-axe in steel and Arabic gold inlays

Steel dagger with golden handle & gold scabbard set in emeralds

Steel dagger with golden golden handle

Gold jewellery box set in emeralds

Turban ornamet in gold set with emeralds and pearls

Conch Shell in gold and set in emeralds

Gold ladies bracelet set with rubies & emeralds

Gold bracelet with animal motif

Gold dish set with rubies & emeralds

Golden lidded cup & saucer with champleve & painted enamels

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Quest For Immortality

Sphinx of Amenhotep III

Wifey is finally happy today.

We finally made it to "The World of Ancient Egypt" at the National Museum of Singapore exhibition called "Quest For Immortality."

It has been exhibiting since 22nd December 2009. And all that time, Wifey got excited each time the advertisement flashed on TV. With what had been going on with Dad's declining condition and eventual demise, we put the matter to rest permanently.

National Museum of Singapore @ Stamford Road

Yet today, it was a spontaneous response by Wifey when she heard my complaint about not able to go biking this weekend due to the wet weather. In fact, nothing outdoors! It has been a heavy downpour since early morning... nice to sleep though.

I know the saying... wishing too hard... is very true because it has been pouring on and off for the whole day throughout the whole week after a couple of months of hot and dry weather.

Entrance to the exhibition gallery

It intrigued me when I saw the weather forecast on my iPhone indicating a week of rain after the Al Nino effect we had just experienced. The weather, however kept its promise every single day!

Flowers did bloom here and there after the first two heavy downpours and when the skies were clear again for a few days, but the colours disappeared fast, being pounded by the continuous downpour. Well, at least the trees and grasses are happy and green again.

Dumbfounded, I had no more idea until Wifey mooted the idea again to spend time on a weekend indoors... visit the museum!

Wifey actually has stable hands to take a shake-free picture of me!

Sonny was not interested "to see a bunch of dead mummies" as he asked that we go without him, after all, "we've seen it at Louvre, in Paris, right?" He was right, but he was only 4 years old then.

We went to Paris, France for our family vacation in year 2000. We toured many places within France, even going to a wine tasting tour minus actually tasting the wine.

We got a wine glass as a souvenir each from the tour and some knowledge of winery which we will never use because we are Muslims and are not permitted to consume alcohol.

Sonny would have flipped if he knew now that we skipped Europe's Disneyland for shopping! In retrospect, I regretted that decision too. Hopefully Wifey does not reading this.

Mummy of Nes-Khon in cartonnage cover

Back to Ancient Egypt.

Against our usual "home retreat" nature when it rains on the weekends, we braved the downpour and made our way to the museum at Stamford Road by taking an express bus Service 518 at Temasek Polytechnic.

There was already a long queue at the ticket counter but the queue was moving fast. We could have gotten 50% discount if my MasterCard would work, but it did not. Dang it!

Wifey with enlarged replica of ancient markings

Instead we paid the full ticket price of S$16 per adult... Sonny would have gotten in for free because he is a student but it was a couple's day out today.

We spent about 3 hours inside... like many world class exhibits, only flash-photography was not allowed... of course! Fortunately.

Scarab Beetles represent rebirth to the ancient Egyptians

While Wifey was immersed in the whole ancient world of the Egyptians thousands of year ago, I was busy snapping photos... with great difficulty, because of low light, the shutters had to opened longer for a longer exposure to capture the subject.

Most times, the photos are blurry because I did not bring along my tripod for a stead shot. Come think of it, there was not much room for a tripod because the place was crowded with tourists and mostly student since it is March the school holidays.

Mummy in linen cloth with scarab beetle for rebirth

I will post more photos that are presentable enough... without the shakes to share on my next post but may never do justice to those brilliant ancient artifacts on display if one were to view them up close.

We left the exhibition happy and with some refreshed knowledge about the ancient and most elaborate religious practices by the Pharaohs to be immortal in the afterlife, thanks to the guided tour we attached ourselves to.

Night lights filled skyline over at Finance & Commercial District

We had the most satisfying lunch at Magic Wok... the Belachan Fried Rice was heavenly, the Tom Yam Seafood Soup was out of this world. That was because we had our lunch late... it was more like an early dinner.

No man can survive on a tuna sandwich for lunch. Not this man.

The rain stopped and being the "spontaneous and wild couple" that we were today, we threw caution the the humid wind and walked to The Esplanade to watch the sun... behind the dark clouds somewhere, to set.

The Kopichino we bought at Makan Sutra hawker centre was Wifey's great idea to sit and sip, and while our time.

We however were greeted with good live music pounding loud from the open-air amphitheater. We listened to the popular hits of the 1980's music dished out by the local band.

Esplanade Theater By The Bay open-air amphitheater

The Mosaic music festival, where artist from all over the whole are here to showcase their work, is on for this whole month.

We watched what little sun setting behind the skyline. Well, Wifey did because she sat still and watched. I was busy taking pictures of the city skyline and the new Sands Bay IR or Integrated Resort, still under construction.

Bay Sands Integrated Resort under construction

It was time to go home when Sonny text Wifey for a cheeseburger to go... I guess the fried rice and tuna sandwiches were not enough for our growing son, stuck with his Chemistry homework to finish.

Bay Sands IR sky garden

Wifey overlooking papyrus Book of Death belonging to Pay-nefer-nefer

Wifey among stones of ancient gods

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring To Life

Happily, we received rain this morning... the second good downpour after over a couple of months of very hot and driest weather in recent memory.

As excited for us to receive the rain, it is even exciting for me to anticipate the brilliant show of colours bursting wherever I go when the flowers on the trees and shrubs bloom. A phenomenon usually seen when there is suddenly a heavy downpour after a long drought... a survival mode triggered where trees ensure their species continuation.

Something I am associating with... pottery.

Yes, Wifey went off this morning to her pottery class at Sonny's school. She has been attending this class for several months now and has made lots of progress with her pottery-making skills.

She brings her work home where she lets me help and give ideas on the many things that she can add to the piece she currently works on. Her first piece was the start of my intrigue rather than interest in pottery-making.

She is currently doing her third project. A bowl with more flower motifs.

Wifey's first project Deco Plate

She had completed her plate with flower motifs weeks ago. She made another with the same flower motif for me to try for myself from the leftover clay. I made my own version using the carving method. The piece being flat helps tremendously, simply because I need all the room to maneuver my large hands, carving out the flowers as delicately as possible.

My first Wifey-taught-attempt at pottery

She brought it back home after oven-dried my plate for a few days at school. That was weeks ago. It sat in the cupboard for quite a while waiting for me to attempt at painting it. She brought it back out and asked me to complete my work.

Only after I painted it that she can bring it back to school to be baked in the kiln.

This morning, she placed the plate, together with the colour pallet and special water-pen brush on my iMac desk asking me to start painting before she left for her class at 10:30AM.

I started reluctantly at first but eventually got into the "grove" of things and ended up completing the whole plate in the span of 3 hours... stopping only to eat lunch with Sonny before continuing again.

My completed coloured Deco Plate

Wifey came back 2 hours later than usual because she and her PSG friends had to wait out the rain at school before heading home.

From her reaction, she was pleasantly surprised to find that I have completed colouring my plate. She likes my work.

Rough hands doing delicate art... tough

Like the arid weather, the dried plate that was sitting there all brown and plain had turned green and colourful in brilliant colours after a heavy rainfall.

Instead of selling it to a willing buyer once completed, we intend to buy it for ourselves as a memento of my first pottery work as she had bought her first work, a pencil holder.

Flowers bloom at last

"I have a place for your plate... we'll put it next to mine on the display shelve." Wifey proudly announced.