Mortal Moments

— NOVEMBER 2019 —
A monthly journal celebrating the arts, renewal, and community
throughout Japan, Singapore, and the rest of the world.

Transformation

Where it Begins

I enjoy the foliage in the fall. Living in the tropics, the change of foliage and colours is a rare sight for me but I can imagine the experience of transiting from season to season, and the freshness that comes when spring finally takes over the dormant, icy winter. Everyone welcomes the new sprouts and pleasant weather in spring. The seasonal renewal is always refreshing and often anticipated. Yet, why do the renewal and transformation of lives, thoughts and hearts seem impossible to many?

It is not difficult to see how our anticipation and belief are often battered and bruised by daily and past disappointment. Think about that child whom we are nurturing, or the spouse whom we are trying to change for years, or that co-worker who often takes our stationery without returning. And how about the mother, wife and colleague who never see the change in them? Often, we are the ones who need to be transformed. We need to alter our thoughts from what is to what it could be. Indeed, transformation requires a radical imagination which may at times clash with our expectations that are shaped by past experiences or societal norms. What is holding you back from transformation?

Recently, together with a group of friends, I visited an old teacher from school. She is the liveliest and humorous 80-year-old I have met. At 80, she enjoys going on cruises, hosting gatherings at her home and playing the ukulele, a hobby she took up just 4 months ago. In her, I see a willingness to embrace the now, and the courage to adopt new ideas and perspectives. This does not come without challenges as she has to deal with living on her own, accepting her children having a life of their own and being the supporter who encourages her children to pursue what they want in life. Transformation can take place regardless of situation. Yet, it is not a given. It has to be pursued.


Tan Suet Ferng, Community Arts Director, Yellowren Productions

Capsuling and Thrifting

Mortal Moments - Tokyo

It was an eye opener diving deeper into the Japanese culture and its way of life.

As an artist and design student, I love experiencing new things, getting inspired by everyday scenarios and experiencing different ideas and possibilities. Hence, I pushed myself to discover new places in Tokyo such as staying in a capsule hotel for a night and immersing in the thrifting culture.

Staying in a capsule hotel (https://www.bay-hotel.jp/akihabara/eng/) was both thrilling and scary, being my first time staying on my own in a foreign country. The checking in process was very smooth. I went up to my pod and was pleasantly surprised by how spacious it was. Unlike the horror stories I heard, the capsule hotel went above and beyond my expectations. I did not hear a sound from the other pods throughout the night. The quiet factor was a plus point and I was well rested.  

The thrifting culture is much more prevalent in Japan as compared to Singapore. The thrill of discovering a flea market ( https://tokyocheapo.com/shopping-2/fashion/top-tokyo-flea-markets/) happening on the weekend was a great feeling. The actual process of traveling and walking through the flea market was even better! The best part of the trip is when you rampage through a pile of clothing to find a gem at an insanely low price! I hope Singapore could adopt and cultivate a community as such to help with the fast fashion situation.

These small trips around Tokyo was the inspiration for my latest series, "Animal Attac" (https://www.instagram.com/ni.neo_/?hl=en) that was showcased at Yellowren Japan. I hope to be able to visit Tokyo again to explore more nooks and crannies.


Nina Neo, Undergraduate, SIT Glasgow School of Arts

Life in the Garden City

Mortal Moments - Singapore

"After the heat, the first thing I noticed about Singapore were the flowers.

After living in Tokyo for two years, surrounded by modern architectural marvels and minimalist gardening techniques, my heart was parched of luscious green. Upon arriving here, I didn’t just feast my eyes on green… reds, oranges, and pinks also waved at me from highway medians, elaborate garden parks, and even from the tallest balconies Singapore’s HDB flatshad to offer. Living in such a dense concrete metropolis had felt like two solid years of seasonal affective disorder and the effortfully cultured botany of this new land was pulling me back into the comfort of Spring and Summer.

For two adventurous weeks, huffing and puffing under the hot Singaporean sun as I touristed around my new home, dragging my two year old to the children’s gardens at Gardens By The Bay (https://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/) and sampling laksa and chicken rice from the vendors at Lau Pa Sat (https://www.visitsingapore.com/see-do-singapore/architecture/historical/lau-pa-sat/) before my body adjusted and I forgot the sun existed.  Looking back, those first weeks still feel so magical to me, walking around the corner store for no other reason than to just see what they had to sell and meandering wide-eyed around Marina Bay Sands, stroller in hand.

Three years later, and Singapore has become one of my favourite places I’ve ever lived — and I’ve moved a lot! I adore the mix of cultures that let me learn about so many parts of the world while standing still, and the plethora of opportunities to improve myself, whether that be medically with the most competent doctors who’ve ever treated my connective tissue disorder, artistically in an art class, physically at the neighbourhood gym, or aesthetically at the salon down the street.

My stay in Singapore has been warm and remarkably healing... and I wouldn’t give up this time for anything."


Kim Hartley, Homemaker and Artist

Guilt-free Garden Salad

November's Featured Recipe

These are the ingredients that you will need:

  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 0.5 Kg sweet potato (orange)
  • Half a family size box of seedless red grapes
  • 1 small pack of 10 to 15 shitake mushrooms
  • 1 box of pea sprouts (or 1 bundle of watercress)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans in brine
  • 1 Japanese cucumber
  • 1 box of cherry tomatoes
  • 300g of almond
  • 1 big red onion
  • olive oil
  • mixed Italian herbs
  • salt and black pepper

Suggestions to prepare the ingredients this way:

  1. Romaine - Slice the romaine lettuce into squares after rinse and spin-dry.
  2. Sweet potato - Peel and slice into small chunks.  Toss chunks into a big salad-tossing bowl and drizzle them with olive oil. Toast them in oven or air-fryer for 15 to 20 min till soft and slight browning all-round.

Note: You may substitute with Soba noodles.

  1. Seedless Red Grapes – Rinse and slice them into halves.
  2. Shitake mushrooms – Rinse them under tap water, slice them and set them aside for light pan frying later.
  3. Pea Sprouts – Chop off any roots, rinse under tap to remove any soil. Spin-dry them and chop into index-finger lengths.

Note: Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a pan, quick-fry chopped garlic. Sauté the Pea Sprouts and Shitake mushrooms.

  1. Red kidney beans – Brush can under tap water before opening. Use strainer to rinse kidney beans under tap to remove brine.
  2. Japanese cucumber – Use a potato peeler to remove the skin. Chop them into small chunks.
  3. Cherry tomatoes – Rinse and slice in halves.
  4. Red Onion – Remove first layer, and slice thinly.
  5. Sliced Almonds – Toast them till slight browning.

Assembly:

  • Assemble all of the above ingredients in a big salad bowl for tossing. Drizzle olive oil again and stir until you see all areas of your salad has the ‘shine’.
  • Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and Italian herbs mix for taste and aroma.
  • Store in chiller overnight, and it’s ready to serve.


Linton Warren Ng, Sales Manager with a passion for food

The Salt Path

November's Featured Book

“There’s a sound to breaking waves when they’re close, a sound like nothing else.” The opening lines of “The Salt Path” echoed the tumultuous events that swept Raynor Winn and her husband, Moth, from the depths of despair to find triumph and hope.

What would you do if you are in your 50s and you hit rock bottom? This true gritty memoir traces the courageous steps that the couple took when they became homeless after losing their farm and livelihood. With their dreams further shattered when Moth was diagnosed with terminal illness, they decided to walk – “if we made that first step we had somewhere to go, we had a purpose.” Hence, “we could just walk,” became the motivation for their travel narratives, as they braved a 630-mile costal walk along the South Coast Path of England.

Uplifting and heart-warming, their adventurous tale takes you along dramatic landscapes, and introduces you to the myriad people they met along the path. A walk that started on a path into the unknown began to gradually chart its course inward, revealing an inspiring and miraculous human strength and capacity for endurance.

“The Salt Path” contains gems about life, people and home. Most people do not give much thought to the meaning of “home,” when they have shelter over their head. Raynor rediscovers the meaning of home as a “state of mind, it’s what makes you feel safe – and you don’t need walls for that.”

The book’s accolades include The Sunday Times Bestseller, winner of The Royal Society of Literature Christopher Bland Prize and it is shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award & Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2018.


Alan Yeo, Advisor, Yellowren Productions

Crayon Etching & Design

November Craft

Crayon etching and design is inspired by the artwork of Sawako Ura, a Japanese textile designer who is based in Finland. Her masterpiece is made by drawing and shaping like a “scratch painting” using crayons and toothpicks.

Here are some simple steps on how you can create your own masterpiece:

  • You will need a piece of drawing paper, a ruler, a box of crayons and toothpicks  
  • Select and use one crayon colour to fill the entire paper with a thick coat of base colour by pressing the crayon hard on the paper
  • Use the edge of the ruler to scrub off this 1st layer of crayon till you have a smooth consistent base colour
  • Add another layer using different crayon colours according to the shapes or design that you want to create
  • Use a toothpick to scratch out or draw the patterns over the 2nd layer of crayon to create your masterpiece

November Happenings

Coming Events


Dec. 14 | Wish You Christmas

If you are in Tokyo on 14 December 2019, “Wish You Christmas,” organised by Yellowren Japan (www.yellowren.co.jp) from 4pm to 7pm, at their arts space located in the beautiful Nakameguro neighbourhood (2F, 1-11-19 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042) is one extraordinary party that you should include in your calendar.

Bringing goodwill, warm wishes and Christmas cheer through a delightful mix of story, carols, art, games, gift exchange and an amazing spread of festive food, “Wish You Christmas” will enthral you with an unforgettable Christmas experience with the local Japanese community!


Nov. 22 - Mar. 22 | Singapore Biennale 2019

What is not right with the world? What can we do about it? “Every Step In the Right Direction” is the focus of Singapore Biennale 2019 (www.singaporebiennale.org). A cross between a seminar and a festival, an archive and a workshop, this year’s biennale seeks to prompt visitors “to cherish the joy of experiencing art, and at the same time, value the moment of contemplation… to listen, understand, move with others and create change…” Be inspired by the artistic expressions of this international contemporary art exhibition, featuring more than 70 artists and collectives from more than 20 countries in South East Asia and beyond, at historic places and public places in Singapore including the National Gallery Singapore and Asian Civilisations Museum from 22 November to 22 March 2020.


Nov. 19 | Future and the Arts

What is true affluence? What is it to be human? What is life? “Future and the Arts: AI, Robotics, Cities, Life – How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow” (https://www.mori.art.museum/en/exhibitions/future_art/) showcases 100 projects/works at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo on 19 November 2019. This futuristic exhibition features 5 sections: i.e. “New Possibilities of Cities;” “Toward Neo-Metabolism Architecture;” “Lifestyle and Design Innovations;” “Human Augmentation and Its Ethical Issues;” and “Society and Humans in Transformation.” This showcase invites us to “contemplate cities, environmental issues, human lifestyles and the likely state of human beings as well as human society - all in the imminent future, via cutting-edge developments in science and technology including AI, biotechnology, robotics, and AR (augmented reality), plus art, design, and architecture influenced by all these.”