Traces @ Brother Joseph Mcnally Gallery, 2010
An Art Incubator Residency with Grey Projects
I often wonder what has to give way as a result of Singapore’s constant reconstruction of its landscape. A visit to the Raffles Biodiversity Museum Research (RBMR) at NUS reaffirmed my thoughts about the erosion of the country’s history and the depletion of our wealthy pool of wild life, flora and fauna. I wanted to work closely with the rich collection of RBMR, drawing influence from the history of Singapore’s bio-culture that has been lost and can hardly be regained.
I was drawn particularly to the taxidermised birds in the museum collection, as their vibrant colours were an odd irony to their deaths, making them appear more current than they really were. In these series of works, I sought out the imagined locations where these birds were found, following the named places indicated in the labels attached. Even though the landscapes were more current than the birds, I chose to use gray tones to depict them in the paintings, so as to suggest the landscape as a trace, like a negative of a photo. By juxtaposing the coloured birds with the gray landscapes, I want to evoke questions regarding the mortality of the landscapes in which these birds were found, thereby reflecting upon the transient nature of Singapore’s landscape.
The residency with Grey Projects eventually culminated in an exhibition entitled Traces II at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore in 2010.