Monday, June 29, 2015

Imaginarium @ 8Q SAM

I’ve heard a lot about Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas exhibition at 8Q SAM, and finally got a chance to bring the kids there on a playdate a week ago. It was a nice quiet morning, and we started our day with brunch at the nearby Food for Thought. EV was an angel wolfing up her kid’s pancake all by herself, and even took a bit of AA’s kid’s pasta. AA needed more attention, but he was good overall. He’s proofing to be quite a fussy food connoisseur. When I passed him the kid’s menu, he responded by telling me he wanted pasta, as well as apple juice AND soup. That was a first. But I’m glad that the menu there captured his interest, as he can be quite a fussy eater at times.

Imaginarium 1

The moment we stepped into the museum, the kids made a beeline for the We Built This Estate display at the ground floor. This is probably their favourite display of the whole exhibition; we revisited it after seeing the rest of the displays. The life size Tetris-shaped building blocks in bright colours were absolutely irresistable as EV and AA, along with their friends built fortresses, tunnels, bridges and whatever their imagination prompted them to do. We adults just had to stand aside and watch their creativity soar, interrupting only when things seem to get out of control, such as an over-eager AA carrying a block that’s triple his size and weight, and the older kids having a little tiff.

Imaginarium 2

Imaginarium 4

It took a while to drag the kids to see the other exhibits. We went to the MoonRoom, where the kids could write letters to the moon or doodle on the walls. While the older kids were contented with doing the latter, AA was happy in his own zone, chopping at the stamp counter or sitting in the middle of the room folding paper.

Imaginarium 3

The Band of Doodlers illustrations greeted us as we walked up the four levels. It’s quite an interesting piece of art, which depicts Singapore’s folklore. Unfortunately, with enthusiastic kids keen to explore, we didn’t have the time to linger and appreciate it. It’s definitely a feast for the eyes though.

Imaginarium 6

Vincent Twardzik Ching’s Greenroom II: Interstellar Overdrive is an interactive display which teaches how motion can produce power. Using bicycles that we had to ride on, we could power up light displays and stereo equipment. Fun for the kids, tiring for the adults.

Imaginarium 5

We think that the Let’s Make! Studio by Izziyana Suhaimi was extremely soothing. The room was extremely large, and by the time we got there, the walls were already filled with many pom poms, embroideries and weaving works of art that other visitors had made and put up. Depending on the age of the visitors, each individual can create either a pom pom, embroider or weave. EV and AA did the pom-poms, and rather than put it up on the wall tapestry, they prefered to play with it there and then, running around with their pom poms trailing behind them.

Imaginarium 7

Imaginarium 8

A ‘wow’ display we liked was Kiko’s Secrets by KumKum Fernando. There are three little boxes, each holding a separate display. The one that we liked best, and probably wowed the kids the most, was the glow-in-the-dark art pieces made of various materials. The kids could move around and hold large triangular tubes against the art pieces, and viola! They created kaleidoscopes. Another display allowed them to search for different sized plastic pieces to fit on to a large wall of shapes.

Imaginarium 9

Imaginarium 10

The last exhibit we went to was another of the kids’ favourite. This sweet display is Lee Jeeyoung’s Dream House. There’s a candy house, complete with yummy lifesize lollipops and a garden of sweets at the back - truly a kid’s dream. EV and AA couldn’t get enough of taking the brightly coloured sweet from the house to ‘plant’ on the trees in the garden. At one point, they were determined to collect only purple sweets, and eventually created a tree of purple sweets. AA was also bent on taking the sweets from the house to the little table at the front, running back and forth continuously. It was really a delightful place that the kids clearly enjoyed being in, and again, it was tough when it was finally time to leave.

Imaginarium 11

Despite spending hours at Imaginarium, the kids were still determined to make a final stop - the display on the ground floor with the life size building blocks. It’s amazing how their energy seems to be endless, even though they look visibly tired. For us adults, we were just contented to sit back and watch the kids build their fortresses.

Have you visited Imaginarium? Make sure you do before it ends. As the title suggests, it is indeed an exhibition that ignites the imagination.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas
Now till 19 July 2015
71 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 198555
Opening Hours: Mondays to Sundays 10am to 7pm, Fridays 10am to 9pm
Free entry for citizens and permanent residents


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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Masak Masak 2015 @ National Museum of Singapore

One of the first adventure we went on this holiday is Masak Masak 2015 at the National Museum of Singapore. We were invited to the media preview on a Saturday, the first day of the hols, but could  not make it as EV had swimming and Chinese lessons. So we went on our own just a couple of days ago, a good choice, I must say, because it wasn't that crowded, and the kids had ample time and space to enjoy the exhibits. Though, at this very moment, EV is taking Masak Masak's 'Baby Block’s Day Out' brochure and telling DaddySay all about the dragon bouncy playground at the museum's front lawn, trying to convince DaddySay to bring her there over the weekend. I think she needs to try very hard; we've already got play dates lined up this weekend.

First, a quick visit to the Leading Ladies exhibition just beside the Rotunda.
Yes, back to Masak Masak. Mademoiselle Maurice’s Spectrum of Paper at the Rotunda near the entrance is quite a welcoming sight of kaleidoscopic colours. The kids were so tempted to jump up and touch it. Me? I was just happy to get pictures of the kids with the suspending origami display alone, something I can't expect to do on a weekend.

Going on a weekday also makes it easy to find a seat at Food for Thought. EV’s good memory meant she remembered our last adventure to Masak Masak last year and our pancake brunch at Food for Thought. So similarly, she was looking forward to it this time. She woofed down her pancakes in record time, clearly getting ready for an afternoon of fun at the displays.

Our first stop was the Level 1 Concourse, where Alexandre Dang’s Dancing Solar Flowers and Garden Games by the School of the Arts are. EV and AA were curious why the flowers were moving, so it was a great opportunity to tell them all about solar energy. Of course, they spent the longest time at the four extra large old-school games. They couldn’t figure out how to manoeuvre the ping pong ball through the vertical maze at first, spinning the maze so fast that the ball flew out, but after some guidance, EV got the hang of it. AA just didn’t have the patience, and just moved on to the next thing that grabbed his attention - the flower of plastic cup phones. EV had a ball throwing the hoola hoops over the ‘cans’, and later, decided to do the twist with the hoops instead.

I think it’s safe to say that we spent the most time that day at the Level 1 Salon. We were amazed by the splash of colour by the continuation of the Spectrum of Paper display, this time, looking like it's flying across a blue sky. Queen of the Forest by Jeremy Hiah was a little understated, because it looked rather different from the picture used in the 'Baby Block' Day Out' brochure. So much so that EV came running to me later when we were home, and claimed that she had not yet seen the display. The image showed a big flower with birds and butterflies around it, but the actual display had no big flower, and looked rather bare, with just a few bird and butterfly puppets on it, or perhaps we missed it. I had to remind EV that we did see the display, that she made the butterfly puppets, but she didn't want to put her puppet on the display, and she went oh! So while I do hope that the images used in publicity materials are more accurately portrayed, I do understand that it's difficult to, especially when the displays are not already up.

Simple Pleasures in Life and Life’s Best Journey is With The One You Love by Jeanette Aw wwere quite interesting. On one side of the wall, kids could add colour to the illustration, while on the other wall which was painted black, kids had to use a stick to scratch the paint off. Quite a thrill for both EV and AA.

Chopping time came next at the basement, at the Memory Stations. Obviously, EV and AA had fun chopping, and it was a respite for us adults. I spoke to them about wood block printing, and how it is done. What impressed me at this display was how EV and AA managed to 'read' one of the images about a boy missing out on school. Somehow, EV was attracted to this picture, and asked what it was about. I didn't tell her and instead asked her what she felt it was about. She said she felt it was something about missing school. After a few prompting questions, I found out that she could identify clues that told her that two boys were going to school, and one didn't, because of what they were wearing. She was also able to tell from the boy's casual clothes and facial expression that he was feeling sad. Wow. This meant she can read between the lines, and infer something that's not literally there. Looks like I need to train her more in this aspect.

On the same level is the Wanderlust display by Crystal Wagner, a gigantic, life-size structure made of recycled plastic materials. It spans more than half of the basement, with tunnels and little 'hills' for kids to play. Pretty impressive. Needless to say, EV and AA had a ball crawling in and out and hiding from us adults, especially when we said it was time to go.

Our last stop for the day was the Play@NMS on the third floor. EV remembered this from our last visit, and she just had to go there. For us adults, it was an excuse to let the kids play, while we sat and rest our feet.

Will we go back again? Sure, why not? If not for the other displays, then for Luma-City, a larger-than-life toy vehicle display, which this mummy totally forgot about because of exhaustion. But it'll probably not be over the weekend. We still love the relative peace that the weekday offers.

Have you visited Masak Masak? Please do! It's cool (literally and figuratively), creative and inspiring, for both kids and adults.

Masak Masak 2015
Now till 10 August
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897
Opening Hours: Mondays to Sundays 10am to 6pm
Free admission to the festival


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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

When a traumatic experience means a long road to recovery

Yes, this is a post related to the recent tragedy on Mount Kinabalu. No, this is not going to be a post looking for someone to blame, because it was an accident caused by a unexpected natural disaster. No amount of preparation can prepare for that. No one wants this to happen, not any parent, not any teacher, not any school, not anyone. No, neither is this going to be one declaring the teachers and guides as heroes. In my opinion, every single one who went through this ordeal is a hero, and this includes their family, friends, yes, and even the authorities.

My heart goes out to those who did not survive. Whether they are 12 or 29, the snuffing of life, whether at a young age, or at an age when one has a young family, is heartbreaking. It is unfair.

My heart goes out to the survivors, to the family and friends of those who did not come back. My heart goes out especially to those students who had to experience the earthquake and witness  with their own eyes their friends and teachers being hit by the large boulders. My heart goes out to those students whose teacher asked them to stay under the overhang, and then went out to help others, but never came back.

Their physical injuries will heal, but the psychological recovery could take a very very long time.

I can't say I understand how they feel, because I've never experienced an earthquake before.

But I can understand the stress that traumatic experiences bring, because I've been through one such experience last year. It's been seven months, and I'm still recovering. Thinking about the accident can still make me tear. I know how close I was to losing my life. That reality sunk in even more when I was in Hong Kong for my grandmummy's funeral. A similar accident happened, a wheel flew off from a mini bus, and the lady who got hit died. If the wheel that hit me had hit a few inches higher, I may not be here anymore. 

Till today, I still fear loud noises. I still tense up when I see big trucks. I still refuse to stand at any bus stops. If I have to walk by a bus stop, I would walk behind, as far as possible. I have not taken a bus since that day.

To some what I am experiencing may be considered minor compared to the earthquake. But if an adult like me is still trying to recover from the psychological effects of what was traumatic to me after seven months, the road to recovery will be all the more challenging for 12 year old children who went through an earthquake and witnessed their friends become victims of it. Effects may not be immediate, but may manifest for some time before surfacing. What's more worrying is the possibility that they may not speak up, because they are not sure how to handle it. Even finding someone to confide in may be difficult because, well, not many people have gone through the same experiences.

They will get over it and get on with life, but the process might be long, might be difficult, and some might have it easier than others. This experience will definitely leave a scar, no matter how big. They will need all the support and understanding they can get.

So while we are sitting in the comfort of our homes, following the news and trying to make sense of all that has happened, let us remember that the survivors will not have an easy path to recovery. That day on the mountain, the 'what ifs' will forever haunt them. The family and friends of those who have passed on will not have it easy either, as they battle with thoughts of what could have been.

So let's all be understanding and supportive. Let's show everyone who was affected by it that we care. Even though we may be quiet, even though we're doing it from afar.

To the survivors and family and friends of those who have passed on, be strong, be brave, but know too, that it is not necessary to be strong 100% of the time. It is ok to break down and let it out. That is also part of the healing.

Photo credit


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