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Archive for the ‘Free’ Category

A few weeks ago Gillman Barracks celebrated their second anniversary with late night art openings, food, libations and music. I enjoyed my time at their first anniversary party so decided it would be worth a second go around. My friend, Radha, was keen as well so we met there and moved from gallery to gallery following the path of free wine.

Gillman Barracks Second Anniversary Party

Gillman Barracks Second Anniversary Party

Along the path of free wine at Gillman Barracks

Along the path of free wine at Gillman Barracks

When we arrived at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery we were really stoked to have stumbled across 38 large-scale prints of Annie Liebovitz‘s portrait photography. (editor’s note: exhibit closed as of 9 Oct 2014) .I had heard that she had an exhibition at the ArtScience Museum but had not yet made my way there so this was a great treat. Radha was equally as excited.

Sundaram GAGd Gallery

Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Whoopi Goldberg photo by Annie Liebovitz

Whoopi Goldberg portrait by Annie Liebovitz

The next holiday weekend, Hari Raya Haji, I was planning to treat myself to the beach. That is, until I saw the haze had crept in. Left suddenly with no plans I got out my trusty Google Machine aka computer and started scouring for events around town. Voila! The ArtScience Museum was having a free day in honor of the holiday. I texted Radha and we made plans once again to meet. (editor’s note: exhibit closed as of 19 Oct 2014)

True as promised, the ArtScience Museum was free to all that would brave the haze to get there. We perused the exhibition that featured both professional and personal photos, although Annie was very clearly portrayed as someone who did not have boundaries between the two. The story of her life and career was on display, including moments with her partner (referred to in the exhibit as “long-time friend”) Susan Sontag and Annie’s often clearly annoyed parents.

Quite chuffed with our luck, we ended our afternoon with a pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Marina Bay Sands. Not cheap, but necessary. Especially after viewing the line at Din Tai Fung.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, because you may be a procrastinator like me and just realized that you have the day off work tomorrow for Deepavali. If so, you are in luck. The ArtScience Museum is hosting another free day. Although the Annie Liebovitz exhibit is now closed, Flux Realities: A Showcase of Chinese Contemporary Photography is still on display and offers 60 photographs by 7 different Chinese photographers ranging from landscape to fantasy. It’s definitely worth a look. Did I mention it’s free?

The ArtScience museum is open daily from 10:00am until 7:00pm, including public holidays. Last admission is at 6:00pm.

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I love a trip to Little India in Singapore. The area is so colorful and different than the rest of Singapore. You often forget that you are on this tiny island all together.

We had our first visitors in September and they wanted to check the area out. With the food and the visually stunning temples, this was not a hard sale for me. Here is a small collection of photos I took that day.

Temples, temples and more temples…

little india 1

temple

little india 3

little india 2

Beautiful shophouses

shophouses

Am I the tourist or is he?

tourist

Locals shopping for groceries

local shopping for bananas

Who can resist a coconut stand?

coconuts

British girl Amy’s first coconut.

chris and amy coconut

I think she liked it.

amy coconut

Note: Sunday in Little India gets very hectic. It can be overwhelming. Plan accordingly.

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Museum goers view Tacita Dean’s FILM in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

FILM is the twelfth commission in The Unilever Series and runs through 11 March 2012. Click here for more details.

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I was given a tip to stop by the York Sculpture Park while traveling from Leeds back to London. Husband and I had some time to spare and thought, why not?

I wasn’t expecting anything major, maybe something along the lines of the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. I was surprised to find that this place was so expansive and impressive. We ended up spending the whole day exploring the grounds and exhibits.

 

York Sculpture Park is just one mile from Junction 38 of the M1 and is open daily except 24 & 25 December. Admission is free, parking is £5. 

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Leroy and Mariah were both in town visiting. We were at a pub looking through our travel guides  and trying to decide what exactly it was we wanted to do with our week. The contrasts were stark.  Husband was completely embarrassed by our public display of tourism. Mariah, ever the planner, had her wheels spinning. Laid-back Leroy was agreeing to every suggestion without too much enthusiasm. That is, until we mentioned visiting a few monoliths. The Discovery Channel buff in him suddenly perked up and Mariah and I knew we had to make it happen.

Since Stonehenge is a little cliche and Mariah and I had already been there, we decided to visit Avebury. Word was that it was better and the oldest stone circle in Europe. The stone circles are multiple in number, more accessible and integrated into the town. In fact, the town is built inside these massive stone circles.

Luck was with us as the sun was shining for our drive out to Avebury. We parked the car and quickly found the main attraction: strategically placed large stones. Although Avebury does not carry the iconic image that Stonehenge has blazed in our collective consciousness, the sheer number of stones and organization was much greater than that of Stonehenge.

Avebury

After a bit of walking around the stones we headed into the museum. I needed context for what we were viewing. The staff at the museum was a breathe of fresh air. Tourist sites have a tendency to make one feel like cattle. The people at Avebury seemed generally excited to have our company. It was a bit like dating the sister of the prom queen.

A walk through the stones.

Let’s consult Wikipedia for historical background.

Constructed around 2600 BCE, during the Neolithic, or ‘New Stone Age’, the monument comprises of a large henge, surrounded by a bank and a ditch. Inside this henge is a large outer stone circle, with two separate smaller stone circles situated inside the centre of the monument. Its original purpose is not known, although archaeologists believe that it was most likely used for some form of ritual or ceremonial usage. The Avebury monument was a part of a larger prehistoric landscape containing several older monuments nearby, including West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill.

In the Late Mediaeval and Early Modern periods, locals destroyed many of the standing stones in the monument, and a village was built in the centre of it. The antiquarians John Aubrey and William Stukeley however took an interest in Avebury, and recorded much of the site before its destruction. Archaeologists proceeded to excavate at the site in the 20th century.

It’s wild to think about someone chopping down this ancient stone arrangement to build onto their house. I guess it felt silly to go in search of new raw materials when these had been delivered right to your doorstep. Plus, the historical nature of the stones may not have been widely understood or respected in the Late Medieval and Early Modern times.

Stone Marked Road

One thing about Avebury that I absolutely can not recommend is the Red Lion Pub in the village. The service was more than atrocious, it was comical.  The food was just plain bad. They were out of half the menu. I don’t know how you mess up fried food that badly but the chips were terrible. We were treated like an annoyance by the kid behind the bar. They forgot to bring our dessert. They were out of coffee cups. Not out of coffee, just out of vessels (for there or to go) to hold it in because they had a rush of visitors a few days earlier. Not that morning. Not yesterday. A few DAYS earlier. Yeah, it didn’t make sense to me either.

Do not eat here.

Constructed around 2600 BCE,[1] during the Neolithic, or ‘New Stone Age’, the monument comprises of a large henge, surrounded by a bank and a ditch. Inside this henge is a large outer stone circle, with two separate smaller stone circles situated inside the centre of the monument. Its original purpose is not known, although archaeologists believe that it was most likely used for some form of ritual or ceremonial usage. The Avebury monument was a part of a larger prehistoric landscape containing several older monuments nearby, including West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill.

In the Late Mediaeval and Early Modern periods, locals destroyed many of the standing stones in the monument, and a village was built in the centre of it. The antiquarians John Aubrey and William Stukeley however took an interest in Avebury, and recorded much of the site before its destruction. Archaeologists proceeded to excavate at the site in the 20th century.

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My first experience of Battersea Park was in July of 2009. I was in London for a day and looking for something to do. I didn’t want to go to a typical site like the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace and the weather was too nice to spend inside a museum. I was craving an authentic London activity, something that a Londoner might actually attend. I ended up at a Bastille Day celebration in Battersea Park. A party in the park to celebrate another country’s independence day? Sounds perfectly London to me. Plus there was French food, wine, sunshine and music. Sold.

 

Bastille Day 2009

My next run in with Battersea Park was when Husband and I were scouting potential homes. We found the most lovely place overlooking the park with loads of natural light and a rooftop terrace to die for. Husband’s commute to work would have been atrocious and there’s no way we could afford the place, but we were starstruck.

Thankfully we came to our senses before our rental bid was accepted and settled for a much more sensible but extremely nice garden flat elsewhere in London. It was still close enough for frequent visits to Battersea Park.

With the weather as great as it has been this week, I made some time to spend at Battersea Park. Many London locations tend to be swamped on sunny afternoons, but understated and overlooked Battersea park was perfect for finding solitude amongst others.

 

 

Brown Dog

Anti-vivisectionists commissioned a bronze statue of this dog as a memorial to a University College London controversy . A brown terrier was illegal dissected with questionable levels of anaesthetia in front of an audience of 60 medical students. The statue was taken down in 1910 due to political pressure. A replacement memorial was placed behind the Pump House in1985 only to be taken down in 1992. The replacement statue was put back up in 1994, but this time it was hidden away in the Woodland Walk near the Olde English Garden.  I guess it gets less notice and therefore less controversy there.

View across the Thames from Battersea Park

Peace Pagoda

I took some time to meditate near the Peace Pagoda before leaving. Cliche, but I couldn’t resist.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, Battersea Park hosts the Affordable Art Fair March 10-13th. Tickets run from £8 – £15. 120 galleries will be exhibiting art all under £4,000.

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Sometimes I get caught up in London life and forget to explore the rest of England and the UK. Of course there are the normal places that attract global tourists like Bath or Stonehenge, but the lesser known locales give you an opportunity to understand the region in a totally different way.

OK, I have to admit that if we hadn’t been out visiting Flora and Jam for the weekend, we wouldn’t have gone out of our way to go to Lyme Regis. But we were having ourselves a city break in that area anyway, so it seemed like a great place to explore.

The town is located on what is known as the Jurassic Coast and is famous for fossils. Some of the first dinosaur skeletons discovered in Britain were found here in the 1800s and today you can see people combing over the shores for a great archeological find. Or a lost contact lens. Whichever.

The town is a touch of kiss me quick with an arcade and sea side dining but interesting for a wander.

Seaside snacks

Colorful spaces for rent along the shore.

Docked boats

Lampposts advertise fossil heritage.

I watched several people head off to the waves with their wetsuits and surfboards from beneath my many layers of winter gear. Amazingly, surfing in the UK seems to be a well participated activity. I suppose the temperature is what creates a divide between the mild enthusiasts and the passionate. I love water sports, but there’s no way you are getting me into the UK seas in winter.

Crazy person enjoying water sports.

We shifted through rocks in a bit of our own fossil hunting. We came across loads of pieces of broken pottery, beautiful stones and a touch of asbestos, but nothing of which to make our millions by selling to museums.

Flora on the search

Hooray! I think we found a fossil?

Walking back through town, I seemed to be the only one interested in things like the door to the old lockup. It gave a very medieval and quintessentially British vibe to the experience. I’m always amazed at how small the doors are and hence how short the population was.

The door of the old lockup

Well Lyme Regis, it’s been fun. Perhaps one day we will meet again.

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Husband (did I mention Boyfriend has been upgraded?) wanted to see Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate Modern. This was an easy sell for me. I am a sucker for modern art museums.

Unilever has commissioned Ai Weiwei’s brainchild: 100 million hand crafted porcelain sunflower seeds displayed in the Turbine Hall. The colors of the concrete floor blend with the small porcelain seeds like a slight ripple in the floor’s texture continuity. As you approach you notice the individual pieces making up the whole until you eventually realize the small tiny pieces are sunflower seeds. At this point you want to pick one up and bite one, but the sunflower seeds are not real and the exhibit has been deemed non interactive for safety reasons. The dust from the porcelain is easily kicked up and can enter the lungs.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

A fifteen minute video shows how these pieces were handcrafted in Jingdezhen, China. You get a glimpse into the lives of the 1600 people and two and a half years that the manufacturing took place. The people are grateful for the work but I’m curious to whether they find value in the project beyond a paycheck.

This reminds me of a story someone once told me about explaining the end use of  Mardi Gras beads to Chinese factory workers. “So… you toss this at someone out of a slow moving vehicle and girls will take their tops off?”

And perhaps that’s the point – to make me consider the “Made in China” label. Or maybe it’s a statement on how all these small pieces can make up a whole. How collectively we become something we could never be as an individual. The political weaves it’s way in and out of the display. There is mention of how the sunflower seed was once a symbol of goodwill between neighbors but was adopted and altered into kitsch and propaganda by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution.

Seems like a lot to say all at once.

“Did I get it all?” I asked Husband. He is standing on the bridge above the sunflower seeds looking down with awe that I haven’t seemed to muster.

Maybe I’m not suppose to be so worried about whether or not I got it right.

The exhibit is free and runs until May 2, 2011

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When my plans for Wednesday night were canceled at the last minute, I thought to myself “Hey, I wonder when those free outdoor movies at The Scoop go on?” A quick check of my email revealed that they started that very night in just a few hours. Even better, the movie that was scheduled (Up in the Air) was something that I wanted to see.  Although it was tempting to be lazy and stay at home, I knew if I got out I would be richly rewarded.

I decided to make the More London outing a 2 fold endeavor. I would walk there and that way I would get a good bit of exercise on the way. 3 miles? I could do it! I left with an hour of time ahead of me. On the way, I realized I didn’t have any cash. Maybe I should stop by the cash machine. And oh yeah, while I’m near the Tesco Metro, maybe I should pick up a tasty beverage.

All of this meandering ate away at my walking time. At about 7:05, with 2 miles to go, I started panicking that I wouldn’t make it on time and thus hopped on the tube. Exiting at London Bridge, I made my way toward More London. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Luckily, the area was labeled conspicuously. I was happy to find myself amongst a nice design of water features and sleek finishes wedged between buildings that overlooked the Thames and Tower Bridge.

More London

With only 5 minutes to spare, I rushed towards the outdoor amphitheatre, had my hand stamped by a staff member, and created a seat right up front.

The Scoop - the photo blurriness is quite accurate considering my rushed dash to find a seat.

Whew, I could now enjoy my cold beverage and relax. Next time I plan on bringing a full picnic, a friend and a blanket.  The weather is getting really chilly at sunset these days. I knew autumn would come, but did it have to come so soon? Can’t we negotiate on this?

Please be seated.

I enjoyed Up In the Air. The best parts? George Clooney (yum), loved Anna Kendrick’s character (as a former 23 year old fresh college grad I could relate to her annoying naivety), and the opening song by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I totally forgot that their cover of Woodie Guthry’s This Land is Your Land got picked up for the opening credits. I’ve seen them jam out several times- at Austin City Limits festival in 2008, at a fundraiser for the democratic party of Tarrant County right as Obama was being elected, and at SXSW in 2010. They’ll be in London November 3rd at the Roundhouse. Go check them out. They put on a great show full of retro nostalgia, glamour and honesty. I couldn’t be happier for them for their success.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings + lucky audience member at SXSW 2010

When the movie was over, I was treated to this lovely view of Tower Bridge.

Backdrop

Free outdoor movies at the Scoop continue every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday throughout September and begin at 19:30. Here’s a list of remaining shows.

  • Fri 17 Sept – The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, Cert 12A)
  • Wed 22 Sept – The Hurt Locker (2009, Cert 15)
  • Thur 23 Sept – North by Northwest (1959, Cert PG)
  • Fri 24 Sept – Pretty Woman (1990, Cert 15) – celebrating 20 years since its release.
  • Wed 29 Sept – Invictus (2010, Cert 12A)
  • Thur 30 Sept – Up (2009, Cert U) – non 3D version of the superb animation.
  • Fri 1 Oct – Dirty Dancing (1987, Cert 12A) + a special Dirty Dancing workshop!

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