Monday, 9 April 2012

The Singapore National Collections Online

The Google Art Project - the NHB Collections
If you haven't already done so, check out the National heritage Board Collections online.  These are part of the much broader Google Art Project which aims to capture the finest museum collections from around the world.

The Art Project is a collaboration between Google and 151 acclaimed art partners from across 40 countries.Users can explore a wide range of artworks at brushstroke level detail, take a virtual tour of a museum and you can even build your own collections to share.

So even though I am far away from my 'happy hunting ground', the Asia Civilisations Museum and National Museum , I can still enjoy their collections from the comfort of my study.
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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Tutu Much

Image: Singapore Dance Theatre
The much anticipated tour of the Singapore Ballet troupe to Malaysia has been curtailed due to a late imposition of a sanction and more conservative elements of the host country labeling the ballet costumes as obscene.

Now while it is true that traditional ballet costume brings a new interpretation to the "the battle of the bulge", it should not be forgotten that this discipline uses the body as a form of creative expression.

Hence the tight costumes which show off the poise and grace of the movements to a greater degree. And I hasten to add, there is nothing inherently obscene about the human body.

History teaches us that the greatest Civilisations are those that celebrated diversity, welcomed innovation and encouraged cultural expression.  It also teaches us that those who follow a great dynasty by trying to impose restrictions, narrow the breadth of personal expression and punish those that step outside the norm are doomed to failure.

The earlier courts of India, China and Europe bare testament to the rise and fall of dynasties that were alternatively embracing and then restrictive in their rule. Singapore under the former PM Goh Chok Tong underwent a cultural renaissance of its own in the 1980's. Malaysia by comparison seems to be getting more conservative and restrictive despite the best efforts of its current Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

However the Tutu Tale doesn't end there. The Malaysian government in response to the universal derision that this ban engendered has been quick to say that "it did not receive a permit application for a Singapore ballet troupe to perform here despite organisers claiming the performances had been barred with no reason given".

Now I find this very hard to believe, even though the Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim has personally stated that he "“I love all forms of the arts and theatre. Ballet should be encouraged".

Someone, somewhere, clearly decided to withhold the license for the Singapore Ballet to perform. The troupe applied for the license months before it was due to tour and had performed across the Causeway for the last two years without causing a ruckus.

The end result of this spat is that 'Ballet Illuminations', for this is the name of the performance, will not be illuminating anyone in Malaysia over the weekend.
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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Today's Print - Web

Web
Roger Smith 2012
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The last spiders of summer have vacated their home and the broom is covered with the gossamer capsules that once sustained life. Autumn is upon us.

Friday, 23 March 2012

A Junket Junkie


As a child I remember junket for what it was; a less than salubrious, congealed substance that masqueraded as dessert. A poor man's custard if you will.

If you have ever eaten a raw oyster then the sensation of it sliding down the throat was somewhat similar, with a markedly different taste and a lot less effect on the libido..

'Junket' in casino terms means something entirely different. A Junket is a organised group of gamblers, which is typically organised by the casino to attract players and this usually mean an increase in high rollers.

So it is not surprising that shares in Genting Singapore have surged 8.6 percent . This past Friday Singapore decided to license two Malaysian junket operators which will see high rollers coming across the Causeway - come to think of it they will probably fly in by private jet.

According to a report in TodayOnline, the licensing authority "does not intend to let junkets dominate the gaming business here and vowed to take a "cautious approach" to ensure criminal activities, which junket operators have been linked with, do not creep into the Republic's casinos."

Mind you, the government has had its hand forced a bit as it would appear illegal junket operations have been in place for a while. A Japanese businessman who is being sued by Marina Bay Sands over a $2 million gambling debt claims that he gained access to their VIP gaming rooms through a Nevada-licensed junket operator. It is not uncommon for illegal operators to get kick-backs from a casino so it is appropriate that Singapore's' Casino Controlling Authority takes a really dim view of such activity.

Now that they have two licensed operators there will be a modicum of control, but I doubt if it will remove the problem of illegal operators entirely.

And lets face it, without the profits from the two casinos (masquerading as 'resorts') the local economy in the global downturn could 'turn to custard'.
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Today's Print - Mushrooms

Soft Mushrooms
Roger Smith 2012
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