Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Summer 'Selfie'

Summer 'Selfie' with Bougainvillea
Roger Smith 2014 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Today's Art Work - Rugby Composition 2214

Rugby Composition 2214
Roger Smith 2014
Digital collage

Prints available here or here.
Combining my interest in the game of rugby with a passion for art.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Remind me not to play the bagpipes in Singapore

Pit Bull dogs and bagpipes are not advised if you are living in an HDB!  Taking a dip in MacRitchie Reservoir might also land you in trouble.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Hot Offers and Grubby Fingers

A month ago the local paper delivery man slipped something into our letterbox; an offer to take part in a free trial of the the New Zealand Herald, Auckland's major newspaper.

We hummed and harred as to whether to telephone the freephone number and take up the offer. What was the catch?  Nothing is ever free these days.

Finally we relented and dialed the Herald.  Yes it was completely free and there was not catch.  If we liked we could receive the newspaper free for five weeks. Decision made, we signed up.

At this point it is worth noting that the last time we subscribed to a daily delivery of paper was a good ten years ago.  Having been overseas we never bothered to renew our subscription when we returned.

Four days later our first free newspaper arrived in out letterbox at 5:30 am and I duly collected it.  Given the usual chores of the day neither of us got a chance to look at it before 4 pm and by that time I had digested most of the daily news from a variety of online sources.

My generation were well used to daily newspapers as our principal news source. But what I had forgotten is the quantity of printers ink residue left on the fingers as one leafs through the pages.  What a mess if you forget to diligently wash the offending digits.

By the second week I had grown somewhat accustomed to the daily ritual of retrieving the paper, albeit in all weathers which rather lessened the pleasure.

Then a couple of days ago there was no newspaper in the box and it was quite clear that the delivery man or his substitute had forgotten us.  

In the bad old days when we subscribed, this happened with some frequency and usually resulted in half an hour hanging on a telephone call to the paper's administration listening to piped muzak.  

What all of the above did was to remind us that (setting aside the nostalgia for the texture of newsprint) the printed newspaper is a dying medium.  No wonder the Herald's print circulation like that of all other print publications worldwide is in a state of constant decline.

Last night with ten days still remaining on the free offer I 'phoned the paper's subscription services and cancelled the free trial.

Nostalgia for the past is one thing.  Grubby hands and frustrating delivery delays are quite another. 

As for me, I am now firmly wedded to news online and won't be buying another newspaper or magazine in its printed form.

By Milt Priggee,

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Today's Art Work - Towards The Light

Towards The Light
Roger Smith 2014
Digital Art Composition

Copies available here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Promontory Drawing

Promontory Drawing
Roger Smith 2014
The joys of sketching using a combination of digital tools instead of the usual pencils.  There's something reflective and relaxing in landscapes with water.
Copies of the above are available here.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

New Art Work - Coming Ashore

Coming Ashore
Roger Smith - 2014
Digital watercolor
I based this work on an old photograph of fishing boats returning to shore.  Copies of this art work are available here.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Counting Wealth But Not Health

According to an article in Singapore's Straits Times there are thirty two billionaires in Singapore and increase of five over the previous year.

They share a combined wealth of US$65 billion.  What is revealing is the patriarchal nature of Singapore business, which remains very much a tradition within the country and its wealthiest families.

As this graphic shows, none of 32 billionaires are women and most of the money is, and has been, made in the financial sector.  The majority of these super wealthy are not born and bred Singaporeans but have moved there (or their families have) to take advantage of the country's growth and prosperity.

But whether they are a healthy lot is quite another matter with only a quarter showing any interest in health and wellness.  The drive to succeed I would suggest often overcomes any concerns of physical well-being.  That said,  as they have the money to buy the best medical services available, many of these folk enjoy a reasonable life span; the average age of these billionaires being sixty two.

The global trend shows a 7% growth in the number of billionaires and there are now 2,325 of them according to recent research from Wealth-X and the Swiss bank UBS.

12% of the world's billionaires are women and more than half are self-made. i.e. they did not inherit their fortunes.  The old saying about 'money makes money' holds true as most enjoyed an average growth in their wealth of 4.4%.

Even though Singapore is enjoying good growth in the super-rich club the best place to make your fortune remains the USA with China coming a close second.

New Art Work - Composition 2109

Composition 2109
Roger Smith, 2014
Copies of this print are available here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Ion Mall Sketch

Ion Mall  -  Orchard Road, Singapore
Roger Smith 2014
Click here to see original

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Going Bug-Eyed! Two New Art Works

Original Digital Art - Roger Smith 2014
See it here.

Bugs Drawing
Original Study - Roger Smith 2014
See it here.

The Joys Of Owning A Cat

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Singaporean Chinese in New Zealand - some statistics

The latest statistics from the recent New Zealand 2013 census have been released and while the country population now number over 1.4 million people, only 741 of them are Singaporean Chinese living here.

That's less than 1% of the total population but not surprisingly nearly 60% of them live in the Auckland area.

21% of Singaporean Chinese living in New Zealand were actually born overseas and the median age of this group is 31.7 years.

Other interesting facts:
  • Only 8.4% of Singaporean Chinese are regular smokers
  • 27% of them can speak two languages
  • 43% own their own residence in NZ, compared to the half the total NZ population who own theirs
  • Singaporean Chinese are more highly educated than the rest of their NZ counterparts with 43.3% holding a Bachelor's degree or higher (overall NZ is only 20%)
  • They are more religious than most New Zealanders with 73.3 % of Singaporean Chinese being  affiliated with at least one religion.  Only 55% of the total NZ population are.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The American View - Singapore As The Social Laboratory

The Social Laboratory
Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society.

The US commentator has a grudging respect for the technology but worries about the apparent lack of government accountability/ public safeguards.  

I am not sure I agree with his view, but the trade-off on so-called US freedoms is Singapore's political and security stability which has allowed it to global weather financial storms and develop at an amazing rate of the past 49 years.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Today's Art - Poltergeist II - After Bacon

Poltergeist II ( After Bacon)
Roger Smith 2014
Sales PDF is available here.
Direct link to the art work on FineArtAmerica - here.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Some Great Photos Of Singapore's Recent History

With Singapore's National Day almost upon us once again people are being asked by the Straits Times to identify themselves in some of the old archived photos they hold, or have been featured in past news stories.

The WE: Defining Stories exhibition will feature a series of iconic and historical photographs of everyday life as the image below shows.

A family taking a ride in their car in Pulau Tekong, Singapore, Jan 19, 1954. -- ST PHOTO: N J COTTERELL
August 9th may come and go each year in other parts of the world but it marks a special day for Singaporeans and they celebrate it in style.

The fireworks and fly-pasts are something to behold, especially if you can get a good vantage point from a top level HDB flat or condo.

Friday, 13 June 2014

New Art Work - Bright Lights Big City III

Bright Lights Big City III
Roger Smith - 2014
Spent some time today on a new surrealist composition, combining the bright lights of the city with a vintage vamp (and other elements).

Art Prints

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Bak Chang - A Personal Favourite

Bak chang is one of my personal favourites and is still prepared traditionally in many households in Singapore, as the video above shows.

These are the Hokkien-style rice dumplings which are a substantial snack and full of flavour.  This article explains some of the cultural context for the Quek family in Singapore.

Although traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat festival on the 5th day of the 5th month, it is now possible to buy these every day of the year, in places such as Tangs department store basement.
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Monday, 9 June 2014

Tree Huggers and Moth Superstitions

Malaysia, Fraser's Hill March 2009
"Tree Huggers" is a somewhat derogatory term for those who are nature's staunchest advocates. 

Communing with nature has a lot to recommend it, although physically wrapping ones arms around a tree might be problematic and especially so in the tropics where all sorts of venomous and unsavoury animals lurk. 

In Singapore shaking a branch could prove to be an explosive event as the discovery of a discarded object in the forks of a tree recently goes to prove.

Xinhua news agency has reported that "Several construction workers were resting near a tree close to the Outram subway station near the downtown area on Thursday when they were drawn to the sight of a tree stump with a heart shape".

The 'heart shape' in question turned out to be a World War II hand grenade which was taken away and safely disposed of by the Singapore Armed ForcesExplosive Ordnance Disposal team.

But most things found in or near trees in Singapore are far more benign.

Khew SK's wonderful butterfly blog site records that four new species of these tropical delights have been found in "residential apartments, office buildings, shopping malls and multi-story car parks".

There has also been a marked increase in the large Tropical Swallowtail moths (Lyssa zampa - see picture above) in recent days; a sight not greeted with much enthusiasm by the superstitious who regard them as a portent of unfortunate events to follow.

The butterflies have the North-East monsoon to thank for their assisted passage from Malaysia to the Singapore.  And, unlike old hand grenades, they add rare beauty and pleasure to the trees and plants they populate.
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Monday, 2 June 2014

MRT Sketch

MRT Sketch by Roger Smith
MRT Sketch
Roger Smith 2014
Click on the image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Those Were The Days - My First Year Of Infant Schooling

How small we were in those days!

Yours truly is in the middle row, 6th from left. The school is Waitara Central in the town of Waitara, Taranaki, New Zealand.  Waitara Central celebrated its 125 Jubilee in the year 2000.

Five abiding memories from those times:

  1. Compulsory and free school milk that was delivered in half pint glass bottles and which we consumed at 'playtime' (morning break)
  2. My school leather satchel which was my pride and joy and carried a homemade sandwich lunch.
  3. Home knitted jerseys of various patterns and hues which my mother created; she was a good seamstress, knitter and creator of various home crafts.
  4. The crackle of winter frosts and iced-over puddles underfoot as we walked to school.
  5. A robust and vigorous childhood full of outdoor games and adventures.

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Caraway Cake and Catastrophes

I detested caraway seed cake. As a youngster I first tried this morning tea accompaniment when a former neighbour of my grandparents came to visit.

Mrs Dainty was aptly named as she was by stature and disposition a quiet and neat lady. She lived in Hackthorne Road at the foot of Christchurch Cashmere Hills. Her home was next to that of my father's earliest residence as a child, before the family moved higher up the hill to 118 Dyers Pass Road.

The weatherboard house is still there although its large garden section was subdivided and sold off for another house decades ago when my grandparents had passed away.  As was customary at the time my grandparents were largely self-sufficient when it came to fruit and vegetables.  Their apricot trees produced abundant crops and Grandma's bottle apricots were a real tweet.

Once a month the widow Dainty took the tram and later bus to have tea with my grandmother.  It was a quiet affair and she always brought her tea cake as a contribution.  A child's palate naturally favours sweet treats over highly aromatic spices and this why I never took a liking to the pungent caraway concoction.  Cumin tastes great in curries but can be overpowering in baking.

Trips to my grandparent's home were a much anticipated odyssey as the travel from Waitara in Taranaki, to the city of Christchurch required a lengthy car trip to Wellington and the overnight ferry to the port of Lyttelton.  Sleeping in a ship's bunk and being awakened by the steward delivering a morning cup of tea remain abiding memories. The Wahine, Rangatira and Maori were three of the Union Steam Ship Company vessels we travelled on.

This pilgrimage to my father's family did not occur that frequently; every couple of years was the usual space between visits and as my grandparents were both kindly people who doted on my father and his offspring. These rare visits remain full of very fond memories. The two things I remember most about my paternal grandmother was her pet canary and the range of scented soaps that surrounded her deep enamel bath.

As the Dyer's Pass home was built on a slope the underneath of their house had a large basement storage area which could be accessed from the garden below. The old wind-up gramophone and heavy 78 records had been stored there and I became adept at replacing the metal needles and listening to early tenors and orchestral music after vigorously winding the apparatus's handle.

A little further up the road was the Sign Of The Takahe whose construction was completed the year of my birth, 1948.  It was one of four road houses that on the Summit Road and was modelled on the manor houses and castles of Britain - all very baronial and a source of endless fascination for a young boy.

My grandparents were great walkers and my father remained so.  A Sunday walk from the Sign of the Takahe to Victoria Park and beyond was a family tradition.  Part of its allure was the large childrens' playground and old field artillery gun which kept active boys such as I, endlessly amused.

Sign of The Takahe - interior
Thankfully both the Sign of the Takahe and The Sign of Kiwi suffered only minor damage in the devastating Christchurch earthquakes that destroyed much of the city's heritage.  In a way I am thankful that my father never lived to see the destruction of the city that he loved so much.

Entry to Victoria Park- Port Hills, Christchurch
For me Christchurch is a city of childhood memories and will always remain so. My aversion to caraway seed cake also remains firmly rooted in my psyche.

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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Today's Print - Spectre 2

What happens when you weed the Garden of the Mind!  I enjoyed the challenge of creating this art work.

Spectre 2
Roger Smith, 2014
Digital Composition

Copies of this work are available as a print - Look Online.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Today's Thought

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Two Thoughts On Autumn

I took the camera to today to capture the change of seasons.  Here are a couple of the autumn (Fall to my American friends).

Autumn Leaves Photograph
Roger Smith 2014
Click Here

Old Vines Photograph
Roger Smith 2014
Click Here

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