May The Fourth Be With You – Star Wars Day 2020

It’s a sign o’ the times when Star Wars “May the Fourth” greetings need to include safety messages.

As our planet continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, a local government agency posted the ingenious e-card above on Star Wars Day (May 4th), reminding one and all to wear a mask when one goes out and to practise social distancing, at least a good lightsaber length apart from a fellow human being.

During times like this, truly appreciate the sprinkling of humor every now and then, so kudos to Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) for the nice touch!

Stay Home, Stay Safe

Popular Star Wars T-shirt design seen online.

Another cute Star Wars pandemic graphic seen online recently is this T-shirt design, showing popular characters with masks on and encouraging everyone to “Stay Home and Watch Star Wars“. Which is a cool idea especially if you have Disney+ or Fox Movies (or other cable/streaming channels, depending on your country) as all 11 Star Wars movies including the two standalone Star Wars Stories, Rogue One (2016) and Solo (2018), will be available for streaming/telecast from May 4th.

Also on Disney+, you can also catch up on the other great Star Wars offerings such as The Mandalorian and its 8-part documentary series, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, as well as the acclaimed Star Wars animated series including Star Wars: The Clone Wars (all seven seasons), Star Wars Rebels (four seasons), and Star Wars Resistance (two seasons).

So Stay Home (as much as possible), Stay Safe and May the Fourth Be With You.

Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (1977-2019) [Credit: DisneyPlus]

Read also:
* Han Solo’s 15 Most Iconic Quotes from ‘Star Wars’
* Princess Leia’s 10 Most Iconic Quotes from ‘Star Wars’
* Obi-Wan Kenobi’s 15 Most Iconic Quotes from ‘Star Wars’
* The 15 Coolest Easter Eggs in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’
* 4 ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Easter Eggs in ‘Rogue One’



‘At Home With Olaf’: The Adorable Snowman From ‘Frozen 2’ Shares Joys Of Life In Special Digital Series

“At Home With Olaf” [Walt Disney Animation Studios]

From actors reading storybooks, musicians performing online concerts, to footballers sharing their workout sessions. These are but a few things that entertainers have been doing in their homes for our enjoyment as we #stayhome for the safety of ourselves and others during this global Covid-19 pandemic.

Being a big fan of animation especially Disney’s Frozen though, the Disney Animation digital series, At Home with Olaf, easily won my heart and my vote for “Best Entertainment Series That Sparks Joy” during this quarantine period.

At Home with Olaf: “Alone in the Forest”

Featuring the adorable snowman from the blockbuster animated franchise—of which the sequel, Frozen 2, is now officially the highest-grossing animated film of all-time with a staggering global intake of $1.45 billion (S$2.07b)—the series shows a mostly isolated Olaf embracing ordinary things in life such as watching leaves fall, sitting on a swing, admiring a sunrise, etc, and radiating nothing but pure joy.

Frozen Charm Created At Home
No longer than a minute, each short was lovingly created at home by Olaf artist Hyrum Osmond, voiced from home by Olaf actor Josh Gad, and worked on by a host of Disney animators also from their respective homes. Since the series began on April 6, 2020, there has been at least a dozen episodes released, all absolutely cute and charming with a subtle underlying message that we should enjoy the mundane things around us—which we often take for granted—while we can.

Next to “Alone In The Forest” (where Olaf elegantly dances to ‘The Sugar Plum Fairy Theme” from The Nutcracker) and “Gymnastics” (self-explanatory), my favorite episode so far is “Sunrise” where we see the cool snowman greeting the morning sun in Arendelle (and not melting thanks to his new Frozen 2 permafrost from Elsa). Check it out below.

At Home with Olaf can be viewed on all Disney Animation’s social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. New shorts are usually released daily, if not every other day. Enjoy!
#athomewitholaf #DisneyMagicMoments

Read also:
* ‘Frozen 2’: The 20 Best Quotes from the Disney Animated Blockbuster Sequel
* Top 10 Songs by Disney Princesses – From “Let It Go” to “Speechless”
* ‘Frozen 2’ Leaked Image Shows Elsa and Anna in an Autumn Setting

Update (May 14, 2020): On May 2, fans were reasonably sad to learn that “Sounds” will be the 20th and last instalment of the adorable “At Home With Olaf” series, created entirely at home by the people behind the very successful Frozen franchise.

Well, there was still one last surprise: on May 13, a 3-minute music video that has Olaf, after looking out on an Arendelle with empty streets, writing and singing a heartwarming song entitled “I Am With You”, written no less by Frozen and Frozen 2‘s Oscar-winning songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Olaf then asked Gale the wind spirit to deliver the lyrics as a letter to one and all, adding “I’ll see you soon”.

Including scenes from various Disney animated classics, you can watch the lovely video below:




Japan: Ghibli Museum in Tokyo-A Must-Visit For Studio Ghibli Fans

[Photo Credit: Ghibli Museum Souvenir Program]

When in Japan: If you are a huge fan of Studio Ghibli or animation in general, visiting the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo is a must.

The brainchild of Hayao Miyazaki, renowned Japanese animator and co-founder of animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli, the one-of-its-kind museum is dedicated to all things Ghibli and the art of animation. Being a longtime Studio Ghibli fan—from My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea to The Red Turtle—visiting Ghibli Museum was hence my top priority whilst I was in Tokyo last November.

By Advance Reservation Only
Opened in October 2001 and located in Mitaka, a short train ride from Shinjuku Station, the Ghibli Museum is so exclusive that no tickets are sold at the venue. They can only be purchased online with authorized dealers which you can find on the museum’s website. As it is a very popular destination, tickets get sold out as soon as they are available. Thus, to avoid disappointment, I simply left it to my travel planner, Joey of Atlas Travelz, to book tickets for me and my travel mate after providing her with our preferred date and time of visit. It was with joy when she confirmed the purchase prior to our leaving for Japan!

Have your passport and ticket ready whilst queuing at the museum's entrance. [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

From Mitaka Station, it’s a 15-20 minute walk to the museum which is located in the west of lush Inokashira Park, but we decided to take the shuttle bus instead—which alas is not a Cat Bus but a vehicle gaily painted with Studio Ghibli characters—that goes from the station to the museum (round-trip ¥320/SGD4).

We chose the 2pm entry time slot as my BFF, who had visited before, said more than two hours will be needed to thoroughly cover every nook and corner including the museum’s exteriors. (Thus 4pm is too tight as the museum closes at 6pm). Besides tickets, a passport for identification purposes is also required for entry, so do remember to bring yours along if you have a ticket for visiting the museum.

For Your Eyes Only – No Photography Allowed Indoors

Just seeing the brightly colored, European-styled building, bedecked with leafy coverings, from the outside already made you feel like you are on the magical setting of a Studio Ghibli film. The glee of finally being there was halted somewhat when we were told at the entrance that no photography was allowed indoors. Sob! However, what awaited us within more than made up for that slight disappointment…

A Museum Where Those Seeking Enjoyment Can Enjoy

A Ghibli Museum poster showing a cross-section of the 4-story building. [Credit: Ghibli Museum]

In a museum souvenir program filled with his original concept illustrations, sketches and notes, Miyazaki stated the kind of museum that he wanted to make is one “that is interesting and relaxes the soul… where those seeking enjoyment can enjoy… and a museum that makes you feel more enriched when you leave than when you entered!” Well, it’s definitely all these and then some.

Upon entering you will be greeted by colorful flora and fauna, as well as recognizable Ghibli characters such as Totoro, Satsuki and Mei, painted on the ceiling and walls, as well as on the stained-glass windows. At the reception, a museum ticket in the form of a 35mm film strip is handed to every visitor in exchange for the ticket voucher. (Mine I think is a strip from Castle In The Sky but I have to re-watch the film to be sure!)

Fascinating Rooms and Spaces

[Credit: Ghibli Museum souvenir program]

From the reception, we went down a flight of stairs which brought us to the Central Hall in the basement, whilst its domed glass ceiling (with images of Ponyo and her sea friends) is way above the second floor. Here you will have a fish-eye view of the number of spaces you can explore – a spiral staircase, a cast-iron elevator, a bridged passage, intricately designed restrooms, etc. This floor also houses the Saturn Theater, a small but vibrantly decorated screening room that screens Studio Ghibli original short films made exclusively for the museum including Miyazaki’s last known work, Boro The Catepillar (2018).

Exclusive Screenings of Studio Ghibli Short Films

During our visit, we first got to watch Imaginary Flying Machines (2002), which features director Hayao Miyazaki himself in the form of a humanoid pig akin to the main character in 1992’s Porco Russo, narrating the history of aviation. The second was the charming and heartwarming tale of Mr Dough and the Egg Princess (2010) which tells of a tiny egg girl who decides to run away with her new dough friend, so to escape the clutches of her evil witch mistress. Both were equally delightful, well worth the 25-30 minute wait to get into the 80-seat theater.

Insightful Look Into The Art & Processes of Animation

One of the museum’s highlights are the rooms with exhibits devoted to the art of animation. In “The Beginning of Movement”, visitors get to see many original artworks from different Studio Ghibli films, including an amazing 3D Zoetrope “Bouncing Totoro” display showing how animators made Satsuki and Mei dance with a grinning Totoro in My Neighbour Totoro. In “Where a Film is Born”, rooms are bedecked with things you will find in the working spaces of an animator — from storyteller to background artist, staging to inker and painter.

There are also temporary exhibits that will change from time to time. For instance, the special exhibition we saw, “Sketch, Flash, Spark! — From the Ghibli Forest Sketchbook” —showing how the museum was designed and built—will run till May 2021 (tentative).

Other Enchanting Spaces

[Credit: Ghibli Museum souvenir program]

The museum also boasts a giant cuddly-looking Cat Bus which only young children can play with (bah!) Here’s hoping that the planned Studio Ghibli theme park in Nagoya due for completion in 2022 will have either a giant Totoro or Cat Bus that adults can play with!

Robot soldier at the museum's rooftop garden. [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

As photography is allowed outdoors, needless to say, the Robot Soldier from Castle in the Sky (1986)—who many mistook for the Iron Giant from 1999’s The Iron Giant (including us)—on the rooftop garden was a very popular selfie / wefie target. To get up here, one has to climb a towering iron-cast spiral staircase located outside the Cat Bus Room.

In the premises, there’s also has a library-cum-book shop, cafe (with indoor and al fresco areas, selling ice cream, hotdogs, etc), children’s play area, garden patio and an extremely popular gift shop named Mamma Aiuto! (Italian for “Mama, help me”.) Named after the sky pirates in Porco Russo, the shop has everything Studio Ghibli you would love to own, from pins to handicraft sets to adorable plushies. As we are not super rich, we found the pricing rather expensive sadly. But if you can control your must-buy urges, there’s a store within Tokyo Station that sells official merchandise at slightly more affordable prices. But of course, the museum gift shop also have more exclusive stuff.

Ghibli Museum souvenir programs available from the museum gift shop, Mamma Aiuto! [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

In the end, I decided to go for this set of two Ghibli Museum souvenir programs which cost only ¥1000 and also came with a complimentary, almost 4-foot long poster of a cross-section illustration of the museum (pictured midway in this post). The booklet top left is filled with Miyazaki’s original concept sketches of the museum as well as his thoughts of what he wanted for it, while the one on the right is filled with well-shot photos of the museum’s key features. And oh, I also bought a key-chain with a mini Totoro plushie ‘cos you just can’t leave here without a memento of the iconic creature. (Especially when it seems we missed seeing the giant Totoro figure that was supposed to be housed in the museum’s old reception!)

All in all, it was a totally worthwhile trip to the Ghibli Museum for this animation and Studio Ghibli fan. Do consider going if you are one too and planning a trip to Tokyo, Japan in the near future. You won’t regret it!

Ghibli Museum is in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan. Closed on Tuesdays, special holidays, and often for periodic maintenance, so do check its website at http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/ for its calendar, ticketing details, and other information.

My Studio Ghibli haul (mainly plushies, socks, and towels), plus the Museum's cool film strip ticket. (Mind not my free Frozen 2 sticker sheet from a Shinjuku store...)

Read also:
* 5 Things We Want to See in Studio Ghibli’s Theme Park in 2022
* Studio Ghibli Sees First East-west Collaboration in the Wordless Wonder ‘The Red Turtle’
* 6 Great Fantasy Films That Studio Ponoc’s ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Will Lovingly Remind You Of


‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 – The Final ‘Beautiful Death’ Poster Series By Robert Ball

And now our watch has ended.

After eight enthralling seasons, Game of Thrones finally came to an end in May 2019 and, needless to say, deaths of key characters came fast and furious in the short but eventful 6-episode final season.

It’s been a few weeks since the series finale, but UK-based artist Robert Ball eventually revealed the final Beautiful Death poster, the last of his incredible 74-poster series featuring the show’s iconic deaths that started way back in 2011 when Game of Thrones first premiered on HBO.

Let’s take a look at the final poster from “The Iron Throne”:

Beautiful Death GOT S806: “You are my Queen. Now and Always.”

The poster features two key deaths – that of the Iron Throne, under the fiery breath of Drogon, and that of one of the series’ most beloved characters, Daenerys Targaryen, at the hand of her lover/nephew/rival heir to the Iron Throne, Jon Snow. The key phrase is Jon’s last words to Dany before he fatally buries the knife into her heart, becoming a Queenslayer and Kinslayer in one fell swoop.

It’s amazing how Ball depicts Daenerys dying along with the burning Iron Throne, complete with Jon’s knife sticking at where her heart would be. As the Throne is engulfed in rubble made up of “1000 swords of Ageon’s enemies”, the red trail also outlines the bloody journey that the dragon queen took to get to the Red Keep including the deaths of her brother Viserys, the Sons of the Harpy, the Dothraki khals, slavemasters’ ships, etc. The look is meant to be gothic but it’s probably a coincidence that red and black also just happened to be the colors of House Targaryen.

Ultimately, as Ball informs makinggameofthrones.com, the poster is about “how power corrupts all” and is “an encapsulation of the whole series”.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Most Memorable Moments from the Final Season
*‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 6: The 20 Best Quotes From the Series Finale, “The Iron Throne”

And now that his watch has ended, here’s Robert Ball’s 5 other Beautiful Death posters from the final season of Game of Thrones.

Beautiful Death GOT S805: “Hello, Big Brother.”

Although I was somehow glad that the artist didn’t opt to focus on Daenery’s horrific heel turn of causing thousands of deaths in King’s Landing after the city’s surrender in “The Bells”, I felt the deaths of key main characters, Cersei and Jaime Lannister, should have garnered more importance over the deaths of the Clegane brothers in the episode. Cleganebowl was fascinating but a “Nothing Else Matters” poster featuring the Lannister siblings as the Red Keep and the city collapse around them could have been more poignant.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 5, “The Bells”

Beautiful Death GOT S804: “Dracarys.”

The Mother of Dragons may have popularised the High Valyrian term which means “dragonfire”, but fans will arguably remember Missandei’s last word much more now as it is the final straw that “awoke the dragon” that is Daenerys Stormborn. After the deaths of Ser Jorah Mormont, thousands of her Dothraki and Unsullied troops, and Rhaegal, seeing her best friend killed as well in a short period of just two episodes, you just know that fire and blood is coming to King’s Landing in the very next episode, courtesy of the dragon queen and her WMD that is Drogon. The poster shows Missandei’s last moment before she is executed by the Mountain as her dream to retire to the beaches of Naath with lover Grey Worm vaporises into thin air.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 20 Best Quotes From Episode 4, ‘The Last of the Starks’

Beautiful Death GOT S803: “Not Today.”

Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Beric Dondarrion, Lyanna Mormont, Dolorous Edd, Qhono, and last but by no means least, the Night King. There were key deaths aplenty in “The Long Night” and Ball decided to feature all of them instead of just one for the Episode 3 poster. It was never a doubt, but after Arya Stark’s epic slaying of The Night King, “Not Today” will definitely go down as one of the most iconic quotes from Game of Thrones, two words that we could all say to the god of death when the critical moment arrives (if need be).

Read also:
*’Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Best Quotes From Episode 3, “The Long Night”

Beautiful Death GOT S802: “…But at least We Die Together.”

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a rare Game of Thrones episode where there was not a single death to report. Easily the best episode of Season 8–beautifully written by Bryan Cogman–the best scenes came from the fireplace ensemble in Winterfell’s Great Hall where Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, (pre Ser) Brienne of Tarth, Podrick, Ser Davos Seaworth and Tormund Giantsbane gathered to prepare for the upcoming war against the undead in which survival is very unlikely. Surprisingly, despite the quote by Tormund (which he uttered in the war council meeting and not in this scene), all six characters survived the Great War. Turn the poster upside down to see four of them drawn onto the floor…

Read also:
*‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 2, “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”

Beautiful Death GOT S801: “It’s a Message from the Night King.”

The first Beautiful Death poster of Season 8 sees Ser Beric Dondarrion and Tormund Giantsbane flanking Ned Umber as the poor lad resurrected as a wight while pinned onto a wall with a spiral of human limbs at Last Hearth. The Night King’s message is that he and his minions are on the way to Winterfell. The more worrying message though is how Ball bathes Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s romantic moment in a bloody waterfall, with Jon’s cape drawn to look like a dragon’s wing, indicating the sledgehammer revelation of his true parentage that is to come by the episode’s end.

Read also:
*‘Game Of Thrones’: The 12 Best Quotes From The Season 8 Premiere
*The 20 Best Tyrion Lannister Quotes from ‘Game of Thrones’ Seasons One to Eight

Robert Ball’s complete Game of Thrones’ Beautiful Death series can be seen at https://beautifuldeath.com/

‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 1’s ‘Beautiful Death’ Poster Features The Night King’s Message

It was when I attended the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience featuring Ramin Djawadi in Belfast last year that I discovered the Beautiful Death art series by artist Robert Ball. I wanted a memento from the concert and the concert merchandise that caught my eye was a colorful poster featuring a dozen of artistic depictions of memorable death scenes from the first seven seasons of the HBO blockbuster series.

From the Business Insider, I learnt that the London-based illustrator has been producing an artwork after every GOT episode where there’s a key death sequence since Season 1, with HBO providing him via e-mail with the “quote from the week”, as well as the subject for the week’s “beautiful death”.

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR GAME OF THRONES’ SEASON 8 EPISODE 1 IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCH THE EPISODE.)

With the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones kicking off this month, Ball has released his first Beautiful Death poster which features the horrific death of young Ned Umber at Last Hearth in the premiere episode. You can see the beautifully illustrated poster below:

“It’s A Message From the Night King…”

The quote is uttered by Ser Beric Dondarrion after he set the dead Umber lad on fire when he resurrected as a wight while pinned onto a wall with a spiral of human limbs. Hence you can see the six-time born-again lightning lord (left centre) and Tormund Giantsbane (right centre) flanking the image of Ned Umber as it was them who found the young lord at Last Hearth. The Night King has his icy hands around the boy to show how he was used as a tool to relay a message to the living.

“Nothing Lasts…” – Varys

What’s worrying is that Ball has also drawn in Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s romantic moment by the waterfall except that the couple is now bathed in bloody waters. That’s not good news. The cool bit is how Ball made Jon’s cape to look like the wing of a dragon indicating the sledgehammer revelation that is to come by the end of the episode.

The “foreshadowing” is in line with another theme from the Season 8 premiere episode which implies that “youth and happiness, and Jon and Daenerys’ brief moments together, will ‘never last’”, as Ball informed makingameofthrones.com. (Sob.)

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
* ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 20 Best Quotes From Episode 4, ‘The Last of the Starks’
*’Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Best Quotes From Episode 3, “The Long Night”
* ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 2, “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”
* ‘Game Of Thrones’: The 12 Best Quotes From The Season 8 Premiere
‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?

Iconic Beautiful Death Posters – Seasons 1-7

As Season 8’s well-scripted Episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, is one of the rare GOT episodes not to feature a single death, it’s safe to say there won’t be a Beautiful Death artpiece released this week.
(UPDATE: I was wrong, there was a poster and a good one too which you can see at this link here.)

So, let’s take a look back at the most iconic Beautiful Death moments from the past seven seasons by Robert Ball:

The Execution of Ned Stark
Season 1 Episode 9

The Battle of Blackwater
Season 2 Episode 9

The Red Wedding
Season 3 Episode 9

Ygritte’s Demise at Castle Black
Season 4 Episode 9

Massacre at Hardhome
Season 5 Episode 8

Destruction of the Sept of Baelor
Season 6 Episode 10

Loot Train Attack
Season 7 Episode 4

Game of Thrones Season 8 is on Sundays (USA) / Mondays (Asia) till May 19, with a special two-hour documentary, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, on May 26.

Read also:
7 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About the Crypts of Winterfell
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Eight Things You Should Know About The Battle of Winterfell in Season Eight
* ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King

Yangon: Art in Myanmar

Artist: Aung Kyaw Hein. Photo by Marguerita Tan

When in Yangon: Do check out the local art galleries, either in government-managed museums or privately-owned chains, as there are much beautiful works to be admired by Myanmar artists.

Last November, my travel party and I had plan to do some serious shopping at the popular Bogyoke Aung Sang Market in the city centre during the limited time we had in the Myanmar capital. For the art lovers among us, however, the moment we stepped into Taw Win Art Gallery, it was the only place we wanted to spend time in!

Artist: Ngwe Phyoe, who uses a drip paint technique.
Photo by Marguerita Tan

The two-storey shop showcased some of the most striking paintings I’ve ever seen, majority of which are oil or acrylic on canvas, and primarily by Myanmar artists.

Artist: Moe Myint Zaw. Photo by Marguerita Tan

And for such eye-catching and eye-pleasing original pieces–most have the artist’s signature at the bottom of the paintings–the prices are incredibly affordable: small-sized paintings start from USD60 to large poster-sized pieces which could cost as much as USD4,000 such as the one pictured above by Moe Myint Zaw, renowned for his series of scarf-clad women from the Pa Oh tribe in Shan province.

Artist: Hyat Myint. Photo by Marguerita Tan

It was fascinating, though not surprising, to see that my friends and I are attracted to different looks and styles. A warm-colored painting by Hyat Myint–whose paintings often feature tiny human figures inbetween housing structures on stilts–had me at hello. But knowing that I have limited wall space at home, I somewhat reluctantly settled on a smaller version (pictured above) which has the more or less the same concept but with a stronger mix of cool and warm tones. After bargaining–‘cos we are Singaporeans–I got it for USD90 and it is now sparking much joy off my living room wall.

Artist: Lu Yaung Saung. Photo by Marguerita Tan

Mindful of not making drastic buys, we actually went off to see the rest of the market first before deciding on making a purchase but every art gallery we saw seem to be part of the same Taw Win chain! It was at a store on the ground level where my friend was keen on this absorbing Renoir-like street scene by Lu Yaung Saung pictured above.

After much deliberation, we went back to the first outlet (which is on the second floor) to make my purchase and the manager kindly brought this painting up for my pal to compare with other variations of the same theme by the artist. And good thing too ‘cos one version that we saw “upstairs” turned out to be more endearing in retrospect and my friend ended up buying that!

Photo by Marguerita Tan.

So, buying my first artpiece was definitely the most memorable moment for me whilst in Yangon, Myanmar for the first time. If you love art, especially Asian art, do eke out some time for visits to art museums and private art galleries in Yangon if you planning a trip to the Land of the Golden Pagodas.

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s permission.

Makeful: Inspiring The Creatives At Heart

2018-09-19 14.44.47 (640x367)It’s always fun to see creative people making something out of nothing — whether it’s as simple as folding cranes out of paper, or making a cartoon character come to life with balls of rice. So it was great to know that to mark its Asia debut on Starhub TV Channel 436, lifestyle specialty channel Makeful HD is launching the #MakefulInspires movement—in collaboration with IKEA Singapore—that will showcase talented Singapore makers through short clips shown on their channel , as well as a series of workshops that aim to stir passion and creativity in every Singaporean.

At the Makeful HD launch held at IKEA Tampines, Musings on the M49 (MOTM49) got to meet three of the five local makers featured in the Makeful shorts. These are scheduled to be shown in eight slots daily on the channel inbetween regular programming starting from October and will also be shared on Makeful’s various digital platforms.

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Food Artist Shirley Wong (@littlemissbento)

First up was Ms Shirley Wong, famously known as @LittleMissBento on Instagram (ISG) and highly popular for her amazing character creations for Japanese bento lunch box sets, which range from cutesy Disney creatures to Japanese manga icons. It was nice to meet the affable food artist again as I’m a big fan, faithfully following her every creation on ISG. For the launch, Shirley had specially made the cute panda set pictured above, which seriously can make adults, let alone kids, eat all their vegetables obediently!

Ms Wong revealed that she only works towards creating a “designer” meal once every day, which means, yes, her family gets to eat “normal” looking food too. She also disclosed that she does do sketches of what she plan to create the night before as it will easier to visualize it as well as knowing what ingredients she will need. When asked by MOTM49  what characters are the most difficult to make, Ms Wong said, “Definitely the manga characters as you have to get the whole look right, from the eyes to the hair.”

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Bespoke, Up-cycled and Handmade Furniture Maker Jackie Tan of Triple Eyelid Studio (@tripleeyelid)

Next up was the thorn among the roses, Jackie Tan whose company Triple Eyelid designs custom-made furniture based on materials that the clients provide which can range from beer crates to leftover marble stabs. That is seriously very cool considering we all need to do our bit to reduce environmental waste as much as possible. Take for example the 50 bespoke mooncake crates pictured above which he made from reused wood for a corporate client.

Another creative item he made was using the bottom half of an old manual sewing machine and simply attached  a wooden top on it—and voila!—a unique and totally usable table! The special phone stands on the right were what the media received in our goodie bag. Lovely.

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Paper and Mixed Media Craft Maker Aida Haron (@aidaville)

Memories are big with Aida Haron and hence just hand her a bunch of colored pens, colored papers, various embellishments, and photographs, and she can create a handmade scrapbook layout for you. The former flight attendent loves to remember the good moments in life and would like to help others to remember theirs too, which brings her much joy. Aida’s art pieces come in all forms – it can be as big as wall plaques or as handy as greeting cards such as the ones below.


Makeful Workshops and Contest

2018-09-19 14.43.53 (640x357)

Aida Haron at her workdesk. [Credit: Makeful Asia]

As part of the #MakefulInspires movement, Aida will be the first local maker to kick off the series of quarterly Makeful workshops. Starting on Saturday October 13, 2018 and to be held at IKEA Alexandria, the Aida Haron craft-making workshop is exclusive to Makeful fans, Starhub subscribers and Aida’s social media followers. There will also be a contest from October 15 where members of the public will get a chance to win an IKEA Gift Card worth $1,000. For more details, visit Makeful’s Facebook page @bemakeful.

2018-09-19 14.43.49 (640x360)

Shirley Wong totally engrossed in her next creation. [Credit: Makeful Asia]


Don’t forget to catch the Makeful shorts on Singapore makers on the Makeful channel or its social media platforms.

Makeful HD, part of Blue Ant Media, is available via Starhub TV Channel 436.

 

Belfast: Stunning Street Art

I can’t recall the first time I fell in love with street art but visiting cities renowned for outstanding murals such as Penang in Malaysia and Brisbane in Australia only grew my fascination for them. And although my primary reason for visiting Belfast recently was for Game of Thrones related interests, the fact that the Northern Ireland capital is also filled with stunning street art certainly made my trip much more memorable.

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Building-high mural located opposite the Albert Memorial Clock in Belfast Cathedral Quarter [Photo: Marguerita Tan]

Everywhere you turn in Belfast, you are likely to spot a mural or two on a building close to you. There is actually a black taxi tour that brings you (I think) to every notable mural in the city but if you are not that fussy, a thorough walk around the city centre or Cathedral Quarter will offer you a good number of outstanding paintings on the walls.

2018-05-21 19.10.21 (640x640)This lively mural, for instance, is located close to Kelly’s Cellars in Bank Street – where you can find “the best Guinness in the city”, according to my Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus guide. There are many other eye-catching murals in this area on and around the popular pub’s outdoor premises too.

2018-05-24 12.37.45 (620x640)Located in an empty parking lot close to the Belfast Cathedral (a.k.a St Anne’s Church) is this amazing larger-than-life caricature of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, one of my favorites found on this trip. Various murals can also be found on other buildings around  the magnificent church.

2018-05-26 10.32.58 (640x640)There are also tons of colorful murals to be found all along the nearby North Street. Whilst trying to find a reported mural of Game of Thrones‘ King in the North, Jon Snow, I walked all the way to the northern most end of the street, which although also showcased lots of intriguing murals and graffiti, the buildings were also rather isolated and creepy even in broad daylight, so I quickly walked back towards the city centre.  Only after a Google search later did I learnt that the Jon Snow mural has been painted over as the building it was on is undergoing renovation. Sob. Oh well, luckily there were other fun murals to see.

2018-05-25 11.12.07 (640x640)Like this cool Dali-inspired mural I found in a covered alleyway close to another famous pub, Duke of York, reportedly the oldest pub in Belfast. The mural, which features many Belfast landmarks and of cos the famous Guinness, is very long – covering the entire alleyway which was too narrow for me to photograph the whole painting in one shot. Just glad I stumbled onto it while taking a shortcut.

2018-05-22 16.39.09 (640x597)Most of the murals in Belfast are also very political. One of the city’s main attractions is the main Belfast Peace Wall located at Cupar Way and which you can get to easily via a Hop-On, Hop Off Bus (which is also a good way to give you an idea of where the notable murals are across the city).

There are reportedly about 100 “peace walls” throughout the city – majority which are six metres high with barbed wire on top and with colourful artwork painted on the side, most of which do not necessarily contain messages of peace however. The walls are still up – with gates at certain junctions that are locked at night – to divide communities (mainly Catholics and Protestants) that were responsible for a very troubled warring period in Belfast’s history infamously known as “The Troubles” where thousands were killed and many more injured. The walls run for kilometres so if you want to cover it all, best to ask for a detailed map which alas I was unable to find for myself.

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Murals with political overtones are also aplenty along the Falls Road and Shankill Road areas. Thanks to the city tour bus, I was able to catch most of them ‘cos I don’t think I could or would possibly see them all on foot. (There’s a lot of ground to cover.)

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You need to be extremely flexible, agile and seated on the top of an open-top bus if you want to capture them all on camera cos the guide will rattle like a machine gun with instructions such as “over your left shoulder, and over your right shoulder, and back to your left, and now right!” while the driver sped on as if he’s late for an urgent family matter. Still, a very good (and cheap) way to see and learn about the history and significance of some of the murals in the city.

If you love murals as much as I do, Belfast is a great city for it. Just wished I could have found at least one Game of Thrones mural though…

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s permission.

Brisbane – Street Art “City Roos”

When in Brisbane: Look around everywhere you go as it is likely you will find various forms of street art – on the walls, on the roads or on the pavement like this pair of kangaroos. Made out of scrap metal by local sculptor Christopher Trotter, these City Roos – including another pair just a stone’s away on George Street (off Brunett Lane) – are said to be the most photographed street art in the city, especially the one on the bench. Well, if you dont have time to see one in a zoo, this metallic pair will have to do!

Photo by Marguerita Tan

Penang: Street Art in George Town

When in Penang: One of the must-do things is to check out the fabulous street art, most of which were commissioned under the Marking George Town Project that helped brand the precinct as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most popular are the enchanting murals by Penang-based Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic such as the ones above of “Boy on Motorcycle” and (part of) “Boy Walking His Dinosaur” located on Ah Quee Street. The adjacent Armenian Street, the busiest tourist hotspot in the city, is where you will find his other famous work “Kids on Bicycle” and a host of other murals by other artists.

The other type of street art to look out for are these super cute life-sized, steel-rod sculptures on sides of buildings, mostly ground-level, which feature historical facts of Penang history and its people written with much wit and humour.

To find all 15 murals and 51 sculptures easily, pick up a free Marking George Town brochure at the airport or selected hotels as it has a map showing exactly where each artpiece is. (It also show the routes of free city CAT (Central Area Transit) buses which will help you to move around easier.)

Take note that there are also many other fascinating murals in the precinct that are not listed in the map. Just look around every building or shophouse to see if there’s any street art or mural lurking on or behind it. For instance, I stumbled upon this gorgeous three-storey high rooster in splendid colours along “Chicken Alley” off Lorong Che Em, after stumbing upon steel-red sculpture #32 “Duck” off Beach Road!

Meanwhile, the popular painting – and not a mural – of a Minion executing a kung-fu kick can be found hanging behind Quay Bar along Weld Quay, close to local deaf artist Louis Gan’s adorable “Brother and Sister on a Swing”.

So, if ever you make it to #Penang, Malaysia, do check out the #streetart in #Georgetown. You won’t regret it!

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s authorisation.