Sunday 20 October 2013

Singapore: Noodles, dumplings, Eames and plastic chairs

With two arty-farty types visiting, it was pleasing to have the excuse to eat dumplings and noodles and visit an art gallery. After queuing for a while behind a woman with no waist and enormously high red wedge shoes in the ArtScience Museum, we descended to the National Geographic Exhibition in the bowels of the bunch-of-banana-shaped building.

Eames chairs - Essential Eames exhibition, ArtScience Museum, SingaporeThe exhibition includes 50 of the most famous photographs from the magazine’s 125-year history. Some photos had a story; others did not need words.

Perhaps the most famous National Geographic image is that of the Afghan refugee Sharbat Gula, taken by Steve McCurry. The lighting in the room did not do justice to the original image which was memorable for not just the girl’s eyes but the red colour of her clothes against a green background which was completely lost. The enlarged portrait sat across the room from another photograph taken seventeen years later which was equally dark, perhaps trying to focus too much on the girl’s eyes.

Eames chairs - Essential Eames exhibition, ArtScience Museum, SingaporeEames 'House of Cards' - Essential Eames exhibition, ArtScience Museum, SingaporeIn stark contrast, the lighting in the ‘Essential Eames’ exhibition was fresh and crisp to bring out the colours and shapes of the work of Charles and Bernice Eames, two of the most influential furniture designers of the twentieth century. Having visited a few Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the States, there were remarkable similarities which perhaps can be explained by the fact that Charles was expelled from university for his obsession with the architect.

The exhibition featured the couples’ fascination with nature, mathematics, drawing, photography, design, materials and function, primarily to solve design problems. Many of the photographs from the family collection were more interesting than the National Geographic exhibition. Who would have thought that coat racks and plastic chairs could be so interesting? 

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