Swamp stuff

Some random stuff

Toa Payoh means big swamp, and similarly, paya lebar (paya for swamp).

Map dated 1906 has a large swamp to the northeastern area of Toa Payoh (now Braddell), which encroaches near Shuang Lin monastery (which still stands today)

Grave hill is near where pioneer Seah Eu Chin was buried.

1842 map shows some plantation area (where swamp is cleared), and a larger Toa Payoh area, which stretches from bishan to novena from north to south.

Four 300 metre hills were levelled in 1963 and had their material shifted to fill in the kallang basin. Toa Payoh could formerly be a possible watershed area?

Jurong was a swampland before JTC came in, and Kallang used to have swamps near the mouth of the kallang river along the kallang basin (kolam ayer, near current geylang and kallang bahru)

Thoughts on Vestiges by Zen Teh

I had the amazing opportunity to visit Zen’s exhibition at the Alliance Francaise a week ago, and was given the chance to observe her work up close.

As I am not too familiar with one set of her works, The Imperative Landscape, I will focus most of my thoughts on the Garden State Palimpsest instead. I am impressed with the effort Zen her collaborators took to interview the locals and reconstruct images from those memories, and the time required to dig through Singaporean policies, which is to be honest, quite a mess.

Just a small issue with the sculpture work itself. I understand that the materials chosen may be for the carvings and images to stand out, but it may have more impact should it be from the location itself. Having experience in the Tanjong Katong area archaeological dig, I would say that materials locally available such as clay, granite, gabbro and sandstone would have a much larger impact since Zen has mentioned that it was to integrate the memories with the future. Sandstone and clay are easily carved or etched, while granite could be used as a frame or for sculptural purposes. As I recall, the glass that was used (correct me if I’m wrong), is not natively found in Singapore as we do not have a volcanic landscape nor were we hit by meteorites from space. Fulgurite from lightning strikes on beaches are rare.

Another thought is that would this theme of nostalgia be cliched? As we can observe from recent events such as the closure of the Sungei Road market, the theme of nostalgia has been overused to the point that it is stagnant. Though, I have to applaud the effort of the artist who does not use it as the main crux of her work, but rather, includes it in a larger scale.