I have just returned from a week in Singapore,
visiting my son and daughter-in-law.
The precious hours we spent together were interspersed
with a solitude enriched by the visual feast
provided by this fascinating multi-cultural country.
Most mornings I would wander around Arab Street and its environs,
one of my favourite parts of the city, chatting with the locals and photographing the architecture and visual vignettes
with the intention of sketching them later.
Singapore is situated on the Equator, a liminal space poised between North and South.
Everywhere, the lush vegetation flourishes in the humid air,
a jungle biding its time, vines and twisted trunks
looming over the colonial buildings in side alleys.
and lapping at the foundations of skyscrapers.
It is a city of astounding contrasts – at its worst, incredible wealth overshadows grinding poverty, at its best the amazing architecture of traditional colonial houses
contrasts with surreal modern edifices.
Street art abounds
yet if you turn a corner, you may find a place of silent contemplation, a small oasis of calm in the frenetic heart of this most international of cities.
Always, one is reminded that Singapore is the gateway to Asia. Indians, Chinese, Malaysians, and the large, international ex-pat community of which my son and daughter-in-law are a part, crowd onto this tiny island. The aesthetic is riotously varied, the food, amazing and the locals, for the most part, very friendly.
But it is the small objects, patinated with algae in the moist tropical air, that captivate me.
the serendipitous image of a leaf, floating in a pool,
a weathered urn
or fantastic rooftops etched against the sky.
It is a privilege and a gift.