Pineapple tarts, auspicious decorations and ‘hong bao' red packets!...Chinese New Year is almost here! I love the colourful decorations lining the streets, shops and homes in my neighbourhood in Singapore.
It’s a Red Fire Monkey year and this cheeky animal is all around. I also like the many auspicious symbols that can be seen such as ancient gold money called ingots, pineapples (sounds similar to ‘rich’ or ‘abundance’ in Chinese) and and ‘niangao’ cakes (representing an increase in status every year). It’s times like these that I dig out my go-to book on Chinese motifs by Patricia Bjaaland Welch.
This amazing array of goodies never seems to end. At my local shops I recently picked up some pineapple tarts and almond cookies they make out the back. Do support my local bakery at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh if you happen to be around. I’ll workout at the nearby open-air exercise equipment with my auntie friends later to remove the spare tyre...
Food meets art - a nice example is the cute handmade labels made by a friend of mine. Eddie Loo tells me that he carves a woodblock and prints on stationery to accompany his homemade pineapple tarts - wow!
I especially like to see the beautiful Chinese paper cuttings stuck on people’s walls and front doors. Although most paper cuttings are now done by laser, they still have a wonderful handmade and rustic quality.
The bold design of these paper cuttings are what inspired my recent Chinese New Year linocut workshops. The graphic quality of paper cuttings translates well into relief printing. It’s such fun to see students use their prints to create unique ‘red packets’ and cards.
Like the Japanese, the Chinese also like to ‘spring-clean’ their homes. Many people decorate their entrances with new potted plants. I have to admit for a while I thought there were lots of nice plants with red flowers outside people’s doors...till I realised they were ordinary plants with bits of red pipe-cleaners twisted around them. That’s my sort of hardy flower!
The upcoming new year means your house is supposed to be tidy so I better get back to spring-cleaning my studio! Or maybe I need do a spot of printing to 'clear-out' some paper before then...
Chinese New Year Linocut workshop: Friday 5th February, 2016. Last one for the year - book your spot!