Art & Places: Welded Iron Wall Caricatures, Georgetown, Penang

I came across one of  many caricatures installed around Georgetown. Since the inner city of Georgetown has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2008, Penang State Tourism Development & Culture has been developing a project called ‘Marking Georgetown’ since 2009. This project consists of a total of 52 sculpture located around the city. ‘Marking Georgetown’ creatively symbolises street and social history of the early settlement days. The project showcases the works of cartoonists such as Tang Mun Kian and Baba Chuah.

Here is one that I managed to capture during my short visit to Georgetown.

 Welded Iron Scuplture in Georgetown, Penang
Tok Tok Mee by  Tang Mun Kian. Installation work was done by Scuplture at Work.

Tok Tok Mee is the name of a steel-rod sculpture placed at the junction of Lebuh China and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. The sculpture tells how hawkers of wantan mee signal their presence by striking ‘tok, tok’ sound. Housewives and children would be scurrying out of their homes to buy a bowl or two soon they heard the ‘tok, tok’ sound.



Continue Reading

Art & Places: Jangseung, South Korea

When my husband and I visited Korean Folk Village on our last day in South Korea, these totem poles greeted us. Lucky for me, I visited National Folk Museum of Korea a day before that and knew that it is called Jangseung.

jangseung totem poles

Jangseung totem poles, Korean Folk Village.

Couple Jangseung looking down at me. National Folk Museum of Korea.

Jangseung is regarded as one of the earliest examples of non-figurative art, in which a human face is carved on a wooden pole (tree trunk). Jangseung has the face of traditional Korean military officer with angry eyes, snaggle teeth and a hat on top of the pole and inscription down at the middle. Inscription bears the meaning of ‘Great General Under Heaven’ for male and as for female ‘Female General Under Earth’. These wooden totem poles, erected in groups or pairs at the entrance of Buddhist temples or villages, were worshipped as village guardians or deities with magical power that drives out demons. Jangseung also indicated as the border between neigboring villages.

The history of  Jangseung is dated back more than 2000 years ago. Once considered as deity, it is mostly decorative piece now and commonly placed at the gates of large places to indicate entrances.

Jangseung is considered organic works of art and generally expected to last about a hundred years due to nature’s harsh elements.

I found one interesting blog post about Jangseung by Nick Elwood in his blog: A Korean Compendium. His blog post: Fascinating Physogs – A Tour of Some Korean Totem Poles explores the many types of Jangseung .Go read it.

Continue Reading

Art & Places: Fontana del Pincio, Montagnola Park, Bologna, Italy

When I walked aimlessly along Via Dell’ Iindependenza from the Bologna Centrale (after I got myself lost in Firenze), I saw this beautiful steps with a fountain that leads to a park. I did not know what park it was because I just went where my feet took me. Only after I went home, I learned about the name of the park:  Montagnola Park or Parco della Montagnola. The fountain is called Fontana del Pincio.


The fountain depicts a nymph on the back of a sea horse, both struggling against the embrace of an octopus in a big seashell. These elements are positioned in a lunette (semi-circle shaped space) with floral motifs. On the centre of the lunette, there is a mascaroni, or decorative keystone of a lion holding two shields that merged into one, which is actually Bologna’s state emblem. The lion’s head depicts a lion donated by Marquis Obizzo d’Este to the commune in 1293.

Looking at the sea nymph and the seashell, it reminded me of Boticelli’s painting ‘Birth of Venus’, you know the one standing on a seashell with no clothes on just her hair covering her private part. The elements of nymph, horse, seashell were among mythical elements commonly used during Early Florentine Renaissance period.

The fountain was sculpted by Diego Sarti and Pietro Veronesi in 1896, both were masters graduated from Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna. They also sculpted two bas-reliefs on both sides of the sculpture dedicated to the University of Bologna (Colombarini) and the free city (Sabbioni). The impressive staircase access to Montagnola Park was designed by Tito Azzolini and Attilio Muggia in 1892. The steps of the Pincio is equipped with 72 metal candelabra with six or four lamps.

Me standing at Parco Della Montagnola. Self-portrait, Nikon D40X with the help of a tripod and wireless remote control. Bologna, Marzo 2010

Information credit: http://www.bibliotecasalaborsa.it

Continue Reading

Art & Places: Singapore Zoo illustration by Sally Heinrich

One thing that I love about travelling is to discover art. When I visited Singapore Zoo with my family, this illustration really caught my attention. The details of trees, plants and animals are amazingly and finely done. The information of the illustrator is not written there, I did look hard through the details to find signature of the creator but could not find any.

Finding the information on the Internet was not easy as well without the right keywords. I searched for Singapore Zoo illustration/s, Singapore Zoo illustrator but could not find any information. Then I hit ‘Singapore mural illustrator’ and voila! #3 search on the list leads me to Sally Heinrich. The illustration has been done by Sally for Singapore Zoo. Other than four sections of the mural (each approximately 100cm x 75 cm), the mural has been used in the Zoo shop, and also on buses, packaging and merchandising.

Sally has illustrated more than twenty books as well as writing and illustrating her own picture books, non-fiction information and activity books and novels. Besides publishers, her clients include advertising and environmental agencies, design studios and Government departments. Her commissioned artwork ranges in scale from wine labels to a mural for the Singapore Zoo, to one-off pieces for celebrations such as weddings and birthdays. She also regularly runs workshops in creative writing and illustration for both children and adults.

Her work has been recognised through fellowships from the Asialink Foundation, The May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust, Varuna-the Writer’s Centre and Arts SA, and her original artwork and lino-prints have been exhibited in Australia and Asia.
Having previously lived in Darwin, Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia, Sally is currently based in Adelaide.

Here’s Yassin admiring the details of the illustration.

Information credit:

Continue Reading

Art & Places: Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, Venice, Italy

When I visited Venice, I saw this one huge monument and it says “I. MAGGIO MDCCCLXXXVII”. I can only read the last 6 Roman numbers (37) but not sure about the rest. So, I Google-d.

From my research on the Internet, in Roman numerals, MDCCCL means M=1000, D=500, C=100 (CCC = 100 x 3); L=50. It sums up to 1850. 1850 + 37 = 1887. So, the Roman letterings I.Maggio MDCCCLXXXVII means 1 May 1887. Must be a year of significant for Venice, or Italy in general.

So what happened in May 1887? And why does a monument bears the date?

Well, a lot of things happened in Italy in May 1887 and one that relates to the statue was an inauguration date. The monument above was inaugurated in May 1st, 1887. The monument was made to honour Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of a United Italy. It is located on the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront in the Castello district of Venice (Venezia), Italy. There are several of them in other cities in Italy.

The bronze equestrian monument is 125 years old and was sculpted by Ettore Ferrari. Ferrari was born to an artistic family. He was a professor at the Accademia di San Luca, a deputy in the Italian Parliament and Grand Master of the Grande Oriente d’Italia. He sculpted many other statues around Italy.

Now, knowing a history behind a monument or statue, or better known as public art, is more significant. Although I could not gather the information during my visit to Venice, I am glad I took pictures and made the effort to find the history of this monument. Here are more pictures of the monument.

 Credit: most informations are from

Continue Reading