Reflections #7: Visiting the Wool Centre of the World and Singapore’s Street Art Scene

Future World exhibition at ArtScience Museum Singapore

It’s the last Sunday of March already so time for my monthly recap where I look back at what I have been up to for the last weeks. These past two weeks I shared some stories from our 1-month long trip Down Under with you but I still have so many to tell you about it!

During that trip I felt happiest on the days we were on the road, cruising along the most astonishing landscapes and being far away from other people. Yet, no matter how amazing it was to get to see all those mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and wildlife, I also needed to dip back into the civilised world now and then again to get my culture fix. So, as a contrast to the great amount of nature pics in my blog post about our holiday two weeks ago, I thought it would be nice to share some cultural highlights with you. These included our visit to Geelong, Australia – formerly known as the wool centre of the world – exploring the Asian roots of the Minimalism art movement, and discovering (much to my surprise) some fantastic street artworks in Singapore!

But first things first, what films did I watch on the plane?

I don’t like to fly. No matter how great the airline or modern the plane is, seats weren’t meant for sleeping. And after a certain time, even sitting in them is pure torture. One of the few things that make flying slightly less of a bore is the in-flight entertainment. They often show the latest films on flights with a great variety in film genres.

I find that arthouse films are more suitable to watch at the start of the trip, but halfway in when my body clock gets all messed up, I prefer lighter entertainment with easy plots that I can still more or less understand whilst in zombie mode. That’s how I even ended up watching a documentary about influencers… The films written in purple are really worth watching though!

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Colette
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Green Book
  • Guilty, The (original title: Den skyldige)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Instant Family
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Life of the Party
  • Little Stranger, The
  • Vogue: My Sponsored Life

Australia culture highlights

Learning all about its wool history, music & films and lots of street art!

Street art hotspots in Geelong and Melbourne

I already knew that Melbourne was a great street art destination, but was very surprised to find lots of great murals in Geelong, our first stop in Australia, as well. It was also cool to learn that world-renowned street artists RONE originally hails from Geelong! (He’s now based in Melbourne.)

street art in Geelong, Australia

Mural by Laura Alice in Geelong

street art in Melbourne, Australia

One of the many murals found in Melbourne, this one is by the amazing Adnate

The National Wool Museum, Geelong
Did you know that wool was once the most important product of Australia’s economy? And it happens to be that Geelong was one of the most prominent wool producing towns. The first woollen mill in the state of Victoria was built here and Geelong is still famous for its quality wool.

The National Wool Museum in Geelong

The National Wool Museum in Geelong

  • Geelong Art Gallery: one of Australia’s oldest and leading regional art galleries. I found its collection to be an interesting mix of artworks, but enjoyed its core collection of colonial paintings most of all as they reflect the way the first European settlers saw this newly found country, their role in it and their relationship with the country’s original inhabitants.
  • ACMI (Australia Centre for the Moving Image), Melbourne: a spacious and modern building that hosts some great exhibitions and events. We had a walk through the permanent exhibition Screenworlds which gives a complete overview of the history of cinema, TV, videogames and digital culture. It was rather overwhelming! Luckily we could have a little sit down in the basement where they were showing Christian Marclay’s 24-hour long film The Clock which I saw in London last year and wrote about here: (Don’t) Stop the Clock.
  • Australian Music Vault @ Arts Centre Melbourne: this great free exhibition highlights artists who have helped to put Australian music on the map, from Nick Cave to AC/DC. The interactive exhibition included special objects such as original posters and flyers, costumes and notebooks.
  • MESS Ltd (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio): we had the great pleasure of meeting the guys of MESS who run a sound studio filled with extremely rare and vintage electronic instruments and analog synthesizers.

MESS Ltd electronic sound studio in Melbourne

New Zealand culture highlights

Little Scotland in New Zealand

During our 2-week long road trip through New Zealand’s South Island we didn’t stop in many big cities. We had spent some days in Christchurch last year and therefore decided to just briefly pass through it this year.

The biggest city we visited this year was Dunedin which was founded by Scottish settlers in 1848. Its name derives from the Gaelic word for Edinburgh, Dùn Èideann, and even its architecture very much resembles that of Edinburgh as well. In the 1860s it became New Zealand’s most prosperous city due to the goldrush. We learned all about Dunedin’s rich history (noticed the pun here?!), including its nickname Mud-edin, at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum which is surprisingly big and took us hours to go through!

Settlers Museum Dunedin

Immersing myself in Dunedin’s history at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Besides historical exhibits at forementioned museum, we also saw some great contemporary art shows in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Here I discovered the clever multimedia works by the Chinese artist Yang Yongliang who creates very futuristic landscapes.

Yang Yongliang Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Artificial Wonderland I – No. 1 (2010) by Yang Yongliang at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery as part of their exhibition New Networks Contemporary Chinese Art

Street art trail Dunedin

It wouldn’t surprise you that my personal highlight of Dunedin was its street art trail which features some of the world’s biggest street artists! I found several murals by Phlegm, including the first one of his I’ve ever seen to include colour, DALeast, Faith47 and Pixel Pancho. Honestly, if you are into street art and have plans to travel to New Zealand one day, then you should definitely include Dunedin in your itinerary!

Phlegm street art trail Dunedin

The first Phlegm mural I’ve ever seen that includes colour!

Pixel Pancho street art trail Dunedin

Another one of my favourite artists: Pixel Pancho

Singapore culture highlights

I guess that our visit to Singapore was one huge cultural experience, but focussing on museums and galleries, the ArtScience Museum Singapore and National Gallery Singapore were the biggest highlights. We were lucky to know the curator of the ArtScience Museum and were given a private tour by her. Over the years she has helped putting the museum on the map and making it a fantastic destination for culture seekers, families and even Instagrammers!

Asian roots of Minimalism

Besides the interactive and very Instagram-friendly permanent exhibition Future World (see the top photo above this article) that merges art science, technology and culture, we visited the special temporary show Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. that is so massive it’s spread over two venues, the ArtScience Museum and National Gallery Singapore. Considering its subject, I found the size of the show slightly ironic.

Olafur Eliasson Minimalism Singapore

Never missing an interesting photo opportunity! Posing inside Olafur Eliasson’s installation Seu corpo de obra [Your body of work] (2011) at the ArtScience Museum

Although the Minimalism art movement emerged in New York in the 1960s, its roots can be traced back to Asian philosophies and artistic styles. The Minimalism show in Singapore explores these Asian roots and influences on artists all over the world.

Minimalism show at the National Gallery Singapore

Minimalism National Gallery Singapore

Street art in Singapore

I was so surprised to discover a bunch of beautiful murals in Singapore! This was really the last place I expected to see street artworks. I plan on writing a whole article about the street art in Singapore on my travel blog Done That Been There, but here’s a little taster.

street art Singapore

Letter Writer by Yip Yew Chong in Chinatown

Singapore street art

Spectacular light & music shows

Every night you can enjoy two spectacular light & music shows for free in Singapore! The first one we went to was Spectra at Marina Bay Sands. The action takes place at the waterfront of Marina Bay Sands with the impressive city skyline as its backdrop. Spectra is a pretty wild water and laser show with quite a hilarious soundtrack that started rather gentle but finished off with heavy metal guitars.

Spectra at Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Another night we went to see the Garden Rhapsody at Gardens by the Bay. Although the light show in and around the Super trees were really impressive, I didn’t find this show as exciting as Spectra. I guess the lack of heavy metal is to blame for this, haha!

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Do you have any great cultural tips from the last month you liked to share with me? Any interesting films, exhibitions or performances you’ve seen? I’d love to hear about them!
Thank you, Zarina xx