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The Art of Gift-Giving

It’s that time of year again when we need to think about gifts and presents!

Whether you’re deeply religious and celebrating Christmas, or just mired in the social minefield that is the festive-season office gift exchange, we have just the thing for you. Here’s our list of unusual art-related gifts which will make you stand out from the crowd.

1) The Lords of the Interwebs: Artworks for Purchase Online


A game changer in the online community, the ARTO app is downloadable for free and allows one to “swipe right” or “left” on artworks according to whether they appeal or not. While the app allows you to make purchases of artwork, we’re more fascinated with its Spotify-esque ability to recommend artworks based on a user’s preferences. This allows users to learn more about their art tastes in a painless way and in their own time, without having to brave snooty gallerists and the intimidating spectre of the white cube.

What do we particularly love? The approachable yet thought-provoking selection of works.

We were especially pleased to be able to track down the works of the elusive Benny Goerlach in ARTO’s Pop Art selection. We randomly chanced upon (and fell in love with) this poignant piece years ago, on the walls of Symmetry, near Arab Street. Happily, the print’s now just a click away, on our mobile phones:

Benny Goerlach’s Tissue Aunty  (approx. S$600)-  extra food for thought, especially in this season for giving? (Image Credit: ARTO Gallery)

 ii) The Artling

This well-known online art gallery offers up a variety of design and art related gifts this year. Price points are varied, starting from approximately S$90 for art, and  S$15 for design objects.  It offers a massive selection of pieces from more than 150 art galleries and 1,500 artists and designers. If you’re undecided, gift vouchers are available too, with personalised cards in the amount of your choice.


A selection of art and design objects from The Artling (Image courtesy of The Artling)

iii) Comish

This interesting website is all about revolutionising the art commissioning process. It essentially allows you to create a bespoke piece of art for a friend or loved one. It’s also stealth marketing at its best – hop online to commission a special and unique gift, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll like the other works available for sale, or want to browse pieces by different artists?

Maybe you’ll want to learn more about art – making?

Bonus point: If you’re so inclined, Comish also offers a concierge service, that will handle all the nitty-gritty details for you. There’s a waiting list at the moment though, so do sign up early if you’re curious.

2) Thinking Ink

Question: What do Asian ink painting and financial regulatory law have in common?

Answer: Singapore-based artist Stanley Chng!

In addition to his legal education, Stan’s had nearly two decades of art training and his practice is grounded – unusually-  in 12th to 15th-century East Asian calligraphy, verse and ink painting. He now paints full -time under the monicker Shede (meaning “Discard-attain”), and is nostalgic for the quickly disappearing world of physical objects that he grew up in (one filled with now-unsexy things like CDs and books).

Stan’s mainly preoccupied with timeless human themes, like mortality, transience, faith, reason and perception, as well as our relationships with people and things. He tends to favour small pieces, commenting that:

“Besides being a pragmatic response to ever-shrinking urban living conditions, I hope that these (art works) will add space and soul to the private places which are special to each person.”

Here’s an example of what his work looks like –  it’s a typical “poetry and painting scroll,” in the style of the 13th to the 14th centuries. Based on a poem by Tao Qian (365-427 AD), this piece is about celebrating the joys of retiring to a simple rustic life after serving in the bureaucracy. It is executed in a manner reminiscent of the landscapes painted by monks:

The perfect gift for someone longing for a life of quiet contemplation? (Image courtesy of artist)

Stan has a selection of works available for purchase and welcomes private commissions. Prices begin at S$500 for pieces in stock, and S$1000 for commissions. Send emails to or contact him at +65-92289121. (If you’re nice, he may even give you a little lesson on the history of East Asian ink and let you look at his jaw-droppingly comprehensive book collection)

3) Needlepoint Necessities

Zoey Wong is a recent graduate of the LASALLE College of the Arts’ Master’s degree in Fine Arts. This petite young miss has a penchant towards imagery dealing with loss and death in her artistic practice, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at her highly successful embroidery business. Her works can be viewed on her Instagram account, or you can e-mail her at

She has a particular talent for capturing pets, but can just as easily produce portraits, landscapes,  food and slogans. Her pieces can be produced on pretty much any surface – for example, T-shirts, tote bags, pouches and pocket squares. Have a word with her about what you’d like to do, and she’ll be happy to offer up her views. (If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s an interesting one: did you know that Prince Albert slippers were traditionally hand-embroidered with personalised crests and monograms?)

Prices start from around S$40 – S$100, depending on the object to be embroidered, and the level of detail required.

Yup, that’s all hand-embroidered! (Image courtesy of artist)
She’ll even sort your trainers out (Image courtesy of artist)

Also, forget the stereotype of flaky artists – Zoey is highly responsive, mindful of deadlines, and an all-around pleasure to deal with.

4) A Forum for Gift-Giving

Last year, this was our secret weapon in sourcing for special Christmas gifts for work colleagues. This year, we’re sharing the secret with you.

Our friend Marjorie Chu is opening up her gallery, Art Forum, for a little Christmas fair running from  8 December to 23 December. She’ll be selling some gorgeous ceramics and hand-blown glass pieces by Oh Chai Hoo, Chua Chon Hee and Peter Kane. Prices start from about S$55 for a glass tumbler and S$80 to S$100 for a bowl.


Stoneware, by Oh Chai Hoo (Image courtesy of Art Forum)
Speckled glass carafe and tumbler, by Peter Kane – because that post-work glass of wine deserves the respect of a proper receptacle! (Image courtesy of Art Forum)

Last year, we went nuts with the Oh Chai Hoo pieces which were just exquisite for both display, and for daily use. There’s little better than tucking into some homemade pasta after a long day at work, served up in one of his lovely bowls. Even if you’re just decanting your takeaway, we promise you that the gorgeous pieces will make everything feel so civilised!

We’ve been using and enjoying the ceramics for the past year and are pleased to report that they have held up very well indeed.

The gallery is open from 10 am daily (except for Sundays), and is situated in a beautiful Cairnhill shophouse. Drivers, don’t be deterred by the ostensible lack of parking — if you ring +65 – 96202983 in advance of your arrival, you’ll be informed of where you can park conveniently.

5) Indonesian Inspiration

If you’ve never walked into an art gallery at Gillman Barracks because you think everything is dead expensive, think again. Mizuma Gallery is presenting a selection of affordably priced merchandise and artwork for the festive season.

First up, these adorable pins by the incredibly cool Indonesian duo, the indieguerillas, retailing for S$19 a piece:

(Image courtesy of Mizuma Gallery)
Red houndstooth never looked cooler (Image courtesy of Mizuma Gallery)

The pins will be available from 8 December onwards, and if you happen to be headed Down Under for the holidays, would certainly be a cool thing to wear to their upcoming presentation at the National Gallery of Australia.

(If you’ve been following us, you may have read about this seminal Raden Saleh painting. Check out the indieguerillas’ humourous version here.)

You may also be interested in these whimsical little linocut prints by up and coming Indonesian artist Agung “Agugn” Prabowo, which range from S$70 to S$110:

Drowning 2012, 16.5cm x 19.5cm – perfect for the office buddy who keeps you afloat at work? (Image courtesy of Mizuma Gallery)
Riding 2012, 21.5cm x 15cm – for your horse-mad pal? Or the superstitious friend who’s obsessed with fengshui and the Chinese zodiac? (Image courtesy of Mizuma Gallery)

The prints come unframed, and as our little gift to you, the discount code PLURALPAL gets you 10% off Agugn’s works!

Details of how to get to Mizuma are here or email to enquire at

We’d personally recommend a visit, as the gallery’s staff are super warm and approachable. Bubbly Gallery Manager Theresia is always available with a friendly smile and heaps of good information about regional art and artists – art noobs need not fear! Don’t leave your shopping until the last minute though as Mizuma and a number of the Gillman Barracks galleries will be closed from December 24 – January 3, 2018, for the year-end holidays.







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