Aileen Toh's Wooden Wonderland
At one end of Pasir Ris Park, near the wooded area, you can see huge logs placed neatly on the ground. These are remnants of the trunks of gigantic old trees, that once stood tall.
It always saddens me to see the logs, so big and beautiful, yet destroyed and discarded. When will humans stop the need to encroach another being’s right to live too?
I have always been tempted to bring the logs home and give them a second life, but they are too heavy to move and I have no skills to do much for them.
Hence I was very excited when I heard about Aileen Toh’s recent sculpture exhibition, Wonderland, also held at Pasir Ris Park. In a special collaboration with Singapore’s National Parks Board, she used the raw timber from felled logs from NParks to create sculptures of animals and abstract forms.
The exhibtion aims to advocate a sense of social responsibility and sustainability in art creation while giving new life to the raw timber through up-cycling efforts.
The sculptures are stunning. Made from the majestic wood of enormous trees, some of them are taller than me, some of them are heavier than me, and all of them are prettier than me.
The tallest and biggest sculpture in the exhibition is that of a hornbill. Carved, or rather sawed from a single log, the hornbill stands on a stump with its long and smooth beak pointing up. It looks confident and calm, at peace with the world.
The hornbill bird is actually quite a pretty bird especially it’s head and beak, which is in a combination of white, black and yellow. But in this wooden form, there are no colours to distract us. Instead we are drawn to the shape of the bird, full of grace and beauty. The large size of the hornbill sculpture further amplifies the natural awe-inspiring air of the hornbill bird.
The fact that the hornbill sculpture is made from wood from the trees in Singapore (it could even be a tree from Pasir Ris, where hornbills are often sighted, as a huge development is on-going in Pasir Ris and many big old trees have been felled) makes the sculpture even more realistic and poignant.
There are 35 sculptures in the exhibtion, held at an ex bicycle rental kiosk, within walking distance from the sea. There is a whimsical rabbit mother and child wrapped in a wooden log, a round ball like character that reminded me of someone from Alice in Wonderland, a wooden chess set that prompted me of a scene in Harry Potter where the chess pieces came alive, an owl, a tortoise, and many other magical figures.
This Wonderland will be disappearing soon, so visit the exhibition before it ends!
As for me, I am glad that the logs have been given a second lease of life. Thank you Aileen, for spending the past few years lovingly sawing and sculpturing parts of these precious trees into poetic remembrances for all of us.
“Wonderland” an art exhibition by Aileen Toh is held at Paris Ris Park, Area 3 (beside car park D) in Singapore. The exhibition has been extended to 31 July 2021. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, the exhibition will be temporarily closed from 8-30 May 2021.