Ask an overseas Singaporean what he or she misses most about home, and inevitably the answer is food. Indeed some are already missing it on short trips away, such is the national obsession that bonds us all.
The Homesick Series is originally inspired by a personal experience of being away from home for a year of studies in London, with Homesick I featuring many of my favourite foods, especially fried carrot cake, my all-time favourite that also featured in Homesick II. I was staying in a hall that catered, ahem, food that doesn't quite meet the standards, or asian palate, of Singlish-speaking ones, even for a poor student. It was hard to get by without a night of jokes at what we had to ingest, and scrimping to save for the occasional visit to a chinese restaurant, and rarer still then, a xingzhou restaurant that charged a dear pound for a stick of satay. Even the humble maggi noodles, which had to be specially scoured from a trip to chinatown, tasted of home. And chilli, I have never missed it more for my entire life! But I am digressing.
When I was asked to paint on the theme of food, an intrinsic part of our culture, and very much the DNA of a true blue Singaporean, whether Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian or other race, the “hunger agony” of my London days came vividly to mind. As well as a comment from our very own PM on what he hears most from overseas Singaporeans about missing home.
Underlying the pining lies the fabric that glues us all together over the years since independence, and became a given to generations like myself, growing up loving the sweetness of Malay food, the heavenly peranakan cuisine, and oh Indian curry prata.. the list is just endless. Just as it was perfectly natural to have playmates of multi races and fun learning how to write tamil 1-2-3 from a classmate.
This Series is thus a tribute to our special trait, our unique yearnings, our rare fortune and blessing as Singaporeans to have peace and harmony amongst different races and ethnicities, a rarity these days. And to celebrate it all over our mutual love of food, whether yours or mine, we can't tell often and really don't care for the difference, because when it comes to eating,
we are one :)
Titles: Homesick III, I & II (A56, A54 & A55)
Description: Homesick Series of the typical overseas Singaporean missing her or his favourite foods back home while in a foreign land, whether studying or travelling. Very much a part of our multi-racial culture, the love of our colourful local food is ingrained in our DNA and a national passion that binds us all. 2016.
Medium: Acrylic on Ready-to-Hang Canvas.
Dimensions: 76 x 76cm.
Exhibition: Sudah Makan? (Have you eaten?) Exhibition @ Fullerton Hotel, East Garden Foyer Gallery, 2-29 Aug 2016.
Purchase of paintings: Please contact Baey Sock Hoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.