July 8, 2013 in inspiring places
This is the final installment of my family’s travels to Australia and Singapore. I took these images in Little India, the area where we stayed. Of out two days in Singapore we spent half a day wandering around temples, markets and soaking up the atmosphere. It was a little taster of India for the family and a reminder to me of a country I visited a long time ago.
As in India, the colours were so vibrant and interesting, the buildings charming in their detail and the temples enthralling in their story-telling through paintings and sculptures on walls and ceilings. Small shrines on street corners and, as in every area of Singapore, people enjoying street food. The street market was my favourite area with vegetables piled high and flowers strung in garlands.
After an adventure like this I still feel refueled and recharged. The joy of visiting friends on the other side of the world and experiencing a taste of Australia and Singapore will stay with us all for years to come.
July 3, 2013 in inspiring places
We spent a day exploring the temples and markets of Chinatown, a large area in Singapore, where we felt totally immersed in a different culture. We were all enthralled by the tranquility of the temples, the smells of incense, local people worshipping and the bright colours and patterns all around us. I was drawn to photograph the details, colours, illustrations and shapes and hopefully they give a little glimpse into this amazing place.
The markets were full of interesting objects, fans, instruments, beads and strung overhead with lanterns. We embraced the Chinese food halls and queued with locals for delicious savoury main courses and fruit smoothies blended in front of us. Wonderful combinations of dragon fruit with kiwi, mango and passion fruit, watermelon, strawberry and rose and sugarcane with lime. We became quite adventurous in our choices which the children loved and the colours of these juices were spectacular.
The tropical colours of Singapore were amazing as we passed through gardens and areas like Chinatown and Little India: Hot pinks, citrus oranges and acid greens, sky blues and metallic golds. Flowers were everywhere, popping out against the urban landscape along roadsides, in parks, temples and for sale on market stalls.
I’ve loved using a close-up macro lens and playing with depth of field since I bought my first 35mm SLR film camera whilst at art college, and flowers are my perfect muse for this kind of abstraction. I can’t help myself and find wherever I travel I am drawn to photographing flowers, so in Singapore I was in heaven.
Singapore was the most wonderful place to stop over on our way home from Australia. We broke up our return journey with a two day visit to this amazing city. We had heard some reports of it feeling a little sterile, but we found it fascinating and absolutely loved it. They have embraced modern architecture (we felt as if we were part of a science fiction film set at times) and, in contrast, other parts of the city felt like you were immersed in the old mysterious Orient.
Our first stop was the newly opened Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Forest dome was fantastic with a 90 foot waterfall cascading from the man-made mountain inside, mossy trees nearby and walls filled vertically with an enormous range of tropical plants and flowers. There must have been every type of Orchid in all shapes, sizes and colours. The mists were ‘switched on’ at various times and the whole dome enclosed you in its artificial cloud which my children absolutely loved. The Flower Dome next door was also wonderful.
There were also towering, tree-like sculptural metal structures with plants growing upwards around their trunks. The walkway linking these metal trees allowed great views across the gardens but even these towers, which felt high from the top, were dwarfed by the huge hotel next door – The Marina Bay Sands.
We walked through the Heritage Gardens, over the foot bridge and took the lift to the 58th floor observation deck where the view was out of this world, across the city and out over the bay; tankers in the shipping lanes below us looked like ants and the sheer volume of them was unexpected.
I love the juxtaposition of tropical flowers with modern buildings and Singapore did this so well.
From Sydney we flew up to Cairns in Queensland, hired a car and drove an hour North to the sweet, relaxed seaside town of Port Douglas. It was the perfect location to visit the Great Barrier Reef and explore the Daintree Rainforest. The vibe was quite different to Sydney, but I loved its relaxed charm.
The wonderful use of corrugated tin and wooden planking as textural building materials, either painted and smart or untreated and raw, rusting patina next to weathered wood. In a local bar, where we watched cane toad racing, the rusting tin was juxtaposed against twinkling chandeliers and more utilitarian ceiling fans and pendant lights. An unexpected and successful combination.
It was the wet season when we visited and with this comes rain, short heavy bursts of it. Looking through the car window there were rain specks dotted all over, rather like here in London but the views were however quite different. I couldn’t help snapping away as we drove the coastal highway, continuing my ‘through the window‘ series on another continent.
Wonderful palm trees swaying in the wind, fields of sugar cane and the most beautiful sea views and skys. Heavenly.
Another shop that I was really looking forward to visiting in Sydney was Mud. Their store at 134 Edgecliff Road in Woollahra was close to where we were staying, so I popped in to have a browse and take some snaps. I often use their handmade porcelain plates, bowls and cups when styling commercial photo shoots, drawn to it at the prop houses by the beautiful soft colours and mix of matt and gloss finishes.
I bought a little ceramic beaker as a memento of my visit to the shop and would have bought much more if I hadn’t been worried about the pieces getting damaged during the flights on the remainder of our trip.
You can see and find out more on the Mud Australia website.
The Mud website lists only three UK stockists; The Conran Shop, Designers Guild and Zecca, who amazingly is only a 10 minute walk from my house! I will be popping along there soon to see what they have in stock.
For now though I am happy with my little piece of Mud on display.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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