The London Design Biennale 2016

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's installation 'Forecast'

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s installation ‘Forecast’ by U.K.


The inaugural London Design Biennale which coincided with The London Design Festival took place at Somerset House (7 – 27 September) with over 30 countries and territories participating. Curated by the leading museums and design organisations in the world, the newly commissioned installations explored the theme ‘Utopia by design’, inspired by Thomas More’s famous book/texts, and marking the 500th anniversary of its publication.


Helidon Xhixha's Bliss   image1

Left: Helidon Xhixha’s ‘Bliss’ by Albania, which won the Public medal


A few weeks before the opening, I was invited to attend the Eatopia food tasting and performance hosted by the Taiwan Pavilion, yet regrettably, due to my trip to the US, I was unable to attend the event.

Admittedly, I was quite skeptical about another design event during the design festival initially, but I was curious at the same time. Eventually, my curiosity prevailed over my skepticism, and I spent an afternoon wandering around the vast exhibition area – almost the entire building – and pondering over the meaning of ‘utopia’ in design today.


UN/BIASED BY Marta de Menezes, Pedro Miguel Cruz  water machine by Basma Bouzo, Noura Bouzo   Design Diorama: The Archive as a Utopic Environment


Top left: ‘UN/BIASED’ by Portugal; Top middle: ‘Water machine’ by Saudi Arabia; Top right: ‘Design Diorama: The Archive as a Utopic Environment’ by The Netherlands; Bottom: Freedome by Indonesia


Although the show exceeded my expectations, I was relatively disappointed by some exhibitors’ lack of endeavour and their tenuous link with the theme. For me, the weakest pavilions were U.K. ( there was no pavilion – only an outdoor ‘art’ installation), U.S.A., Sweden, Australia, and Korea; while my favourites were Russia, Turkey, Japan, and France.


Top & 2nd row left: Autoban’s ‘The wish machine’ by Turkey; Top, 2nd row right & bottom: Yasuhiro Suzuki’s ‘A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe’ by Japan


Designed by Istanbul-based multi-disciplinary practice Autoban, ‘The Wish Machine’ is a fun contemporary version of the ‘wish tree’. Messages written on note paper sealed in capsules are fed into the machine and then carried through a tunnel of transparent pneumatic tubes and around the West Wing of Somerset House, before being deposited into the unknown. Concept aside, the transparent machine itself is a fascinating design, and it certainly created some buzz when it was at work.

Japanese designer, Yasuhiro Suzukis ‘A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe’ consisted of designs, videos, animations and drawings inspired by everyday objects like zipper, apple and spoons. The designer’s aim was to encourage visitors to look and question the way we view the world around us and perceive everyday life.

Benjamin Loyauté’s moving documentary film, ‘The Astounding Eyes of Syria’ addresses the refugee crisis, which is an ongoing issue that is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. The designer also created a vending machine dispersing pink candy sweets with proceeds from each pack going to help displaced Syrian families.


Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design

Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design  Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design

Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design

swiss pavilion London design biennale

First 3 rows: ‘Discovering Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design’ by Russia, which won the Utopia medal; Bottom row: ‘In-between: The Utopia of the Neutral’ by Switzerland, which won the Jaguar Innovation Medal


The show’s well-deserved Utopia medal winner was Russia’s ‘Utopia: Lost Archives of Soviet Design’. The rediscovered archive, told the story of the forgotten projects created at the All-Union Soviet Institute of Technical Aesthetics (VNIITE) and Soviet Design Studios (SHKB) between the 1960s and 1980s. The ‘utopian’ visions of the future imagined by designers in the Soviet Union were never realised, but some are still inspirational even in today’s standard.


mischer'traxler studio Level

VRPolis, Diving into the Future  'Daalaan' by Pakistan

'Daalaan' by Pakistan

EUtopia  'Pulse Diagram' by Tunisia

Top row: Mischer’traxler’s ‘Level’ by Austria; 2nd left: ‘VRPolis, Diving into the Future’ by Spain; 2nd right & 3rd row: ‘Daalaan’ by Pakistan; Bottom left: Benoît van Innis’ ‘EUtopia’ by Belgium; Bottom right: ‘Pulse Diagram’ by Tunisia


Top row: Porky Hefer’s ‘Otium and Acedia’ by South Africa; ‘White flag’ by Italy; 2nd left: ‘Eatopia’ by Taiwan; 2nd right: ‘Cadavre Exquis: an Anatomy of Utopia’ by Poland; Bottom: Fernando Romero’s ‘Border City’ by Mexico


Shenzhen: New Peak

Shenzhen: New Peak

Sumant Jayakrishnan's 'Chakraview'

Sumant Jayakrishnan's 'Chakraview'

Top 2 rows: URBANUS’ ‘Shenzhen: New Peak’ by China; Bottom 2 rows: Sumant Jayakrishnan’s ‘Chakraview’ by India


The main issue with this show was inconsistency, due to some exhibitors’ insubstantial effort and uninspiring answer to the brief. The show also made me question the blurry line between art and design today… clearly some installations should have been classified as art rather than design, so why were they submitted and presented in a design show? Although there were some interesting and thought-provoking work, the show’s overall curation was rather slacked, and this was a let-down for me.


Mezzing In Lebanon

Mezzing In Lebanon

‘Mezzing In Lebanon’ by Lebanon, which won the London Design Biennale Medal


London Design Fair 2016

Rive Roshan at the design fair 2016

Installation by Rive Roshan using Kvadrat Divina


This year, Tent London & Super Brands London celebrated its 10th anniversary and was rebranded as London Design Fair. The fair at the Old Truman brewery hosted over 500 exhibitors from 29 countries, making it the most international fair of the Festival. Exhibitors include independent designers, established brands, and international country pavilions, such as 100% Norway, Portugal, China, Sweden, India and Italy.

I felt that the overall standard of this year’s fair was high. There was a strong emphasis on handmade crafts and designs using mostly natural and organic materials. The pavilions that caught my attention were Inspiring Portugal, China academy of art and Scotland: Craft and design.


ceramics made at Cerdeira village  serip

Gencork  Kit Miles and Moooi Carpets   Corvasce Design

Top left: Ceramic crafts made at the Cerdeira artist village; Top right: Lighting by Serip; Bottom left: Gencork and BlackCork by Sofalca; Bottom middle: Kit Miles and Moooi Carpets; Bottom right: Cardboard chairs by Corvasce Design


I am a big fan of Portugal or anything Portuguese, and so I was particularly intrigued by Portuguese designs. Cork is one of Portugal’s most popular raw materials, and it is often featured in the creation of local crafts and designs. Aside from cork, a range of beautiful crafts were on display to show the craftsmanship from the Cerdeira artist village.


leonora richardsonmamoutzis

Forest and Found

Wooden & woven spoons  img_8227-min  yuta segawa

Jie Yang

img_8259-min   Liang Liu

Top left: Leonora Richardson‘s ceramic cylinder cells; Top right: Ceramic lighting by Mamoutzis; 2nd row: Handmade wooden objects and textiles by Forest and Found; 3rd left: spoons by Wooden & woven; 3rd right: Yuta Segawa‘s miniature vases; 4th row: Ceramic designs by Jie Yang; Bottom right: Ceramic designs by I Liang Liu


Fung and Bedford

img_8251-min  calendar by An everything  caroline mcneill-moss

glass marbles by kosmosphaera

Top: Fung & Bedford‘s origami installations; 2nd middle: Paper calendar by An everything; 2nd right: Brass sculptures by Caroline Mcneill-Moss; Bottom: Giant glass marbles by Kosmosphaera




naomi mcintosh  julia smith ceramics  img_8271-min


Scotland: Craft & design pavilion – 3rd left: Naomi Mcintosh; 3rd middle: Julia Smith ceramics; 3rd right: Lizzie Farey; Bottom row: Utopian surface tiles and condiment Set by Jennifer Gray


I thought the most impressive pavilion at the fair was the Scotland one. The Scottish designers and makers’ work demonstrated their ability to combine traditional skills with new digital technology to create outstanding pieces of craft.


img_8276-min  img_8243-min


feelex by Gong Qiaolin/ Qiu Kushan/ Wang Weijia  img_8246-min

Design east exhibition – Top left: Relation textile by Lang Qing & Tea ware by Wu Peiping/ Gu Rong/ Chen Jun; Top right: Blue by Li Jie; 2nd row: Black T by Hu Ke; Bottom left: Feelex by Gong Qiaolin/ Qiu Kushan/ Wang Weijia; Bottom right: Meditation seat ware by Gao Fenglin/Nanoin design studio


Another pleasant surprise was the Design East exhibition that featured a range of impressive work by designers and craftsmen from China. The exhibition challenged our perception of Chinese-made designs, and revealed a changing design landscape that is taking place in China today.



img_8279-min  img_8289-min


img_8284-min  img_8285-min  cobalt design

2nd right: This is India exhibition; Bottom middle: Claymen; Bottom right: Jerry can water flask by Cobalt design


Out of all the trade fairs at the design festival, I enjoyed this show much more than others. I think sometimes emerging designers and craftsmen are more daring in their creation, probably because commerciality is not their high on their priorities. Designers and craftsmen have to follow their intuitions rather trends, and it is always encouraging to see people following their hearts than their minds.

Designjunction in Kings Cross 2016

granary square

granary square  granary square

Designjunction in Kings Cross’s Granary Square


This year, Designjunction moved from Holborn to Kings Cross, and it was indeed a good move. Instead of cramming hundreds of stands and outlets into huge abandoned buildings, this year’s show was split into four areas around the Granary Square. It was easier to navigate and more fun than the previous years.


dyslexic design  blackbody

transport for London collection

Vic Lee

Top left: Dyslexic design exhibition; Top right: Blackbody lighting; 2nd row: Transport for London’s new Metroland collection; Bottom: Illustrator Vic Lee working on a mural


At the Granary Square, the Dyslexic design exhibition showcased a range of works created by dyslexic designers from different disciplines like fashion, product, illustration, fine art and architecture. Curated by one of the UK’s leading designers Jim Rokos, the exhibition challenged our perceptions of dyslexia by accentuating the positive effects of living with dyslexia and its close association with design.


johnston twitter machine

johnston twitter machine  img_8090-min

Johnston Twitter Machine by Florian Dussopt


I met and spoke to London-based French designer Florian Dussopt, the designer of a bespoke Twitter machine shaped like the TFL roundel to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Johnston typeface commissioned by Transport for London and KK Outlet gallery. During the 5 days, the Twitter Machine used the Johnston typeface to print all tweets linked to the hashtag #inspiredby on twitter.


design junction cubitt House

img_8114-min  img_8136-min

Top: Cubitt House featured a 70 metre long by 7.5 metre GRID installation designed by Satellite Architects; Bottom: Cranes are ubiquitous in Kings Cross


img_8110-min  Greenhouse by Atelier 2+ for Designhouse Stockholm

samago  samago  3doodler create


img_8127-min  isokan plus  channels design

Top right: Greenhouse by Atelier 2+ for Designhouse Stockholm; 2nd left & middle: Uruguay’s Samago and its designer; 2nd right: 3Doodler Create; 3rd row: ‘Who’s Casper’ project created by Modus to raise funds for the refugee crisis; Bottom left: Foldability; Bottom middle: Isokan Plus; Bottom right: Channels Design


For me, the most impressive and intriguing part of the show was Brain waves, an exhibition showcasing the work of Central Saint Martins’ leading design graduates from across a wide range of disciplines.

Biying Shi‘s ‘Made in China’ project interviews the craftsmen/makers behind the products, and examines our prejudices towards Chinese made goods; while Hanan Alkouh‘s ‘Sea-Meat seaweed’ looks at the industry behind pig meat, dissects it and replicates it with the Dulse seaweed.

I particularly liked Italian jewellery designer Giada Giachino‘s ‘Per Inciso’ – a upcycled jewellery collection made of shell-­lip waste. How sustainable and fun!


Made in China by biying shi  Made in China by biying shi

Library by Sarah Christie

Hanan Alkouh  photosympathise by Freya Morgan

per inciso by Giada Giachino  Digital Daiku by Mark Laban

Top: Made in China by Biying Shi; 2nd row: Library by Sarah Christie; 3rd left: Hanan Alkouh‘s Seameat seaweed; 3rd right: Photosympathise by Freya Morgan; bottom left: Per Inciso by Giada Giachino; bottom right: Digital Daiku by Mark Laban



London Design Festival 2016

Elytra Filament Pavilion

Elytra Filament Pavilion

‘Elytra Filament Pavilion’ by experimental architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer.


What is going to happen to the UK in the future? It is hard to tell. As a multicultural mega city, how will London cope with the aftermath of Brexit? And what can London’s design community contribute in order to reduce the negative impact triggered by this decision? Maybe it is too early to say, but I think there is an urgency for designers to explore this topic and try to solve the possible scenarios that are likely to occur.

I have been visiting the London Design Festival for years, and I felt that the festival has lost its spark in the last few years. Aside from being overly commercial, it has become rather superficial and dull. This year, there had been overall improvements, but it still felt like an event aimed at the industry rather than the general public. Perhaps the turbulent times ahead will ignite more creativity and debate; though in the meantime, the new Design Biennale was a welcome addition to the festival.


The Green Room   Liquid Marble

landscape within

Top left: ‘The Green Room’ by London design studio Glithero; Top right: ‘Liquid Marble’ by Mathieu Lehanneur; Bottom: ‘Landscape within’ by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta


As usual at the V & A museum, there were temporary design (or art) installations scattered around the maze-like building. The most frustrating part was to navigate around the building and locate these installations. For those who managed to locate them all deserved prizes for their skills and patience.

One of the pieces that stood out for me was ‘Landscape within’ located in the foyer (though not included on the map). The fascinating digestive machine was created by London based interdisciplinary art and design studio BurtonNitta, supported by The Wellcome Trust and researchers from University of Edinburgh.

I spoke to designer Michael Burton about their exploration into our gut system. The digestive machine is designed to filter out the impact of heavy metals on our health due to increasing food contamination on our planet. This machine uses engineered bacteria to separate food from contaminating heavy-metals, resulting in safe consumption and nano-sized metals that are a valuable resource. Its intriguing construction of a tube within a tube, mirrors our own body plan, and it certainly attracted much attention from passerby.


Unidentified Acts of Design

Unidentified Acts of Design

Unidentified Acts of Design

Unidentified Acts of Design exhibition


In the nearby China gallery, a thought-provoking exhibition ‘Unidentified Acts of Design’ sought out instances of design intelligence in Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta outside of the design studio. The research project examined how design managed to evolve unexpectedly in a region which has been named the factory of the world. The landscape of the Chinese design scene is changing rapidly, soon or later, we may have to alter our prejudices on the term ‘Made in China’.


When the Pike Sang, the Birds Were Still   designer souvenir  Silk leaf by Julian Melchiorri

Northern Lights

gardens by the bay  gardens by the bay

Top left: ‘When the Pike Sang, the Birds Were Still’ by Pauliina Pöllänen; Top middle: Designer souvenirs pop-up shop; Top right: ‘Silk leaf’ by Julian Melchiorri; Middle: ‘Northern Lights’ by V&A Museum of Design Dundee; Bottom: ‘Mind over matter: contemporary British engineering exhibition’


silver speaks

waves by Nan Nan Liu  Stuart Cairns' ‘To Make a Thing’

Junko Mori

Juxtapose cups by Cara Murphy   Rajesh Gogna's Retro-ism Ice Tea for One

Top: ‘Silver speaks’ exhibition; 2nd row left: ‘Waves’ by Nan Nan Liu; 2nd row right: ‘To Make a Thing’ by Stuart Cairns; 3rd row: Stunning silver works by Japanese artist Junko Mori Bottom left: ‘Juxtapose’ cups by Cara Murphy; Bottom right: ‘Retro-ism Ice Tea for One’ by Rajesh Gogna


Upstairs in the silver gallery, I joined a curator’s talk on the ‘Silver speaks‘ exhibition, and learned more about contemporary silversmithing and the ideas behind the beautiful pieces. Perhaps the pieces are not all functional, but the exquisite work reflects high-level of skills, techniques and concepts that can be viewed as art pieces.


100% design 2016

100% design at Olympia


Despite being one of the largest and longest-running trade shows at the festival, I honestly think that 100% design needs to re-evaluate its direction because I thought it was the most uninspiring show at the festival. Compare to about 10 years ago, the show has somehow deteriorated over the past decade (partly due to the change in management).

The show used to promote design innovation, diversity and international young talents, but now the focus has switched to showcasing kitchen and bathroom designs by big commercial brands. During my visit, the huge venue was very quiet, and I left within the hour because I found the show rather ‘soulless’.

The two other major trade shows, Design Junction and London Design Fair (a new name for Tent) have made some significant changes and improvements this year, so it’s time for the team behind 100% design to step back and focus on making the show exciting again.


Almira sadar  img_8299-min

img_8294-min  img_8302-min

Nanjing Jinhe art packaging   Log Stack Cabinet by Byron & Gomez

Top left: Almira Sadar; Top right: Handcrafted wall covering by Anne Kyyro Quinn; 2nd left: Nanjing Creative Design Center; 2nd right: AteljeMali; Bottom left: ‘Mountain Lake City & Forest’ by Nanjing Creative Design Center; Bottom right: Log Stack Cabinet by Byron & Gomez 



New York art book fair 2016


MoMa PS1, Queens


As a newbie to art book fairs, I had no idea what to expect at the New York art book fair hosted by Printed Matter at MoMA PS1 in Queens. I have visited the London Art Book Fair at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2015 (there wasn’t one this year), but it was minuscule compared to the New York one. I was completely overwhelmed by vast size of the New York one, and I had to return again for a second visit. Yet, I still didn’t manage to visit all the stalls, but the experience was eye-opening, and judging from the crowds, I can safely say that book publishing is far from dead!






A former school/warehouse dating back to 1892, MoMA PS1 reopened as P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center after a $8.5 million renovation project in the late 90s. The center eventually merged with MoMA in 2000 to promote contemporary art to a wide and growing audience. 




NY ART BOOK FAIR 16  misaki kawai at NY ART BOOK FAIR 16

motto at NY ART BOOK FAIR 16


3rd right: Japanese artist Misaki Kawai‘s books and zines; 4th row: Berlin’s Motto; Bottom right: Ottographic from U.K.


The fair occupied two floors of the building and two outdoor tents, featuring over 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries, and was attended by over 39,000 visitors. I was glad to see many familiar booksellers and publishers, especially because I have been doing a lot of research on independent bookshops and publishers for our new theme lately. Yet, I was also thrilled to discover new booksellers and publishers from around the world. There was much to see and I had to resist the temptation of purchasing for my own personal interest.



 Onestar Press at NY ART BOOK FAIR 16

Ebecho Muslimova

Ken Kagami  NY ART BOOK FAIR 16  bread & puppet calendar


daido moriyama

Top left: Gagosian Gallery; Top right: KAWS‘ ‘Man’s best friend’; 2nd row: OneStar Press stand; 3rd row: Ebecho Muslimova at One Star Press; 4th left: Ken Kagami; 4th right: Bread & puppet calendar; 5th left: Marco Breuer; Bottom row: Daido Moriyama photography


Aside from artist books and zines, there was a strong focus on photography books, and some of best stands in the photography section were from Japan, including Goliga, Akio Nagasawa and Komiyama (specialises in vintage art and photography books). As a fan of photography, I finally succumbed to temptation and bought a book & DVD set called ‘Tokyo diaries’ at the Pierre von Kleist stand from Portugal. I spoke to its Portuguese  publisher and photographer André Príncipe and he told me about his project – how he encountered well-known Japanese photographers such as Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira, Hiromix, Kohei Yushiyuki and Kajii Syoin in Tokyo; and how the films were ruined by the x-ray machine during transit. André also signed the book for me, and I left the stand feeling quite satisfied with my purchase.








At my second visit to the fair, I decided to spare some time to see the exhibition on the top floor: VITO ACCONCI: WHERE WE ARE NOW (WHO ARE WE ANYWAY?), 1976′. The multidisiplinary artist’s solo exhibition showcased much of his early performance work through photographs, sketches, films and video footage. His radical and subversive explorations of the human condition, sexuality, voyeurism, identity are still provocative even in today’s standards. The exhibition also reinstalled his ‘WHERE WE ARE NOW (WHO ARE WE ANYWAY?)’, which is made up of a wooden plank surrounded by stools. The plank continues through an open window and becomes a diving board suspended over the traffic below.



NY ART BOOK FAIR 16  Wizard skull' 'Sexy Ronald'

Top & bottom left: The view from MoMA PS1; Bottom right: New York artist Wizard skull‘ ‘Sexy Ronald’ could be seen inside and outside of the venue


If I had more time, I would have paid a third visit to the fair because I reckoned I only managed to see 2/3 of the fair. As an art book fan, and a new bookseller, I thoroughly enjoyed the fair and its popularity indicates that independent publishing now is thriving and will continue to do so in the near future.



Books, zines and DVD I bought from the art book fair


What the heck happened to Newburgh?

The Dutch Reformed Church newburgh

The Dutch Reformed Church newburgh

The derelict Greek Revival style Dutch Reformed Church was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis in 1835


The fate of a city often resembles the life cycle of a person. A city may experience prosperity for a few decades/ centuries; but one day, it may be destroyed due to wars or natural disasters, or it may simply dwindle and become neglected and forgotten. The world has witnessed the downfalls of majestic cities like Rome, Alexandra, Athens, New York, London, Shanghai, Baghdad, Detroit and the list goes on. Whether a city could bounce back and thrive again depends on many factors; most of the time, it is not within the control of its citizens or even the local government.

I am not sure how many people who live in New York have heard of the city called Newburgh, 60 miles north of Manhattan. Well, I haven’t, and neither have my friend who has lived in the New York State and Connecticut for the last 20 years.

While en route to Storm King Art center, it was by chance that we decided to stop in Newburgh for a quick bite to eat. As soon as we drove into the centre, we were perplexed by how desolated the city was, and at the time, gobsmacked by the stunning European style architecture dotted around the city.


Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is the world’s largest private holding of important original manuscripts & documents, and this Newburgh branch is one of the many in the US


Initially, my friend was reluctant to park the car as she was worried for our safety. The deserted streets and derelict buildings were a sharp contrast to the sunny and sharp blue sky. What happened here? We both wondered. I then searched the internet to try and find out more information and all I could find was a insightful newspaper article from the UK – Guardian – explaining the downfall of this city and how efforts have been made to resurrect it (judging from what we saw, the regeneration has yet to happen).




ms fairfax

Top two rows: murals in the city centre; Bottom: Ms Fairfax


We did eventually have lunch at a nice cafe called Ms Fairfax, where most of its interior and decor are upcycled furniture and parts brought back from a bowling alley after it closed down (a very creative idea). After lunch, we drove around the city briefly to admire the beautiful architecture scattered around the centre.

We lost count of the churches we passed by, which indicates that the city used to be very wealthy. And with its location – next to the Hudson river – it has all the right ‘ingredients’ to be a prosperous city like Greenwich, a wealthy town in Connecticut (which has similar European style architecture). Yet driving around the impoverished and slightly eerie city, we both felt quite depressed and did not want to linger any longer.


Masonic Temple newburgh

The Masonic Temple’s cornerstone was laid July 10, 1914


According to the article and other info I found on the internet, the city was founded in 1709 by 50 Lutheran German immigrants, sponsored by Great Britain. And in 1752, the land was surveyed by the lieutenant governor for the Province of New York,Cadwallader Colden, who named it after Newburgh in his native Scotland.

To our surprise, one of the country’s most historic site is also located here. It is the oldest house in the city, called Hasbrouck House. It was served as George Washington‘s headquarters while he was in command of the Continental Army during the final year of the American Revolutionary War (1782 until 1783). In 1850, the site was acquired by the State of New York – the first publicly operated historic site in the USA. It is now open to the public from April until October, and over the President’s weekend that celebrates Washington‘s birthday in February.


American Legion Judson P Galloway Post 152

American Legion Judson P Galloway Post 152


Due to its riverside location, the city boomed during the second half of the 19th century and became a transportation hub and an industrial centre for different manufacturing enterprises. As the city flourished, many lavish public buildings, churches and luxurious mansions were built, including the grand Palatine Hotel built in 1893. But the city’s decline started after the war when many industrial operations moved to other locations where labour costs and taxes were lower.


Hudson Valley Christian Church newburgh

The City Library, now Hudson Valley Christian Church, was designed by architect J. A. Wood and opened to the public in 1852


Sadly, it was an ambitious (failed) urban renewal between 1971 and 1973 that caused the city’s ultimate downfall. The city knocked down nearly 1,300 buildings, mostly along its waterfront, including the Palatine Hotel. Residents lost their homes and were relocated elsewhere. Yet money dried up, and the plan never took off.



 The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of Newburgh

Top row: Primera Asamblea De Dios Hispana church; Bottom row: The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of Newburgh is the oldest Black Church in the Mid-Hudson Valley.


Attempted gentrification over the last few decades have failed, and the city has had to deal with many issues such as poverty, gang crimes and violence, drug trade, unemployment, illegal immigrants and racial conflicts. In recent years, increasing efforts to revive the city have been made by the Mayor, local residents and new businesses, but the road to recovery may take a long, long time.
You can learn more about the city’s news via Newburgh Restoration, a blog by Cher Vick who is an urban planning student at Hunter College in NYC.







Art & nature at Storm King Art Center

new york  new york

new york

Scenery on the way to Storm King Art Center in New Windsor


My trip to New York was split between staying in the city and spending time with my good friend and her family in Connecticut, and without a doubt it was the best way to enjoy what New York REALLY has to offer. Many visitors to New York rarely venture out of the city, but there is so much to see and do when you leave the city behind. And Storm King Art Center (it’s not so much an art center but rather a sculpture park) is certainly worth leaving the city for.

Many visitors don’t realise that there are many world-class museums located outside of the city. On my last visit, we visited the stunning and spacious Dia: Beacon contemporary art museum on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon. Hence I was keen to visit a similar art museum for us to spend the day. My friend searched on the internet and found out about the 500-acre open-air museum near Storm King Mountain in Mountainville, which is only about an hour’s drive north from New York City. Soon enough, we were off in her car driving to one of the leading sculpture parks in the US, if not the world.


alexander liberman adonai 1970-71

tal streeter endless column 1968  arnaldo pomodoro the pitrarubbia group 1975-76

kenneth snelson free ride home 1974

Top: Alexander Liberman’s Adonai 1970-71; 2nd left: Tal Streeter’s Endless Column 1968; 2nd right: Arnaldo Pomodoro’s The pitrarubbia group 1975-76; Bottom: Kenneth Snelson’s Free ride home 1974


Our arrival time was delayed due to a slight detour (which I will write about in my next entry), and we were left with only two/three hours in the afternoon to see the vast site. With more than over 100 sculptures scattered around the site, we decided to rent a bike each as we figured that it would be impossible to see much on foot.

The nonprofit Art Center was founded in 1960 by Ralph E. Ogden and his son-in-law, H. Peter Stern, the owners of the neaby Star Expansion Company. The museum building was originally built as a weekend house by a New York banker; and in 1959, the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation bought the house and its surrounding land, with the intention of establishing an art center for visual art and music. Ogden‘s original collection started with a trip to the studio of sculptor David Smith (see below), and over time, the collection grew, in both numbers and size. More land was acquired and the ongoing project was oversaw by landscape architect William A. Rutherford, Sr over a 45-year period.


mark di suvero

storm king art center   henry moore reclining connected forms

dennis oppenheim entrance to a garden

louise nevelson city on the high mountain

Top: Mark Di Suvero’s sculptures; 2nd right: Henry Moore’s Reclining Connected Forms 1969; 3rd row: Dennis Oppenheim’s Entrance to a garden 2002; 4th row: Louise Nevelson’s City on the high mountain 1983


I think May, September and October are the best months to visit New York because the weather is usually mild around this time. It was around mid 20s on the day, so it wasn’t too hot or humid. The bike idea turned out to be a brilliant one because it was breezy and fun to ride along the path with hardly any other visitors around! It has been a long time since I felt so carefree and blissful! Being able to enjoy art and nature without crowds or traffic simply puts one at ease immediately, hence we loved every moment of our time there!


storm king art center

storm king art center  dennis oppenheim

david smith  louise nevelson

louise bourgeois number seventy-two (the no march)

Top: Museum building; 2nd left: interior of the builing; 2nd right: Dennis Oppenheim; 3rd left: David smith’s sculptures; 3rd right: Louise Nevelson; bottom row: Louise Bourgeois’ Number seventy-two (the no march) 1972


I have always been a big fan of sculpture parks, and I particularly like Hakone Open-Air Museum just outside of Tokyo and Henry Moore‘s Perry Green in Hertfordshire (see my earlier post entry). But this vast scale of this park took us by surprise and it is particularly spectacular when you are standing next to the mammoth sculptures created by the most famous sculptors and artists from the 20th century.

The center also hosts regular exhibitions, and during our visit, several outdoor pieces by American conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim were installed, including a previously unrealised one – Dead Furrow – based on his original drawing from 1967.


josef pillhofer reclining man 1964  nam june paik waiting for ufo

isamu noguchi momo taro

ursula von rydingsvard for paul 1990-92  ursula von rydingsvard for paul 1990-92

Top left: Josef Pillhofer’s Reclining man 1964; Top right: Nam June Paik’s Waiting for UFO 1992; 2nd row: Isamu Noguchi’s Momo Taro 1977-78; Bottom: Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s For Paul 1990-92


I have to admit that we were not fond of every sculpture at the park, since some of them are too abstract and perplexing to our liking. However, their arrangements do not obstruct the surrounding and every sculpture seems to blend well with the landscape. Our sole regret was that even with a map, we were unable to locate all the sculptures and we wished that we had more time to explore the park properly.


storm king art center  storm king art center

storm king art center

alexander calder five swords 1976

menashe kadishman suspended   dennis oppenheim dead furrow

zhang huan three legged buddha

Top row: Alexander Calder’s Five swords 1976; 2nd left: Menashe Kadishman’s Suspended 1977; 2nd right: Dennis Oppenheim’s Dead Furrow 2016; Bottom: Zhang Huan’s Three legged buddha 2007


andy goldsworthy storm king wall  storm king art center

roy lichtenstein mermaid

mark di suvero mother peace 1969-70

richard serra schunnemunk fork 1990-91  richard serra schunnemunk fork 1990-91

mark di suvero frog legs

Top: Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm king wall 1997-98; 2nd row: Roy Lichtenstein’s Mermaid 1994; 3rd row: Mark Di Suvero’s Mother peace 1969-70; 4th row: RIchard Serra’s Schunnemunk fork 1990-91; Bottom: Mark Di Suvero’s Frog legs 2002


At the end of the day, we felt so uplifted and joyous, and I considered the visit to be the highlight of my trip. So, I highly recommend this amazing place; go and see it for yourself the wonders of art in nature!