“Common Life” – A Visual & Poetic Showcase

With crayons and stained paper, I wander around neighbourhoods in Singapore, doing art — observing, perceiving, looking for that “something”; seeing it accidentally, hopefully; having strong, often unspeakable feelings, about it; drawing breathlessly… What I look at, what I see, how I feel and what/how I draw, are part of my living, being, growing and learning.

I am always excited about any viewer of my work seeing and feeling as they do individually, originally and creatively, totally independent of what is in my mind/heart. ~ Ho Chee Lick

In Chinese, 衣食住行 (yi shi zhu xing) refers to the everyday life of the common people: clothing, food, housing, transport.

Presented by NUS Libraries, the exhibition features “Common Life” — an expression of the everyday life of common Singaporeans.

With crayons and stained paper, Dr Ho Chee Lick captures the littlest moments that touches his heart. Since 2014, this theme has been the main focus of Dr Ho’s art. Accompanying each of his drawing is a Syair (Malay rhymed poem) with English translation contributed by Dr Azhar Ibrahim.

Di sana sini banyaklah pusat
Membeli-belah menjadi sakat
Ada butik jahitan dan tekat
Silalah tempah siapa berminat
Throughout the island malls abundant
Shopping craze hypnotizing the island
Tailoring and embroidery shops abound
For those interested, welcome to indent
Serata estet projek bermacam
Dibaiki dicantik luar dan dalam
Pekerja membanting siang dan malam
Makan berduduk bagaikan bertilam
Throughout the estate countless projects
Renovation and refurbishments with some effects
Workers on duty day and night
Sitting and gathering at void deck, in great delight
Juga terdapat kedai jualan
Mudahkan penduduk beli barangan
Harganya kadang sedikit lebihan
Yang penting kolong tak sepi sunyian
Some blocks you can find convenient stores
Enabling residents to shop easily more
Though the prices may be higher than before
But the void deck is busied like a fun fare galore
Banyak terdapat pojok warga
Tempat khas orang-orang tua
Dihias pohonan kerusi dan meja
Inilah tempat menghabiskan masa
Citizens’ corners in some blocks
Retirees and housewives come to flock
Decorated with sofas plant and rocks
You spend the time till ten o’clock

Banyak menimbun barangan buangan
Sehingga berabuk berkarat sesakan
Bersivik kurang berbuat sembarangan
Akhirnya kolong tikus bersarangan
But some void decks cluttered by trash
Turning it like a house of stash
Uncivic practices beamingly so rash
Void deck turns into den of crass
Ada kolong sedikit istimewa
Terdapat gym khas dibina
Datanglah beriadah tua dan muda
Pendudukpun sihat membugar badannya
Some estates are special indeed
You can find gym specially built
Old and young exercise to build
Mind and body healthy and fit
Di kolong flat ternampak sering
Orang tua uzur disorong diiring
Pembantu rumah tugasnya penting
Temanin tuannya sakit dan pening
You will see at the void deck often
Old folks in wheelchairs beholden
The maid’s presence is important
Accompanying in good health or when spirit dampen
Di bawah kolong lega dan rapi
Sebulan sekali dibasuh dicuci
Tahulah siapa kerjanya ini
Pekerja asing selalunya Bangladeshi
Under the block, wide and orderly
Once a month being washed properly
You know whose work obviously
Foreign workers, Bangladeshi mostly
The visual and poetic showcase was displayed at Central Library Arts Buzz from 7 – 24 Aug 2018. If you missed it, you can grab a copy of Dr Ho’s newly published book “Common Life. Drawings & Poems” at our libraries.

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