AiRx 2013 has begun!

That means it’s time for me, resident AiRx blogger, to get busy!




Beyond the White Cube


AiRx 2013 is going to be full of new challenges. This year, we’ve called on artists to work around a specially selected location, with the aim of creating a collaborative, site-specific work. This means that unlike previous years, where our artists presented their works in an exhibition space, AiRx 2013 will take place en plein air.


Site-specific art, for those unfamiliar with the term, arises when an artist takes the location into account when planning and creating the artwork. For example, Olafur Eliasson created a large site-specific installation for the Tate Modern titled The Weather Project. He installed a false sun in the Turbine Hall, immersing viewers in a warm, radiant glow.













The Weather Project, Olafur Eliasson, 2003 at Tate Modern


The choice of working in a garden, lends the artists’ collaborative process to many new factors like climate, terrain and the relationship between people and green spaces. The cultural exchange inherent in AiRx broadens from a personal level, between two artists, to a cross-cultural intervention linking each country’s physical landscape and public consciousness.


Singapore Botanic Gardens (Small)









AiRx 2013 will happen in Singapore first, then in the UK, and we are most happy to announce that the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) will act as the green canvas for the first half of the programme.


In particular, SBG has offered AiRx 2013 range of heritage locations within the gardens. SBG and AiRx manager/curator, Tolla Sloane selected a promising spot within its 74-hectre compound – a grassy area under one of its largest heritage trees, a Kapok (cotton) tree estimated to be 80 to 90 years old, across from the Garden’s iconic Bandstand. Built in 1930, the Bandstand was used for performances by military bands. The site was previously a parade ground marking the highest point in the Gardens and continues to be a well-loved spot for gatherings and photo-shoots.



Colonial foundations


SBG Entrance







The main gate of the Singapore Botanic Gardens at Napier Road, date unknown.


  • The Singapore Botanic Gardens was established in 1859. It was first managed by the Agri-Horticultural Society, but was quickly transferred to the Colonial government. Kew-trained botanists who were posted from the UK to care for the gardens, spearheaded important changes and programmes that still resonate today.
  • In the 1920s, the Gardens were a key player in the growth of rubber industry in Southeast Asia, supplying seeds and rubber cultivation technology to the region.

Mr Henry Ridley






Mr Henry Ridley standing among Rubber (Hervea brasiliensis) trees, that were planted before 1888, when Sir Joseph Hooker distributed seedlings to colonial gardens in India, Ceylon and the Straits Settlement.


  • The Singapore Botanic Gardens are now headquarters of the National Parks Board, the government body that maintains Singapore’s ‘Garden City’ status. Apart from the Garden’s longstanding commitment to education, research and conservation, it is also dedicated to being a relevant and enjoyable destination for tourists and locals.
  • Due to it’s rich history, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is on the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s Tentative List.


The Kapok Tree

The Kapok tree is also known as Ceiba pentandra or White Silk-cotton Tree. As the name suggests, produces a form of cotton in its seedpods, which burst open when matured, releasing dozens of fibrous, airborne seeds. The white water-resistant fibre, called Kapok in Malay, was previously used to stuff pillows, mattresses and lifejackets.

Kapok tree  general view











Heritage Kapok Tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens


Till next time,




Image Sources:

  1. 2003, Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project <> [Accessed 30/08/13]
  2. Singapore Botanic Gardens
    <> [Accessed 29/08/13]
  3. 2010, June 26. “Bandstand” at Botanic Gardens. Blog to Express <> [Accessed 29/08/13]
  4. 2008. Harrold Johnson and Nadia Wright. Vanda Miss Joaquim: Singapore’s National Flower & the Legacy of Agnes & Ridley. Singapore.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Joanne Mark. Kapok Tree: general view. PictureSG <> [Accessed 30/08/13]



  1. A guide to heritage trees of Singapore Botanic Gardens <> [Accessed 29/08/13]