Apologies for this coming to you two weeks late. The producers have been busy with the unpacking and logistics of post-festival.. but here we are again with a summary of the official opening. (Thank you to the photographers, Bianca, Kelly and Jerome, who have lent us these photos to post here.)
The day started right about 11am on the 17th of January, somewhere in the west jungles of Singapore we held a simple prayer/ritual, typical of the kind when one fires a dragon kiln though rare these days because of the almost extinct dragons. Food, fruits, wine, joss sticks and paper-money were prepared much earlier for the special occasion. This was a small but very important event that would start off the rest of the firing and festivities! And we must’ve done something right because the weather was beautiful throughout the evening and days leading after.
Promptly at 6pm the crowd gathered infront of the dragon kiln. This was the beginning of one of THE most beautiful evenings (weekends) I have ever had the chance to experience. It was like a family reunion of sorts. Everyone sharing stories, food, laughter and company.. What a wonderful sight it was for us.
Our Guest of Honor was Mrs Pamelia Lee, ex-head of Marketing Division in the Singapore Tourism Board. She shared with us of a story – a time when this kiln flourished and was set in a beautiful landscape of streams, with flora and fauna. In her speech, she also reminded us that, “Passion, as expressed and persevered by all of you, is what will preserve this Kiln”.
After the speeches and thank you’s, it was time to officially Awaken the Dragon! It was definitely the most anticipated event of the night – with our GOH being the first to light the kiln.
Subsequently, the rest of our delightful VIPs were given a chance to put in the last pieces wood that came from the late Ng Eng Teng’s home. It was also here that Edmond Wong, the man behind the struggle to save NET’s Joo Chiat home, said a few words regarding the late artist and the significance of using those last wooden beams for to awaken the dragon.
At this point, Post-Museum suggested to let members of the public put in a piece of wood to light the dragon kiln as well! It was really quite a beautiful thing to witness, as various members of the public came up and told us who they were representing as they loaded in the wood. There was even a lady from Holland who said she was representing the tourists of Singapore!
The rest of the night was a beautiful spread of food generously provided by the resident artists of Jalan Bahar, some food we catered by Wok & Barrel, and of course Jungle Beer.While others were chatting away, making new friends and meeting old ones, the rest sat by the fire and listened to the solo acts by local music makers such as Rachael Teo.
After what seemed to be a beautiful and entertaining evening in the jungle, the crowd finally faded back into city.. and the few who remained sat by the dragon kiln with drink and good company, and it was here that we started the serious firing/fighting of the dragon. The first night was probably the toughest getting the temperature from 500 to 1000 degrees celsius with a whole lot of rather damp wood! After some struggle, we took turns to nap by the kiln.. it must be the surrounding forest/wilderness, because despite the huge fire in front of us, it was still really quite chilly. We actually woke up to stoke the wood so that we could be warm enough to get back to sleep.
Nevertheless, by the break of dawn we had hit 1012 degrees and our shift was swiftly taken over by kiln firing leader – Ian Jones. All-in-all, it was a pretty good opening! 🙂 I will post up the subsequent festival days soon!