Mamakan is a Danish/Singaporean botanical artist inspired by the feminine spirit of nature.
Her artistic practice uses fine art photography, poetry and sensorial installations to contemplate about our relationship with plants, flowers and trees at the most intimate level of the of the human mind, conscious and unconscious.
Mamakan's fine art photography proposes a new contemporary version of impressionism, where she captures a moment of flora in natural light (en plain air), using movements to create a play of light and water reflections, often expressed in bright, intense colour vibrations or calming black & white.
These works are highly intuitive, feeling and portraying the natural essence, or perhaps even the soul, of a plant, in a bold, handmade composition arising from the artist's air of spontaneity.
Her large-scale installations are known for their experiential and sensorial qualities, where she immerses the visitor into living the story using visuals, touch, sounds, scent and sometimes even food & drinks. By exploring different aspects of botanicals through these interactive and immersive art experiences, we discover new connections with nature, our senses, ourselves and history.
Mamakan's latest installation "Daughter of the Soil" was commissioned by OH! Open House at Emerald Hill 2018 and featured the true story of Agnes Joaquim, a Singaporean born in the 19th century and the first woman in the world to crossbreed two orchid spices.
In 2017, her solo exhibition "Treasure Island' was on show at National Museum of Singapore, which through an interactive botanical wall and a 24-panel visual artwork titled "Nothing on Earth grows in Heaven, Maybe" explored 88 botanicals inspired by a letter written by Nathaniel Wallich, a pioneering Danish naturalist from the early colonial days of South and Southeast Asia.
In 2016, she was the initiator of the "GastroGeography of Singapore" exhibition, a Singapore Biennale 2016 project, together with other artists, botanists, biologists and several volunteers. Through two interactive exhibitions at WOWhaus and Fort Canning, GastroGeography questioned the status of belonging and rootedness in an urbanized environment.
In recent years, Mamakan studied fine arts and art history at LASALLE College of the Arts. In 2009, she curated the "Sustainable Design by Qi Global" exhibitions at the National Museum of Singapore and the former Supreme Court - now National Gallery Singapore.
A few years later, she worked with Michelin star chef Andre Chiang on "Rainforest Cuisine", an art/food/sustainability initiative. The Southeast Asian haze crisis of 2015 propelled her energy into a series of drawings and talks under the theme of "Tree of Life".
Born as "Mette Kristine" in Aarhus, Denmark in 1971, to a goldsmith trained mother who practiced ceramic art in a large garden full of fruit trees and bushes of hazelnut . After her parents divorce and at the tender age of 12, Mamakan fell in love with handmade black and white photography. Though her teenage years, she spent most of her time hiding in dark chambers, only appearing sporadically to focus on her other passion, newspapers and the current state of affairs and after school jobs to pay for the photography equipment.
Since, her curiosity has taken her on a global journey from Brazil to Europe to Asia, back to Europe and then back to Asia. Her sense of adventure has paved an unorthodox way through fashion and luxury industries, charity and social entrepreneurship, from modelling over future studies to innovation culture consulting for some of the world's biggest food companies before returning full-time to art in 2016.
In a past life, she was the embodiment of the restless cosmopolite, with a horizontal network that traversed the entire globe. It came to a point where she found herself stretched too thin, and she knew then that what she had to do was to ground down and discover her roots. How can we grow roots, if we never eat from the soil?
The name Mamakan was born out of this impulse in 2014. It is a reference to the sacred feminine principle.
By sensing the plants that are rooted in the places we live, we can hope—even if it is only temporary—to internalize their sense of gravity and connectedness.
Mamakan is living in Singapore with her husband of Indonesian/Chinese/Dutch descent and their three children in a shophouse on Niven Road, coincidentally named after the first superintendent of the Singapore Botanical Gardens.
1971 Born in Aarhus, Denmark.
Daughter of the Soil, for OH! Emerald Hill Art Tours 3-25 March for Openhouse.org. Singapore.
Botanical Expeditions and Research:
New Zealand, May.
Durban and Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. February.
Women in Arts, Singapore. 9th March. Premiere and performance, varius locations, Singapore.
Singapore Art Week, You Art What You Eat, 20th January at Tippling Club, Singapore.
Treasure Island, National Museum of Singapore, 28 April to 25 June. Public interventions: Treasure Trails, National Museum of Singapore, 27 May to 18 June.
Leuser Eco-System and National Park, North Sumatra, August
Pecha Kucha, The Working Capitol, Singapore, 31 August
Excellent Sheep by The Tropicalist, WOWhaus, Singapore, 19 August
ROD Artist Performance, National Museum of Singapore, 23 June
Mamakan for The Performance Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, 15 June
BOTANICA, Duxton Park, 19 May
Art & Food: Botanical Treasures of Singapore Series: Noni Fruits, Mahota Commune, 12 May
Pecha Kucha, National Museum of Singapore, 7 May
Mahota x Mamakan Pop-up, Mahota Commune, 8 March
GastroGeography of Singapore, National Parks Board (NParks), Galleri Nila, 4 March to 14 May.
An Afternoon of Art & Food, Singapore Art Museum (SAM), 18 February.
70 x 7 The Meal Act XL by Studio Orta, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Gillman Barracks, 20 January.
GastroGeography of Singapore, Mamakan Art Collective, WOWhaus and Fort Canning, Singapore Biennale 2016, October 2016 to February 2017.
Tree of Life, a collection of charcoal drawings, Royal Danish Embassy, SIM University, Singapore Management University (SMU). September 2015 to March 2016.
MAMAKAN, a moment of epiphany, Istana, Singapore, June to September.
Urban Eco-Warriors, Borneo and Singapore, June 2012.
Rainforest Cuisine by Kristine Oustrup Laureijs and Andre Chiang, November 2011 to June 2012.
Qi Global, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore, 2011 October
Qi Global, School of Art, Design & Media - Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, October
Public Interventions/Curatorial Show:
Sustainable Design by Qi Global, Former Supreme Court Building (Now National Gallery), December and National Museum of Singapore, October
Spice warehouses! Nutmeg mania! Walk the colonial past of Singapore’s Emerald Hill by Akshita Nanda, Star2, Malaysia. 27 February. Download.
This year’s art walk at Emerald Hill delves into Singapore’s relationship with colonialism by Benita Lee for Coconuts Singapore. 21 February. Download.
Wild eating in the garden city by Tan Ying Zhen for Japan Times, 24 March
Outdoor Foraging. 100 Kinds of Local Edible Plants (in Chinese) by Tan Ying Zhen for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore 26 February.
The foragers of Singapore: how to find edible plants growing wild and the foods and drinks to make from them by Juliana Loh for South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 23 December. Download.
In the Drawer by cubes magazine, Interiors, Architecture, Design. December/January. Download.
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