The blue skies on 25 October sang of the night to come. Everywhere I looked, I chanced glimpses of delicious blue hues. The elegant sinews of a blue car hummed with the night’s elegant possibilities. Jack had invited me to the opening of the Bombay Sapphire Blue Room; the embodiment of the well-crafted gin’s spirit. I could not wait to see how the various art collectives, individual and musical artists would interpret the theme.
Bombay Sapphire is a distilled gin hailing from England and is vapour-infused with the subtle essences of 10 hand-selected botanicals, all of which are on display at the Blue Room. Adding to the artistry of the month-long exhibition, guests to the Blue Room will have a chance to savour the delectable cocktails first-hand, from designer concoctions to Bombay Sapphire’s iconic cocktails. The creation of the cocktails themselves are a performance to behold, against a stunning backdrop of a bar with large faceted ‘sapphires’ and backlit sapphire-hued bottles.
Passed through generations, the craftsmanship devoted to the distillation of the Bombay Sapphire gin has always been prized as an art itself, so it is no surprise that it has been an avid supporter of the arts for years with the Bombay Sapphire Foundation that boasts some of the top names in glass and design.
The Bombay Sapphire Blue Room experience was naturally themed, Infused with Imagination. The thematic wonder of innovation, tradition, botanicals and lush imagination was captured in sensuous imagery; from parted lips, the tension of materials suspended in liquid, to whimsical fairytales of organic and marine forms to tactile soundscapes.
Musician Jason Tan kicked off the evening with jungle beats peppered with rhythmic drum and bass, melded with lilting Hindi tunes, reverberations of the sitar, insect and animal calls of a new dawn all laced the track, for a truly ambient experience. The theme echoed in the lithe nymphs who ensured all guests had a chance to experience a Bombay Sapphire elixir. Clad in sapphire satin, they shimmered like physical incantations of the gin itself as they weaved through the space. The three video installations also added to the overall atmosphere, creating ‘living walls’ that extended the idea of physical space and injected a further dynamism to the energy of the space.
All nine visual artworks were truly inspired and I am not one for reviews that are complete spoilers, so go see it yourself and tell us what you think!
Sure you are welcome to read the official artist statements next to the artworks, these are my thoughts on my five favourites!
(1) Digital Ceramics by Kult3D
This is the first artwork that will stop you in your tracks with its commanding presence as you round the corner on the second floor. Even the title of this installation by art collective Kult3D dizzies the senses. Seemingly opposed polarities of the East and West, Old and New, Real and Imaginary all collide into a piece that bears an air of reverence; the feel of awe before a benevolent God or a sacred altar. Inspired by Bombay Sapphire’s ongoing inventiveness and support of cutting-edge art forms while staying true to a recipe more than two centuries old, the white and blue ceramics are lined up in stoic fashion symbolizing a rich history and evokes images of the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an. This is counterbalanced by a video screen representing how Bombay Sapphire taps on technology and adapts through the ages, as it plays a loop of the very same ceramics fused digitally into a totem pole spiraling through time.
(2) Over & Under by Kristal Melson
Similarly inspired as Kult3D, yet expressed in a different dimension, Kristal Melson’s work invites you with playful grins into a child’s elfin marine games where ethereal creatures dance across the canvas, insects submerged in water, paper boats float upside down while jelly fish cavort in the sky. The delightful topsy-turvy world is endearing with its gentile charm, and the audience is suspended in disbelief at the fantastical nature that illuminates the canvas awash with sapphire hues. Perhaps it is akin to the very experience of tasting the subtle complexities of the gin itself and toasting to the gin that knows its roots but is bold enough to embrace the future.
(3) Apothecary by Tara Tadani
Jewellery designer Tara Tadani was led by the idea of the rich history of Bombay Sapphire’s different botanicals and how they have withstood the taste test and generations of distinguished distillers for two and a half centuries. The hand-written labels of various ingredients housed in traditional bottles with stoppers harks back to the time of the old time healers; pharmacies of the yesteryear, where the creation of potions was magical and the knowledge that the ancients welded were priceless and closely guarded. Her soulful interpretation really made you appreciate the careful process of distillation and the history-laden recipe.
(4) Bombay Baby by Clara Yee
I adored the work by London-based illustrator Clara Yee’s interpretation of the theme.
The ten botanicals literally birthed a lovechild; the ultimate fruit of a union – a new organic form. The delicious gothic hues and style were reminiscent of Tim Burton’s slightly macabre fairytales that still hold a child-like innocence. Alice in Wonderland would not feel left out on her canvas.
(5) Triptych – Lotus by Kittozutto
I admit I was spellbound by this artwork, in particular the centre panel. The two flanking panels feature bluish-purple lotus buds of promise and lotus flowers and leaves tinged with mystic blue, at once creating a sense of spirituality. Your eyes are drawn to the centre panel where a mythical maiden emerges from sapphire waters. Like a flower emerging from the water, she is a a fusion of myth and humanity; strength and vulnerability and elicits the sensuality and desire that resonate with the brand.
A further testament to their dedication towards the arts, the Bombay Sapphire Blue Room also houses an exquisite glass bottle; an artisan celebration of Thomas Dakin’s 1761 gin recipe. Hand-blown to give the illusion of a ‘bottle within a bottle’, with the 10 botanicals laser-etched on the sides of the bottle to create a ‘floating effect’ within the bottle walls, it is a suitably luxurious commemoration of 250 years of one of the world’s best gins. The bottle’s decagon-shaped crystal, sapphire and gold stopper is designed by Garrard, crown jeweler to Queen Victoria since 1843, it is really quite a gem to behold, magpie alert!
Globally, there are only 350 of these Limited Edition bottles, with only 4 bottles in Singapore, of which only two are available for sale. Currently, one bottle is on display at the Bombay Sapphire Blue Room while another is housed permanently at La Cicala, 49 Club Street, home of the first Bombay Sapphire Signature Bar in Singapore. If you love your Bombay Sapphire and would like to be the proud owner of this exclusive Limited Edition bottle, it comes packaged in a specially designed luxurious gift box for approximately SGD 3,000. Kindly contact Bacardi-Martini Singapore directly at +65-6411 7088.
Dreaming in shades of blue have never been more vivid and multi-sensory, in fact, they have taken on an acute tone of utopian sapphire. Inspired Drinks? Inspired Taste? Inspired Design? All checked. I almost felt blue-blooded.Be Inspired! When: 26th October – 17th November 2011
Where: dbl O Art Space, Level 2, 222 Queen Street Inspired Hours : Tuesday to Thursday, 6.00pm – 11.00pm (Closed on Mondays)
Friday to Saturday, 5.00pm – 12.00am
Sunday, 4.00 – 8.00 pm
Damage: Free, Open to public (none, so rock up and treat yourself to a healthy dose of inspiration!) Detailed Inspiration: www.facebook.com/TheBlueRoomSingapore for the full line-up! Written by Emily.P Photography by Jack.D