February 26, 2010
Meet the correspondents: BEIJING > Teo Cheng Huat
"My real interest in sketching started back in Singapore in 1980, when I was in the armed forces serving as a medical orderly for a military school. Every three months, a new batch of officer cadets would be trained at the school. My main duty was to be embedded to their field training as part of the medical support team. Since I had a lot of free time when they are out in the field doing their training, I began to spend time drawing everyday scenes and stuff that trainees do during training and in their off hours. Just like writing a diary, I sketched hilarious things like what the trainees would do behind the back of their officer or faking illness just to get a medical excuse for training. Two years ago, I selected some of the sketches, have them printed and call the sketchbook ‘My Army Daze.’
After graduating as a interior designer from Singapore in 1985, I got involved in restoration projects and landscaping. Most of these projects are best expressed in the form of hand drawn sketches which eventually I was able to create in my own style.
My home is now in Beijing. However, I am spending a lot of time in Hong Kong recently. Hong Kong is an exciting place to be and shopping and eating are favorite pastime. Since I grew up in Singapore , soon these pastimes are not for me anymore so I begin to explore the least popular places. I try to spend time on weekends visiting old streets, houses, shops and markets as well as some of the outlying islands around Hong Kong . Sometime, we can still find an old tea house, Tim Sum’ restaurant, barber shop and tiny hardware store in up-market area like SOHO or Central district. I hope to draw and sketch them before they are demolished and give way to new commercial and expensive residential development. Back in Singapore, old historical buildings are turned into shopping centers, hotels and posh restaurants. It is quite sad to see these things happening in Hong Kong as well and these places are disappearing every day. I hope I can draw and record these scene as much as possible. My wife introduced me to Urban Sketchers earlier this year and ever since, I am very happy and glad to share my sketches with others.
During my time in Beijing, I will visit the art districts. One of the popular area is 798 Arts District. Other time in Beijing , I will often visit some nearby farms and small towns far away from the city and do sketching of the quiet and peaceful countryside. Traveling to other parts of China is always a great experience because every time there are so much changes in the same city or town due to the rapid changes and developments. In Shanghai, The Bund and in Tianjin, Caozhuangzi Village are good places to do sketching, there are many Western influenced architecture and markets where some varnishing trades still exist.
Beside, I like to cook and most of the time I will sketch my menu and also planning to do a illustrated cookbook soon."
• Teo Cheng Huat's art on flickr.