At the Ritz-Carlton, Millennia Singapore, one can tour the hotel’s collection of contemporary art and delight in the experience with some specially created artisanal desserts over afternoon tea
Like many luxury hotels, paintings and sculptures adorn the Ritz-Carlton, Millennia Singapore’s lobby. But unbeknownst to many, the Ritz is also home to one of the finest and most extensive collections of modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia—4,200 pieces of artwork valued to a tune of $5 million.
According to hotel general manager Peter Mainguy, “we are established as a modern art hotel in Singapore and we wish to make our collection accessible to everyone who appreciates art.” While the majority of the art pieces, many of them specially commissioned, are located in the hotel’s 608 guestrooms, the hotel has put together a complimentary 28-minute long self-guided art tour to showcase some 30 key works from notable artists like Frank Stella, Dale Chihuly, David Hockney and Rainer Gross.
Available to both hotel guests and the public from the hotel’s concierge, participants will get iPods loaded with an audio podcast and a printed booklet with profiles of the featured artists and notes on their work. The tour kicks off at the Ritz-Carlton’s main entrance.
Centred right above the space is American painter Frank Stella’s ‘Cornucopia’, a massive three-ton fibreglass installation that had been was designed in New York and fashioned by traditional boat makers in Cannes, France, before being transported to the hotel’s lobby here in Singapore. It was supposedly inspired by a sun shade.
Flanking the lobby, on the extreme East and West wings of the building, are a pair blown glass sculptures on the wall by American Glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. Aptly named ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’, the installations have become signature highlights within the space. Incidentally, the artist’s namesake lounge, the Chihuly lounge, on the Eastern wing of the hotel is where the hotel’s special art-themed Summer Weekend Afternoon Tea, with artisanal desserts will be served.
With so many treasures by acclaimed artists on the tour, it will be hard to find a favourite. Fans of colour and abstract work that stir the imagination will enjoy British water colourist Malcom Morely’s lithograph and German visual artist Rainer Gross’ collection of geometrical compositions. There is even a pair of brightly coloured prints from Andy Warhol’s limited ‘Poppy’ series on display at Level 1.
At the end of the tour, this writer found himself going back to admire another Frank Stella special: a pair of 4 metre high wall-mounted sculptures from his Moby Dick series. Inspired by white beluga whales in the New York City Aquarium, the works mimic rolling waves with a dominant yet elusive whale-like presence that stands out poignantly in the space.
Savouring The Art Of Summer Tea
“Food is art, as much as art is food for the soul,” quotes executive pastry chef Terence Pang, the man behind the extraordinary collection of desserts he created for the art-themed Summer Weekend Afternoon Tea that’s being served at the Chihuly Lounge from now till August 31.
Inspiration for the whimsical looking desserts might have come from the vibrant colours of the hotel’s art collection, but we couldn’t help by note similarities to the desserts served by the Mad Hatter during tea in the classic novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by British author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. A cursory look at the brightly coloured desserts, complete with geometric shapes pop art names like Cherry ‘K’ Macaron and Peach ‘M’ says it all. While eating into them won’t see you expand or shrink like Alice did, the confectionary will guarantee a sugar rush.
Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the Cherry ‘K’ macaron, made with kirsch and hint of bitter almond; and the Yuzu Pop, made with fondant and a yuzu-filled centre. The other aesthetically pleasing options include the square-shaped Strawberry Mint Pave cake that’s layered with sponge, a minty cream filling and white chocolate coat, banana-filled BG Cake and tiered Choco Caramel cake.
Naturally, this being tea after all, guests will get to choose from a selection of wellness, fruit and traditional teas. Other items on the menu include sandwiches like the Crab Meat Salad with Avocado in Beetroot Fococcia and Goose Liver Parfait with Port Wine Jelly.
This story was first published in Vol 2 of Gallery & Studio.