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  wild people: Pui San

Like many Sungei Buloh volunteers and visitors, I am in awe of Pui San's talent and his dedication to nature and art.
Pui San's regular painting sessions at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve open the window to discovery of nature and self.
A wondrously talented artist and a patient and generous teacher, participants not only get to see and understand nature better, but also gain confidence in their artistic self-expression. Pui San has even persuaded some of the most reluctant volunteers to try their hand at art and surprise themselves with how well they can do it.

Pui San also provides his artwork to the Reserve for their publications. A series of postcards of his work is currently available at the Reserve, all proceeds going to the Reserve for their conservation work (e.g., reintroducing endangered mangrove plants). He also give talks, formal art workshops and is currently planning an art exhibition at the Reserve.

Pui San is also a volunteer guide at the Reserve. As you may well imagine, a walk with Pui San will be full of spirit and a delightful discovery of the beauty of nature.

Pui San is certainly an artist with a passion, not only for art but also for sharing and teaching. He is an inspiration to us all.

Here is more about Pui San in his own words ...

How did you first get involved in working for nature in Singapore?
On 22 Feb 2002, I took a day off to relax and soak in the tranquility at the fresh water pond next to Hide 2A, in Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve.
While I was halfway through my oil painting, an almost imperceptible sloshing sound came from some bushes in front of me in the pond. I peeked over my easel to investigate. Lo and behold a family of otters was right ahead, frolicking and enjoying a mid morning swim. I was taken aback to witness this because I had never seen nor heard of wild otters living in Singapore.

It took quite a while before I realized that I was not dreaming. There were not many times in my life when I was jolted into sudden realization out of serendipitous circumstances that some urgent action must be taken to preserve a thing so precious, a happening so fortunate, and an almost ecstatic feeling, or else that was the end of it, never ever going to be repeated in all the rest of my life.

Such was the excitement and urgency I felt that triggered my desire to do something positive for nature. I made arrangements to sign up as a volunteer on my way out of Sungei Buloh that afternoon.

[Ria's comment: Here's an article in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands magazine on how Sungei Buloh 'got' Pui San].

What do you get out of working for nature?
Fortunately Nparks have this volunteer scheme. It gave me a chance to pick up many aspects of nature from the organized talks and my ongoing research into areas that fascinate me.

In turn the visiting public benefits from my guided tours and I get to learn a great deal from them too. I enjoy thoroughly the fellowship of like-minded volunteers, staff and visitors, and it goes a long way towards fulfilling my ideal of a meaningful and healthy community relationship, based on love and sharing concerns for nature.

One significant effect on my outlook towards life is the understanding of how cycles of nature correlate with ours. Or rather how much, we as part of nature, depend on and relate to it, benefiting from all that is provided, and which we very likely take for granted.

Each encounter with nature is a humbling experience. My relationship with nature deepens the more I get to know the reserve. I made a strong connection with nature, appreciating and enjoying it as one who seeks respite from a hectic urban life and especially as one who finds so much beauty, grace and allure in its offerings to me as an artist.

In many ways my involvement with nature now has opened up so much more for me to discover about aspects of nature that I never knew. It seems like I have just embarked on a new voyage of discovery. Dispelling a common perception that nature has nothing left in Singapore, I have begun to see nature with new eyes,.

What is your approach/personal motto in your work?
Using ART to promote Nature appreciation. As I reflect on my interest in painting, using nature as the subject, I felt that it could be put to better use to promote nature appreciation.

My aim was to initiate and sustain a program of activities to encourage people to enjoy nature through art. I want to share the wonders of nature through my passion with nature painting.

Finding ways to make people appreciate and enjoy nature as much as we volunteers do and at the same time encourage them to be creative in the process is my challenge. People who desire to share their joy of nature could learn to portray it as expressions of their own feelings about it through art.

I want to use landscape painting as a means to engage nature lovers, to provide them the facility to create expressions of nature as they view it and to showcase nature as their own interpretations.

In the process they would learn to observe nature, letting nature get a hold on them, learning to discern subtle changes in its cycles thereby learning to read it like a book and then expressing it creatively. It is hoped that through this process they will start and sustain a lasting relationship with nature.

What are some of your current projects?
Sunday Art lessons An ongoing program is the monthly paint along sessions conducted on the last Sunday of each month. Participants come from all walks of life, from individuals who want to learn to paint landscapes, and families enjoying the outdoors. There is a core group of regulars while others are drop-bys who just want to watch. This is essentially a hands-on session, with practical tips on landscape sketching and painting.

Art Workshops The more structured program is the annual painting workshop. Two workshops were conducted for the past 2 years. Participants attend a 3-day workshop of 3 hours duration each day. The program covers basic theory on drawing and sketching landscapes, with emphasis on understanding the unique characteristics of mangrove/wetlands vistas and flora.

Art in Nature A talk on ART in Nature was given last year to launch 2 sets of note cards. These blank greeting cards, feature paintings and sketches of scenes in SBWR. They were produced for sale to visitors to raise funds for conservation at the reserve. These are currently on sale at the Visitor Centre.

New projects An exhibition of my new paintings of Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, executed in pastels is being planned and scheduled for end 2004. This would be held in conjunction with a showcase of students' works collected from the Sunday painting sessions. In addition a special workshop on Pastel Landscape painting is also being scheduled during the exhibition. The theme of this exhibition and workshop would be based on making a connection with nature through Art.

For more about my work, do visit my Nature Painting with Pui San website
You can contact me at thampuisan@yahoo.com

Pui San holds his art sessions at Sungei Buloh on the last Sunday of every month. More details (scroll to the bottom of the page). Why not sign up for the wildsingapore-weekly newsletter for free alerts on his sessions and other free nature events?

Pui San has an exhibition of pastel paintings of Buloh on 1 Nov 04 - 28 Feb 05. He is conducting pastel painting workshops of Buloh in Dec 04.

Pui San's day job is as an Airline employee. He currently volunteers at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as a guide, as a landscape artist and in teaching through regular activities to appreciate nature through art. For more about Pui San's work at Sungei Buloh.

Pui San is married with two grown up sons. His hobbies include eco-touring Southeast Asia, out door painting and travel sketches, and reading books on nature/art.

Posted by otterman Posted on 10/08/04 10:57
Pui San himself is one of the gems you can discover in Sg Buloh! Its always a highlight when I meet people like him there!

More on how YOU can make a difference too...

these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
website©ria tan 2004