Wally: Lazarus is at your gate, begging.

Jude: My pockets are empty. Make him go.

Wally: You have billions. You have apartments on resort islands and yachts.

Jude: I had billions. Now that’s dwindled. I had apartments, now just the one.

Wally: And you’re complaining? You are blind.

Jude: Lazarus is an eye sore. Make him go.

Life in a Cloud | Iskandar Jalil
Life in a Cloud | Iskandar Jalil
Life in a Cloud | Iskandar Jalil
CHAPTER SIX
LIFE AS ART
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This Too
Shall Pass
When I first reached out to Mr. Iskandar to be part of Cloud, I had concerns about contacting him. I didn’t have access to an email address, if at all he used one, nor was there a mobile number offering a direct line to him.

I did however know where Mr. Iskandar lived. His house prominently displays a Penny Farthing Bicycle mounted on a red brick wall and an elegant metallic plate by his front gate bears the name Iskandar Bin A. Jalil. That apart, every visual artist friend I knew would point out the home of the famous Mr. Iskandar if we happen to go past it and tell stories of how he would toss out the ceramic work of his students if they weren’t up to par.

Mr. Iskandar is amongst our nation’s most illustrious artists and I was able to have a first conversation with him when his daughter Elena put us through to each other. He spoke candidly, uncompromising in his views on the social and political strains that govern life and about the trajectory of his artistic discipline.

Artistic masters like Mr. Iskandar are consummate teachers. They impart, not just their craft, but their life’s philosophy honed by the rigor of their practice and decades of dedication to their discipline.

In the afternoon, at his work studio, I see for myself the stark reminders to his students imprinted on the walls “Poor & shoddy work will be thrown into the clay bin prior to firing”. When he continues work on his latest piece, he emphasises, “Don’t think, just do”.

Mr. Iskandar expounds simplicity, but there is no simple route to arriving at the kind of simplicity he suggests. “Don’t think, just do” can only come when years and years of relentless dedication and labour, surface the intuition and instinct needed to bring to fruition Mr. Iskandar’s latent genius.

Mr. Iskandar’s philosophy embodies the pursuit of simplicity; exercise, live a simple life and you will enjoy it, says he. This pandemic too shall pass, says he.
Natalie Hennedige

Millie: Justus, are we on the brink of disaster?

Justus: I will need to be in quarantine for 40 days and then I will come back.

Millie: 40 days is excessive.

Justus: It’s symbolic. Quarantine, from Latin quaranta. 40 is the numeric symbol for purification.

Millie: Like the 40-day flood in the book of Genesis that washed away every human who defiled the earth, which was every human, to purify the earth. Like that?

Justus: In 40 days I will come back to you purer than I have been.

CHAPTER ONE
WAITING
Artist KIRSTEN TAN

CERAMIST
ISKANDAR JALIL

NADA Life in a Cloud
In these unusual days, I have been dreaming
about my dialogue with clay. My ceramic creations have all the imperfections of Nature, coarse, irregular, not contrived or cliched, yet it communicates. It is done spontaneously, very fluid with all the sensitivity and creativity that God has given me. Aesthetically comfortable, the work is quite often conceptualised from the heart and the skill with the minimum of brain work. It is similar to Nature’s way of creating a world around us, simple, practical and yet very quiet and absorbing.
It is similar to Nature’s way of creating a world around us, simple, practical and yet very quiet and absorbing.
Creation
Ceramics
by Iskandar Jalil
NADA Life in a Cloud
Artist
Statement
There is no particular creation manifested out of this ‘dream’. However I shall be highlighting the simple ‘bowl’ because it best describes the same philosophical ‘dream’.

What is a ‘bowl’? – a bowl is one of the most humble forms, very subtle, the rim wider than the height and it is used for eating, drinking and ceremonial rituals. It is a simple form, a form of both aesthetic and visual pleasure. It is the simplest yet most challenging of forms. Many rituals and ceremonies are centered on the bowl.

Many of my bowls have often been used in family dinners or served to guests during Hari Raya celebrations. Wednesday family dinners are often ‘mee soto’ nights. A packet of mee soto fits perfectly into a bowl I created many years ago. Cat food and water are served in many pottery bowls. There is a personal bond between me and the person who will use the cawan I just made.
Life in a Cloud | StudioLife in a Cloud | StudioLife in a Cloud | Studio
Studio
Life in a Cloud | CreationLife in a Cloud | CreationLife in a Cloud | Creation
Creation
Life in a Cloud | KilnLife in a Cloud | KilnLife in a Cloud | Kiln
Kiln
Iskandar Jalil
was conferred an honorary doctorate, awarded as Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by the Nanyang Technological University in July 2016. This followed the conferment of the Meritorious Service Medal in the Singapore National Day Awards [2015] and Order of the Rising Sun - Gold Rays with Rosette [2015] by the Japanese government.

Celebrated as Singapore’s Master Potter and a leading educator in ceramics art, Dr. Iskandar received the nation’s highest cultural award, the Cultural Medallion in 1988 and numerous cultural accolades. He was awarded two Colombo Plan Scholarships, for the study of textile weaving and spinning in India [1966] and ceramics engineering in Japan [1972]. His works are characteristically simple but robust, with highly tactile and rich surfaces.

He is commended as a committed educator whose teaching profession has spanned over four decades. His early career began by teaching mathematics, science and sports before specialising in ceramic art. The schools he taught at included Jalan Daud Primary School, Siglap, Dunman and Telok Kurau and Victoria Secondary schools. He also taught at Geylang Vocational Institute (now Northlight School) and had a long tenure at Baharuddin Vocational Institute (BVI) [1969-1990]. He continued to teach after BVI’s merger with Temasek Polytechnic Design School, retiring in 1999.

Dr Iskandar has held multiple art advisory and educational positions including at the National Arts Council. He had been an external examiner for MARA Institute of Technology, Malaysia and Curtin University, Australia and was instrumental in the founding of the St. Patrick’s Art Centre (later Lasalle College of the Arts) in the 1980s. He also taught at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and National University of Singapore (NUS) Extra Mural Studies Department.

He has donated his vessels for numerous charity causes and has undertaken extensive volunteer work for community centres, the Association of Paraplegics and with Mercy Relief (in setting up kilns in Cambodia). He also carries out private ‘sponsorships’ for students in the arts. He has shaped pottery collectives at the Malay Heritage Centre and Jalan Bahar Clay Studios and continues to mentor and helm the Temasek Potters (TP) at the TP pottery studio.
CHAPTER SEVEN
Artist RANDY CHAN