I’ve often found it hard to find interesting and fun mementoes of Singapore for family and friends visiting from overseas, beyond the usual Merlion trinkets and ‘I Love Singapore’ T-shirts. Why was it so hard to find stylish and well-priced souvenirs when the city itself was brimming with the cool factor? In desperation, I went out with my camera one day, took shots of my favourite Singapore scenes and had them made into coasters. Much to my surprise, friends began asking where they could buy them. And that’s how Karenmade started in December 2017.
I was born and raised in Singapore and, like many Singaporeans, took the richness of this multicultural, multi-faceted city for granted. In school, I sang the national anthem with classmates from different ethnic backgrounds, visited friends at Deepavali, avoided eating in front of Muslim friends during puasa (fasting) month, overlooked the ashy air every Hungry Ghost Festival and baked Christmas cake every year for my family’s traditional ‘Open House’ celebrations. It was just the way it was. It was only returning home after many years of living abroad in the UK and US that my home city really began to captivate me. Now, for the first time ever, I had the unique perspective of being able to see a way of life immediately familiar on the one hand and yet, on the other, also new and unique.
With Karenmade, I hope to share with you some of the magic of the place I’ve grown up in and call home. Moseying about with my camera, I shoot things as I see them. I avoid editing images beyond removing a dustbin right in the middle of a photograph so the colours and places you see are as they truly are. If I can make you feel some of that seductive essence of Singapore when you look at my pictures, so that you remember your time here with love and affection, that would make me truly happy.
Karen J Fernandez