BY ANTONIA CHIAM ON FEBRUARY 6, 2022, SUNDAY AT 8:02 AM
ONE of Kuching’s most iconic buildings, which used to house the retro-popular Ting & Ting Supermarket, has been given a new lease of life.
Sited at Jalan Tabuan in the city centre, the supermarket had been a household name for food and groceries since 1957, long before the inception of other homegrown chains like Everrise and H&L.
However, it closed down for good in June 2019.
It was around that time when rumours surfaced about the building being likely to be demolished to make way for other developments, which saddened and dismayed many Kuchingites. They recalled the good times of their childhood and youthful days shopping for their favourite food items with families and friends.
To their relief and delight, the building was retained. It served, for a while, as an event space known as Location X, offering a much-needed room for creative minds to gather during the What About Kuching (WAK) event in late 2019.
Today, it stands as an establishment called ‘Think & Tink’, functioning simultaneously as a community art space and a mind factory to encourage more thinkers and makers. It is the brainchild of Borneo Laboratory, a local creative platform for Borneo aesthetics.
‘Mind factory of Kuching’
Borneo Laboratory and Think & Tink curator Wendy Teo said her team had approached the owner of Ting & Ting Supermarket with a proposal, but after it was accepted, the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We went through a lot of contemplation during the lockdown as it was then became a potential risk for us.
“After the lockdown, we decided to commit the lease by end of 2020.
“The place was born out of the pandemic. We changed most of the things that we had outlined earlier in the proposal as we thought its presence should serve as ‘a mind factory of Kuching’,” she told thesundaypost in a recent interview.
A professionally-trained architect, Teo did her first degree in Taiwan, and then moved to the UK for her Masters in University College of London, before obtaining her Architecture Professional Licence (Part III) from Cambridge University while working for a corporate firm.
However, she did not see moving into art-curating as being a complete departure from her roots in architecture.
On the contrary, she felt that over the last few years, the curatorship had actually drawn her closer to the core of architecture.
“To ‘connect widely, think deeply and act daringly’ – this is the kind of gesture that we would like to pose and attract in the downtown area of Kuching.
“There is a saying: ‘A caterpillar thinks that it is the end of the world when the butterfly knows that it is just the beginning’. We have a rooftop garden that we called ‘Butterfly Garden’. Its presence is to remind the city to think like a butterfly,” she pointed out.
Read the full article here.