Yummy Jelly Babies

Mr Francis Wong Hooe Wai, Chief of Art Management, tells delicious tales of the Jelly Baby Family

Issue: Feb 2013

Heading the Jelly Baby Family is the bright red Daddy Jelly Baby
Heading the Jelly Baby Family is the bright red Daddy Jelly Baby

Art @ CapitaLand

This is one of a series of monthly articles that focuses on artwork in CapitaLand’s properties, for the enjoyment of the community. The intentions and stories of art told in simple language.

When I learnt that the theme for February’s issue of INSIDE is “Red”, I mentally went through the database of our CapitaArt collection to see which piece of artwork best tied in with this theme. Bingo! The Jelly Baby Family with the head of the family “Daddy Baby” – an interesting oxymoron – fitted the bill as it is in brilliant red. Besides, the Jelly Baby Family is befitting also because it is associated with food and should best usher in the auspicious spirit and the merry feasting of this Chinese New Year season.

Bright red Daddy Baby stands 1.9m tall and weighs 350kg
Bright red Daddy Baby stands 1.9m tall and weighs 350kg

Jelly Good Looking

The Jelly Baby Family was specially acquired by CapitaMalls Asia (CMA) and installed at the newly revamped Plaza Singapura. It greets passers-by as they walk along Orchard Road or emerge from Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station’s Exit E. This set of sculptures was chosen for its universal appeal. It brings out the child in many of us adults, for Jelly Babies were a part of our childhood. And this type of soft confectionery, shaped as babies in a variety of colours, has been around for almost 100 years. It was first launched as Peace Babies by a British confectioner in 1918 to mark the end of World War I, and re-launched in 1953 as Jelly Babies.

While the confectionery Jelly Babies are tiny, the sculpture Jelly Babies are anything but that. Just to give you an idea: our bright red Daddy Baby stands 1.9m tall and weighs 350 kg, “outshining” any well-built full-grown man. And indeed the sculpture Jelly Babies, made of pristine polyurethane resin, shine lustrously under the tropical sun and seem to glow magically at night, thanks to the special lighting effect specified by CMA’s project team. Simply mesmerising!


Colourful Creator

The pristine resin reflects and refracts the surroundings
The pristine resin reflects and refracts the surroundings

Besides Daddy Baby who is red, Mummy Baby is purple and their three kids are yellow, orange and green, the brightly coloured family is the creation of Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti, whose life is just as colourful, if not more so. Born in Milan in 1949, Perucchetti later moved to Rome and enrolled for classes in theatre studies. From stage, he ventured into film and made his appearance with no less than superstar Elizabeth Taylor and renowned artist Andy Warhol in The Driver’s Seat (1974). More film roles followed and he set up a movie production company.

Changing course yet again, he relocated to London to set up an architectural/interior design company. Finally, in 2000, he sold off that business to embrace art full time. What a long and tortuous way of becoming an artist! And he made it!

Often labeled as a Pop Artist – for his enlargement of ordinary objects, use of bright colours and adoption of “multiples” in his sculptures - Perucchetti denies association with any particular style or movement. As an artist, his most significant innovation comes in perfecting the formulation of polyurethane resin for big sculptures – a contemporary material giving an ancient art form a special appeal.

Passers-by cannot resist taking pictures with the Jelly Baby Family
Passers-by cannot resist taking pictures with the Jelly Baby Family

A Happy Family

In terms of subject matter, Perucchetti addresses some of the fundamental issues of our time, for example, cloning, which led to the creation of the Jelly Baby series some years back. In the beginning, he tried to capture the possible ambiguity and impersonality in a cloned human being, but later moved away from such a concept. Currently, he sees the Jelly Babies, with their childlike innocence, as an embodiment of the preciousness of family unity and the multicultural aspect of modern society. All these are positive attributes, and indeed, when one beholds the Jelly Baby Family, the adjectives that immediately come to one’s mind are fun, warm, lovely and happy. These are feelings that we hope CapitaArt pieces will evoke when they interact with the community.

If you have a chance to visit Plaza Singapura and to walk past the Jelly Baby Family, do pause for a moment and take a good look at it. Be delighted by the babies’ smiley faces, thrilled by the sheer transparency of the pristine resin -not a single bubble in sight- and fascinated by the way the surroundings get reflected and refracted in their surreal bodies.

Do enjoy the Jelly Babies - Yummy!

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