Art and Sleep in Singapore

Robin Ince's Horizons Tour Diary

I have just got one of those fancy watches that tells you if you are alive or dead. I have become intrigued by checking my heart rate.

My resting heart rate ends up being around 59 bpm and then some place around 72 bpm when excitedly wandering around art galleries. Tonight was the first chance to look at onstage heart rate and it was 87 bpm, but soon back down to 63 bpm. 

I am alive. 

Today, I woke up at 5.45am due to a mild spasm of sciatica. I pondered on fighting myself back into sleep, but instead I started working on notes for my Alan Moore interview with How to Academy on Monday evening (UK) , but also early Tuesday morning for me in Dunedin. 

One of my favourite pieces of Alan’s advice is “It’s not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience wants. If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn’t be the audience. They would be the artists. It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need.”

So much media for public consumption seems to presume the worst of us and dishes us brought tasteless fruits that we shovel down without noticing its tastelessness. I love to watch artists who are creating what they must make and share rather than sterilising their imagination for commerce. 

I ate beans for breakfast knowing that I would not eat them again tomorrow before a plane flight.

I had often wondered why I got gut pain on planes and had presumed it was sitting too much, but now I have heard it is the changing air pressure which mangles your tubes like an empty water bottle as you come into land. 

By 11am, I had done enough writing to make sure that I didn’t have a headache from unreleased words bouncing against my skull bone, so went to the National Gallery of Singapore. On entering, I was greeted by someone who was keen to work out a way that I cold get in for free – did I leave here? Had I flown in with Singapore Airlines? Was I as old as I looked? (I don’t think I ever will be) but I said that I liked this gallery and was more than happy to part with $20 to wander around it.

The Children’s Biennale is on so there is lots of bubbling children’s book curiosity on the wall. I am particularly taken by Sandra Lee’s Conversations with an Octopus. It expands across a gallery with a sky half Edward Gorey and half Münch while a small child talks to an octopus holding a bright red balloon. There are also some very vibrant and bold paintings by children on the walls around with notes on their inspiration and technique. 

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“I find myself being silly and joyful at time when when I paint. I feel like I am ion my own world”

“I speak very little

But I can see

And I can hear

Just watch me”

Back at the hotel, I decide to go to bed. The schedule is a little on the wild side in terms of time changes and number of gigs and so whenever there is spare time for the possibility of sleep I have decided to return to bed. I hope there will still be more time for art and arcane bookshops, but the priority is sleep.

I have a multitude of dreams, but my waking mind can only see the edges of the pictures.

The Star performing Arts Theatre is decorated with posters of past attractions, from Chicago’s Peter Cetera to Tony Bennett. Caroline has created a hefty cheeseboard boldly reddened by a hunting quarter of Edam.

Our soundcheck is a speed read of the history to cosmology and my interruptions. It has been four weeks since we last performed the show and we have both been off doing other things. I must remember that I need to talk about neuroscience rather than Marty Feldman tonight.

There are the largest number of children that we have had in for a while, possibly ever on this tour, and I particularly enjoy provoking giggles from them.

We succeed in remembering where the words go and the images of stellar creation and stellar catastrophe are all in place.​​

Listen to the Horizons tour podcast, Taking the Universe Around the World HERE.

Bibliomaniac is available now at with exclusive art cards.

Robin Ince is a multi-award winning comedian, writer and broadcaster.  As well as spending decades as one the UK’s most respected stand-ups, Robin is perhaps best known for co-hosting The Infinite Monkey Cage radio show with Brian Cox.  For his work on projects like Cosmic Shambles he was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by Royal Holloway, University of London. His latest book, The Importance of Being Interested is out now.

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The Cosmic Shambles Network relies on your support on pledges via Patreon so we can continue to provide great, new, exciting, and most importantly, independent content without the need for third party ads.