The Thomson Paintings represents a selection from the collection of paintings of J T Thomson, government surveyor to the British Colonial administration of Singapore from 1841 to 1853. Containing forty (40) paintings reproduced including fifteen paintings of the early towns of Singapore, five of Malacca, three of Penang, one of Rhio, four of the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, anda series showing the construction of Singapore's first lighthouse, the Horsburgh Lighthouse, in the Singapore Strait. Painted with the eye of an architect, they are not only remarkable as works of art but also as an invaluable record of early Singapore and parts of Malaysia. Dr John Hall-Jones, A New Zealander, is the great-grandson of the painter and in introducing the paintings to the reader has illustrated his text with liberal quotations from Thomson's own writings...
THE HORSEBURGH LIGHTHOUSE 1851
inscribed on back in ink:
Horsburgh Lighthouse. China Sea. J.T.Thomson C.E. 1851.
Painted in oil; 680x440mm
In 1847 Thomson landed on Pedra Branca to set up a trial of bricks and mortars. But when he returned after the winter monsoon he found that most of the bricks had been washed away. The lighthouse would have to be built of nothing less than granite, he concluded (J T Thomson, 'Account of the Horsburgh Lighthouse', Journal of the Indian Archipelago, Singapore, 1852, pp 376-498), 'set in the best hydraulic cement'. Special provisions would also have to be made against attacks by pirates. 'The sea tribes of the immediate vicinity', he records 'are notorious for their piratical propensities. They have no compunction in murdering all their victims to destroy all traces of evidence against them.' He designed a tower with the lighthouse-keeper's room at the very top, 'the tower to be entered by strong doors reached by a ladder which could be drawn up inside when necessary'. The lighthouse was to be manned by eight man all equipped with firearms and it was to be stocked with enough food and water to withstand a siege of six months. Work commenced on the lighthouse in 1849 when Thomson established himself on the rock with a construction gang of Chinese, Indians and Malays. The Chinese ' were all inverate opium smokers', he recounts. Eleven of the Indians were convicts and 'three had the word "Murder" tattooed on their brows'. Only the Malays could be trusted and these he placed around his shelter of palm leaves on the rock. (extracted from page 68 of 'The Thomson Paintings')
THE GUNBOAT NANCY
inscribed on front in ink:
Gunboat Nancy, Horsburgh Lighthouse. 1851. Bintang Hills (on left)
Painted in watercolour, 280x 220mm
After the blocks were cut they were transported out to Pedra Branca (about 25 miles away) on lighters escorted by gunboats, of which the Nancy was one. Initially the Nancy was more of a hindrance than a help and matters came to a head when the whole ship's company went on a strike. 'During the night a heavy squall blew from the south-west', records Thomson (Journal of the Indian Archipelago, Singapore, 1852, pp 376-498)
( extracted from pages 78-79 of 'The Thomson Paintings')
THE COMPLETED HORSBURGH LIGHTHOUSE, 1851
inscribed on front in ink:
Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca, 1851
painted in watercolour 220x280mm
On May 24, 1850, the masons, upon landing, marshalled themselves in order of rank and then led by the 'Tyler with Drawn Sword' they marched solemnly in procession to the top of the rock. There, the Governor, (perhaps in some anxiety to be away from the storm-prone rock as quickly as possible) urged that the ceremony 'proceed with the least practicable delay'. After speeches by the 'Worshipful Master' and His Excellency, who called for three hearty cheers for the Queen', the assembled company parted ranks to allow the Governor to return to the landing first. That evening a dinner was held aboard the Hooghly to which 'the Governor and his guests did ample justice'. (extracted from page 80 of 'The Thomsn Paintings')
I was just wondering why ICJ made the decisions yesterday. I guess one of it is probably because certain parties would like to have it done to coincide or to mark with today's historical masonic laying of the foundation stone at Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Putih). I dunno, I may be wrong hehe. Terlalu banyak yang tersurat dan yang tersirat... I leave you to imagine what else we missed out, did or did not do 148 years ago....hmmm. I was excited and so happy when I read a few days before, in the mainstream media, of the bright prospects to our claim of Pulau Batu Putih... but alas.....I was greatly dissapointed! Have a great weekend folks and don't forget its also a 2-week off for the schools...hahaha..if you know what i mean....