With over a dozen years in Singapore under her belt, Danish artist CHRISTINA JENSEN has lived in the East, then close to Orchard Road, and now in this Novena home. She has seen both her daughters grow up here and since fly the nest. Getting used to the house being so empty is tough, she admits, and she’s certainly excited about the family being back together, here in their Singapore home, this Christmas.
When they relocated from Denmark to Singapore in 2006 for husband Anders’ job in shipping, their daughters Josephine and Victoria were ten and six respectively. Their first home was on the East Coast, where they stayed for five years. “We liked it in the East; we had a lovely house, but the landlords wanted to move into it themselves. We were also looking to move more centrally anyway as the girls were attending the Overseas Family School, which used to have a campus just off Orchard Road.”
The family found a 1950s shophouse on Emerald Hill, which they called home for another three years, before moving again to this Novena home. “We’ve always lived in houses, which I know some people say makes it harder to meet people, but we’ve not struggled. It’s also meant we’ve made more local friends; we even went to the wedding of one of our neighbours’ children.”
Christina’s earlier career in banking was put on hold while the children were still small, so when she arrived in Singapore she had the chance to re-evaluate what she wanted to do. “Even my parents used to question why I worked in banking, as they knew I had a very creative side too.” She met Caroline, the owner of interior styling and design house Arete Culture, through mutual friends, and began assisting her on some early home projects. “I definitely have an interest in décor and design, and had already studied material and styling online.” With Caroline’s business going from strength to strength, Christina says it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person, whom she now calls a close friend. “I really am so proud of her and what she’s done with her business.”
Dabbling in photography and painting as well, Christina’s works are now sold in the Arete Culture showroom, and are used in home interior projects. The acrylic-on-canvas pieces are often large and sometimes in a series. “I just like to be creative, in whatever way I can,” she says.
This spills over into her home, particularly at Christmas time. When the Jensens first moved to Singapore, they travelled back to Denmark in December for the first five years. “I’d promised my grandmother we would do so, but since she passed away we’ve always spent Christmas Day here. The girls have grown up with Christmas in a tropical environment, but with plenty of our Danish traditions.”
Christina buys a fresh tree from Thomson Nurseries every year and she has it decorated and up by early December. She also buys foam cones and moss to make centrepieces, and pine cones for more festive décor. “A lot of my decorations have come from Denmark, and I will always buy something new each year.”
The family celebrate Christmas on 24 December; they have a big dinner, including turkey, in the evening and then sing Danish Christmas songs around the tree before opening their presents. “My parents come here every Christmas, and my mother makes the dessert, ris alamand, a rice pudding with almonds and cream. The person who finds the single whole almond in the pudding gets an extra gift.”
They usually doing the bare minimum the next day, before having a Christmas lunch on the 26th instead. Sometimes they travel abroad after this time, though this year Christina is very happy to stay firmly put, happy to just have the whole family back together again.
Arete Culture #06-01 Tan Boon Liat Building 315 Outram Road, 9640 3829 | areteculture.com
Emperor’s Attic #01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building 315 Outram Road, 6270 2544 | emperorsattic.com
Georg Jensen (“for lovely Christmas ornaments and home pieces”) georgjensen.com
The Ro Collection (“beautiful Danish tableware and décor”), 9179 1227 | rocollection.dk
White Emotions by Christina Jensen 9736 4706
Life & Family
Botanic Gardens (“the perfect Sunday walk spot with Chili”)
Como Shambhala Urban Escape (“great yoga studio”) #06-01 Orchard Delfi 402 Orchard Road, 6304 3552 | comoshambhala.com
Danish Seamens Church (“best Christmas bazaar”) 10 Pender Street
Wine & Dine
The Bakery By Woodlands Sourdough #01-05 Serene Centre 10 Jalan Serene
Common Man Coffee Roasters commonmancoffeeroasters.com
Kitchen by Food Rebel (“the best Buddha bowls”) 28 Stanley Street, 6224 7088 | foodrebel.sg
Little Farms littlefarms.com
Din Tai Fung dintaifung.com.sg
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This article first appeared in the December 2018 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!