Serial expat Katharina Brunner has been in Asia for some twenty years. In 1985, she and her banker husband Hanspeter left their home in Zurich to brave Beijing, a very different place then from the relatively bland cosmopolitan cityscape it is now. Instead of motorways choked with vehicles, she remembers early morning mule-carts laden with cabbages and coal, and cyclists on bicycles piled high with live chickens.
Then followed nine-and-a-half years in Hong Kong, three-and-a-half in Singapore, six years back in Zurich, and already four more years have passed since they returned to Singapore. After living in a Trevose Crescent house in the Stevens Road area first time round, this time Katharina wanted to be closer to the city; and she didn’t want to be in a house.
The two-level, five-bedroom Nassim Hill penthouse is arguably too big for a couple whose sons – Raphael (23) and Gabriel, (just turned 21) – are studying in Australia, but Katharina is in no hurry to move.
She is less than keen on posing for her portrait; that, Katharina says, is more the role of her husband, and she shows me a copy of Wealth Management magazine with Hanspeter’s face on its cover. “I’m the quiet one,” she adds.
Practice in Healing
Big as the apartment is, much of the space is used. One room is Katharina’s treatment zone, complete with therapy bed for hands-on healing; another is her study. She is a Brennan Integrative Practitioner, qualified in Brennan Healing Science, a body-oriented, grouo-focused psychotherapy based on self-awareness. Some clients she treats here; others she interacts with on Skype or over the phone.
Before you can heal another, you first have to go through the process yourself, she explains; you cannot help someone else until you have processed your own pain and traumas. It’s an ongoing thing; this month, September, she will be starting teacher training at the Brennan school in Japan. Dr Ann Brennan, at one time a physicist for NASA, also has schools in South Florida and Australia.
Because Katharina was completing the final year of her four-year Brennan training course at the time of their most recent move, Hanspeter came here six months ahead of her, so it was he who chose this apartment. On the liveable tenth floor with sweeping views and masses of natural light, its only possible flaw, she says, is the yellowness of the marble flooring.
That might explain the unusually high carpet-count, mainly Persian with some Indians, many of them were acquired on auction at Hedger’s. There’s even a (presumably hard-wearing) one in the kitchen. The small, colourful Tibetan rugs were bought during the Brunners’ Hong Kong posting. I ask the lady of the house many carpets she has bought in the past four years, but she visibly winces and asks me not to pursue this sensitive line of questioning.
She’s full of praise for Peter Hedger. “He has exceptionally good name and is very well trusted. I respect his professional expertise, and, for example, that he is open about what is real Persian and what is Persian in style but made in another country. I also feel happy about his transparent pricing structure. He gives you a certificate for every carpet you buy from him. What’s more, the fortnightly auctions are such fun, even if you don’t buy anything.” From the evidence, this must be an exceptionally rare scenario for the Brunners.
Dominating the living room is a massive painting of the Buddha by Ma Tse Lin, from Opera Gallery. On one side of the sofa is a Burmese Buddha statue with the sweetest smile, acquired in Bangkok 15 years ago and now draped with a jade bead necklace that Katharina bought during a cruise on the Yangtze River before that particular stretch of it was closed for the controversial dam project.
On the other side of the sofa, a fat and jovial Red Army soldier in stainless steel (from Opera Gallery), sports a green cloth cap – “I don’t think the artist Yin Kun would approve,” chortles its owner; and a smaller Red Army figure (from Linda Gallery) waves a red flag on which someone has mischievously glued a white cross to make it Swiss.
I ask about the rocks and crystals that live under the stairs. “I just like stones,” explains Katharina, “ and they’re so expensive in Switzerland.” There’s a desert pyrite from Xin Xiang province, sculpted round by wind and sand; a big piece of tektite, or natural glass rock; a pale chunk of petrified wood, which looks like anything but; a hand-polished Indian lingam stone; and more. I hold my hand within the curve of a core of exposed amethyst quartz, and she’s right: you can feel its energy.
In Katharina’s treatment room is a Nepalese thangka painting of the medicine Buddha; a crystal figurine of the goddess of mercy, Kwan Yin, atop an old Chinese cupboard; a gilded Tyrolean cherub adjoined to a sunburst-framed mirror; and her own handmade mandala, a concentric diagram with spiritual significance – all proof that there are good angels are to be found everywhere you take the trouble to look for them.
213 Holland Avenue
+65 6462 0028
+65 9777 0155
The Line, Shangri-La Hotel
22 Orange Grove Road
+65 6213 4275
#03-05 Ion Orchard
+65 6735 261
Stall number 49
Chinese Art Centre
#25 Binjai Park
+65 6469 0626
Oksana, the vet who comes to your home
Namly Animal Clinic
74 Namly Place
+65 6469 4744
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