Despite being unable to go to it ourselves, art is playing a bigger part than ever in our lives right now. With lockdowns, restrictions and bad news all around, many of us have turned to Netflix, knitting or our abandoned GCSE watercolour skills. Bringing art into our homes to keep us entertained, to keep us balanced and to keep us going.
So upon finding SIRPLUS customer Ernest Soh and his energizing haiku’s on our Instagram feed, well we wanted to be friends.
Junior Doctor for the NHS by day, a wordsmith with any other time he has in the day - Ernest’s feed is a series of colourful vignettes about the nature of language, life and his experiences as a frontline worker. These mini but mighty poems are always imbued with a lightness that makes the corners of a smile appear upon reading.
His pint-sized musings, as well as his penchant for a SIRPLUS grandad collar, made us want to know more. Ernest kindly obliged.
Born in Singapore, Ernest grew up between there and Sydney, moving to London a decade ago. Now based in Fitzrovia, he is currently a junior doctor in the NHS.
“Haikus were something that started as a cheeky way for me to narrate various situations. They gave a structure to the puns and wordplay I’m so fond of; it’s also an irreverent way to insert various inconspicuous references to pop culture or whatever relevant historical fact is involved.”
But just what is a haiku?
Traditional and tightly structured, a haiku is a short-form poem originating from Japanese culture. It’s defining feature is a rule of 5/7/5.
Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five again in the third.
A show of artistic discipline in practice, minimal effort is used to exert maximum effect.
Traditionally used to comment on the season or particular surroundings of the author, haiku’s focus on the intangible and the ephemeral in the world. Tapping into what we know to be happening, seeing, feeling in a moment - distilling experience to just a handful of syllables.
A pretty spot-on way to articulate a pandemic.
Using the structure as a way to process the now, Ernest is intrigued by the form’s heritage too.
“I can’t remember when I first learned of haikus and to be honest my cultural knowledge about the art form is still rudimentary at best. That being said the first haiku I coined was on a winter hike at the seven sisters. I found that the last “cutting” line of a haiku clicked with me - as something that’s unique and a little awkward but purposefully so. The tradition brought into relevance so to speak.”
Ernest’s modern reimaigining of tradition inform his sense of style, as well as his art.
Ernest is wearing Pine Green Most Stitch Jumper.
“Similarly, Sirplus is a brand that I fondly remember from years ago as a small popup truck in seven dials with waistcoats that I didn’t know were missing from my wardrobe - there’s always something about seeing a brand forming their roots and growing from there. Their sustainability and collars were the only sales pitch I needed and they’ve since been a staple in my daily wear. You can also imagine my pleasant surprise in accidentally discovering some far east elements in their pieces while on Camden passage. Looking forward to what’s coming next!”
As are we Ernest.
You can read some of Ernest’s haiku’s on his Instagram page. We highly recommend it.