Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Moving Masterpiece: Experience Bianjing

Bianjing (汴京), otherwise known as the capital city of Bian, was the capital of the Northern Song dynasty. Today, this place is named Kaifeng, and is located in east-central Henan province.

For anyone who is interested to get a dynamic and animated glimpse of Bianjing during the Northern Song dynasty the Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art exhibition is worth making time for.

One of the copies of Qing Ming Shang He Tu 清明上河图.

This exhibition is also for everyone who had missed the animated version of "Qing Ming Shang He Tu" (Along the river during the Qingming Festival) (清明上河图) by the famous twelfth century Chinese painter, Zhang Zeduan, during the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, when it was first publicly exhibited at the China Pavilion. "Qing Ming Shang He Tu" is a painting that was painted on a hand scroll. It presented the lifestyle of various classes of the society as well as the different economic activities in the rural area and the city.

This section depicts the rural areas near Bianjing.

Cuju. The ancient form of Chinese soccer.

The exhibition can be divided into three sections, namely the Pre-show hall, the main hall and the Post-show hall. In the Pre-show hall, visitors can see objects and replicas related to the Song dynasty. There are a number of interactive elements at the Pre-show hall. One of these was that of seeing multiple image of oneself transposed on the image of a section of "Qing Ming Shang He Tu" (animated version).

One of the audio guides.

To help the visitors better appreciate the animated version of "Qing Ming Shang He Tu", there is free rental of audio guides that comes with every admission. The audio guide provides commentaries in seven different languages, including Mandarin and English.

Ships and boats. 

One of the interesting parts about the exhibition is that city of Bianjing will be presented in both daytime and night-time scenes in the animated painting of "Qing Ming Shang He Tu". I learnt that the ship-building industry was of a fairly large scale during the Song dynasty.

Look for the city gate of Bianjing, and find that this city has no surrounding wall around it.

Interestingly, in the painting, the city of Bianjing did not have walls surrounding it. I learnt from the audio guide that this could indicate that the painting was depicting a peaceful and prosperous time in the Song dynasty.

History came alive at this exhibition. I could imagine how excited one may be seeing Zhang Zeduan's masterpiece coming alive in the form of animation. I have also learnt that in those days, it is fairly easy to infer one's social status merely by the mode of transport used by a person. The not-so-well-do people would generally travel on foot. The very rich ones would travel on sedans carried by people.

After the exhibition, visitors can reward their taste buds with a number of Chinese snacks found in the Post-show hall. There are also various souvenirs on sale at the Post-show hall.

If you are finding yourself interested in this exhibition, please make some time to visit The Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art. Till 6 Feb 2012, right here in Singapore.

The Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art
7 Dec 2011 - 6 Feb 2012
Singapore EXPO Hall 3
Mon - Fri: 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Sat, Sun, Public Holidays: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
(Exhibition closes at 10 p.m.)
Ticketing information: http://www.amovingmasterpiece.com/visitors.html
Note: There are ticketing privileges (i.e. discounts) for UnionPay card-members and PAssion card members.
(Tickets are also available at Singapore EXPO itself.)

Other related articles:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple ideas to enjoy the exhibition "Dreams and Reality" better

Special thanks to the generosity of the National Heritage Board and the National Museum of Singapore, a few fellow bloggers and myself was treated to a guided tour to the current blockbuster exhibition, Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, held at the National Museum of Singapore on 20 Nov 2011. Credits also go to Ms Belinda Tan and Shaun from National Heritage Board for making this visit possible.

With an overwhelming number of more than 140 paintings, photographs and drawings from the collection of the world renowned Musée d’Orsay, an art museum in France, what could a visitor do to better appreciate this exhibition?

In this post, I shall attempt to share some suggestions that may guide a visitor, especially one who is totally new to visual art, to enjoy this exhibition like a seasoned visual art-lover.

Suggestion #1: Attend one of the free guided tours.
Guided tours to the exhibition are available. (Admission fee to the exhibition applies.) During one of these guided tours, the well-trained volunteer guide will take the participants for an one-hour walk-through of the exhibition. During the tour, some of the most interesting and important works in the exhibition will be highlighted and discussed.

To check the schedules for the free guided tour please visit this link or check with the museum's Visitor Services Counter when you purchase your admission tickets to the exhibition.

During my recent visit to this exhibition, our volunteer guide, Ms Elaine Tan, gave us a very informative tour. I left the exhibition with more understanding of many of the artists and the artworks.

Suggestion #2: Rent one of the audio guides.
Some of the times, there may simply be no available guided tours during our visit. The audio guides to the exhibition that are available for hire are equally wonderful alternatives.

For S$3, the audio guide will give the visitor an overview of the exhibition. In addition. the audio guide will give the visitor a good introduction to thirty of the works from the exhibition. The best thing is that the visitor can listen to the audio guides at his own pace and for as many times he would like during his visit. One thing that I like about the audio guide is that the pronunciation of all the French names and terms sounds pretty authentic.

Suggestion #3: Walk through the entire exhibition. Identify your favourite painting. Learn more about it.

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night.

One of my favourite paintings is Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. One of the ways to appreciate this painting is to look at this work from various distances and angles.

Take a closer look at the upper half of this painting and one will realize that Vincent Van Gogh had applied very thick paints in horizontal fashion when he painted the skies.

Interestingly, Vincent Van Gogh used a different kind of brush-works when he painted the reflections of the gas lighting on the surface of the river. Did you notice that the brushstrokes were more fine and less broad compared to those used to paint the skies?

Thanks to technology, with the use of search engines such as Google, we can learn more about the painting of  our choice, and about the artist behind the works. Here are some of the related links to learn more about Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night:

Suggestion #4: Read the reference materials provided
The organizers of this exhibition were very thoughtful and provided a number of reference materials for visitors to browse and read. These materials can be found near the exit of the exhibition halls.

Visitors are also invited to draw an impression of their favourite art work from the exhibition and share it with their friends and loved ones.

Suggestion #5: Choose an artist whose artwork has caught your liking. Search the entire exhibition for other works by this very artist. Compare the similarities and differences in the various artworks by this artist.
I have combed the entire exhibition and there appears to be only one work by Vincent Van Gogh.

So I chose another painting that I like. Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right by Claude Monet is one of the other paintings that I like. This painting was painted in 1886.

Monet's Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right

The next step is to walk about the entire exhibition to look for paintings by Claude Monet. Claude Monet was a founder of the French Impressionism art movement. Some of the characteristics of this 19th-century art movement are the emphasis on the depiction of light in its changing qualities, the depiction of ordinary subject matter and the use of unusual visual angles.

I have found that there were at least five paintings by Claude Monet that were exhibited at this exhibition. It is interesting to compare and take note of the differences and similarities in the various paintings by Claude Monet.

Monet's Portrait of Madame Gaudibert.

For example, the brush strokes in Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right are comparatively more thin and visible than those found in Portrait of Madame Gaudibert. 

Monet's Camille on her deathbed

Monet's Camille on her deathbed depicted Monet's first wife, Camille-Leonie Doncieux Monet, at her deathbed. She died at the age of 32 years old from cancer.

In terms of the choice of colours, the colours used in Camille on her deathbed are comparatively more dull and darker compared to the colours used in Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

Monet's Boats: Regatta at Argenteull, 1874.

Monet's Branch of the Seine near Giverny, 1897.

I find Monet's landscape paintings to be visually pleasing. After viewing his works at a distance, it often helps to take a closer look at Monet's works to get a better glimpse of how he created beautiful works of art using seemingly visible and rapid brush strokes.

We have come to the end of this post, may you find yourself armed with a few suggestions on how you can better enjoy Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris as if you were an informed visitor.

If you have yet to visit this blockbuster art exhibition, please make some time to do so by 5 Feb 2012!

Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Till 5 Feb 2012.
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $11 including SISTIC charges
Ticket Bookings: SISTIC counters nationwide
SISTIC hotline: (65)6348 5555
SISTIC online booking: www.sistic.com.sg

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Budak Pantai at The Republic Cultural Centre

The Republic Cultural Centre

Budak Pantai - The Concert that Puts Hair on Your Chest (Women are Welcome)
Dates: 16 and 17 Nov 2011
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Venue: The Republic Cultural Centre, Studio, Singapore.
Tickets at S$20 each

Raving reviews about the local A Cappella group, Budak Pantai, has prompted me to accept an invitation to a concert that claims to "put hair on your chest". I was trying very hard to figure out what the concert title would mean only to conclude that I should not take myself too seriously.

Listening to Budak Pantai (which means "Beach Boys" in Malay) was very entertaining and musically pleasing to the ears. In this concert, there is a theme of nostalgia with modern twists. It was my very first time listening to Budak Pantai live.

Magically, their charming and rich voices that harmonize in perfect harmony won my full delightful attention. Before the concert, I was ambivalent if I would like the concert. After the concert, I dare say that Budak Pantai has the magical factors to be one of the A Cappella groups to listen to.

I later learnt that members of Budak Pantai have been singing in perfect harmony with one another since 1994. The group continued singing after winning the television "Rollin' Good Times" Beach Boys contest that year.

What are some of Budak Pantai's magical factors?

In my humble opinion, these are:
1) the members' love for good music.
2) each member capitalizes well on their strengths and expresses these strengths creatively through their performances.
3) the group's infectious and interesting sense of humour.

This concert opens with an opening act by the Republic Polytechnic's A Cappella interest group - Rhapsody. I learnt that these students had the privilege to exchange learning points with Budak Pantai. I thought that such collaborations were great ways to encourage a community of music lovers to exchange and sustain the art of making good music.

The Republic Cultural Centre, which is the venue of the concert, is also worth a good mention. It is envisioned to be the cultural hub in the North and is a home to 26 student arts group. The facilities look excellent, and I hope I could visit The Republic Cultural Centre again in the future.

For your easy references, please find the links to the websites of Budak Pantai and The Republic Cultural Centre here:

Special thanks to Budak Pantai for the invitation, and to Marcia Tan and Belinda Tan for making the invitation possible.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Musée d'Orsay travels to Singapore

This is the time to be inspired by some of the collections from the world renowned Musée d'Orsay, right in Singapore. More than 140 paintings, photographs and drawings from the collection of Musée d'Orsay, Paris, are now exhibited at the National Museum of Singapore.

Students studying Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night.

The pleasure of being able to see the masterpieces personally is very inspiring. I was inspired to study one of the highlights of the exhibition, Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, that I could not help but to visit the exhibition thrice in a span of a week. Each visit, I took time to study the ingenious brush-works, the apt choice of colours and the interesting composition used by Vincent van Gogh.

Other highlights of the exhibition include Paul Cezanne's The Card Players and Alexandre Cabanel's The Birth of Venus. The sense of permanence and froze-like character in the former left a strong impression in me while the fine brush-works in the latter intrigued me.

On the left: Paul Cezanne's The Cardplayers.

I was also particularly drawn to the paintings by Claude Monet, particularly Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

Claude Monet's Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

This exhibition is titled Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, and explores the reaction of man towards the rapid changes towards modernity at the turn of the century from 1848 to 1912.

If you like art or simply wish to expose yourself to masterpieces by brilliant artists, this is the exhibition to attend. Till 5 Feb 2012, at the National Museum of Singapore.

To enhance your appreciation of the artworks, consider renting one of the audio guides for $3.
Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $11 including SISTIC charges
Ticket Bookings: SISTIC counters nationwide
SISTIC hotline: (65)6348 5555
SISTIC online booking: www.sistic.com.sg

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Appreciating Bukit Brown: Remember Our Ancestors Day 9 Oct and 16 Oct 2011

Event: Remember your ancestors' day cum DIY Tour
Dates: 9 Oct 2011 (Sun) and 16 Oct (Sun) 2011, 

Time: From 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Meeting point: In front of Bukit Brown Cemetery Gates at Lorong Halwa, off Kheam Hock Road

Bus services available: 52, 74, 93, 157, 165, 852, 855. 
Directions to the cemetery Gate: Alight at bus-stop, #41149, opposite Singapore Island Country Club (SICC), Adam Road. Walk towards Sime Road, walk along Kheam Hock Road until you see Lor Halwa.
(For very detailed directions to get there: please check out Leone Fabre's post.)

Do you have an interest in Bukit Brown Cemetery because you have an ancestor who is buried there?

On 9 and 16 Oct 2011, find your way to Bukit Brown Cemetery to search for your ancestors' grave. The search is ever more pressing with the Land Transport Authority's plans build a new dual four-lane road that will cut through through parts of Bukit Brown from early 2013 and with the Urban Redevelopment Authority gazetting Bukit Brown Cemetery as a site for development Straits Times, 30 May 2011).

What does a descendant who have an ancestor buried in Bukit Brown need to do to start the search?

The organizers have outlined the following steps to take (source: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=142006435895789):
1) First find out your ancestor name that you think could be buried in Bukit Brown. As the burial records are in English the names will have to be in English

2) Find out the date of death.

3) Your ancestors’ families may have published the obituary notice in the English newspapers which include the date of burial and burial place. You can check out using the newspapers archives : http://newspapers.nl.sg/

4) Once you have the details of the names and date of death, go down to the National Archives of Singapore at 1 Canning Rise and ask for the burial register for that particular year. The burial records are in English and are kept in burial sequence from the date of burial from 1922 up to the year 1960 and follow the Western calendar. (Please visit http://www.a2o.com.sg  for the online burial registers of Bukit Brown Cemetery.) 
5) You can find out the burial plot number from the burial register. The last known address of the deceased is also available. Please note that Bukit Brown cemetery is divided into Blocks and Sections. So you should obtain the Block and Section and the grave number.

With the grave plot number, attend the “Bukit Brown - Remember your ancestors’ day" event on 9 Oct and 16 Oct from 8.30 am to 1 pm whereby there will be guides there to help you look for your ancestors.
Please wear comfortable walking shoes and attire. It helps to bring a walking stick if you should think this would be helpful.

Many thanks to Raymond Goh, Charles Goh, Rosalind M Tan, Charlotte Chu and volunteers for making the event possible. The Facebook event page for this event is https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=142006435895789.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is a win-win solution possible for Bukit Brown?

The magnificent tomb of Ong Sam Leong and his wife. This was uncovered in 2006.
Recently (on 12 Sep 2011), on The Straits Times, there was a report that a new dual four-lane road will be built from early 2013 to alleviate congestion along Lornie Road and Pan-Island Expressway during peak hours. This new road will cut through parts of Bukit Brown.

Many lovers of heritage as well as nature-lovers have expressed concerns regarding the building of the road that is proposed to cut through parts of Bukit Brown. There were also people who wonder if the new road may indeed be the long-term solution to the identified problem, i.e. traffic congestion.

Where on earth is Bukit Brown?

Here is a map that I have taken from wildsingapore news. Bukit Brown is bordered by Lornie Road and the Pan Island Expressway. It was named after George Henry Brown.

Source: www.wildsingapore.com
Bukit Brown is actually an area made up of several hills. I learnt from one of Raymond Goh's posts on Bukit Brown Cemetery that the tallest hill in Bukit Brown is Tai Yuan Hill. The magnificent tomb of Ong Sam Leong and his wife that you see on this post rests on Tai Yuan Hill in Bukit Brown.

From the look of the map, it appears that Tai Yuan Hill may be affected by the recent proposal of building dual four-land road across Bukit Brown. Many pioneers of Singapore and notable people have their final resting places at Bukit Brown, including the areas affected by the road building.

This is one of the stories from the twenty-four stories of filial piety:
Ding Lan serving wooden statues of his parents, so as to serve them.

Who goes to Bukit Brown?

Interestingly, other than the descendants of the people who were buried in the more than 100 000 graves in Bukit Brown, many people have found Bukit Brown a place for respite and nature.

I understand that a number of nature lovers visit Bukit Brown to enjoy the rich biodiversity of birds and other living creatures that could be found in Bukit Brown. Others are fascinated by the rich heritage of Bukit Brown and visit it as a form of recreation and heritage-appreciation. I heard that horse-riders also enjoy riding about Bukit Brown.

From reliable sources, I heard that academics are also making their way to Bukit Brown to document and understand the rich heritage that this place has to offer.

Is building the dual four-lane road across Bukit Brown the best answer?

In this post, I invite readers to start to look for win-win solutions to solve the complex issue of urban planning to ensure adequate lands to meet the needs of the people and to resolve traffic congestion without sacrificing our nation's collective memory and heritage unnecessary. What are the win-win strategies that will  ease traffic congestion, ensure adequate lands in Singapore to meet the needs of the people, and at the same time, ensure that places like Bukit Brown which is rich in heritage and a wonderful place for Nature lovers remain for posterity to connect with and to learn from?

As an individual, I do not have the answers and solutions. Yet I believe that we as a nation and community can collectively find the better solutions to the complex problems of our times.

Perhaps engaging multidisciplinary discussions with various stakeholders could help us as a nation find win-win and long-term solutions to solve many of our nation's complex concerns?

I wonder if the previous National Library building along Stamford Road, whom a lot of people have collective fond memories of, would have suffered the fate of demolition had more people in the community voiced up and acted on their concerns?

Back to Bukit Brown, surely with the local and foreign talents in Singapore, surely as a nation, we could have came up collectively with a long-term way to document and preserve its rich heritage while meeting the critical needs of the nation.

Perhaps if we can work more collaboratively as a nation and be willing to invest in a bit more time and resources to look for win-win solutions, we may gain more as a nation because we do not unnecessarily lose the invaluable intangibles that often makes up a vibrant and strong nation.

What are the needs that the key stakeholders hope to meet? How can we as a nation and community find a win-win solution that will meet the various needs?

Resources to learn more about Bukit Brown
If you would like to enhance your awareness of Bukit Brown so as to determine if it could be worth preserving, here are some of the web-pages to visit:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Some noteworthy exhibits from the Sculpturing Life exhibition

(This post was posted on Yesterday.sg in 2008. Here is a repost.)

Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

This post can be considered as a sequel to one of my earlier posts titled Remembering Ng Eng Teng. As mentioned in the Remembering Ng Eng Teng, the archival display-cum-exhibition Sculpting Life - Ng Eng Teng Collection is now being held at NUS Museum till 31 December 2008. In this exhibition, the exhibits are being presented under three broad sections: Formative Years, Body / Form / Perspectives and Materials / Processes / Public Works.

There are some exhibits at this exhibition which I personally find to be worthy of notice. While I am neither an art historian nor art-critic by profession, it is hoped that this post would give visitors who are novice to Ng Eng Teng's art some ideas of where they could start exploring if they should visit this exhibition.

Ng Eng Teng, Tension 1972, ciment fondu.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Admittedly, I have been rather influenced by the documentaries that are being shown at the exhibition. After watching them, I was led to realise that Tension, 1972, is a work that has a significant place in Ng Eng Teng's journey to strive to create his own art and yet survive as an artist. Look at the closed-up photo of Tension and one may find that the figurine on this rocker appears as if it would fall any moment. I learnt from the documentaries that this was the effect that Ng Eng Teng was striving to achieve in Tension. As best as I understand, Tension is intended to depict that as one struggles for survival, if one is not careful, one may just slip and fall off.

Putting things into context, Tension was created some years after Ng Eng Teng had returned to Singapore from Ireland. He had worked as a Resident Designer at the Carrigaline Pottery in Ireland from 1964 - 1966. Following his return in 1966, I learnt from one of the documentaries Sculpturing Joo Chiat (1999) that Ng Eng Teng had experienced two years of unemployment. The curriculum of art schools in Singapore back then did not have sculpturing as a core subject for students to study. That meant there was no avenue for Ng Eng Teng to teach the art of sculpture in Singapore back then. In addition, in his early years of establishing himself as an artist in Singapore in the 1960s and early 1970s, it appeared that Ng Eng Teng had met with much challenges and struggles with reality. I remember vaguely the following words that Ng Eng Teng had said in an interview shown in Sculpturing Joo Chiat, "(Tension reminds us of) the importance of keeping oneself sane during hard times". This is one statement that one should be mindful of during difficult moments.

Ng Eng Teng, Tension 1972, ciment fondu.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Interestingly, Tension was constructed based on the balancing principle of the Kelly doll (similar to the Chinese' 'bu dao weng' 不倒翁). Such a doll is designed to regain equilibrium even when it is tilted at extreme angles. The construction based on such a principle allowed this work to move and rock. I learnt that it was the movement of this work that helps to create the desired sense of tension. Look at the muscles and tendons of the body of the figure in this work, they appear contorted and strained, hence accentuating the sense of tension in this work. The spread-eagle pose of the figure also adds a touch of dramatic tension. Admittedly, I did not feel it was appropriate to touch Tension while I was at the exhibition. Nevertheless, I had managed to see a footage on one of the documentaries of how it would respond like if a viewer were to tilt and rock it. I sensed that it would be pretty tensed experience to be clutching a rocking object for the sake of survival.

Compared to some of Ng Eng Teng's larger iconic sculptures, Tension is much smaller, and visitors may unknowingly miss taking a good look at it. The thing is that do not judge the significance of an art-work merely by its size. Look beyond.

Tension, together with other exhibits on display.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Another exhibit in this exhibition that is worthy for viewers to study and take a good look is The Last Masterpiece.

On the right: The Last Masterpiece, undated.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

The Last Masterpiece is one of Ng Eng Teng's last works. If I am not wrong, it was completed with the help of Ng Eng Teng's friends and family. Ng Eng Teng was diagnosed with renal problems in 1995 and this condition was kept a secret. It was only made known to others when Ng Eng Teng had undergone a heart bypass surgery in 1998. The Last Masterpiece is largely made up of cotton swabs. These cotton swabs were collected by Ng Eng Teng himself after his renal dialysis treatment. Do take a close look at this work.

The theme of humanity is one of Ng Eng Teng's favourite subject matters. I like his interpretation of human emotions. Somehow, his works seem to speak with a soul. Look at the work below, Do we look down?. Do you feel as if the figures moved you so much that you wish to offer them a coin or two?

Ng Eng Teng, Do we look down?, 1968, ciment fondu, paint, lacquer.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Personally, I think Ng Eng Teng had been a very resilient man with a very strong yet humble character. Despite being plagued by poor health, he remained dedicated to his goals of creating his own art. Adversities did not stop him. Even though he was already very weak when he was working on one of his last commissioned works, The Explorer, he persisted to complete it with the help of his family and friends. I learnt from one of the documentaries that despite his ailing state of health, Ng Eng Teng insisted on doing the finishing touches of The Explorer. The Explorer is placed outside the Singapore Art Museum for all to view.

Sculpturing Life - Ng Eng Teng Collection is held at NUS Museum, located at the University Cultural Centre Annex, 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119279. The NUS Museum is closed on Mondays and Public Holidays. For more information on the museum's opening hours and on the guided tours, please visit: http://www.nus.edu.sg/museum/information_getting.htm

Once again, my heartfelt appreciation to NUS Museum, NUS Centre for the Arts for granting me the permission to take non-flash photography of this exhibition.

Many thanks to Siva for introducing me to staff of NUS Museum.

Thank you to the staff of
NUS Museum, NUS Centre for the Arts for arranging for the insightful guided tour to the exhibition on 2 Aug 2008 and for making my visits to the museum enjoyable and educational.

- MediaCorp News. (1999). Sculpturing Joo Chiat. (video)

- MediaCorp News. (2003). Portraits (Episode 6: Ng Eng Teng). (video)

- Sabapathy, T.L. (1998). Ng Eng Teng, art and thoughts. Singapore: NUS Museums, National University of Singapore.

- Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. (1977). Profile of an artist - Ng Eng Teng. Sculptor.

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ng_Eng_Teng (Accessed on 9 Aug 2008). (video)

Remembering Ng Eng Teng

(This was previously posted on Yesterday.sg in the year 2008. Here's a repost.)

Above: Ng Eng Teng, Wealth, 1974.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Some local readers who are my contemporaries or who are older may remember seeing this very sculpture Wealth, together with another sculpture Contentment, at the previous Plaza Singapura building in the 1980s. In those days, Plaza Singapura was one of the fairly popular shopping malls to shop in and to visit. It was rather hard to miss these two sculptures given their fairly imposing size. At the very least, when I was speaking to one of my contemporaries about these two sculptures, she could remember seeing these two sculptures when she was young.

These two iconic sculptures are now located just outside the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge campus. Frankly speaking, I prefer the current location of Wealth and Contentment compared to the original location at the previous Plaza Singapura building. Somehow, the sculptures looked less scary and more approachable when placed outdoors.

Most of the local friends whom I have spoken to have actually seen at least one of Ng Eng Teng's sculptures at some point in their lives. Who was Ng Eng Teng?

Ng Eng Teng (1934 - 2001) was a local artist who was probably best known for his sculptural works. I later learnt that his training was in painting and pottery. In recognition of his excellent artistic achievements, he was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1981.

I remember that during the Art History lessons in my Secondary School years, I learnt that the pioneer artist, Georgette Chen, had some influence on Ng Eng Teng. At the very least, it was through her encouragement that Ng Eng Teng headed to England to pursue the study of ceramics. Perhaps his study of ceramics could have helped him to build the necessary foundation to create many three-dimensional masterpieces throughout his career as an artist. He was one of the very few sculptors that I have studied during Art History lessons. As such, whenever anyone asks me to name a local sculptor, Ng Eng Teng would be one of the first names that would come to my mind.

Other than Wealth and Contentment, Ng Eng Teng had created the following sculptural works that most people in Singapore would have probably come across at some point in their lives:

Ng Eng Teng, Mother and Child.
Location: Orchard Rd outside Far East Shopping Centre.
Photo taken by Jeremy in 2007.

Ng Eng Teng, The Climb, 1987, ciment fondu.
Location: HDB Hub, Toa Payoh.

Ng Eng Teng, Spirit of Man, 1984.
Location: Changi International Airport, Terminal One.

Ng Eng Teng, The Explorer, Dec 1999, ciment fondu, stainless steel, gold leaf.
Location: Singapore Art Museum.

For those of you who are interested to learn more about Ng Eng Teng, there are a couple of publications that would provide indepth information on this artist. Here is a link to a list of these publications: http://nus.edu.sg/museum/publications.htm#net

I have a liking for a number of Ng Eng Teng's works. Somehow, his works felt as if they could speak to the viewers, and communicate various emotions. I fondly remember that I used to frequent the Ng Eng Teng's museum almost everyday when it was located at the National University of Singapore's Central Library.

Driven by a search for nostalgia and a general interest in his art, I could not help but visit the NUS Museum for a couple of times over the past few months so as to check out the latest exhibition, Sculpturing Life, featuring some of Ng Eng Teng's works.

Foreground: Ng Eng Teng, Tension 1972, ciment fondu.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

I very much like the fact that in this exhibition, there are archival materials on Ng Eng Teng on display. I strongly recommend this exhibition to art students and anyone who is keen to research on the art of Ng Eng Teng. This exhibition puts on display a number of copies of the sketches that Ng Eng Teng had done prior to working on his actual works. Through looking at these sketches, one could better appreciate the thinking processes that Ng Eng Teng had went through before deriving at the final form of his works. Interestingly, I learnt from this exhibition that the Contentment was inspired by a yoga pose.

The maquettes of Contentment and Wealth.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Ng Eng Teng, Contentment.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

Other than the sketches, there are also copies of old newspaper articles on the sculpture scene in Singapore, and on Ng Eng Teng himself. There is even a multimedia corner whereby visitors could take time to watch a few documentaries on Ng Eng Teng. The duration of these documentaries vary from 20 minutes to about an hour. It is worth putting aside at least two hours to view these documentaries.

Copies of newspaper articles and Ng Eng Teng's sketches.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

I am pleased to share that I have managed to watch almost all the documentaries on display. These documentaries contain footages of interviews with Ng Eng Teng himself, and offer viewers a window to better understand the artist, Ng Eng Teng. When I was watching certain segments of the documentaries, I had felt as if Ng Eng Teng himself was speaking to me. After watching the documentaries, I felt a deepened sense of respect towards Ng Eng Teng for his strong dedication towards his art, his humility, his sense of compassion towards humanity and his resilience.

Documentaries on Ng Eng Teng that are worth watching.
Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.

This is an exhibition worth a visit. There is so much to learn at the exhibition that I have visited it at least four times this year. I was lucky that when I visited the exhibition on 2 Aug 2008, there was a guided tour to this exhibition. Attending the guided tour has helped me gain a deeper appreciation to the artworks on display. Many thanks to the dedicated museum guide who had given me the insightful tour.

Sculpturing Life - Ng Eng Teng Collection is held at NUS Museum, from 11 January – 31 December 2008.

The NUS Museum is located at the University Cultural Centre Annex, 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119279. It's closed on Mondays and Public Holidays. For more information on the museum's opening hours and on the guided tours, please visit: http://www.nus.edu.sg/museum/information_getting.htm

My heartfelt appreciation to NUS Museum, NUS Centre for the Arts for granting me the permission to take non-flash photography of this exhibition.

Many thanks to Siva for introducing me to staff of NUS Museum.

Thank you to the staff of NUS Museum, NUS Centre for the Arts for arranging for the insightful guided tour to the exhibition and for making my visits to the museum enjoyable and educational.

Sabapathy, T.L. (1998). Ng Eng Teng, art and thoughts. Singapore: NUS Museums, National University of Singapore.