Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Revealed - Fine Art and Photography Exhibition - featuring works by seniors in our community (Singapore)

 It may be a bad knee, a nagging cough or you are just trying to remember what you are supposed to remember. For people in their twilight years, dreams and aspiration are few and far between. For most, living means taking each day as it comes, with some even requiring to manage the pain, mentally and physically to get through the day, 

Love and passion is what drives people to stay young and live with a purpose. For some pioneers of Singapore, the lack of education opportunities during the early years of nation building often mean that old age is a massive struggle. Depending on one 's circumstance, the lack of money and family can lead to isolation and depression. Hopefully, aging would be a gentler process for baby boomers who grew up in the 60s. Singapore has more safeguards in place now such as CPF (Central Provident Fund) which gives some social security and with better education, the "younger" seniors now have more options of exploring their passions and engaging themselves mentally beyond retirement. 

I happen to chance upon a very interesting exhibition at Central Mall on the 25 Oct 2015 featuring the art works of some seniors at the Toa Payoh Care Corner Senior Activity Centre. In their 70s and 80s, they had the courage to pick up painting under the guidance of a trainer and after 3 years of training,  some interesting works of nature and even self portraits have come up.  Love the stories behind the paintings - of how an 80 year old soft spoken housewife with no formal education had to be gently persuaded to join and how that led to her transformation into an enthusiastic student whom teachers love. Or even how a 70 year old part time cleaner with an independent streak now loves to paint. Most of these works have already been sold to the public with proceeds to go to charity. ( I actually captured more works at the exhibition which included beautiful photography but unfortunately, some of the shots  are irretrievable due to a technical problem with my camera.)  

These seniors must be thrilled. Not only are their works featured in an exhibition but are actually good enough for the public to want to buy them. I love the picture of the bird by Fong Wai Khuan but it was already sold. Shows we should never stop learning at any age. Engaging the mind and keeping the passion alive keeps the momentum of growing young going. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The National Museum of Singapore - Modern Colony

The Modern Colony gallery shows the progressive world of women in the late 1920s and 30s. Clothes were less prohibitive as shown by the display of mannequins in beautiful dresses with creative interpretations of the traditional Chinese qipao made this era particularly romantic.  Girls were progressively given education and women could become financially independent.

I was pleasantly surprised to see my old school Singapore Chinese Girls' School featured in the exhibits. SCGS was started in 1899 and was the first school initiated by a local  education reform movement to educate ladies ( in contrast to foreign/missionary effort ) headed by Song Ong Siang and Dr Lim Boon Keng, two gentlemen of the Straits Chinese community. Both gentlemen were Queen's scholars and Song Ong Siang was the first Chinese in Malaya to be knighted in Britain for his contribution to society.

National Museum of Singapore 
93 Stamford Road
10-7 pm daily
Admission : Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents (SG50 year)
$10 adults and $5 students and seniors aged 60 and above 

Before 1929, the girls at the Singapore Chinese Girls' School wore sarong kebaya or baju panjang to school ( as seen in the picture in the background ) .The first uniform was introduced in 1929 but the SCGS girls were teased by girls at other schools who called them  "amahs"  (domestic servants)  and rickshaw pullers as the uniform resembled the working attire of these people.  

Mr and Mrs Song Ong Siang 

          The glamorous side of society back in the 1920s and 30s when Singapore was a British crown colony

Grooming accessories of a bygone era

The evolution of women's shoes. From little shoes made for bounded feet (middle) to luxurious ones in gold and silver threads

Shoes made for elegant dancing parties in the 1930s

National Museum of Singapore - Mergers and Separations

The issue of merger in post independent Singapore created cracks within PAP as the pro-communist faction opposed merger for fear of suppression by the Federal Government. Led by Lim Chin Siong, this group broke away to form the Barisan Socialist.in 1961. Thus began the battle for the hearts and minds of the people with Lee Kuan Yew delivering a series of radio talks that exposed the motives of the Communists. In Sept 1962, a referendum was held on the issue of merger with the Federation. 71% of the electorate voted for it and on 16 September 1963, Singapore was officially part of Malaysia . Then conditions changed and separation with Malaysia became inevitable in 1965.

A diorama depicting the people discussing the issue of merger with the Federation in 1962

A compilation of Lee Kuan Yew's radio talks in 1961 which exposed the goals, methods and organisation of the Communist. With the PAP hanging on by just one  seat in the legislative  assembly, these talks helped to turn the tide against the Communist. 

This headline made me do a double take. Actually this was how Singapore celebrated  the merger, with floats, lights and carnivals. 

Till today, I have never seen anyone who speaks with such vigor and conviction even on the international stage. 

National Museum of Singapore - 70s and 80s lifestyle

On display at the National Museum of Singapore was the interior of a HDB flat from the early years. Within were the familiar household appliances and gadgets from the 70s and 80s. This kitchen cabinet on display is pretty quaint and I love how the colours of orange and brown held everything together. Sunbeam, Singer, Sanyo, National were all familiar brands from those nostalgic years. I remember the whistling kettle too especially its whimsical name and the cute sounds it made when the water reached boiling point. 

National Museum of Singapore 
93 Stamford Road
10-7 pm daily
Admission : Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents (SG50 year)
$10 adults and $5 students and seniors aged 60 and above 

I have never come across a cake mixer and blender all in one before. Think it is a great idea for my space starved kitchen 

My mum had National brand products too which kept going and going. 

Every household back then aspired to have a Setron or a Telefunken TV 

I had this bed too when I was a baby. Cane was commonly used to make furniture such as chairs and beds. 

National Museum of Singapore - Singapore history gallery

The new permanent exhibits at the National Museum of Singapore are up with a more interactive and compelling way of telling the history of Singapore. The Singapore history gallery on level 1 charts the development of the island through the various stages - Singapura, a crown colony, 
Syonan-To and finally Singapore. What really stood out for me in terms of intensity was the Syonan-To years when Singapore fell to the Japanese. The pictures, stories and items on exhibit told a vivid story and I 'm sure many school kids will be making school excursions soon.  

National Museum of Singapore 
93 Stamford Road
10-7 pm daily
Admission : Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents (SG50 year)
$10 adults and $5 students and seniors aged 60 and above 

The Japanese invaded Singapore from Johore riding on similar bicycles 

How the Japanese and the Allies squared up in terms of soldiers and  artillery  

This table at the boardroom of Ford Motors was where the British officially surrendered  to the Japanese 

Changi Prison was built as a civilian prison in the 1930s but it was overcrowded with POWs and civilian interns when Singapore fell. 

A Changi prison cell door used during those dark years 

An exhibit featuring the clothes that war heroine Elizabeth Choy wore when she was interrogated and tortured by the Japanese 

Jubilation broke out on the streets when the Japanese surrendered putting an end to the war

The Japanese surrendered  after the bombing of Hiroshima 

Lord Mountbatten and troops at the official surrender ceremony of the Japanese 

National Museum of Singapore - We Built a Nation

The exhibition We Built a Nation is currently on at the National Museum of Singapore. The exhibition features the first  pivotal 10 years of Singapore after independence (1965-1975 ) and how Singapore's first Prime Minister and his team laid the foundation for a modern Singapore.
Some of the furniture and personal items of Lee Kuan Yew were on display including his famous red box, a symbol of his unwavering dedication to Singapore.
It was used to hold his important documents including speech drafts, letters, reflections and observations and was used by Mr Lee every day until February 4th, 2015, a day before he was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital where he died on March 23 at 91 years of age. 

National Museum of Singapore 
93 Stamford Road
10-7 pm daily
Admission : Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents (SG50 year)
$10 adults and $5 students and seniors aged 60 and above 

A miniature version of Lee Kuan Yew's house at Oxley Road 

The initials every Singapore knows 

The simple white PAP outfit he wore 

Soul mates through thick and thin 

Furniture from his residence at Oxley Road 

The red box