Sassy Mama Fiana visits the first-ever Gallery Children’s Biennale at the National Gallery Singapore and finds an interactive art extravaganza!
Mamas, are you looking for something fun and educational to do with your kiddos over the summer? Read on and I’ll definitely have you sorted for a day, but if you’re lucky the little ones will enjoy their visit to the National Gallery so much that they will ask for repeats!
Just launched at the National Gallery Singapore, the first-ever Gallery Children’s Biennale is running from now through early October. You’ll discover a suite of art installations and activities specially curated for young visitors and parents to embark on a creative journey of exploration and discovery – together!
Themed Dreams & Stories, Gallery Children’s Biennale features ten interactive installations and new commissioned works by artists from Singapore and beyond. The artworks are located at various public spaces within the Gallery across both the City Hall and Former Supreme Court buildings.
Whilst entry to the Gallery Children’s Biennale is free (general admission applies), visitors can pick up a Gallery Children’s Biennale Art Pack – which is available at $5/pack to enhance the experience. Produced as a learning resource, the art pack contains activities and ideas for discussion, which are designed to offer kids the opportunity to reflect and express their own thoughts and creativity.
Further, in conjunction with Gallery Children’s Biennale, a series of public programmes, film screenings, special tours for families and artist-led workshops for children have been lined up. There will also be an outdoor festival in August.
Now that’s a lot of arty fun to look forward to! The Gallery Children’s Biennale (more details available here) serves as an excellent opportunity to introduce little ones to the wonderful world of art, so do plan a visit! There’s a lot in store for kiddos and of course for you ‘young at heart’ Mamas (and Daddies) too!
I had a sneak preview and the pleasure of meeting with many of the artists; scroll through the gallery for some of what you can look forward to!
Where: Level 1, Padang Atrium
This is a woodcutting piece by local artist Chng Seok Tin, who is 80% blind as a result of an accident in 1988. The woodcut in the centre of the work represents the emotional journey that she went through as she grappled with the impact of the accident and learnt to reconcile what it meant to be with oneself.
The artwork represents resilience in the face of adversity. Visitors are encouraged to touch and feel it. Kids can also use a piece of paper to make a woodcut rubbing and bring a souvenir home.
Where: Supreme Court Wing, Level 3, Supreme Court Foyer
From the outside, Sonnet in Blue by Tran Trong Vu looks like an organic blue mass. However, as you walk through this immersive installation, you will discover brightly-coloured flowers “blooming” out of blue hedges.
Each flower contains lovely poems and stories by children from countries around Southeast Asia. The 100 poems were compiled from submissions to the Poetry Festival (Singapore) by students and hand-inscribed onto the flowers by the artist. They provide an intimate look at the individual dreams and stories of children from around the region.
Where: City Hall Wing, Level 2, Singapore Courtyard
Lynn Lu was inspired to create a performance artwork by a Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron who once said, “Stop waiting for some idealised moment when everything is simple and secure.” Instead, we should try to be fully present in each and every moment of our lives.
Here kids can sit under a ‘cloud’ with a friend or family member and answer a series of virtual questions posed by the artist.
Where: City Hall Wing, Level B1, Auditorium Anteroom
Ian Woo is an artist and musician who is influenced by the language of abstraction and the structures of improvised music.
Inspired by odd and even shapes, he made two objects – a rock and a sphere – that can be taken apart and rearranged to create new forms. Kids can engage in imaginative play and make new connections between colours and shapes.
Where: City Hall Wing, Level 2, Social Table
Robert Zhao is a visual artist whose work addresses man’s relationship with nature, and related issues of morality and ethics.
This project documents 39 animals, plants and environments that have been manipulated by humans, though this may not be apparent at first glance. The specimens here challenge our ideas of what is natural and what is manmade.
Where: City Hall Wing, Level 1, City Hall Foyer
Artist Vincent Leow has represented Singapore in various art festivals around the world. Rochor Centre, one of Singapore’s first public housing estates, is due to be demolished. A majority of the estate’s residents have been relocated and now live in Kallang. Vincent Leow created this work in response to ideas of moving, migration and relocation. If the tall towers represent blocks of flats, what do you think the bird traps represent? Let your imaginations run wild …
Where: Supreme Court Wing, Level B1, Outside Concourse Gallery 2
Mark Justiniani from the Philippines is a “magic realist” who uses reflective media to explore space, vision and their changing relationship with time.
Visitors can embark on a journey of discovery through Firewalk. The work plays on an illusion of depth, depicting an archeological site that stretches endlessly into the ground. Objects that might have been once treasured – toys, books, building blocks and letters – can be found within it. As you cross the 16-metre-long bridge, peer into infinity and experience what it feels like to be suspended in space and time. This one will definitely be fun for the brave and adventurous little ones!
Where: City Hall Wing, Level B1, The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery
Inspired by how the Internet has connected the world, teamLab (the brains behind mama-fave FutureWorld at ArtScience) have created a digital, multi-sensory world where all physical boundaries have been eliminated. This room is filled with suspended glowing orbs and you can look forward to being enveloped in a mesmerizing symphony of sound and light as you navigate through. Don’t forget to touch/ lightly whack the balls – they will change colour and produce sound. Another very enjoyable space for the kids!
Where: Supreme Court Wing, Level B1, Concourse Gallery 2
Last but not the least is this pure white and spotless room where kids are invited to cover all the furniture and walls with bright colourful dot stickers! What’s not to love?!
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is known the world over for her iconic dots, nets and pumpkin motifs. When she was a young girl, she started seeing the world through a screen of tiny dots. The dots covered everything she saw — the walls, ceilings, and even her own body. For 40 years, she has created paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations covered in dots. Kusama calls this process ‘obliteration,’ which means the complete destruction of everything around.
The Keppel Centre for Art Education is also undergoing a refresh. Yes, Singapore never fails to deliver! One of the new spaces, Project Gallery, will feature an immersive ocean-themed installation, The Blue Who Swims All This Way, by artist Betty Susiarjo, which invites visitors to explore a myriad of textures, sounds and colours as they hug soft sculptures, climb into giant rocks and listen to the sound of the waves.