Carve out a 'S'pore identity in art'

Capture the Singaporean identity in your art, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong urged students and alumni at the School of the Arts (Sota) Awards Day yesterday.

Mr Wong was guest of honour at the event, which saw Sota's third batch of students graduate. He also commended the school for doing "exceedingly well" in areas such as artistic excellence, academic achievement and social consciousness.

"All of you will play leading roles in contributing to Singapore's cultural repertoire," he said in a speech. "I hope you will also think hard about how our Singaporean and South-east Asian cultures and identities are reflected in the art you create."

Citing graduating music student Almira Farid, 18, who won the Sota-Ngee Ann Kongsi Outstanding Young Artist Award, he noted how she had used her studies in music and anthropology to explore her cultural roots.

The result was a series of music compositions containing a fusion of Western and Javanese instruments, which she used to express herself as a Singaporean. Mr Wong commended her for "keeping our traditions and cultural roots alive and relevant in the contemporary world".

Almira has been accepted to study ethnomusicology at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, although she says she is likely to pass on the offer unless she can secure a scholarship.

Visual art student Marcus Yee Yok Wan, 18, who won the Prime Minister's Valedictorian Award, used scaffolding from around the city to create an installation for his final-year project to depict Singapore's ever-changing landscape.

"I wanted to highlight that our visual landscape and cityscape are surrounded by the constant presence of metal barricades," he said.

Mr Wong later joined several Sota students in a tile-making session, in which he was shown how to carve patterns into a terracotta clay tile before painting it over with porcelain slips. Together with more than 1,000 tiles designed by members of the Sota community, it will help to form a mural celebrating the nation's past and present, and future aspirations.

The mural will be permanently installed on the facade of the school building in August.

This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.