Learning Gallery

EXHIBITION FOR SCHOOLS ONLY

The Learning Gallery is dedicated to the engagement and discussion of broader issues through contemporary artworks from the museum’s permanent collection and special commissions. 

This edition of the Learning Gallery features selected artworks from the Singapore Art Museum’s exhibition, Once Upon This Island, which was presented from 7 November 2014 to 19 March 2017. 

As part of the Singapore Art Museum’s continued support of art education in schools, these artworks have been specially brought back to extend the reach of learning and teaching outside of the classroom setting while the Singapore Art Museum building undergoes a retrofit, to the Theatrette Project Space at National Gallery Singapore until 2021.

These works navigate ideas of home, community, identity and memory, and raise pertinent and timely questions on what it means to live in contemporary Singapore—an urbanised, ever-changing city-state and island. 

This exhibition is only available for school groups who have made prior booking with the SAM Education Team. Please contact [email protected] for enquiries and bookings. 

featured artworks

Sam
Nguan, "Untitled", from the series 'Singapore', 2012

Singapore is a series of untitled photographs that expressively captures quiet, everyday scenes on the streets of Singapore, as well as the sense of alienation and solitude that exist in this city (which is arguably also prevalent in all metropolises), by taking intimate and un-posed portraits of strangers while exploring Singapore on foot.


The artist has stated, in relation to the sense of isolation permeating his works, that loneliness is “just a symptom of modern life everywhere – we’re living in closer proximity to each other than ever before but feeling further apart.” While the themes explored in these works are sombre, the soft tones and tender colour palette of the photographs also convey a sense of nostalgia and warmth, reflecting a discreet observation of Singapore and the Singaporean way of life. Here, a dozen untold stories and personal histories are waiting to unfold.

Sam
Nguan, "Untitled", from the series 'Singapore', 2013

Singapore is a series of untitled photographs that expressively captures quiet, everyday scenes on the streets of Singapore, as well as the sense of alienation and solitude that exist in this city (which is arguably also prevalent in all metropolises), by taking intimate and un-posed portraits of strangers while exploring Singapore on foot.

 

The artist has stated, in relation to the sense of isolation permeating his works, that loneliness is “just a symptom of modern life everywhere – we’re living in closer proximity to each other than ever before but feeling further apart.” While the themes explored in these works are sombre, the soft tones and tender colour palette of the photographs also convey a sense of nostalgia and warmth, reflecting a discreet observation of Singapore and the Singaporean way of life. Here, a dozen untold stories and personal histories are waiting to unfold.

Sam
Nguan, "Untitled", from the series 'Singapore', 2013

Singapore is a series of untitled photographs that expressively captures quiet, everyday scenes on the streets of Singapore, as well as the sense of alienation and solitude that exist in this city (which is arguably also prevalent in all metropolises), by taking intimate and un-posed portraits of strangers while exploring Singapore on foot.

 

The artist has stated, in relation to the sense of isolation permeating his works, that loneliness is “just a symptom of modern life everywhere – we’re living in closer proximity to each other than ever before but feeling further apart.” While the themes explored in these works are sombre, the soft tones and tender colour palette of the photographs also convey a sense of nostalgia and warmth, reflecting a discreet observation of Singapore and the Singaporean way of life. Here, a dozen untold stories and personal histories are waiting to unfold.

Sam
Vincent Delgado, "We Are Family", 2014

Originally from Spain and a resident of Singapore for more than a decade, artist Vicente Delgado was inspired by the ideas of multiculturalism, society and the individual, to create this interactive installation exploring the intricacies of negotiating the multicultural landscape in Singapore.


We Are Family celebrates the diversity of Singapore’s cultures by employing vivid colours, textures and shapes in a participatory, intertwining soft sculpture installation. The work, which comprises flexible soft sculpture pieces or building blocks, allows for easy stacking in various permutations. Visitors are invited to interact with the work by using the pieces to configure different shapes and forms. This work also invites younger visitors to explore colours, shapes and forms, and the interactivity encourages teamwork, solidarity and respect for others through play. We Are Family suggests that the soft sculpture pieces are much like the members of a family, or even a societal unit that, when linked together, forge a stronger structure through unity.

Sam
Jing Quek, "Singapore Idols – Army Boys", 2006

The Singapore Idols series of photographs celebrates the Everyman and common, everyday situations and environments in Singapore. In these works, photographer Jing Quek attempts to capture the spirit of the people who make up the ‘face’ and landscape of Singapore, presenting stylised collective portraits of distinctive communities in a way that challenges the viewer’s perceptions or preconceived notions of these communities.


Singapore Idols – Army Boys presents a large group of National Servicemen posing in an outdoor training area in full military gear: camouflage uniforms, face paint and weaponry. They are seen striking confident poses in a highly stylised manner reminiscent of celebrities in magazines, and are captured in a closely arranged composition, perhaps signalling their close-knit bond and emphasising their solidarity with one another.


Through the title of his series and these images which are styled like celebrity portraits, Jing Quek signals the values he ascribes to the oft-overlooked individuals featured in his work, in his attempt to address (and subvert) constructions of identity, stereotypes and communities, particularly within Singapore.

Sam
Jing Quek, "Singapore Idols – Aunties & Uncles", 2006

The Singapore Idols series of photographs celebrates the Everyman and common, everyday situations and environments in Singapore. In these works, photographer Jing Quek attempts to capture the spirit of the people who make up the ‘face’ and landscape of Singapore, presenting stylised collective portraits of distinctive communities in a way that challenges the viewer’s perceptions or preconceived notions of these communities.


In Singapore Idols – Aunties & Uncles, a group of senior citizens is captured posing confidently at the void deck of a Housing Development Board block, intimating their strength and sense of connection with one another.


Through the title of his series and these images which are styled like celebrity portraits, Jing Quek signals the values he ascribes to the oft-overlooked individuals featured in his work, in his attempt to address (and subvert) constructions of identity, stereotypes and communities, particularly within Singapore.munities.

Sam
Jing Quek, "Singapore Idols – Maids", 2009

The Singapore Idols series of photographs celebrates the Everyman and common, everyday situations and environments in Singapore. In these works, photographer Jing Quek attempts to capture the spirit of the people who make up the ‘face’ and landscape of Singapore, presenting stylised collective portraits of distinctive communities in a way that challenges the viewer’s perceptions or preconceived notions of these communities.


Similarly, in Singapore Idols – Maids, a group of domestic workers gaze directly, perhaps even challengingly, at the camera (and by extension, the viewer), while enacting a performance of various domestic tasks in the living room of a large house.


Through the title of his series and these images which are styled like celebrity portraits, Jing Quek signals the values he ascribes to the oft-overlooked individuals featured in his work, in his attempt to address (and subvert) constructions of identity, stereotypes and communities, particularly within Singapore.

Sam
Jason Wee, "Self Portrait (No more Tears, Mr. Lee)", 2009

Self-Portrait (No More Tears, Mr. Lee) is made out of 8,000 plastic shampoo bottle caps placed individually on an angled pedestal. Using a combination of opened and closed bottle caps placed in a grid formation, the portrait of a person is created when the bottle caps are lit and viewed from a certain angle.


Alluding to a historical and emotional moment in Singapore’s history of independence, the choice of material used to create this installation is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a well-known shampoo tagline. Artist Jason Wee reinvents the genre of portraiture here by deconstructing the subject into its individual parts, making each bottle cap function as a pixel forming a larger image. The part-by-part construction of the image of the person represented questions how biographies and histories of historical figures are multi-faceted and pieced together. This installation is also introspective and self-reflexive in that Jason Wee sees himself represented in this portrait as well, in the way that a person might identify himself or herself with an influential father figure.

Sam
Dawn Ng, "Mamashop", 2012

Mamashop and HDB Corridor are part of a series of hand-crafted, large scale photo collages by artist Dawn Ng that presents a cheeky look at present-day Singapore, highlighting its unique characteristics and traits: common obsessions, insecurities and ambitions seen through the composition of text set against familiar, everyday landscapes.


Mamashop is a colloquial reference to the provision shops that serve the needs of residents living in local housing estates, and which are gradually being replaced by convenience store chains. Selling a wide range of items from perishables to household goods, the provision shop is a convenient, one-stop location for residents, forming an integral part of their daily routine.


“Everything you ever wanted is right here” inscribed across the entrance to a provision shop serves as an invitation to enter and explore the shop, but also reminds viewers that sometimes, one need not look too far for what they might need. It suggests that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and encourages one to appreciate the value of what is in front of them. However, the bold text may also act as a counter-question, challenging the viewer to query if all they ever wanted is truly located right where they are.

Sam
Dawn Ng, "HDB Corridor", 2012

Mamashop and HDB Corridor are part of a series of hand-crafted, large scale photo collages by artist Dawn Ng that presents a cheeky look at present-day Singapore, highlighting its unique characteristics and traits: common obsessions, insecurities and ambitions seen through the composition of text set against familiar, everyday landscapes.


HDB Corridor refers to the common walkway that residents living in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats share across a floor. Singapore’s public housing programme has been both the pride of the nation’s achievements as well as a point of contention for Singaporeans, with about 80% of the population residing in HDB flats. While HDB flats continue to be built to meet the demands and needs of a growing population, limited land space necessitates creating taller flats that reach ever higher. The increasing demand for flats has also pushed up housing prices in recent years.


The advice to “faster apply for your pie in the sky” is distinctively Singaporean, both in the vernacular used, as well as in the sense of urgency conveyed. The call to action plays up the Singaporean trait of ‘kiasuism’, or the ‘fear of losing out’. Juxtaposed against a seemingly serene residence in the background, this work is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on modern-day urban development, and the needs and aspirations of a fast-changing country and its people.