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Archive for the ‘Arts & Culture’ Category

Not prisoners but artists

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By Cassandra Ho

SINGAPORE – There was no da Vinci or van Gogh on the walls of the Singapore Art Museum, but the Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition, ‘Vision of Hope’, has attracted many visitors since its opening on September 9.

The Yellow Ribbon Project and Singapore Art Museum have partnered up this year to present an exhibition of artworks done by inmates and ex-offenders depicting what the latter view as hope.

There are a few categories of art on display at the exhibition – fine art, recycled art and trans-art, all of which feature artwork inspired by the Yellow Ribbon song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon on an Old Oak Tree”.

Raymond Tan, 24, was impressed by the quality of the works he saw while visiting the museum.

“I felt that the exhibition showcased a big range of artistic talent and I found it hard to believe that these were done after just a short lesson,” he said.

The potential artists went through a 35 hour-long art course before submitting their entries for the Yellow Ribbon Art Competition, and 50 chosen art pieces were showcased at the exhibition.

“Art is a medium for inmates to express their inner emotions and feelings, and many of the paintings carry significant hidden meanings which express their desire to reintegrate back to society and make good again,” Yellow Ribbon Project Secretariat, Leslie Jin, said, when asked about the motivation behind ‘Vision of Hope’.

Besides viewing the art pieces, visitors can adopt or buy them and the proceeds will go toward the charities supported by the Yellow Ribbon Project.

The sale and adoption of the art pieces brought in about S$50,000 for the Yellow Ribbon Project beneficiaries last year, and the project is hoping to raise the same amount this year.

Jin also said that the adoption and sale would help to illustrate that the inmates and ex-offenders have gone through proper training and rehabilitation and are part of the society with the capability of using their skills and talents to their fullest potential.

“This showcase is a good opportunity for the public to understand and get an insight into the thoughts of these inmates and ex-offenders, and also a chance for both the visitors and artists, to contribute to society,” a visitor who did not want to be named said.

Visitors to the exhibition can also do up their own art pieces in workshops conducted. If selected, they stand a chance to have their work displayed alongside the prisoners’ artworks.

This is the third year the Yellow Ribbon Project is organising the art exhibition.

The exhibition is expecting approximately 2,000 visitors, and will be on display until September 20.

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Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:49 am

Short films: the two-year wait is over

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By Stephanie

The Singapore Short Film Festival, previously held once every two years, is now an annual event propelled by the rising popularity of Korean and European short films among Singaporeans.

“There is a good interest in international films. People are interested to see what else is out there, especially if you are sick of Hollywood,” Low Beng Kheng, the festival organizer, said.

The change is a welcome move for the biennial event. “It’s great that the festival is now held every year. There is a lack of short films here in Singapore. It’s a good idea,” Russel Tan, a 23-year-old film student, said.

Held at The Substation, the opening weekend of the festival had a modest turnout of about 200 people who were mostly working adults and tertiary school students.

Providing a wide array of perspectives for these attendees, the festival featured more than 120 short films from all over the globe including Sweden, France, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.

“It’s a good, rare opportunity to enjoy a well-selected mix of quality international and local short films. I also get to see the different ways of storytelling in a short period of time,” Nicolas Escoffier, a 32-year-old graduate student from France, said. He was at the festival for the third time since it started on Sept. 13.

Agreeing, Bill Jamieson, a 52-year-old lawyer, said, “The entertainment is at a different level from your normal commercial outlets. Definitely it’s not for the mainstream commercial audience. It’s unusual to be offered access to such films.”

The exploration of various themes such as midnight cinema, black comedy, animations and dysfunctional relationships was new to a handful of first-timers, who showed up for the event not knowing what to expect.

“The short films that will be screened have won quite a number of awards. But, it’s my first time here, so we’ll see how things go,” Edwina Ong, a 23-year-old film student, said.

The curated short films, presented based on themes and countries, were useful for aspiring film makers. “I can pursue similar projects because I can easily learn from these shorts,” Nicole Midori Woodford, a 23-year-old independent film maker, said.

Besides offering a peek into rising film talents in Asia, the festival also includes the Asian Film Symposium, which aims to promote dialogue and exchange in the region.

“It’s crucial that an event like this reaches out to new people and helps them discover their interest in this field. More significantly, it has to actively engage those already in the loop by inspiring them,” Jessie Lim, 32-year-old former Arts Central marketing manager, said.

The nine-day festival, dedicated to the screening of international short films, will end on Sept. 21.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

A Vision of Hope for Ex-Offenders

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By Kristine Puala Aquino

The Yellow Ribbon Project kicked off its Community Art Exhibition 2009 entitled Vision of Hope with artworks on display at the Singapore Art Museum 8Q on Saturday.

The exhibition showcases over 200 paintings and mixed media sculptures by current and former prison inmates from Singapore.

For the first time in its three-year history, the Community Art Exhibition is also featuring artworks by community members, in response to prison art and artworks from international correctional facilities such as Stanley Prison of Hong Kong and Macao Prison of Macao Special Administrative Region, among others.

The artworks are categorized according to this year’s sub-themes, which are Art, Communication, Opportunities, Resilience and New Beginning.

Jovyn Lee, a member of the exhibition’s organizing committee and Creative Arts Manager at the Singapore Prison Service said that these themes represent concepts common to everyone regardless of their background.

“Art has a powerful message. The themes of hope and resilience in these artworks are universal and not just limited to ex-offenders. Through Vision of Hope, we want to show that all of us have talents hidden in us,” Lee said.

Through the exhibition, many inmates discovered their artistic abilities and found opportunities to further their art studies. One example is artist and ex-offender Izani Sa’at, whose showcased work allowed him to pursue courses at the La Salle College of the Arts.

As he further develops his craft, Sa’at hopes to break out of his past as a former inmate. “I wish people would appreciate my work because it’s art, not because I’m an ex-offender. I want to be appreciated as an artist and a person,” Sa’at said.

The crowd of about 50 visitors filled the gallery with praise and admiration for the artists and their work. Steven Lee, a consultant and art enthusiast, said of the artists, “I really admire the path they go through. Everybody should really start from yourself to make a change.”

An art teacher who volunteered with Yellow Ribbon’s Prison Art Program was equally in awe of her students’ progress.

“In our art lessons, the inmates are able to express themselves and seeing their finished products now makes me so proud,” she said anonymously, as she was not authorized to speak to the media.

Coupled with Vision of Hope is the Yellow Ribbon Art Adoption Program, wherein interested collectors can bid online for art pieces featured in the exhibition. The proceeds of the program will go to the Yellow Ribbon Project’s selected beneficiaries.

Vision of Hope will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday at the Singapore Art Museum 8Q until September 20.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

Growing interest in short films turns biennial festival into annual event

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By Tsang Chi Yin Anthony

The 5th Singapore Short Film Festival kicked off last Sunday at The Substation with close to two-thirds of its opening day film tickets sold.

The once-biennial event organized by the local independent contemporary arts centre is to become an annual affair from this year because of the strong growing demand.

Explaining the main reason for this change, Low Beng Keng, programme manager of the festival, said, “There has been an increasing number of loyal followers for the Singapore Short Film Festival since its inception in 2001. That’s why we decided to make it an annual affair.”

Revealing what can be expected this year, Low said, “This year’s festival is showcasing over 120 short films from all over the year so there is a good mix of international and Singapore works.”

The shift to hold the festival on a yearly basis also highlighted the importance of short films in the Singapore filmmaking landscape. 27-year-old Low added that the main objective of the festival is to increase the profile of short films and encourage local filmmakers to develop their skills and art in this area.

To further inspire more local filmmakers to enter this field of filmmaking that has not been given much publicity, the festival is merging with the popular Asian Film Symposium and its Forum this year. Currently into its ninth edition, the Symposium uncovers cutting-edge travelling short films from this region and also offers dialogue and exchange opportunities through talks with invited curators and filmmakers.

Mohammad Firdaus, a project officer who works at the Asia-Foundation Culture Exchange department, said, “The Symposium offers a chance for members in the film community to meet upcoming Asian film talents from around the region.”

“At the same time, I am looking forward to explore Southeast Asian short films for an upcoming project.” Firdaus is a first time visitor to the festival.

David Lee, a professional film programmer for the Singapore Film Society, agreed that the niche short film market is attracting more attention. He said, “From an industry’s perspective, it is very encouraging to see more people paying to watch short­-film screenings. Recently, some screenings were even sold out and these results gave confidence to aspiring short filmmakers.”

However, the lack of sponsorship is one of the biggest challenges organizers face in expanding the festival.

Low explained, “Short films, unlike mainstream films, are usually not that attractive for regular advertisers. However, for those marketeers looking at more focused marketing and reach, short films can be a good choice.”

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:45 am

Classical dance performance reaches beyond race and religion

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By: Sivaprakash Packirisamy

Months of tireless effort by students and teacher alike paid off when Sri Lasya Arts dancers’ recent classical performance proceeded spectacularly at Sri Krishnan Temple.

Organisers of the 10th annual Krishna Jayanthi Maha Utsavam event have hailed this year’s show as one of their most successful ever.

“We have never seen such a huge crowd varying in race and religion here before,” said the organiser of the show and temple trustee of Sri Krishnan temple, 55 year-old, Sivaraman.

A crowd of over 200 people and 30 participants ranging from 5 to 50 years old attended the show which was part of a ten day celebration commemorating the birth of the Hindu god Krishna.

“It was so cool and encouraging to see so many people coming to watch our performance,” said participant and student at Sri Lasya Arts, 22 year-old, Dharani Viswalingam. “It only got us more pumped to put up a show they will never forget.”

Such confidence was justified by the sheer energy and grace with which the dancers performed their hour long set of group and solo pieces that displayed not only their immense talent, but also the intricacies of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form found in India.

“They look so beautiful on stage,” said a member of the audience, 23 year-old Chong Woon Yong. “Although I don’t understand Bharatanatyam fully, I appreciate their graceful movements and vibrant costumes.”

Bharatanatyam, which was first mastered as an expression of devotion by female devotees, had developed by the late 18th century into a story-telling art.

Once considered an art practised predominantly by Indians of the Hindu faith, the classical dance is now being learned by people of various racial and religious backgrounds.

Sri Lasya Arts’ founder and full-time teacher, Kamariah Yusuf, felt that shows like this serve as a platform for her students to portray their talent regardless of race or religion.

“I have kids from various racial and religious backgrounds coming to learn the dance. Being a Muslim myself, I broke the religious barrier of this dance because I love the way it helps me express my emotions,” she said.

“Art is universal, and the only barrier it should possess is interest,” Yusuf said.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

Posted in Arts & Culture

Japanese and Singapore Undergraduates Exchange Local Culture and Views

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By: Not provided

A joint seminar aimed at facilitating cultural exchange between students of the Aoyama Gakuin University of Japan and the National University of Singapore was held the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences last Wednesday.

Hiroyuki Obari, lecturer of English Language and Information Technology at the Aoyama Gakuin University of Japan, explained that conflict avoidance was the main motivation for him to organise the joint seminar for both the students from his school and the National University of Singapore.

He added that such exchange programmes allow for students of different nationalities to interact and build relationships which would eventually aid in enhancing global relationships. With better personal relationships, more conflicts can be avoided in his opinion.

About 41 students, comprising of 34 Singaporean Japanese-speaking students and seven Japanese undergraduates who travelled to Singapore, attended the seminar. Many of them learnt more about each other’s culture and also had an open discussion about some local issues of both countries.

The Japanese students also had a first-hand experience of the Singaporean culture and the uniqueness of the multi-ethnicity and multi-racial society here. A tour around the NUS campus had also enabled them to identify the differences in the studying culture of Japanese and Singaporean students.

Takuya Tsuku, 21, a Japanese undergraduate at the Aoyama Gakuin University said “it was good to know the people here and this trip has been a motivating one for me.”

Local students majoring in Japanese Studies at NUS also said that this seminar was valuable as it allowed them to discuss with the Japanese some issues in Japan in which they found intriguing.

“Because I am a Japanese Studies major, interacting with real Japanese rather than reading from books will be for useful” Isabella Lim a 21 year-old NUS student said.

Satomi Chiba, a lecturer of Japanese language at NUS, said: “this seminar is a very meaningful event for the students as everyone has put in a lot of effort to make it successful”.

Chiba added that it is usually difficult for students to exchange opinions and viewpoints with people of different cultures and backgrounds but such seminars allow for this to happen.

Obari also said that he was “impressed by the students of NUS and will definitely come back to Singapore for a second visit.” He had brought his students to the universities of different countries like America and England for exchange programmes.

“Direct experience is the most important. Some things cannot be taught in the classrooms,” he said.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:38 am

Posted in Arts & Culture

A walk down memory lane on a beautiful Sunday

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By: Leong Wai Mun Jocelyn

A walk down memory lane on a beautiful Sunday

SINGAPORE- The National University of Singapore’s Wind Symphony Orchestra was invited by the Esplanade to perform in their Beautiful Sunday concert last Sunday.

“Yesterday, Once more”, presented by the NUS Wind Symphony Orchestra, offered members of the public an opportunity to revisit the tunes and familiar favourites from the yesteryears such as Hey Jude and Yesterday.

Fifteen minutes before the concert started saw a packed concert hall filled with family members, friends and supporters of the orchestra.

The concert lasted for an hour and the audience was serenaded with a mixture of beautiful oldies and famous pieces. Towards the end of the concert, the audience requested for an encore, which the orchestra played an additional piece by George Gershwin,  entitled “An American in Paris”.

Accountant Elsie Tan having watched the concert said “My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and we will be looking forward to more concerts like this.”

“I am personally very happy that the Esplanade has made the effort to plan such monthly concerts that provide a platform for aspiring local music groups to showcase their talents,” Tan added.

Beautiful Sunday is a series of free monthly concerts organized by the Esplanade and performed by selected homegrown music groups at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

“The NUS Wind Symphony Orchestra is excellent. From the selection of pieces to the music arrangement, everything was just awesome,” said business owner, Ho Lee Sun.

The wonderful performance by the NUS Wind Symphony Orchestra is one of the many performances hosted by the Esplanade through their Beautiful Sunday concerts.

There will be several upcoming concerts in the next few months.

Programming Officer of the Esplanade Luanne Poh said “Beautiful Sunday is a music series that is part of our initiative to make Esplanade a centre for everyone.”

“Moreover, the Esplanade hopes to reach as many people and allow them to appreciate and enjoy music freely”, Poh added.

Being one of the twelve music groups exclusively selected for the Beautiful Sunday programme, the NUS Wind Symphony Orchestra was honoured to be able to perform at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

“It was indeed a great privilege to be able to perform in one of Singapore’s state-of-the-art concert halls,” President of the orchestra Benson Lim said.

The NUS Wind Symphony Orchestra has been noted over the years as one of the premier wind orchestras in Singapore’s music scene. Under the tutelage of resident band conductor Associate Professor Ho Hwee Long, the band has not only been known for creating quality music but also for its inclination to perform rarely performed pieces.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:36 am

Posted in Arts & Culture