See art through the eyes of the blind

The works of blind Singapore artist Chng Seok Tin will be displayed at the Arts Beyond Sight exhibition.
The works of blind Singapore artist Chng Seok Tin will be displayed at the Arts Beyond Sight exhibition.PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHNG SEOK TIN

Walk blind through an exhibition to experience art in a different light or sit back and unwind as doctors take the stage.

This year, the CausewayEXchange festival, in its seventh year, looks to tap the power of art not just to unite and entertain, but also to heal.

The 10-programme event, which invites artists from Singapore and Malaysia to experiment across different mediums, will include shows and activities that explore arts therapy and healing. The programmes will be held at various locations across the island, including the Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Glam.

The Arts Beyond Sight exhibition held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, for instance, invites visitors to wear goggles designed to simulate different types of visual impairments.

Visually-impaired facilitators will guide guests through the three different galleries featuring the works of blind Singapore artist Chng Seok Tin. Robbed of sight, art will be experienced through the other four senses instead.

Alexandra Hospital is one of the unlikely venues for the festival running from tomorrow to Sept 13. Health practitioners will discuss the role the arts can play in the medical field. Doctors also turn performers.

  • BOOK IT / CAUSEWAY EXCHANGE

  • WHERE: Various locations, including Alexandra Hospital and 10 Square@Orchard Central

    WHEN: Tomorrow to Sept 13, various timings

    ADMISSION: Varies by show, ranging from free admission to $35, causewayexchange. peatix.com

    INFO: causewayexchange.com

Family physician Chang Tou Liang, who started playing the piano at age 14, juggles his full-time job with his passion for music: "If there's a will, there's a way. It's not so different when it comes to music as with other things in life. Passion is what drives us all, both in work and play."

Dr Chang, 51, will perform in Doctors With A Cause - A Night Of Laughter And Music on Sept 13, playing the piano with two other doctors. Doctor-turned-comedian Jason Leong, who left his job at a Malaysian hospital two years ago to pursue comedy full-time, will also take the stage for the show.

CausewayEXchange is co-organised by DMR Productions and The Rice Company, and project managed by Global Cultural Alliance.

DMR Productions director Shawn Lourdusamy, 43, says: "We felt that for most of the time, when cultural exchange between two countries happen, we often present the arts or talk about the arts among those who are healthy and have easy access to the arts."

"We then asked: What about those who don't have access to the arts because they're not well? How can the arts help? More importantly, what can we learn from practices in art therapy that take place between two countries?"

Since its debut in 2010, CausewayEXchange has yet to run out of steam.

It is exploring ways to grow, with plans to start fringe programmes that will run throughout the year, leading up to the main festival itself.

Mr Lourdusamy says: "We're always on a lookout for artists from both countries who create new and innovative ways to share with audiences on both sides of the Causeway the narratives, experiences, histories and current issues faced by the people of Malaysia and Singapore.

"What drives us is our zeal to uncover for Malaysians a Singapore that they don't know and vice versa."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'See art through the eyes of the blind'. Print Edition | Subscribe