Gamut of local stories captured in new exhibition by Straits Times photojournalists

Mr Foo Kee See, also known as "Uncle Bread", who sold provisions from his van for 55 years in Serangoon Gardens and Seletar Hills Estate, was featured in the Home In Focus series in The Straits Times on Jan 9 this year.
Mr Foo Kee See, also known as "Uncle Bread", who sold provisions from his van for 55 years in Serangoon Gardens and Seletar Hills Estate, was featured in the Home In Focus series in The Straits Times on Jan 9 this year.ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

Home In Focus photo exhibition brings together Singapore stories, told through the lenses of Straits Times photojournalists

Good stories can be found right under one's nose.

For Straits Times deputy picture editor Wang Hui Fen, the idea of documenting Mr Foo Kee See's last days with his mobile provision shop came from her backyard.

Her two sons, Ethan, 12, and Ewan, eight, who regularly bought tidbits from Mr Foo, came home one day and told her that "Uncle Bread" was not coming anymore.

Mr Foo, 78, is fondly known as "Uncle Bread" in Serangoon Garden and Seletar Hills Estate community, where he has plied his business for 55 years. His 17-year-old dark green van from which he sells provisions was headed to the scrapyard. It was also time for him to retire.

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After Ms Wang's photo feature Farewell, Uncle Bread was published in The Straits Times on Jan 9 this year, many wrote in to offer to donate money to renew the van's certificate of entitlement (COE) for five years. One businessman even volunteered to pay for the COE and offered his van to use for free, but Mr Foo's daughter did not want her father to work so hard and he declined the offer.

Farewell, Uncle Bread is among the more than 90 works of Home In Focus, a long-running weekly visual story feature in The Straits Times, that will be presented at a month- long photo exhibition. Presented by The Straits Times and Objectifs, a visual arts centre, the exhibition marks the first collaboration between both organisations.

It will be held at Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film in Middle Road, from Aug 3 to Sept 3.

  • VIEW IT / HOME IN FOCUS

  • WHERE: Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, 155 Middle Road

    WHEN: Aug 3 to Sept 3; Tuedays to Saturdays, noon to 7pm; Sundays, noon to 4pm; photographers talks: Aug 16 and 30, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: Free. Registration required for talks. Go to objectifs.com.sg/homeinfocus

A two-page spread that runs every Monday, the Home In Focus series has published more than 100 photo essays since it started in The Straits Times in July 2015.

It captures a wide-ranging spectrum of stories, from the quirky and compassionate to the ever- changing in Singapore. These include a behind-the-scenes stint with the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Black Knights aerobatics team and a look at the Karen Baptist Church, an intimate community, which reaches out to the Myanmar workers in Singapore.

Curated jointly by Objectifs' centre director Emmeline Yong and manager Chelsea Chua, as well as Straits Times picture editor Stephanie Yeow, the exhibition features 45 stories from the series.

Ms Yeow says: "We're absolutely thrilled to collaborate with Objectifs for this exhibition that celebrates our community and the people who belong to it. We've always believed that a single powerful image can bridge societal gaps.

"We hope that the images you see in this selection will effect an emotion in you, leaving you with a better idea of the type of people, activities and places that surround you."

Visitors to the exhibition can buy selected prints of photographs and postcards on display at the exhibition. Net proceeds from the sale will be donated to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

There will be two talks by Straits Times photojournalists on Aug 16 and 30, where they will share more about their respective featured works and inspiration for story ideas.

Ms Yong says: "Through this exhibition, we want to acknowledge the important role that photojournalism plays in bringing meaningful stories to our attention.

"These images are wonderful anecdotes about Singapore and a testament to the talents of photojournalists whose works add depth and colour to the pages of the newspaper."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'Stories from our backyard'. Print Edition | Subscribe