PM Lee's US visit: Dinosaur purse used by Mrs Lee designed by Pathlight student

Mrs Lee Hsien Loong holding a pouch called the Denim Pouch-Dino Blue Black during the welcome ceremony at the White House on Aug 2, 2016. The pouch was designed by Pathlight student See Toh Sheng Jie.
Mrs Lee Hsien Loong holding a pouch called the Denim Pouch-Dino Blue Black during the welcome ceremony at the White House on Aug 2, 2016. The pouch was designed by Pathlight student See Toh Sheng Jie.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Little white dinosaurs romping across a blue background make for a quirky design, but many people were pleasantly surprised to see Mrs Lee Hsien Loong arrive at the White House sporting just such a purse on Tuesday (Aug 2).

As part of Prime Minister Lee's official visit to the United States, he and Mrs Lee were officially welcomed at the White House South Lawn by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Mrs Lee was spotted with her dinosaur-motif purse in hand during the arrival ceremony.

Staff at the Pathlight School for autistic children were pleased to recognise the pouch as not just the work of a home-grown designer, but also one of their own - 19-year-old student See Toh Sheng Jie, who sells his art through the school's The Art Faculty store.

Ms Loy Sheau-Mei, senior vice-principal & head of Artist Development Programme at Pathlight School, said: "We were pleasantly surprised and honoured that she chose to bring this bag on her official visit. It gave such a great mileage to the artists on our Artist Development Programme (ADP) and merchandise at The Art Faculty."

The Art Faculty is part of Pathlight's Artist Development Programme, which was launched in 2011 to encourage autistic students with artistic abilities.


Mrs Lee Hsien Loong was seen sporting this denim dinosaur-motif purse from The Art Faculty during her arrival at the White House. PHOTO: THE ART FACULTY

The programme matches students with professional mentors, and provides them art showcase opportunities.

Students can sell everyday items through the store, earning royalties and developing independent working skills.

In addition to an online store, The Art Faculty also sells artworks and merchandise by Pathlight students and alumni at a brick-and-mortar shop at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru, a space for disabled, neurotypical, and able-bodied people to share.

Seetoh has been part of the Artist Development Programme since its inception.

His artist biography describes him as "extremely pedantic about dinosaurs" and his artwork - which decorates a notebook and three different purses for sale - is drawn without the aid of reference material.

Mrs Lee is an adviser to Pathlight's parent organisation, the Autism Resource Centre, and is also a patron of the Autism Association Singapore.

She picked up the $14.80 purse at A Very Special Walk, a concert and funfair held last Saturday to raise funds for autism support services.

It seems she isn't the only one taken with the pouch. Stocks for it are currently low due to overwhelming response, a notice on the shop page said.