The past is perfect for next year's calendar

Left: A family pose with a mural in Tiong Bahru painted by Mr Yip in a photo used for the church's calendar. Below left: (From left) Mrs Tan, the church's media executive, and pastors Kelvin Poh and Mr Wong showing off the calendars, which were distr
A family pose with a mural in Tiong Bahru painted by Mr Yip in a photo used for the church's calendar. Below left: PHOTOS: LIVING SANCTUARY BRETHREN CHURCH, SEAH KWANG PENG
Left: A family pose with a mural in Tiong Bahru painted by Mr Yip in a photo used for the church's calendar. Below left: (From left) Mrs Tan, the church's media executive, and pastors Kelvin Poh and Mr Wong showing off the calendars, which were distr
(From left) Mrs Tan, the church's media executive, and pastors Kelvin Poh and Mr Wong showing off the calendars, which were distributed to 15,000 households in Hougang.PHOTOS: LIVING SANCTUARY BRETHREN CHURCH, SEAH KWANG PENG

Hougang residents get a dose of nostalgia and kampung spirit from neighbourhood church

Some members of a church recently put their best feet forward to pose for a calendar designed to evoke memories of the past and promote the kampung spirit.

The Hougang-based Living Sanctuary Brethren Church, which has been distributing calendars to residents in the estate since 2001, roped in about 40 members in September for the 2017 calendar.

The models got dressed in clothes popular in the 1960s to 1980s, such as dresses with large prints, and went to places like Everton Road and Waterloo Street to pose in front of murals of scenes from yesteryear by 47-year-old artist Yip Yew Chong.

Mr Yip, a finance director, has painted about 20 murals islandwide, including those of long-gone buildings like the Odeon Cinema and the old National Library building.

The church got permission from Mr Yip to take photos with the murals and feature them for free in the calendar.

For instance, the month of January features a family posing with a mural in Tiong Bahru. The mural depicts the interior of a typical living room in the 1970s - with comedy duo Wang Sa and Ye Fong on the TV screen, a rattan shell chair and a copy of the Sin Chew Daily newspaper.

The church gave the calendars to 15,000 households in Hougang last month, including about 400 in rental blocks. It cost about a dollar to produce each calendar.

The church, which has about 1,800 people attending its services each week, also has a community services arm, Bethesda Care Centre. The church gives other items to Hougang residents throughout the year, such as umbrellas and coffee mugs, to befriend residents and identify their needs.

It hopes that the photos will offer talking points for families to "reminisce the past, cherish the present and envision the future together".

Previous calendars included those that featured members of different age groups for different months, and juxtaposing traditional items with modern ones, such as children playing with marbles against a backdrop of modern HDB blocks.

Church pastor Jasmine Fu said: "It's not only about evoking nostalgia, but also to get people to look at how far we've come and remember family values."

Pastor Patrick Wong, also from the church in Hougang Street 22, said: "Our Government and media reports have talked about promoting the kampung spirit, and we thought our calendars could help to communicate that message too.

"People in every household would need to refer to a calendar, so it's a practical gift. We also have information about our church and social services in the calendar, so it is handy for residents if they need help and they can contact us."

The church's media executive, Mrs Tan Siew Huang, learnt of Mr Yip's murals through a friend's Facebook post and suggested to the church's senior pastor to have the murals featured in the calendar.

Mrs Tan said church members were sporting when asked to dress up. "We brought all our props there, such as traditional coffee-shop cups, and we actually bought satay and chwee kueh to make the scenes look realistic," she said.

Mr Yip said: "I think the scenes are so cinematic. I felt both proud of the interaction the murals had inspired and humbled by the efforts the church had put in."

He added: "The calendars are a great medium to reignite fond memories, start a conversation and spread joy this festive season."

Mr Tan Boon Teng, 60, who owns a provision shop in Hougang, was one of the residents who received the calendar.

He said in Mandarin: "It's very nice. I think the photos bring back good memories, especially those photos featuring buildings that no longer exist. "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline 'The past is perfect for next year's calendar'. Print Edition | Subscribe