New artistic space for children

Kids will get to create art and curate exhibition items at facility

One of the spaces at the Keppel Centre for Art Education is this Art Playscape, which unfolds like a giant, colourful storybook.
One of the spaces at the Keppel Centre for Art Education is this Art Playscape, which unfolds like a giant, colourful storybook. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Young ones can dip their toes into the world of artists and curators by not only creating art pieces, but also selecting artworks for an exhibition and writing wall text at a spacious new facility here.

Members of the media and 60 delighted primary school pupils got a sneak peek yesterday at the Keppel Centre for Art Education. This education facility at the National Gallery Singapore is due to open with the rest of the gallery on Nov 24.

The Keppel Centre is the first of its kind in South-east Asia, and was made possible by a $12 million donation by Keppel Corporation, one of the largest single donations to the arts to date.

The 1,000 sq m facility, located on Level 1 of the City Hall wing, comprises four art spaces, an orientation room and workshop facilities to support school visits to the Gallery.

Among the spaces is an Art Corridor where children can touch and change artworks by interacting with moveable elements.

There is also an Art Playscape, like a giant, colourful storybook come to life, with different trails where young visitors can uncover mysteries and fantastical characters.

Then there is a Children's Museum where part of an artist's studio - that of established Singapore abstract artist Milenko Pravacki - has been recreated.

Here, children can paint and will be trained to conduct exhibition tours for their peers.

Admission to the centre will be free for Singaporeans and permanent residents when the Gallery, which houses the world's largest public collection of modern Singapore and South-east Asian art, opens to the public.

At the media conference, Ms Wang Look Fung, Keppel Corporation's director of group corporate affairs, called it "a rich, educational resource for cultivating creative and critical thinkers".

In her speech, Ms Chong Siak Ching, chief executive officer of the Gallery, said: "We believe that art education plays a huge role in developing future generations of arts enthusiasts and museum-goers. This is why we want to make the learning of art easy and accessible."

The Keppel Centre will collaborate with artists and educators to help children learn about art, as well as through art.

For starters, it has collaborated with four artists here - Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, Sandra Lee, Prvacki and Tan Wee Lit - who have each created an artistic space centred on the theme of homes.

Creative works by the young ones also take pride of place.

One of the most impressive pieces is by 13-year-old autistic child Xandyr Quek, who has created a stunning, colourful scale model of Singapore's cityscape using clay, plasticine and sticky foam.

Children visiting the centre said they felt at home.

Seven-year-old Dana Joy Sim of Methodist Girls' School said: "I like that some of the art is not just by famous artists. It is by children and students. I like the fun and entertaining activities we got to do."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline New artistic space for children. Subscribe