Items from Iskandar's home on show

The installation Some Of You Will Be Asked To Leave features pieces of furniture and pots sourced from the homes of potter Iskandar Jalil and his family.
The installation Some Of You Will Be Asked To Leave features pieces of furniture and pots sourced from the homes of potter Iskandar Jalil and his family.PHOTOS: NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE

The domestic lives of potter Iskandar Jalil and his family have been temporarily disrupted for the survey show of his works at the National Gallery Singapore.

Pieces of furniture, including a table and hat stand, and pots for cooking sauces and food, are among the ceramic items that have been emptied and removed from the residences of the potter and his family members, to be displayed in an interim home in the museum.

The bare-bones dwelling, which is inspired by a rumah Melayu, or traditional Malay house, is the work of Singapore artist Gerald Leow. It occupies one of two galleries dedicated to the survey, and the space is specially lit to suggest the passing of time from day to night.

Placed throughout the rooms of the house are the corresponding ceramic items - pots for storing food in the kitchen, the table in the living room and, in the bedroom, a pair of ceramic pieces named after the potter's son, Edzra, and daughter, Elena.

The curators say the intimate exhibition setting is deliberate.


  • WHERE: National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road, Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery and Concourse Gallery 2, Basement 1

    WHEN: Thursday to Feb 28 next year


Assistant curator Syed Muhammad Hafiz, 31, says: "Iskandar always refers to himself as a craftsman or potter rather than an artist, so we asked ourselves, 'How do we activate both the functional and non-functional aspects of his works in a museum?'"

The house-like installation aims to do this by presenting his ceramics not only as works of fine art, but also as everyday, utilitarian objects, offering viewers a holistic experience and understanding of his ceramic practice.

To maintain the personal feel of the immersive exhibit, no more than 15 visitors will be allowed in the house at one time. It is perhaps apt that the installation is titled Some Of You Will Be Asked To Leave, after a house rule at Iskandar's workshop.

In the main gallery of the show, the works are displayed on raised platforms which are kept low and unenclosed, giving viewers a sense of immediacy when encountering the ceramics.

The intimate setting is perhaps fitting, given that Iskandar counts his home as one of his legacies.

In an interview with The Straits Times, he says: "My legacy is my house, where I have a lot of pieces that I don't show to the public, and my books, my writings."

As for his public legacy, he says: "All the public wall murals and pieces in the MRT and airport, there is more than enough."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'Items from Iskandar's home on show'. Subscribe