Bonding through art at PAssionArts festival village

Above: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking a wefie with residents at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday. Left: Zentai performers entertaining visitors at the first festival village for the PAssionArts Festival.
Zentai performers entertaining visitors at the first festival village for the PAssionArts Festival.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking a wefie with residents at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday. Left: Zentai performers entertaining visitors at the first festival village for the PAssionArts Festival.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking a wefie with residents at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

A giant sampan, life-size "five stones" - a traditional game - and a virtual Merlion filled a corner of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday to the delight of some 2,500 residents.

The sculptures were centrepieces for the first festival village for the annual PAssionArts Festival, which was attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The festival, now in its eighth year, runs until Aug 25 and aims to connect Singaporeans through the arts. There are 39 "art villages" islandwide - from Bukit Timah to Pasir Ris.

Ang Mo Kio resident and grassroots volunteer Noelene De Foe, 67, said this year's event is different from previous years' as it is held in conjunction with the bicentennial.

"We wanted to get people to celebrate Singapore's history through art, and we are very happy with what we have achieved," she added.

The 6m wooden sampan, for example, features a dragon head made of plaster and wires, as well as "scales" decorated by residents.

Ceramics and sculpture artist Rebecca Lim, who oversaw the project, said the sampan symbolises the lifestyle of people in 1299, when Sang Nila Utama landed.

 
 

Ms Lim, 30, racked her brains to come up with an art project that checked the brief but could also involve residents.

"The results were better than expected - about 500 residents putting in a lot of effort in the things they drew, so we ended up with a sampan with many different styles and colours," she said.

Artist Ben Puah, 43, drawing inspiration from the 1964 racial riots, created four sculptures to represent the four main races. They have different heights to appear as parents and children in one family.

Around 200 residents painted patterns on thin rice paper that he then used to decorate the sculptures. "You don't see the work of one person... it's all blended together," said Mr Puah.

Madam Kong Swee Neo, 76, enjoyed herself with fellow retiree neighbours. Showing off her pressed flower bag, she said: "I used a lot of strength to make this, but it was fun and different."

Ms Malliga Manikkam, 46, a first-time volunteer at the festival, said: "When you're making art with your friends and neighbours, the rest of your day will be just as colourful."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2019, with the headline 'Bonding through art at PAssionArts festival village'. Print Edition | Subscribe