Students' artwork on display at exhibition to mark National Day

Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling (left) and Brigadier-General Tan Cheng Kwee (right) at the opening of the interactive exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore on Aug 20, 2021. ST PHOTO: OSMOND CHIA

SINGAPORE - The creative works of more than 400 schoolchildren have been put up at the National Museum of Singapore to commemorate National Day through stories of the Covid-19 pandemic and the country's history.

This is a selection from some 120,000 entries submitted by the public and 170 schools, with pledges and wishes for the nation, to go into a digital time capsule that is on display.

Gallery organiser Our Heart For Singapore (OHFSG) had asked contributors to write and draw about their experiences during the pandemic, or after speaking to seniors in the community about the challenges they have faced over the years.

Members of the public can visit the exhibition - which comprises a photo wall and a display of selected entries - for free.

Using their mobile devices, visitors can register to take part in a roughly 45-minute challenge that encourages them to browse through the exhibition to finish tasks.

Many students submitted drawings of their favourite local delicacies, locations, or their impressions of Singapore in the past based on the experiences of seniors they spoke to.

Inez Chai, a Secondary 2 student from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, said her grandmother told her about children's games of the past and even taught her how to play a few. "I could feel (her) excitement when she shared with me the games she played with her friends," said Inez, 14.

"This activity has helped my relationship with my grandmother to become closer, and most importantly, I learnt that my grandmother was right. Phones are not everything."

Primary 6 pupil Dylan Lee from St Stephen's School was inspired by seniors he interviewed who settled in Singapore in the 1930s as Samsui women, a broad term for immigrants from southern China who commonly worked in the construction industry.

His art piece, a colourful butterfly whose wings frame sketches of Samsui women with their iconic red headdresses, is a tribute to "past heroes" who helped build the country, he wrote in his submission.

Students, who made up two-thirds of the contributors, completed their entries as part of a home-based learning activity in collaboration with OHFSG when schools were closed in May amid a surge in local cases of coronavirus infections.

The interactive exhibition, titled OHFSG Time Capsule and Learning Gallery, was opened on Friday (Aug 20) by Brigadier-General Tan Cheng Kwee, chairman of the National Day Parade 2021 executive committee, and Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling.

Ms Low told The Straits Times that with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, she hopes to work with schools to take students to visit the showcase, beginning with the participating institutions.

Ms Low said she was moved by several art pieces that depicted children of all races playing together.

"It really represents our country. This exercise allows for an inter-generational bonding between seniors and the youth, who get to learn from seniors who share about the adversities during the past. Learning how older generations overcame past challenges offers our youth hope and inspiration during this tough period."

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