Keppel Centre for Art Education, Where Art and Play Combines

Come end November, there’ll be loads of art and play activities for children at the Keppel Centre for Art Education at the National Gallery.

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The Centre is located on the ground level of the Gallery’s City Hall wing and occupies a total floor area of 910 square metres. It comprises four distinct art spaces and the theme for 2015 and 2016 is Homes: Present and Future.

Art Corridor

Voyage – an interactive intallation at the Art Corridor of the Centre encourages hands-on and tactile play, and children can observe the way different colours combine and react with another. To be honest, the kids just couldn’t keep their hands off the small colourful acrylic circles that they have to negotiate along the various grooves and routes of this 3D maze.

In conjunction with the theme of ‘Home’, this installation, done by artist Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, was inspired by the ‘blue map’ of Singapore – a map of water channels running across the island.

Keppel Centre for Art Education

Art Playscape

Next stop, enter the Art Playscape on all fours, through a tunnel.

Keppel Centre for Art Education

Featuring a magical forest of sorts inspired by the flora, fauna and motifs of Southeast Asian art, young kids can run loose here, exploring a split level tree house and labyrinth panels.

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There are also activity sheets for children to get to know about the various mythical characters in the forest.

If you find the style of the drawings familiar, it’s because it’s done by Sandra Lee, creator of The Enchanted Forest and The Enchanted Garden City installation spaces at the Singapore Art Museum.

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Project Gallery

Created by Tan Wee Lit, Faculty Head of SOTA, the Project Gallery features a flying house/bus and row boat with arms sticking out suspended in mid-air, making a statement on how the concept of ‘home’ has evolved as a result of social and environmental changes.

Art Centre

The Gallery is filled with paper and cardboard activities that are pretty manageable and friendly for young children. Which isn’t much of a surprise, as the entire gallery space had been planned out by art educators working in partnership with each chosen artist.

JJ was pretty engrossed colouring here and got a little upset when we had to move on to the next activity. So parents, do note to allow your children the freedom to dwell a bit longer at their favourite activity or in each different room.

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Children’s Museum

In this rather cool space, young visitors get to catch a glimpse of a real artist’s studio and his creative process – based on Milenko Prvacki’s own experience.

Kids will get the opportunity to:

  • handle and utilise objects, art tools and materials from the artist’s studio to appreciate the art-making process and techniques
  • discover the symbols and metaphors in the artworks through writing and sharing of narratives and stories
  • develop vocabulary and interpretive skills through role play

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There’s a special display within the Children’s Museum too. A re-imaging of Singapore’s cityscape made entirely with clay and plasticine by 13-year-old Xandyr Quek. Pretty amazing huh!

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Vera and JJ had a great time touring the Centre, and before we left, they made me promise to bring them back!

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The Keppel Centre for Art Education is the first of its kind in the region to provide young visitors the opportunity to access original artwork, handle art tools, select artworks, write labels and conduct exhibition tours for their peers through experiential learning and role-play.

The Centre opens on 24 November, and families can look forward to workshops, tours and family weekends! To be updated on the Centre’s family programmes, subscribe to their mailing list at programmes@nationalgallery.sg.

Have faith, take flight – a specially commissioned art for my little girl

I’ve always loved art. As a mum of 3, I count it a privilege to explore art with the kids and to discover colours, swishes and blobs anew. It gives me a chance to experience this essential aspect of childhood that I remember fondly all over again.

Vera also loves art. She lives and breathes in make-believe worlds of doodles and paints. Much of her free time daily is spent doing art with her fingers, and dabbling in crafts. It’s a bonding activity that I enjoy with her, like a special language shared between us.

As Vera was going to move into her own “big girl” room, I decided to commission an art piece for her new room. When I chanced upon this Penang-based artist, I was taken by her simple yet captivating style, that has such a child-like and innocent quality. I knew that she would be the perfect partner to create a unique and original watercolour painting for Vera.

I started a conversation with Yong Yee on The Commissioned’s website. In my note to her, I described the purpose and message behind the art work I was hoping to create.

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She followed up with some questions about Vera: What is her favorite dress? Does she have a pet? What’s her favorite book? I felt that this process enabled us to clarify and discuss ideas and also helped her have a better understanding of Vera. I also sent her a picture of Vera in her favourite blue dress.

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A couple of days later, she sent a sketch for my feedback / approval. I told her I loved the forest setting, and then asked if she could lengthen the hair of the fairy girl, as Vera has shoulder-length hair.

A day or two later, colour had been added to the piece! It was exciting to see!

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Every couple of days, I received an update to the piece. It was really interesting to watch the details get added to the piece.

I was also thankful that Yong Yee was really open to hear my ideas. Three-quarters into the piece, I asked if it was possible to add some rays of light from the sky. She considered my request and actually managed to pull it off really nicely!

After I approved the final painting, all that was left to do was to fill in the “story” component of the art piece.

The story then accompanies the artwork in a gallery text card. It’s also in the virtual gallery that has a unique URL for me to be able to share the piece with friends.

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Here’s a closer look at the different elements of the painting. I just love all the little details that Yong Yee put in the piece.

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Now the painting sits happily in Vera’s new room. And it’ll greet her each morning when she wakes up, or when she reads at her desk.

My prayer is that it will continue to inspire her in the days, months and years to come. To know and explore and use the gifts that God has given her, to fulfill His marvelous plans and purposes for her life.

commissioned watercolour art

Commissioning an art piece was fuss-free, inspiring, and fun. I never really knew how my idea would translate into a painting, until I saw it unfold before my eyes.

Being able to give my input along the way, and to see it materialise in the artwork itself was also very enriching. Through the experience, I’ve come to appreciate artists and the unique work that they do even more.

Would you commission a work of art? If so what would it be and who would you give it to?

 

PS. I contribute articles and tell stories on The Commissioned’s blog, in between taking care of the kids. However, the decision to commission a work of art was solely mine, as with my opinions too. And yes, I paid for the piece – the total cost was around $200 (excluding shipping as I got a friend to bring it back from Penang for me). 🙂

The art of gift-wrapping

So for the past few weeks, I’ve been on a learning roll. And I thoroughly feel like a learning mum…Hmm, hey what am I saying, all mums are learning mums, we learn best on the job right?

To give my creative brain cells a jiggle, I attended a gift-wrapping course with Jane Means recently, and it turned out to be pretty fun (pun intended) with ribbons and paper and old-fashioned music scores.

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Jane was a lovely host, and she shared many helpful tips on how to get the wrapping right, and ALSO…how to make the gift EXTRA EXTRA special for that SUPER special someone.

Here are some tips and ideas that stuck in my head:

1) Always stick the end of the paper at the edge of the box or the present (with double-sided tape), so that you have an invisible seam-line. (I used to just stick it right in the centre of the gift box, or leaning towards one side.)

2) Once you’ve taped the wrapping paper together, crease the line edges of the box by pressing your two fingers down every edge (think of it as the four outer corners of the box). This will help you get a clean wrapped silhouette.

3) Think about embellishments, paper design, matching / contrasting colours when you’re gift-wrapping. It’s surprising how the daily bits and bobs you have lying around at home might actually come in handy. Like these loose buttons that help to hold a pinwheel or the music score flower together, and complete the look.

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4) Wired ribbons are great to create luxurious bows. Mix up gold and any other rich and deep colour, and you get a lovely luscious bow.

5) Japanese pleats are a simple and great way to dress up any boring gift or wrapping paper! (If you want to add oomph, just make it in a fan shape by making diagonal folds on both ends of the wrap.

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She also taught us how to make gift bags from scratch. These are quite fun to do and would save you some money the next time you have an odd-shaped gift to give away.

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Here’s my favourite embellishment. Music score flowers! Just use a strip of the score, and divide it into 4 squares. You’ll also need a thin craft wire and a button.

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Step 1: Fold the square into a triangle, then fold it again.

Step 2: Hold it with the long side up, then fold it in half again.

Step 3: Now with the short side up, fold it in half. (You’ll get a shape that looks a tad like an aeroplane.)

Step 4: Holding the pointy end, use a pair of scissors to cut a round shape off the top.

Step 5: Repeat with all the other squares. Except make your final cut bigger with each piece, so that you get varying sizes of flower petals.

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What I really liked about the 4-hour course is that she didn’t spend half the session harping on how to get the perfect ribbon. (It actually did cross my mind that it could be a session where I’m supposed to master the art of ribbon tying.) On the contrary, she left the ribbon right tothe end, and gave us all helpful tips on how to tie if you’re a double-loop tyer, or a single one. So there isn’t only ONE way to tie a ribbon! “It’s quite simple,” she said, “just practise.”

Here’s my imperfect ribbon, a glorious red one, if I may add. With a bit more practice, it should be all good. The trick is the tuck the tails how you want it, BEFORE you tighten the knot. 😉

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I really love this finish too – the tailored bow ribbon. It’s really simple to do. Here’s a tutorial. (PS. The image on the right below was a capture of Jane’s new book Giftwrapped. Love the lace detail!)

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The session has also inspired me to put a bit more thought into my gifts, and the way they are presented. These pretty and simple ideas will definitely come in handy when Christmas season hits.

But you know what, I learnt something bigger too. I learnt that creativity isn’t about perfection. It’s about being bold and experimental; it’s about taking risks and just giving it a go anyway; it’s about having fun and expressing yourself.

Being mums and dads is stressful business. Injecting a bit of fun and creativity in my daily life helps me keep the stress in check.

Get more info on Jane’s Singapore courses here, or more of her gift-wrapping ideas here.

I was provided a complimentary session with Jane for the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions are mine.

Teachers’ Day gift ideas: Seed art mini canvases

We’ve been playing around with seeds lately as Vera is in the thick of learning about seeds and planting.

When I found these mini canvases from Spotlight (these are about 3×3 inches, and cost 2 for $4.95), I thought it’d be fun to let the kids have a go at making their own seed art mini canvases. Perfect for a simple teachers’ day gift!

seed artmini canvases!

Because the canvases are small, the kids could finish the piece in one sitting. JJ made a heart shape on his first attempt, while Vera decided to go free-flow with hers and came up with this swirly shape that resembles waves.

The main shape was made using soy beans that we had lying around in the fridge. She used saga seeds and pumpkin seeds as accents, and filled up the remaining space with red beans.

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The beauty of seed art is that you can use any seeds you like, or have lying around in the pantry. I used this muffin tray to sort out the different seeds. (This was the before pic, that is, before Josh came and messed everything up…)

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For the next piece, they decided to make stars. I thought they actually look quite pretty unfinished.

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Vera dolled hers up with gold sequins, and 2 pink jewel stickers she happened to have.

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JJ decided to paint his with gold instead. Here are the finished canvases sitting pretty on the stands. (The stands actually come in the set of 2 mini canvases that we bought.)

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If you’re collecting your own seeds from fruits (like oranges, apples, etc) and vegetables (like pumpkin), just remember to clean and dry them thoroughly before use!

Now, we still have time to make a gift tag to go along with the canvases. Hmm, maybe one that says “Thank you for helping us GROW!” 😉

In every child, there lies a superhero

In every child, there lies a superhero…

superhero me!

Meet Captain Robot. At the press of a button, this robot makes super funny faces and even dances along. His superpower is to make people smile, laugh, and leave the room happier than when they came in.

And Ms Blessing Fairy. She flutters all over the world with her trusty pair of recycled cardboard paper wings, and sprinkles blessing dust onto all of mankind. It’s hard to spot her because she’s really quick and nimble!

Their superhero costumes were all made from recycled material, provided in a little toolkit put together by the creative folks at Startwell for this year’s Superhero Me Festival – Singapore’s first costume crafting festival aimed at empowering children to grow a stronger sense of self, through creativity and imagination.

Head on down to the National Library in your self-made Superhero Me costumes on 27 June from 1pm to 3pm to stand up for childhood and meet other superheroes! The first 100 children in costume will get a goodie bag. Kids will also get to participate in story-telling and craft activities. Register here!

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