As we’re approaching the end of the June holidays, many of us might be wondering how to best enjoy the rest of our free time. What better way to unwind and spend some time with your family than relishing the myriad of arts activities happening this summer? From exhibitions large and small to artworks in museums and near your neighbourhood, it suffices to say there’s something for everyone. Stay tuned to check out our recommendations!
1. Gallery Children’s Biennale
Ask any adult and they will tell you the importance of values that are often taught to us at a young age. Integrity, perseverance… the list goes on. Add collaboration, care, imagination and respect to your list and you will have the four core values of this year’s Gallery Children’s Biennale.
Making a return for its fourth iteration, this year’s edition is centred around the theme Let’s Make a Better Place Together, which highlights how important these four values are to children who are developing their conceptions of the world. Including works that inspire more questions than answers, I was heartened to see many adult visitors interact with the artworks with a child-like wonder.
Just imagine, what if the roads for our vehicles and traintracks turned into Tetris blocks? What would the landscape of public transport look like then? These are the questions that Chiang Yu Xiang poses in We Move This City.
Moving soft, modular blocks around allowed me to create rectangular structures winding through the cabin of Chiang’s imaginary MRT station. This was a fun exercise in envisioning the future of land transport and our city’s architecture. Not to mention, the camaraderie I had built with the soft toy passengers (pictured above!) travelling alongside me. Chiang’s work is just one of the three parked under the category of ‘Imagine’, which encourages a world replete with what-ifs, one where possibilities are endless.
Another notable work is HUTAN. Created by three artists, LittleCr3atures®, Jevon Chandra, and Lynette Quek, it highlights the value of collaboration.
Walking into the installation reminded me of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, only to be whisked away to a whole new world of illuminated mushrooms, jingling wooden orbs, and whimsical mysticism. The title means “forest” in Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia. The work takes inspiration from the spiritual notion of the Tree of Life and forests in Southeast Asia, to reflect on ideas of humanity, culture, and nature. This sense of connection is reinforced by how audiences are invited to interact with the sensorial experiences within the space (such as mushroom figures that light up when you touch them), creating a sense of collaboration between the audience and the artwork.
These are just two of the eleven artworks that you can look forward to in this year’s edition. And it only gets better, as there are two new features to this year’s Biennale. Available onsite at the museum, visitors can try their hand at the digital game “A Curious Connection.” Here, you get to imagine a title for an artwork and see your friend create an artwork in response. Don’t miss getting your copy of My Biennale Buddy, an interactive companion booklet, as it allows visitors to collect stamps after visiting each artwork, and also includes arts and crafts activities.
What are you waiting for? Come on down to visit the Gallery Children’s Biennale till 31 March 2024. Click here for more details.
2. i Light Singapore
Next on our list, we have the highly anticipated return of i Light Singapore from 1 to 25 June 2023. As a first-time visitor, I have to admit I was blown away by the inventive concepts and expert craft that went behind each work.
Shifting away from last year’s violet theme, this year features the omnipresent blue that can be commonly seen in our cityscape. Blue is also often associated with emotions such as calmness and serenity, which reflects how immersing ourselves in these light-based art installations can make us feel.
This year’s title, A New Wave, was born out of recognising nature’s blue spaces, such as water bodies, and also serves as a nod to the city’s renewed efforts to incorporate sustainable practices. Many of the artworks on display also feature sustainable materials.
Similar to the Gallery Children’s Biennale, there’s a plethora of works that rely on audience interaction and engagement. If you love a good beat, then Trumpet Flowers is the work for you. Pressing the installation’s buttons activates Amigo & Amigo’s gargantuan flower-shaped structures and causes a musical score featuring some of Sydney’s finest jazz musicians to play. Looking like a scene out of a musical, it was hard to resist grooving to the beat when the scene came alive in a medley of music and lights.
You can also expect to find many artworks that bisect the boundaries of personal and public space. A great example of this was my personal favourite, Tree Man, which features large glowing orbs, with a young tree at its centre. This glowing installation by ENESS beckons you into the warm embrace of a Baymax-like figure, which promises sanctuary to the weary traveller. Walked into the installation, I found myself surprisingly shielded from the buzz of Marina Bay’s busyness and was a much-needed respite after a long tour of the other works.
Younger audiences are guaranteed to enjoy the likes of Rèsonances. Interacting with the work’s motion-detecting technology allowed visitors to see the figures on the screen mirror their movements. I even saw the most unassuming characters put on their goofiest poses for the camera in Rèsonances.
I simply cannot think of a better combination than enjoying a relaxing walk along the Singapore River and catching these works in action. Be sure to check i Light out as it runs till 25 June 2023. You can find more details here!
3. Goodman Open House
Fans of pop-up booths and open studios can celebrate as Goodman Open House is here with an eclectic mix of art-themed activities.
Making its return on 24 June, this year’s event features activities perfect for families and art lovers. You can enjoy a picnic while listening to enthralling tales told by The Storytelling Centre Ltd or learn to forage for natural materials with Quek See Yee. There will also be an inaugural ‘Graffiti Jam’, a wall-based art commission featuring visual artist EBAO and creative collective DPLMT, which visitors can also join in on creating.
Perhaps most notably, the Open House also features artists’ Open Studios. This allows visitors to spend time with artists and learn more about their works and practices, which include everything from Chinese ink painting and puppetry to comic art and abstract art.
On how these might inspire visitors, Kamini Ramachandran, the Guest Artistic Director for this year’s Open House tells us, “Oftentimes, Open Studios inspire us to take that first foray into creative practices or kickstart our exploration of new skills. The best part about an Open Studio is listening to what inspires artists and how they overcame challenges. The sharing is honest and practical, and their words of wisdom can be applied at any stage in our lives.”
The icing on the cake is definitely how diverse and hands-on the range of activities is, meaning that there’s sure to be something for everyone. Ramachandran affirms this by saying, “Art is one of the oldest forms of human expression. Our Open House offers visitors an array of art forms to participate in, as ways of expressing themselves through creative activities… Art is for all ages and for everyone to experience.”
Goodman Open House runs on 24 June 2023. For more details on scheduled programmes, refer to this link.
4. Zentosa LiveWELL Festival
Rounding off our list is an ode to health and wellness. As the name suggests, the Zentosa festival is a destination for visitors to embark on a journey to discover the art of living well. You can anticipate events such as specially curated workout sessions with yoga instructor Yenny Christine, or even a calisthentics crash course with celebrity coach Jacob Manning.
But would you believe me if I told you that art can also benefit your mental health and well-being? That is what the festival’s new mental and emotional wellness zone, FeelWELL, puts forth. The zone’s mainstay is a transformative art installation by Kult Studios & Gallery entitled The Way to Wellness.
Spanning three themed tunnels filled with visual, auditory and tactile cues, the installation guides visitors towards introspection and self-reflection. According to Clarita Saslim, the Art Director of Kult Studio & Gallery, “the tunnels serve as a physical barrier to shield visitors from the outside world,” altogether transporting them to a meditative space where they can contemplate on their wellness without any distractions. Accompanying this immersive experience are soundscapes composed by Bennett Bay and Charlene Shepherson’s poetry, which come together to encourage introspection.
Saslim says that the end goal is to discover how “mental wellness is often not a destination, but a journey.” And in this case, it is a journey through “winding passages and pockets of spaces” that represents many of our experiences. Placing an emphasis on audience interaction, Kult Studio & Gallery highlights the importance of how “not one [mental health] journey is ever the same,” referring to how each visitor might interpret the installation differently. How thought-provoking is that?
Kickstart your well-being journey at Zentosa, which runs till 9 July 2023. Click here for more details.
What are you waiting for? This list is guaranteed to enrich your holidays with the latest art offerings and give you some seriously insta-worthy pictures. If you’re ever out of ideas on what to do, you can always revisit the events while they last. I can guarantee that each new visit will bring you new insight and experiences. See you there!
Feature image courtesy of National Gallery Singapore.