Bring out your inner child with the simple joy of a seesaw, share your secrets through a larger-than-life paper cup, or marvel at a giant version of a Marie biscuit. From now till 30 October, the public can engage with five public art installations located across three park spaces in Singapore – Bishan-AMK Park, Jurong Lake Gardens, and Punggol Waterway Park. Commissioned by the Public Art Trust (PAT) under the National Arts Council (NAC), As You Were is a public art showcase featuring seven artists stepping into nature to create interactive visual artworks that portray their imaginations of an endemic world.
These works were developed based on the multitude of changes experienced in our daily lives since the onset of COVID-19. As You Were offers the public an opportunity to reconnect with nature as well as one another through fun and meaningful artworks that encourage a sense of play. It is also a reflection of the nation opening up, and the artworks serve as a timely reminder for the public to connect, communicate and play as we step out of the pandemic.
Tay Tong, Director of Sector Development (Visual Arts), NAC, said, “As our public spaces come to life again, the dawning of a new, endemic world is a huge step forward for our arts community, and for all Singaporeans. Our artists sought to contemplate and facilitate society’s reconnection to nature and community, and this showcase has provided an opportunity for them to push their creative boundaries to create works that inspire joy and reflection in the daily lives of our Singapore public.”
“As You Were” Singapore – Encouraging play by evoking nostalgia
Nostalgia was a primary source of inspiration for the works – with Small Moments by Chong Zhi Wei Daniel; n o o n (at play) by visual artist Hazel Lim and installation artist Adeline Kueh; and Can You Hear Me? by Quek Jia Qi and Aaron Lim drawing on familiar objects that gesture towards the bygone days.
The artists enlarged objects representative of one’s childhood, which serve as encouragement and reminders for the public to heal and play together after a challenging two years. Members of the public are invited to unleash their inner child as they find amusement at a giant Marie biscuit looming over visitors in Small Moments, or rest from the demands of the day with the set of seesaws in n o o n (at play).
Beyond evoking a sense of camaraderie, the works aim to create a deeper connection with our natural environment. Echoing a much-used phrase in the age of Zoom calls, Can You Hear Me? invites all to cultivate the art of active listening by taking solace in the sounds of nature through a paper cup telephone. By carving spaces for intimate interaction, the public is invited to contemplate and renegotiate ideas of togetherness today.
“As You Were” Singapore – Natural landscape transformed by creative imagination
Taking the idea of contemplation into the wider community, artists such as Teo Huey Ling and Ang Song Nian produced works that encourage the public to press on collectively – be it through the whimsical and playful shapes that resemble daydreams in Our Dreams Must Continue or Ang Song Nian’s nod to the iconic face mask in Afloat, an object that has come to represent an act of solidarity of those around the world in fighting the pandemic.
As You Were represents the resilience of the arts community during the COVID-19 pandemic, where artists are going beyond their usual practice to exercise their creative imagination and make art that is widely visible and accessible to all. This showcase sees the majority of the artists experimenting in public art for the first time, and the result is an innovative effort to create meaningful art that inspires and resonates with a wider audience. This also reiterates NAC’s commitment to making art accessible to the public in everyday spaces, adding vibrancy to the visual arts landscape.
In line with this new series of commissions, NAC will launch a Public Art Guidebook to equip commissioners and artists with the best practices to develop public art for Singapore. This echoes NAC’s commitment to work in tandem with the arts community and foster partnerships among Government agencies, strengthening our art ecosystem for a vibrant arts scene. This guidebook will be available on NAC’s website.
For the full list of artworks and participating artists, please refer to the PAT website or follow the latest updates at NAC on Facebook and Instagram. All photos used are credited to Isaiah Cheng.