Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Straits Times : Soul Sketches

A sketch-exhibition of buildings in Tiong Bahru is back again after a successful run last year

The Straits Times
Life Section
By Magdalen Ng
2nd July 2011 
 Sketches by Tia Boon Sim (above) and Miel Prudencio (below) will be up for sale at the exhibition. PHOTOS: WHITE CANVAS GALLERY

A Tiong Bahru-themed art exhibition did so well last year that it is returning to the retro-fabulous neighbourhood from tomorrow.

Tiong Bahru Revisited features more than 70 sketches of the Housing Board estate at the White Canvas Gallery, also located in the neighbourhood. The exhibition ends on July 17.

Inspired by the old-school architecture in the area, the works are mainly by four artists - Tia Boon Sim, Paul Wang, Don Low and Miel Prudencio.

The display follows Tiong Bahru Sketches: Outside-In, which ran at the same venue for two weeks around the same time last year.

Tia, 56, who teaches at Temasek Polytechnic's School of Design, says: 'The response last year was so good more than 90 per cent of the works were sold, and some residents even complained that the works they wanted were sold.'

The sketches on display are priced from $600 to $2,000. Works at last year's exhibition sold for between $250 and $900. This year, four works are up for bids in a charity silent auction in aid of the Ability Centre in Tiong Bahru. The centre is run by the Society Of The Physically Disabled.

Most of the drawings were done on weekends. The four artists are part of Urban Sketchers, a global network of artists who draw the cities they live in or travel to. Started by Seattle journalist and illustrator Gabi Campanario in 2007, The Singapore Chapter, set up in 2009, has about 20 regulars now.

Miel, 47, a Straits Times senior executive artist, says the laidback vibe of the iconic area draws him back to it. But he does more than just draw there: 'I would sit there, have kopi and read my book.

'It is almost provincial, yet just a bus ride away from the heart of the city,' adds Miel, who lives in Redhill, an MRT stop away from Tiong Bahru.

There are already plans for next year's exhibition. For that, the artists hope to focus on the back alleys and rooftops of the area. The group is also considering expanding their sketch-exhibition to other heritage areas in Singapore, such as Joo Chiat.

'The more we draw the same buildings, the more we find interesting facets of them. I guess it is the interplay of light and shadows at various times of the day,' says Miel.

Freelance designer and illustrator Low, 40, says the area holds special significance for him. As a child, he lived in nearby Kim Tian Place for 12 years.

The part-time instructor at the Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design & Media says: 'The more I sketch, the more I like this place, so I haven't ventured out of it.'

Gallery manager and curator Gerald Tan says: 'We plan to have street names at the exhibition and group the paintings according to that. It will be like a mini-Tiong Bahru in the gallery.'

view it
Where: White Canvas Gallery, 78 Guan Chuan Street, 01-41
When: Till July 17. Tuesdays to Saturdays, noon to 8pm, Sundays, 10am to 6pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays
Admission: Free
Info: Call 6220-8723

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