• Stephanie Ow

Art Appreciation In A Land of Books

When the word “ballerina” comes to mind, we conjure up an image of a slim and graceful dancing figure. Ceramics, on the other hand, are usually associated with the ubiquitous vases, bowls and plates we see in museums or homes.

But art often challenges our expectations.

Featuring art by Singaporean pioneer artists and craftsmen, spot these works curated from The NIE Art Collection along the corridors of the NIE Library.

Iskandar Jalil Collection

As Singapore’s eminent local ceramist and leading educator-mentor in the craft, Dr Iskandar Jalil has been awarded accolades such as the prestigious Cultural Medallion for Visual Arts in 1988. A prolific craftsman whose works bear influences of different pottery cultures across the world, he is especially interested in aesthetics and the philosophy of Japanese ceramics. His works are characterized by simple but strong structures with distinctly tactile and rich surfaces.

Dr Iskandar Jalil originally trained as a maths and science teacher at the Teachers' Training College (TTC) Singapore, now known as the National Institute of Education (NIE) in 1952. In 2016, the ex-alumnus and former lecturer of Teachers' Training College was conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from Nanyang Technological University.

A selection of Dr Iskandar Jalil’s ceramic work is on permanent exhibit in the NIE Library located on level four. You may also find out more about his life and craft from publications in our library.

An Educator and an Artist

Delve into the worlds of the featured artists who have left a long-lasting legacy, some of whom are our former and current lecturers at NIE.

Chng Seok Tin has won several awards like the Cultural Foundation Award under Postgraduate Studies, Hornsey College of Art. Her woodcuts have also been re-created in the inaugural 2017 Children's Biennale in National Gallery Singapore. Since she lost her eyesight in 1988 due to a surgical procedure and is considered legally blind; she focuses more on mixed media and sculptural works. She taught printmaking at tertiary level for a decade in Singapore from 1986.

Tang Da Wu is a prominent leader in contemporary Asian art practice and a pioneer of performance art in Singapore. He founded the Artists’ Village (Singapore) in 1988, and in 1999 and 2000. He speaks about environmental and social issues through his art. He is arguably best known for his seminal work Tiger Whip (1991), which is currently housed at the National Gallery Singapore. Other works by him that can be found in the NIE Library include Memory of the Sun, a chalk painting depicting an interpretation of the Japanese invasion of Singapore. He is also currently an adjunct lecturer with NIE.

NIE Art Collection: Featured Artists in the library

Besides our pottery collection, numerous framed art works from the NIE Art Collection have also found a home in the library. Labels with QR codes linking the viewer to more information about the art and the artist are displayed next to the art works.

More can also be read in the book The NIE Art Collection. Artists featured include:

  • Sarkasi Bin Said (Tzee)

  • Thomas Yeo

  • Chua Ek Kay

  • Sng Cheng Kiat

  • Prapan Srisouta


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