Singapore’s heritage arts have not been banished to memory lane, thanks to the passionate locals who are making them relatable to travellers and locals alike. Here’s where to pick some of these up!
Welcome to Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, set in the lush Kranji countryside and home to a legendary 77-year-old dragon kiln. Every piece of pottery fired in it is distinct in texture and colour, thanks to the gush of fire and ashes that react with the ceramics’ glaze.
In the last decade, it has blazed the trail in promoting a greater understanding of wood-fired porcelain and ceramic arts in Singapore. “People’s mindsets are shifting and many locals now crave homegrown, handmade crafts,” says Stella Tan, the third-generation scion heading the family business. “They want that personal touch and a story behind every piece.”
Today, Thow Kwang runs workshops for all ages, where participants can learn the art of pottery and try their hand – quite literally – with hand-moulding at the potter’s wheel.
85 Lor Tawas, Singapore 639823
NEXT: Kueh-making at The Intan →
Kueh, or local traditional snacks, are freely available here, but it’s not often that you get to learn how to make them in a Peranakan home brimming with antiques.
At private Peranakan museum The Intan, you’ll be guided through the process of making kueh. This is a rite of passage that sees many a Peranakan matriarch passing on guarded family recipes to the next generation.
The lesson is informal and unencumbered by strict measurements; instead, participants are encouraged to use trial and error, tasting their creations as they go along. These kueh-making workshops are part of the museum’s two-hour-long Intan Signature Tea Experience, where owner Alvin Yapp guides visitors through the practices of a typical Peranakan household, spicing up the experience with anecdotes and historical nuggets.
69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231
NEXT: Batik painting at Kamal Dollah →
“Batik is easy to learn and hard to master,” says batik artist Kamal Dollah, who hosts batik painting workshops at his studio in Goodman Arts Centre. Each session lasts two to three hours, and emphasises traditional methods such as dyeing and using the tjanting (the stylus used to colour batik motifs).
The resounding response to his workshops has inspired Dollah to start Community Batik, a one-of-its-kind collaborative event (by booking only) that sees groups of people taking turns to draw and colour on a large, blank piece of cloth. The finished piece is then framed.
“It’s therapeutic and teaches patience, as there is no undo button or auto spellcheck – mistakes happen and you learn to deal with them.”
Blk E #03-31, Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Rd, Singapore 439053
NEXT: Chinese Opera at Chinese Theatre Circle →
For over a century, Chinese opera, known locally as wayang (a Malay word meaning ‘theatrical performance’), has graced Singapore’s streets as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Brought to Singapore by immigrants from China, the shows – complete with a live orchestra, singing and elaborate costumes – used to be played out on makeshift stages.
While it’s a much less common sight today, it’s nowhere near the time for their curtain call. The Chinese Theatre Circle, for one, puts on a revue of popular scenes, complete with English subtitles, every Friday and Saturday at its teahouse in Chinatown.
Keen to learn? Lead actress See Too Hoi Siang runs weekly courses on makeup, facial expressions and movements for those who want to learn the art form.
5 Smith St, Singapore 058919
NEXT: Screenprinting at Fictive Fingers →
The sister duo behind Fictive Fingers see the screenprinting as an artistic expression that evokes a sense of appreciation that’s increasingly hard to come by in an increasingly impersonal world. When not behind the printing table, they’re out there conducting workshops to teach this very art – patterning and basic screenprinting on fabric. By the end of the workshop, you’ll be able to craft something beautiful out of your very own unique hand-printed piece.
They also sell specially designed purses, pouches and clutches with original prints – great for souvenirs and gifts.
NEXT: Pottery at Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle →
By Desiree Koh, Silverkris, additional reporting by Pinky Chng, January 2017
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