Monday, 7 December 2020

Museum-hopping is the new café-hopping: rediscover Singapore with our itinerary for a perfect art-filled day

*Produced by SilverKris for National Gallery Singapore*

Although international travel remains heavily restricted, many Singapore residents are making use of their free time – which would normally be spent overseas – to discover more about the city-state, be it through embarking on a heritage walking tour, visiting hole-in-the-wall restaurants or exploring the island’s numerous parks and gardens.

If you’re in the mood to spend the day traipsing around the Little Red Dot while checking out some art, you’re in luck. As part of the recently launched Proposals for Novel Ways of Being – organised by National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum – numerous art spaces are holding intriguing exhibitions touching on the many changes and challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Read on for our itinerary to getting your art fill this month.

“Awaits a Better Tomorrow” by Lee Kow Fong, part of “#NEVERBEFORESG”

9AM

Before heading out, enjoy a cup of coffee at home while kick-starting your art-filled day with a digital offering: #NEVERBEFORESG (until 31 January 2021), which was commissioned by National Museum of Singapore. It consists of enthralling digital artworks by multiple artists, who explore individual and collective states of mind during the pandemic as we all attempt to adjust to the new normal. The show features works by a whopping 87 creatives, artists and makers, including acclaimed photographer Chia Aik Beng and multi-hyphenate artiste Dick Lee.

The picture-perfect cupcakes at Plain Vanilla Bakery

11AM

Head out for brunch at Tiong Bahru, known for its many quaint cafés where the design is on point and the dishes are plated like works of art. We recommend Plain Vanilla Bakery for assorted bakes that are almost too pretty to eat; Merci Marcel for contemporary French café fare in a bright and airy bistro setting; and PS.Cafe Petit at Tiong Bahru for a hearty brunch in a cosy interior kitted out with leather sofas, dark-wood furnishings and opulent rugs.

1PM

After fuelling up, make the short walk to Grey Projects, a non-profit arts space along Kim Tian Road. Check out Enmoving (until 20 January 2021), which features a series of unique silver gelatin prints by Ng Hui Hsien. During the film development process, the artist employed improvisational darkroom techniques, such as using found organic matter including rocks, roots and earth. The exhibition invites us to reflect on the larger forces beyond our individual lives, and how we are all connected with both human and non-human surrounding elements.

3PM

Once you’re done at Grey Projects, take a cab ride to Coda Culture, a gallery space along Aliwal Street. As part of Proposals for Novel Ways of Being, the art gallery is putting up an exhibition entitled Precious Things (until 12 December), which consists of newly commissioned work by 12 Singaporean artists using found or extant objects. Their works examine the value of art and artists in society, especially in the wake of the pandemic, when this value has been called into question.

4.30PM

From Coda Culture, hop on a bus to National Gallery Singapore, where you can catch the two marquee exhibitions: An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season, presented by National Gallery Singapore, and Time Passes, presented by Singapore Art Museum (both until 21 February 2021).

The former exhibition consists of immersive mixed-media installations, sound and movement performances and site-specific works. The contemporary art invites visitors to collectively reflect on and imagine new ways of thinking and doing, as we make our way into an uncertain future. With bold, visceral and thought-provoking works by local artists such as Fajrina Razak, Kin Chui and Sufian Samsiyar, you’re sure to be ruminating about the pieces you encountered long after leaving the museum.

Meanwhile, the latter exhibition takes its name from a chapter in the classic Virginia Woolf novel To the Lighthouse. It delves into the passage of time as it relates to the pandemic: teasing apart the lingering effects of the time we’ve spent separated from one another, and ruminating on how we can navigate the present and future. Works on display include an installation by Stephanie Jane Burt, a series of photographic prints by Diana Rahim and a delicate paper installation by Ashley Yeo.

7PM

To enjoy unlimited access to a thrilling series of art exhibitions such as the ones you checked out today, sign up for a free one-year Gallery Insider membership, which you can activate during your visit to the museum. The promotion is valid for all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents and runs until 31 January 2021. Simply register online before your visit and follow the instructions to activate your membership.

After all that art, it’s time for some good grub. The National Gallery Singapore building houses a host of acclaimed restaurants that you can consider for dinner. Those who are in the mood for Peranakan cuisine can opt for the moody-chic National Kitchen by Violet Oon. There’s also The Gallery Bistro, a more casual spot that serves moreish café fare that is sure to satisfy your stomach.

Smoke & Mirrors’ Bananas in a Glass, inspired by local artist Georgette Chen

9PM

End your evening with a cocktail at Smoke & Mirrors, one of Singapore’s top rooftop bars with panoramic views of the Padang and Marina Bay skyline. Grab a seat on the outdoor patio and take your pick from creative concoctions – such as the Bananas in a Glass, which includes banana-infused cognac, Campari, sweet vermouth and salted banana liqueur. The drink is inspired by the late local artist Georgette Chen, who has an ongoing exhibition at National Gallery Singapore. Check the bar’s website ahead of your visit to make a reservation.

Artwork credits: “after life, reverse rituals” by Fajrina Razak (top header image); “Station 13010” by Kin Chui (thumbnail image). Both artworks are part of “An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season” at National Gallery Singapore.

For more information about current and upcoming exhibitions that are part of “Proposals for Novel Ways of Being”, check out the exhibition’s website here. To learn more about National Gallery Singapore, click here.

Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.

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