A gathering of artists on the steps of their future gallery

8 10 2010

The National Art Gallery (NAG) Open House was officially launched today by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts. The simple but symbolic launch also saw the gathering of a hundred or so local artists – a representation of Singapore artists, on the steps of City Hall for a photograph session that serves as a symbolic gesture of the transformation of the former Supreme Court and the City Hall into the NAG, which will be a home to the works of our local artists.

In a symbolic gesture - 100 representatives of Singapore artists gathered on the steps of City Hall for a photo.

It is probably fitting that the buildings, long seen as icons of Singapore, both having played a significant role in shaping Singapore’s history are being converted for use as a gallery that will be a home to Singapore artists. As Mr Michael Koh, CEO of the NAG put it in his welcome remarks, the two neo-Palladian style buildings had served as crucial settings to many important moments in Singapore. Mr Koh also spoke of how many Singaporeans young and old would have identified with the buildings at some point in their lives, some with personal memories from events such as National Day and F1, some may have worked there or had relatives or friends working there, or had graduation or wedding photographs taken in thier shadows … which to most have become national icons etched in their memories. I for one have one particular memory that I will always treasure – that of visiting a friend of my mother’s who worked at the Supreme Court as a verbatim reporter regularly via a caged lift from my early childhood.

The Open House was officially launched by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.

Mr Lui was presented with a framed photo - the winning entry in a photo competition organised for the two historic buildings.

The Open House will certainly provide many of us with a rare opportunity to see the inside of the magnificent works of architecture – and also to photograph them – something we were not allowed to do when they were in use. It would also provide the opportunity to find out some interesting facts about the buildings – one being that the floor tiles used in the Supreme Court are made of rubber – something due to the fact that construction materials were in short supply at the time of the construction as Europe was preparing for war (rubber being abundant in Malaya). It would in fact also be the last chance to see them as they would be replaced during the makeover due to their asbestos content. Another interesting thing that may interest visitors are that the building was designed without air-conditioning and to retrofit air-conditioning at a later date, ducts and vents were built into the furniture.

The Open House will provide a rare opportunity to photograph the inside of the two magnificent works of architecture before their transformation into the National Art Gallery.

The rubber floor tiles of the former Supreme Court.

Vents built into the furniture - a means to retrofit an air-conditioning system to the Supreme Court.

While due to overwhelming response, guided tours which will provided access to the former Supreme Court are fully booked, those interested in seeing the City Hall and the historic City Hall Chamber can still do so – that will be opened to all – and the opportunity to visit the historic room should not be missed.