It’s that time of the year again – Singapore Art Museum (SAM)’s family-focused exhibition, Imaginarium, is back for its seventh year running. It is the one arts event in Singapore we never miss so we were thrilled to be back over the weekend to check out this year’s offerings.
Through inspiring and engaging artworks, Imaginarium: To the Ends of the Earth invites us to take a closer look at the surroundings and environments we reside in and see how people, flora, and fauna, adapt to their ever-changing surroundings.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a lovely picnic-like set-up at the very entrance of SAM 8Q. I also really loved the locally-inspired floral backdrop (by Fleurapy) made out of old-school calendars, chaptehs, and paper balls. Super cute and great for photo ops!
Our first stop was Lizard Tail (by Hiromi Tango). Walking in to the room filled with psychedelic-looking sculptures bathed in a warm orange-red glow, I felt like we were transported to another world.
Entirely hand-crafted out of materials such as wires, yarn and cloth using various techniques (macramé, patchwork, knitting, pom-pom making, etc.) complete with real bells and whistles, the details of this intricate artwork are truly astounding to look at in person. I could probably study it all day!
Through the colourful and interactive soft-sculpture environment, Hiromi Tango shares tales of adaptation and survival based on the metaphor of the lizard’s unique ability to regrow its lost tail. Entirely hand-crafted out of materials such as wires, yarn and cloth using various techniques (macramé, patchwork, knitting, etc.), the details of this intricate artwork are truly astounding to look at in person.
There was a small activity station where my boys made pom-poms to add to the artwork 🙂
If you asked my boys’ which was their favourite exhibit, I think they would unanimously say ‘the mushrooms’!
Sited in oft-overlooked corners of the museum, Where am I (by Calvin Pang) is a series of clustered mushrooms painted in vivid colours.
My boys were giggly with excitement running up and down the stairs with their binoculars in search of the elusive mushrooms. Made out of real white beech mushrooms, they were super tiny and tucked in obscure corners so you can imagine the excited squeals when they do manage to spot a new cluster!
This whimsical work attempts to illustrate how surprises come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found even in our most well-trodden routes – and the delight one experiences in making these discoveries.
Next, I found The Tree and Me by Nandita Mukand a bit underwhelming.
Inspired by the old trees along Singapore’s East Coast Park, this artwork is made of newspapers coloured with natural dyes such as henna, turmeric and coffee. This ‘tree’, like the old trees of East Coast Park, carries within it the stories of generations.
In the next room, we also checked out Another Island by Nipan Oranniwesna.
Embedded in the floor were 598 photographs of Singapore, each encased in a tiny bubble. Like a constellation of dew drops, these images of our urban landscapes, natural landscapes, and scenes of the everyday are miniscule and almost imperceivable from a distance. Nipan invites viewers to step upon the platform to look at these vignettes of Singapore from a different and more intimate perspective.
The boys enjoyed getting down on all fours to peer at the pictures in the ‘bubbles’. Even though I found the photographs completely unrecognizable, I appreciated the quiet, unassuming nature of the artwork which draws viewers in (quite literally) for a closer look.
The whimsical aptly-named Wanderland by Mary Bernadette Lee was another definite crowd pleaser.
Your senses will be in for a treat as you walk through the suspended teepee tents with hanging mobiles, lanterns, textile birds, birds drinking from a deep well, pastel raindrops, paper cones with bells, etc.
With its interactive and immersive nature, Wanderland evokes vivid memories and imaginings of our experiences with the natural environment, be it a trek through the tropical rainforest or a stroll through a park.
Personally, I wish the exhibit was a bit more ‘hardy’ and children-friendly though because it was really hard for the museum minders to keep reminding my hyperactive boys from tearing through the entire exhibit and not bringing down the roof. Nevertheless, a very charming and pretty exhibit you must not miss!
Imaginarium is never complete without weird and wonderful creatures. My Wonderful Dream by Eko Nugroho imagines lands without borders – where fantastical characters float freely across islands and continents, and where people recognise the similarities rather than differences within each culture.
My boys especially Jo (who refused to go anywhere near) were very spooked by the strange characters – they described them in the funniest ways: one resembled Piloswine from Pokemon, another had a box for a head and was hugging a red bolster and another looked like a rooster. I liked the bold and vivid artwork on the walls – another great place for photo ops!
My WonderfulDream suggests that life would be beautiful if we lived in peace, happiness, tolerance, and togetherness, but it also ponders the reality of humanity’s complex psyche. With our yearning for advancement, and with the pressures of rapid change introduced by globalization and technology, is a harmonious world achievable or is it just a dream?
We were quite taken by Floating Mountain by Unchalee Anantawat. Inspired by the imaginary landscapes in her dreams, the work expresses the artist’s certainty that there are indeed other worlds – be they dream-worlds or universes that humans have yet to explore.
The beautifully-landscaped volcano spewing bright orange lava across the room was truly quite a stunning spectacle. The boys enjoyed touching the giant ball of lava (yarn) that looked invitingly soft and sprawling on the floor to check out the glowy underside of the volcano.
There was also a small activity corner where children were invited to make their very own dream mobile but my hungry boys had no patience to sit down that day. Sigh!
My boys were rather intrigued by LICENSE 2 DRAW by UuDam Tran Nguyen which was essentially a robotic drawing machine which drags marker pens across a sprawling canvas.
LICENSE 2 DRAW can be accessed and activated from anywhere in the world, highlighting how our once vast and uncharted world has now become ‘accessible’ with one simple ‘click’. The artwork demonstrates in real time, how we connect, communicate, interact and negotiate.
If you like playing with remote control cars like my boys do (husband included), you have to check this out!
Our last stop was Lie of the Land by Bounpaul Phothyzan. Laos remains the most heavily bombed country in the world with thousands of undetonated bombs still scattered across its land. In this artwork, metal bombshells have been repurposed as planters filled with flowers and shrubs, making a powerful statement about the resilience of the human spirit and one’s ability to innovate in the face of obstacles.
It was quite a humbling, bittersweet experience seeing my innocent boys standing next to the beautifully-restored bombshells. Probably the most meaningful exhibit of the day. It is situated in the small room in front of the museum so please don’t miss it!
Imaginarium: To the Ends of the Earth is now running at SAM 8Q from now till 27 August 2017. Be prepared to spend at least a good 1-2 hours exploring the exhibits . Definitely worth checking out! There are many more craft activities for children in the various rooms too – I will have to go back with my boys again to try them out!