Art Garden 2013 @ Singapore Art Museum at 8Q

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Before I gave birth to Leah, I had never step foot into a museum… Or maybe I did but only on some rare occasions during my NAFA years. So after Leah turned one, I asked around for activity ideas and that was when I learnt about Art Garden at Singapore Museum. Art Garden – Contemporary art fun for children – mainly targets at children but I’m sure adults will have their share of fun too. Unlike last year exhibits, this year’s offers more hands on crafts for the kids, which err… more verbal persuasion to move my kid along to the next exhibit.

The Enchanted Garden City (By Sandra Lee)
Get ready to be enchanted by the whimsical fairy tales illustrations with an Asian twist! The illustrations on the walls and floor, the rainbow stairs installation, the illustrated trees cutouts installation, it was instant love! The spectrum of colours set the tone of art exhibition for children. While my 2.5yo quickly got herself busy with her art piece on paper, I found myself exploring the room.

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Leah was attracted by the pandas at first. She looked at the three pandas and then pointed at the little girl. I said, “Goldilocks”. She looked at me with her small eyes, trying to widen =D She looked at the illustrations again and held her stare for a while. At that point, I was sure that she was trying to make sense to this Asian looking ‘Goldilocks’ and why were the bears looked different.

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Activity table for the kids.

Around the Day in Eighty Worlds (By Vicente Delgad)
If you grew up watching Felix the Cat, you probably find this exhibit looking familiar, even some of the illustrations on the walls were looking quite familiar too. Anyway, this exhibit was probably one of the few that my 2.5yo enjoyed exploring. There was a craft room, but lacked materials like glue, papers, color pencils/crayons. I was busy gathering materials from various craft tables for my kid to complete her hot air balloon art piece. The staff? I saw two of them seated at the counter, one sorting out the hot air balloon art pieces and the other sitting around. As Singapore Art Museum puts it, “Also, here’s a chance to make your own kaleidoscope and see how it transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary!“, you can get the chance with a $2 dollar bill.

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Interesting kaleidoscope at the exhibit.

Stellar Cave II (By Julien Salaud. With support from Institut Français Singapour.)
Similar to last year’s “Grow a Garden in the Dark”, this year’s glow in the dark exhibit featured wall piece that was inspired by prehistoric paintings in France’s Lascaux Caves. And it was entirely made of thread and screws! You’ll get to hands on try out creating these wall pieces. If I have the luxury of time, I would have sat in the dark room and take it all in.

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Hands on creating these wall pieces!

The Incredibly Magical Expanding Room (By Mojoko and Shang Lian)
Sound experiment. My ‘shy’ 2.5yo tried to whisper into the microphone, but the microphone stand was alittle too tall for her height. The staff was attentive and kind enough to remove the microphone from its stand for my daughter. However, we had more fun with the moving colours and shadows on the wall instead.

Expanding Room

Les rêves engloutis – Glossy Dreams in Depths (By Stéphane Blanque)
From SAM website – “Let your imagination take over as you enter a room filled with fantasy and dreams. Do not be afraid of what lies ahead. Instead, overcome your fears and explore these rooms filled with peculiar objects, 3D drawings and holograms. Then, take part in a mask-making activity, specially designed by the artist.
Let me just say this – this is the most inappropriate exhibit for children, and to have them in 3D drawings and holograms! As if the drawings are not scary enough for the kids. Fantasy and dreams? It was more like nightmares and night terrors. Fears?? Uglydoll and Monsters, Inc. are somewhat what I call kids’ fear – the cutey fluffy kind, this exhibit is not. At the entrance of this exhibit, there’s a tiny bed. Parents and kids are required to sit on the bed and the staff will – as what I would call it – ‘merry-go-round’ transport the parents and kids to the other side. Prior to that, each of us were given 3D glasses, and we were told to put them on before they ‘transport’ us over. Nope, we were not told what to expect, except to keep our feet within the yellow circle. The moment we were ‘transported’ over to the exhibit room, I looked around with the 3D glasses on. I immediately stopped my husband from putting the 3D glasses on our daughter. The visual would have been too much for her age. Despite without her 3D glasses on, I’m pretty sure she saw the art pieces on the walls. We quickly took ours off – coz you know how a 2.5yo want to do what the parents do – and moved out of the exhibit room. I might sound exaggerating but my worry was not basis. Right after us, there was a father and daughter who looked like 18mo or 2yo. The dad had his 3D glasses on and even held onto his daughter’s 3D glasses, making sure her 3D glasses did not fall off her nose. True enough, the daughter wailed, refusing to look up. Coincidentally, my 2.5yo woke up wailing for the past three nights since her visit to the exhibit. She never never never wakes up wailing. You can say it’s a 2.5yo thing, it’s night terror, it’s nightmares. But I trust my instinct, a parent’s instinct.

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Overall Experience:
Perhaps SAM could consider putting staff who loves children or is parent him/herself at the exhibit. I’m sure they understand the needs of a child than teenagers do. The staff needs to be more proactive. I found myself lost, not knowing what to do, especially in the craft rooms. A lot of “What’s next” thoughts and situations. As for the installations that are not allowed to be touched, please ensure they are positioned higher or out of reach areas. I had seen children pulling installations that are merely tied and hanged with materials that look like it could snap. I hope to have more sensory play activities, rather than just colouring.

Art Garden @ Singapore Art Museum at 8Q
Address: 8 Queen Street, Singapore 188535.
17 May to 1 September 2013

For more information regarding Art Garden 2013, please visit Singapore Art Museum website.


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