Singapore Creative Writing Residency Showcase: Object Lessons

What does it mean that language is not about objects, but language itself is an object? Can language be more than just a description and something that takes its place among other things?

This exhibition explore ways of materialising language by placing emphasis on open-ended experimentation and play. The showcase consists of sculptures and installations by poets from the National University of Singapore who have been mentored by Ong Sze Yoong, the 2015 Singapore Creative Writing Resident.

id rather be the one 2 large

Featured poets:

Aishah Umairah
Mixed media
Growth explores issues surrounding one's identity in a society that imposes labels onto an individual. The superimposition of both official and non-official statements on the roots symbolises the paradoxical nature of one's growth in society. Despite the suffocating nature of foreign ideals being placed on one's roots, these ideals eventually become a part of the crucial support system. The cactus symbolises the individual who restricts herself from these labels but must inevitably be exposed to these. Similarly, the cactus absorbs all nutrients in a liquid even if it is detrimental to its growth. By placing the cactus in a rounded and transparent bowl, the glass cage allegorises both a means of shelter and restriction, depending on how an individual sees it.

Alisa Maya Ravindran
The Seven Sins (2016)
Mixed media
The Seven Sins plays on the Biblical trope of the Seven Sins by suggesting a contemporary, Singaporean interpretation on the term. The poem attempts to express complex but commonplace “sinful" emotions such as boredom, anxiety and lethargy through materials. Each emotion and its corresponding art work is placed in its own box, and lined up in a row, much like a pillbox. This is to express how we consume and express these emotions routinely, much like the vitamins and medication that we store in pillboxes. The exhibit encourages viewers to make use of their senses of touch and sight to engage with and fully appreciate the message of the work.

Jenny Ganeshrays
Friendly Advice
Ink on tracing paper
Friendly Advice invites closer scrutiny towards the "rant"—the mass-appeal polemic, the outburst of vitriol. By means of overlaying, rearranging and fissuring the text, the seemingly transparent "rant" approaches unreadability and excess.

Lisabelle Tan Min
Butchering Bukowski, Glassy-Eyed Flint-Hearted One
Mixed media
Butchering Bukowski and Glassy-Eyed Flint-Hearted One are experiments that explore how fragments of images are spliced together to form an (inchoate) assemblage of the chaos of thoughts and emotions that belie the inscrutable façade of the self. They are, in part, inspired by Fernando Pessoa’s words, “My soul is a black maelstrom, a great madness spinning about a vacuum, the swirling of a vast ocean around a hole in the void, and in the waters, more like whirlwinds than waters, float images of all I ever saw or heard in the world: houses, faces, books, boxes, snatches of music and fragments of voices, all caught up in a sinister, bottomless whirlpool”. These poems encapsulate the swirling maelstrom of the poet’s imagination at the point of writing. Readers tunnel through the whirl and at the end of it, find themselves on the other side, a safe shore of stillness. 

Nur Hadziqah
{Data set}
Mixed media
Writing is not necessarily purely an act of creation. It is also a derivative expression of our surroundings, the people we meet, and language itself. So instead of presenting a piece of writing, this piece presents the headspace - the data set - of a writer.

From overheard conversations to the lines that zig zag across roads, the head becomes a database of people, places, and patterns, some of which rise above the others. Somewhere in this contained universe, behind bushes and vine, is a voice and an emptiness. This piece is about that contained universe, that voice, and that emptiness.

Ong Szu Yoong
I'd rather be the One
Digital video
What’s the difference between the semblance of friendship and true friendship? It is impossible to describe, or even to show - after all, actors perform “friendship” in movies all the time. Only friends know what friendship is. Friendship is not up for discussion. It can only be known from within friendship.

With this in mind, Ong has attempted to make a film “in” friendship. As the Emily Dickinson poem used in the film reads:

I would not paint — a picture —

I'd rather be the One

The point is not to make a picture of friendship, but to be a friend. Rather than straightforwardly depicting friendship, the film is itself a gesture of friendship. It evokes the texture, the touchiness of friendship - ease interspersed with violence, strength mixed with vulnerability.

Wai Thu Khin
Night Falls
Text on paper
Night Falls is a poetry painted on yellowed paper, to capture the colour of age. The first three stanzas are in grey, and written over them are the later stanzas in black, reminiscent of a palimpsest. The poem itself can be read as writing on oblivion, or a metaphor for ageing. The second half of the poem, with its focus on the after-effects of decline, overwrites the first half. Overwriting one half of the poem over the other, while avoiding un-readability of the overwritten half, reflects the way history is told not the way it was, but the way it was recorded and officiated. The official story what is more visible than the forgotten story, regardless of which is more real. 

For more information on Singapore Creative Writing Residency, please click here.

Event venue: Film Gallery
Event price: Free
Event start date: 2016-02-18 00:00
Event end date: 2016-03-07 00:00
Custom Event Date(s): 18 Feb - 7 Mar 2016
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Singapore Creative Writing Residency: Combined Showcase

Join us for a special showcase of Faith Ng and Jason Wee's new works, as they mark the end of their term as resident writers of the 2014 Singapore Creative Writing Residency. Be the first to hear a staged reading of Faith's new play Speak Good English and engage in a dialogue with Jason as he reads from his new sequence of poems tentatively titled Songs for Lee Wen.

The Singapore Creative Writing Residency, organised by The Arts House and NUS University Scholars Programme, aims to support emerging writers to create new works. 

For more details of Faith Ng's mentee's showcase of Ten Short Plays, please click here

Event venue: Play Den
Registration Link:
Event price: Free With Registration
Event start date: 2015-02-28 00:00
Event end date: 2015-02-28 00:00
Custom Event Date(s): 28 Feb 2015
Custom Event Time(s): 7.30pm
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Silver Writing: Writing My Memoir

After the successful run of Silver Writing: Write Your Own Folk Tale (2013) and Silver Writing: Write Your Life Story (2014), we return with Silver Writing: Writing My Memoir – a ten-week workshop for seniors who are interested in sharing their life story.

Presented by The Arts House and U 3rd Age (University of the Third Age), the weekly workshops allow participants to explore different aspects of their lives. The sessions include writing assignments, a session on bookbinding and digital recording. There will also be an opportunity to learn from a published author, Josephine Chia who won the Singapore Literature Prize (Non-Fiction) in 2014 for Kampong Spirit Gotong Royong: Life in Potong Pasir, 1955 to 1965.

Participants will get to share their final works in a public showcase. 

About the facilitator

Thomas Kuan is a trained facilitator in Guided Autobiography (GAB) Writing. He has facilitated the programme in voluntary and grass-root organisations from 2010-2012. He also facilitated The Arts House’s successful Silver Writing programmes for senior citizens in 2013 and 2014. Thomas Kuan is a founder of U 3rd Age in Singapore.


Silver Writing schedule
*Session 5 (10 May 2016) will be held at a later timing.
*Session 8 (28 May 2016) is held on a Saturday morning, 10am – 2pm.
Event venue: Living Room
Buy Link:
Event Price Information:

$250 *Course fees include materials for bookbinding session.
10% discount for Silver Writing alumni

Event start date: 2016-04-12 00:00
Event end date: 2016-06-07 00:00
Custom Event Date(s): 12 Apr - 7 Jun 2016
Custom Event Time(s): Refer to Schedule
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Silver Memories

Come listen to personal stories of hope, regret, love and longing by the silver generation. Graduates from the Silver Writing: Writing My Memoir programme by The Arts House will give a dramatised reading of an extract from their writing during the programme. This reading is coached by Master Storyteller Kamini Ramachandran as part of the Silver Arts Festival by NAC. 

Free admission, so bring all your friends along!

Event venue: Toa Payoh Public Library
Event price: Free
Event start date: 2016-09-17 00:00
Event end date: 2016-09-17 00:00
Custom Event Date(s): 17 Sep 2016
Custom Event Time(s): 2pm - 3pm
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Silver Writing II: Autobiography

Silver Writing: Autobiography is an eight-week workshop on ‘Telling Life Stories Through Autobiography Writings’ for senior citizens who are interested in writing their autobiographies.

Organised by The Arts House in collaboration with U 3rd Age (University of the Third Age), the weekly workshops allows participants to explore different life themes that have been influential in shaping their lives. They will write two pages on each theme at home and bring their writings to share in a small group with others also sharing their stories.

“Autobiography Writing is a life history told by the person who lived it. It can be life stories, life reviews, reminiscences, memories, memoirs and more.” (Birren, 2001)

When writing about our lives, it is most important to see that the story is interesting. There are many things, which we have all but forgotten as things have moved on, and our living styles have changed. Most of us live fairly ordinary lives, or, put another way, most of us do not make history, but all of us have lived through periods of enormous change.

Event venue: Blue Room
Event Price Information:

Regular: $150
Concession: $120

Event duration:

3 hrs

Event start date: 2014-07-16 00:00
Event end date: 2014-09-03 00:00
Custom Event Date(s): 16 Jul - 3 Sep 2014
Custom Event Time(s): Various Timings
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