Margins: drawing pictures of home at ArtScience Museum


If you’re local, you might think you know every nook and cranny of Singapore, or are familiar with our history – after all, you often hear of these accounts in schools and at the National Day Parade each year.

However, ArtScience Museum’s latest photography exhibition might just shake up that perception. Enter Margins: drawing pictures of home, an exhibition running till 28th March 2021 that features 15 local photographers with over 490 images, revealing stories behind familiar landscapes and people in Singapore. 

From mysterious gardens hidden in our jungles to dreamy shots of HDBs, here are some highlights you can check out:


Catch Nguan’s dreamy photos of Singapore straight out of a fantasy


Nguan Man Sitting On A Slide
See everyday scenes of city life rendered with Nguan’s trademark whimsical pink hues
Image credit: Nguan

With our fast-paced and ever-changing environment, city life in Singapore might be bustling, but it can often be tinged with loneliness. Famed local photographer Nguan documents life in the third most crowded country in the world in his photography series, “Singapore”, which captures overlooked corners of the city and moments in the lives of everyday Singaporeans.

Singapore Horizons Nguan
Image credit: Nguan

His photographs will be sure to make Singaporeans go “mood” with how accurately they showcase the tinge of alienation we have all experienced – even amidst bustling kopitiams and noisy playgrounds. From snapshots of void decks to brothels, Nguan’s images of a hidden side of Singapore will make you look closer on your next weekend jaunt.


Find out about “guerilla gardens”, secret plantations in our jungles


Stateland Marvin Tang Guerilla Gardening
Image credit: Marvin Tang

If you’ve ever strayed off the beaten path while exploring your neighbourhood before, you might have stumbled upon a “guerilla garden”. Filled with edible plants and trees, these well-tended gardens are hidden amidst patches of jungles and greenery, and are often located on government state lands.

Marvin Tang’s Stateland showcases how these gardens are a silent protest in the form of land reclamation in the face of Singapore’s constant urbanisation – a #throwback to simpler times before skyscrapers and flyovers. Hidden deep in our state-owned forests, these small, private gardens are often only known by hear-say and by sightings of figures emerging from the dense jungle.


Get to know the iron ladies of Singapore in the past, the Ma Jies


Charmaine Poh Ma Jies
Image credits: Charmaine Poh

Hailing all the way from Guangdong province China, the ma jie were iron ladies of Singapore in the 1930s to 1960s, looking for work on our little red dot to earn money for their families back home.

Despite the social norms of the time where women were expected to remain at home to take care of domestic matters, the ma jie were sole breadwinners. To signify their independence, many of these women also took a vow of celibacy to signify their life-long dedication to their work of serving households. 

While most ma jie have since passed away or returned to China, a few of them still reside within our shores. Charmaine Poh’s Ma Jie gives a snapshot of the lives of these modern-day superheroes – some still living in Chinatown’s small, cramped flats.


“See” the last train depart Tanjong Pagar station 


Last KTM train in Singapore
Image credit: Darren Soh

Some of us might remember taking the train from Tanjong Pagar station straight to KL in the past. An important symbol of Singapore’s past, the railway linking us with Malaysia has over a century of history – but when the final 26KM stretch of Singapore’s tracks were decommissioned in 2011, we silently bade farewell to the last passenger train departing our shores.

Photographer Darren Soh’s SS24 commemorates the last train in Singapore, named Senandung Sutera 24, as it departs from Tanjong Pagar to Kuala Lumpur for the last time. This is through ghostly long exposures of the train passing through our jungles, parks and housing estates.


 Check out artworks that recorded haze over a full year


Visual Haze Installation
Light sensitive paper recorded pollution levels throughout a full year in 2016
Image credit: Marvin Tang

Before the daily Covid-19 case updates, there were hourly PSI haze readings. And before school closures and event cancellations due to the pandemic, Singaporeans once remained indoors and queued for N95 masks due to the haze a few years back.

On 20th October 2015, the haze in Singapore hit an all-time high with a PSI of 471 – a full 171 points over the hazardous level. 

To illustrate just how serious the situation was then, Ang Song Nian’s Hanging Heavy On My Eyes is a minimalist gallery that records haze levels in 2016 through a grey collage of light-sensitive paper.  Each one of the 366 prints records the actual PSI readings of the day, getting darker as the haze gets worse, a visual reminder of the impact that we have on the environment.


Check out ArtScience Museum’s Margins: drawing pictures of home


ArtScience Museum Margins exhibit 2
Image credit: Marina Bay Sands

From old train tracks to hazy weather, we all share stories and experiences that define us as Singaporeans. Delve into our past at Margins: drawing pictures of home, an exhibition at ArtScience Museum where local photographers showcase untold stories of Singapore through the lenses of 15 contemporary local photographers.

The exhibition also showcases retired Gurkhas’ reflections on their lives in Singapore from the 1950s to the present day. You’ll also get to catch candid moments of Singaporeans snapped by acclaimed local photographer AikBeng Chia, and see Kevin WY Lee’s tribute to the “Garden City” vision of our late PM Lee Kuan Yew.

ArtScience Museum Margins exhibit
View Nguan’s pastel scenes of everyday life in Singapore

Image credit: ArtScience Museum 

This exhibition will be open until 28th March 2021 and tickets cost $6/person. You can also opt for the family bundle at $18 if you’re planning to visit with your family of two adults and two children.

For a full day of fun and learning with friends and family, head over to ArtScience Museum’s other ongoing exhibitions that cater to all ages – like viewing authentic movie props up close at Star Wars Identities. As a bonus, you can win tickets to Margins, along with the whimsical Future World and compelling Planet or Plastic? exhibitions by taking part in three contests.

These contests will be held on the ArtScience Museum Instagram page till 19th March 2021, and you can simply comment and share your thoughts to be one of the three lucky winners each week.

Book your tickets to Margins: drawing pictures of home tickets here


This post was brought to you by ArtScience Museum.
Cover image credits: Nguan, Marvin Tang