Ngee Ann Cultural Centre
Ngee Ann Kongsi Collections is an art gallery displaying Chinese calligraphy & painting, oil painting, water colour painting and 3D & photography works by renowned local and overseas artists. On the ground floor, the Ngee Ann Kongsi Heritage Hall traces the historical events of Ngee Ann Kongsi since Singapore’s early settlement days.
It was not until we were invited by a family friend to attend a Chinese painting exhibition at the premises that I realised the building was actually a living and breathing cultural arts space, home to the Ngee Ann Cultural Centre.
With its pagoda-like, traditional Chinese architecture, the building's refurbished interior certainly took us by surprise - unlike the musty. dimly lit interior that we were expecting from the many television serials of such places, the exhibition halls and main waiting areas were complete with carpeted floors, bright spotlights and glass panels, that welcomed us with an air of fresh modernity and professionalism.
Despite having just a bare memory of Chinese calligraphy and painting from an art class back in primary school, there was something about the seamless organisation and placement of the art works in the exhibition that allowed me to for the first time really appreciate the intricacies of this art form at a deeper level. The approachable and friendly curators for the day made our visit all the more refreshing and memorable, with their warm smiles and enthusiastic exchanges that often carried hints of a strong passion to preserve the local Chinese arts and cultural scene.
Though our time at the centre was short and we eventually had to give several other key exhibitions at the place (eg. the annual 3D art exhibition) a miss, seeing such a space specifically dedicated to preserving the Chinese arts and providing a platform for young local talents was certainly heartening, and spurred me to further explore the richness of my own cultural legacies that I've found to be so often watered down.
All in all, despite its small area, the centre provides an ideal reflective and educational space to rediscover our Chinese heritage and the treasures within our local Chinese arts scene.