Friday, July 12, 2013

The Straits Times : Retro rocks

The Straits Times
12th July 2013
By Lydia Vasko

The Singapore HeritageFest is back with more events than ever

To mark its 10th anniversary, the Singapore HeritageFest will offer a record number of activities when it kicks off next Friday.

Shows and exhibitions will be staged at 10 malls, including an exhibition in City Square Mall on the history of magic here and one on Singapore's spice history in Plaza Singapura. There will also be more than 20 other programmes islandwide.

The 10-day festival, which carries the theme Memories For Tomorrow, runs until July 28.

Its events, which are all free, include a tour of coffee roasters, cafes and other places involved in Singapore's coffee trade, as well as craft workshops and cooking demonstrations.

Nine clan associations, including Kwong Wai Siew Li Si She Shut, founded in 1874, and Poon Yue Association, founded in 1879, will also open their doors to the public - some for the first time.

Tour their headquarters to view antique furniture and historical relics, as well as to learn about their history and the roles that the various clans have played.

Organised by the National Heritage Board, this year's festival aims to emphasise the role individual and community memories play in modern Singapore.

Ms Angelita Teo, festival director and director of the National Museum of Singapore, says: "We wanted to recognise the relevance of heritage in our everyday lives, sharing memories that bring Singaporeans together and connecting people through community platforms.

"It's a festival for the community by the community."

While the National Heritage Board organised some of the activities, most of the exhibitions and programmes were put together by individuals and independent groups such as the Singapore Coffee Association and schools such as CHIJ Katong Convent. A group of Secondary 2 and 3 students from the school did research on how to make traditional nonya kueh and will showcase their findings as part of the official launch of Singapore HeritageFest at the National Museum on July 21.

More than one million people are expected to attend the festival's events this year, similar to the turnout in previous years.

To register and find out more about the programmes, go to



Singapore Hok San Association Lion Dance Troupe putting on a performance. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Chinese clan associations are an integral part of the Chinese community. They helped ease new immigrants into their new lives in Singapore's early years, organised community activities and set up schools and scholarships.

The public will get to learn about the roles they play and their history as these associations open their doors to the public during the HeritageFest, some for the first time.

Besides tours, they will also organise talks, performances and other activities.

These include a talk on the restoration of the Ee Hoe Hean Building (next Saturday, from 9.30 to 11.30am, 43 Bukit Pasoh Road), which houses the Ee Hoe Hean Club, one of Singapore's oldest millionaires' clubs that was founded in 1895.

There will also be a Nanyin opera and musical performance (July 26, 8 to 10pm, 137 Telok Ayer Street) hosted by the Siong Leng Musical Association. The Hok San Association tour will include a perfomance by the lion dance troupe. Founded in 1939, the association has the oldest lion dance troupe in Singapore.

Info: For full details, go to



Mr David Christie with his 1967 Morris Mini Moke (front) and 1972 Morris Mini 1000. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Ten vintage cars from the 1930s to mid-1970s will be on display for one afternoon. Some of the cars include a 1930s Armstrong Siddeley, the only one of its kind running in the region, and a 1972 Morris Mini.

The event's organisers, the Singapore Art Museum and the Malaysia and Singapore Vintage Car Register, say the show is being held in Jurong in recognition of its motoring history.

The area used to be where various types of vehicles were assembled,such as the Mercedes- Benz and the Morris Mini, before the factories were closed in the late 1970s.

Due to the restrictions on and high costs of car ownership today, vintage pre-war cars and classic cars from the 1950s to 1970s are not easy to find here. Many were sold after they became too expensive to maintain.

Car enthusiast David Christie, 51, assistant honorary secretary of the vintage car register's Singapore chapter, says he hopes the exhibition will remind Singaporeans about what car ownership used to mean. He will be showing one of his classic cars, a 1972 Morris Mini 1000.

"I want people to remember the utility of the vehicle and how it serves one's transportation needs," he says. "Before, a car was part of the family. You bought it with the view of keeping it for as long as possible. As long as it runs, you keep it. Now, a car is a luxury and people are more detached about owning one."

Where: Our Museum @ Taman Jurong, next to Taman Jurong Community Club, 1 Yung Sheng Road

When: July 27, 2 to 7pm


This photo, which documents hawkers and their trade in Singapore, will be shown at the Heritage Hawker Auditory Art Installation & Exhibition at The Arts House. -- PHOTO: JIM ORCA
For 21/2 years, a three-man team went around Singapore interviewing more than 1,000 hawkers in 105 hawker centres.

The trio - Mr Sinma DaShow, 41, and Ms Jernnine Pang, 33, both children of hawkers and founders of local cooking school California Sushi Academy, and photographer Jimmy Yong, 39 - documented the assorted stories, paying special attention to older hawkers who were having trouble finding someone to take over their businesses.

The research has been compiled into a 330-page book, Not For Sale - Singapore Remaining Heritage Street Food Vendors. It will be launched next Thursday at The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane, 5pm).

Mr DaShow will be on hand to answer questions and share his experiences.

Then, pop into The Arts House' foyer and film gallery, where you can view the hawkers' portraits and listen to audio recordings of their interviews. Admission to the exhibition, which runs till July 31, is free.

You can also join one of the guided heritage hawker tours to meet some of the hawkers interviewed for the book. The guided tours, which last 30 to 45 minutes each, will take participants to four hawker centres to meet some elderly hawkers and learn about their stories first-hand.

The tours start at 10am on Saturdays from July 20. The locations include Tiong Bahru Food Centre (July 20), East Coast Park Lagoon Food Village (July 27), Toa Payoh West Food Court at Lorong 1 Block 127 (Aug 3), and Circuit Road Food Centre at Block 79 (Aug 10). Registration is not required. Just show up at the hawker centres on the dates specified.

Where: Book launch at Chamber, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane

When: Thursday, 5pm


A shophouse designed by architect Kwan Yow Luen at the junction of Keong Saik and Teck Lim roads is an example of a Streamline Moderne-style building. -- PHOTOS: JULIAN DAVISON

Tiong Bahru is not the only place here with eye-catching Art Deco architecture from the 1920s and 1930s.

There are about 30 such buildings scattered around other parts of Singapore, including the facade of Cathay Building in Handy Road, which was gazetted as a national monument in 2003.

With the help of Dr Julian Davison, an anthropologist and architecture enthusiast, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has put together an exhibition on the history of Art Deco architecture in Singapore.

Learn about the hallmarks of Art Deco styles and how Singapore's culture, climate and lifestyle shaped the country's architecture in the 1920s and 1930s.

The exhibition includes two talks, which will be held at the URA Centre at 45 Maxwell Road. The talks are: Setting Up The Peranakan Home, Bukak Rumah by Peranakan expert Randall Ee (July 25, 3 to 4pm; Level 4, seminar room); and Art Deco Architecture by Dr Davison (Aug 3, 10 to 11am; Level 5, function hall).

The talks are free but pre-registration is required at

Where: The exhibition will be held at URA Gallery, Level 1, URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road

When: Next Friday to July 28, from 9am to 5pm daily

The so-called 'Rocket Building' (above), at the junction of Circular Road and Lorong Telok, designed by Ho Kwong Yew in 1938. -- PHOTOS: JULIAN DAVISON
The Loke Yew Building on the corner of Armenian and Loke Yew streets, designed by local architect E.C. Seah in 1931. -- PHOTOS: JULIAN DAVISON


Authors such as Yu-Mei Balasingamchow will lead a tour around the neighbourhoods they grew up in. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Experience some of Singapore's neighbourhoods through the eyes of authors who grew up there.

Bookstore BooksActually and author Verena Tay have organised two tours based on Balik Kampung, a collection of eight short stories published late last year, inspired by the childhood memories of its authors.

One tour covers neighbourhoods in central Singapore, including Redhill, Braddell Heights and Old Holland Road, while the other covers neighbourhoods in the east, such as Marine Parade, Upper Changi and Changi Village.

The authors, such as Yu-Mei Balasingamchow and Yeow Kai Chai, will lead the tours, read excerpts of their stories and provide participants with personal anecdotes and memories of the neighbourhoods.

The goal of the tours, says Balasingamchow, is to get people thinking about the idea of home and how it relates to the neighbourhood, a physical place. "The tours are a way to recognise these spaces and pay homage to the past," she says.

Yeow, who is also deputy integration editor at The Straits Times, adds: "Singapore is very good at landscaping and beautifying things beyond recognition. The aim of the tours is to draw attention to some places and the subtle human stories about them that you can't read in a textbook."

Tour participants will meet at BooksActually, where chartered buses will take them to the neighbourhoods on each tour for free.

Each tour is limited to 30 participants and registration is on a first-come-first-served basis. Tour participants will receive a free copy of Balik Kampung at the start of the tour.

Where: Tours start at BooksActually, 9 Yong Siak Street

When: The Eastern tour on July 21, 2 to 5.30pm; the Central Tour on July 28, 2 to 5.30pm

Copyright © 2013 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

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