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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Weekend of talks on Chinese art

Chinese Art Weekend to be held at the end of this month.
The Straits Times - September 17, 2012
By: Huang Lijie
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Weekend of talks on Chinese art PHOTO: SPH

Art lovers and aficionadoes have a new annual event, the Chinese Art Weekend, to mark on their calenders.

The inaugural two-day affair, to be held here at the end of this month, is devoted to talks by academics, curators and experts on Chinese art.

The event is organised by wine columnist and publisher Ch'ng Poh Tiong.

Speakers at the event include Ms Rosemary Scott, the international academic director for Asian art departments at auction house Christie's, and Mr Shane McCausland, a reader in the history of art of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) at the University of London.

There will be four 45-minute lectures on each of the two days and they will cover a spectrum of topics to cater to audiences with different levels of interest in art.

Ms Scott, for example, will be giving a lecture on the broad theme of interpreting decoration on Chinese ceramics. Mr McCausland, on the other hand, will be offering a lecture that goes deeper into the life and art of master painter and calligrapher Zhao Mengfu, who lived during China's Yuan dynasty from 1254 to 1322.

Mr Low Sze Wee, director of curatorial and collections at The National Art Gallery Singapore, will be giving a talk on the celebrated modern Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong and his links to Singapore.

The programme also includes general lectures on art such as the topic of buying and collecting art, which will be conducted by gallery owner Ben Janssens, who owns an eponymous Oriental art gallery in London.

Mr Jean-Francois Milou, principal architect and lead partner of Studio Milou, the designer of The National Art Gallery Singapore, will also be giving a lecture on the art of reusing buildings.

Mr Ch'ng, 56, an avid art lover with an interest in Chinese art, acknowledges that there have always been lectures on Chinese art here but he notes that they are mostly ad-hoc. He hopes the annual Chinese Art Weekend will provide people with a regular opportunity to learn about Chinese art.

He says: "I also wanted to challenge myself to create, organise and continue an arts event that in the years to come, people who have attended it regularly will find it rewarding."

He adds that another key feature of the event is that the lectures, despite being about Chinese art, are all delivered in English.

He says: "People who are conversant in Mandarin have no problem accessing information on Chinese art but people who can speak and write only English are less fortunate."

He chose to launch the event here because he believes Singapore is "a great catchment area" for the burgeoning demand for Chinese art in South-east Asia.

As for the decision to debut this year, he says the timing is appropriate as he had just completed a post-graduate certificate course in Chinese art at Soas last year.

He says: "If I organised it in the past, people might ask, 'What gives you the right?'"

About 40 per cent of the 388 seats for each lecture have been sold since ticket sales began about two months ago. The lectures on buying art and collecting ceramics are more popular and have sold more than 60 per cent on average.

He says: "My greatest motivation is for young people to come and learn about Chinese art. Their attendance would be my main measure of success."

Book it


Where: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel Singapore
When: Sept 29 and 30
Admission: $28 a lecture and $48 for a transferable pass that includes admission to all eight lectures
Info: E-mail or call 6732-2591


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