Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law, at the Assumption Pathway School Art Exhibition Opening Ceremony
12 September 2021
Good afternoon to all of you; it’s a real pleasure to be here.
Let me congratulate you first of all, on the successful launch of The Storyteller exhibition. It really represents a culmination of your hard work.
Art as integral to development
The arts play an important role in our lives as individuals, and collectively as a nation. They help uplift spirits and give expression to our shared heritage – who we are, where we came from, what defines us as a people – and what unifies us as people can be seen adorned on the walls of this Gallery. They also enhance our sense of belonging, binding us to one another as a people.
The artworks on display at this exhibition are the result of Assumption Pathway School’s recognition of these benefits. It is reflected in initiatives such as the school’s Arts Appreciation Programme and Young Artists’ Club.
They range from paintings to sculptures, and reflect each student’s unique talents and abilities. And I think the artworks also give us a little window into the thinking and mind of each student; everyone different, everyone unique. While they are inspired by the works of established artists, they also give voice to our students’ responses to the pandemic; how you see it through your own lens. How their lives have been impacted – learning sometimes disrupted, sometimes affected adversely – but constantly evolving and adapting to this pandemic, and how they have met these changes head-on with resilience. As audiences, we are privileged to experience your stories, your lens, through these artworks.
The process of artmaking can enrich us and contribute towards our learning and growth. It facilitates the building of connections between teachers and students, and among peers. It encourages the purposeful exploration of different media and formats, and the discovery of individual styles. No two art pieces are the same, and each one bears an indelible mark – the mark of the artist. It also provides a constructive outlet for expression and energy.
Today’s exhibition is the result of this rewarding process. In fact, it is made more remarkable because of the challenges you had to overcome in putting together this exhibition. I know that COVID-19 and all these Safe Management Measures have changed the way that we create art, we present art, and also as audiences how we appreciate art. So, my warmest congratulations and kudos to everyone involved in The Storyteller exhibition for not only your artistic talent that we have on display, but really your inventiveness and resilience in overcoming these challenges.
Overcoming challenges to create art
Let me highlight the experiences of two students who have demonstrated strength of character in their creation of art.
Muhammad Yassin stands out because of his enthusiasm and positivity. He’s always one of the first to volunteer for new projects, and he will do his utmost in every task – whether it is to pick up a new skill or attend a workshop. He has overcome challenging personal and family circumstances and continues to demonstrate a strong tireless work ethic and positive attitude.
Kylan Ong is another individual who has demonstrated firm commitment and utmost dedication to his craft. Kylan is a member of the Young Artists’ Club, an after-school talent management programme. Through his art, he has gained confidence and overcome his own communication difficulties to express his ideas with clarity.
I think this tells us that art form is another way of communicating. You don’t always have to speak; you don’t always have to write. Sometimes, the message is even deeper with an expression of a visual form.
My warmest congratulations to all our young artists. Each of your stories are an inspiration, showing that art can be an integral part of all our lives – as a part of who we are, what we do, and how we communicate with one another.
Increasing arts access through partnerships
This is the third year that Assumption Pathway School is partnering with National Gallery Singapore to showcase this exhibition. Such partnerships are key to broadening access and allowing more Singaporeans to experience first-hand the benefits of such an art exhibition.
The school and students not only get to reap the benefits of the artistic process, but also have the opportunity to present their works in one of our internationally renowned national cultural institutions.
National Gallery’s support of the exhibition also helps to introduce new audiences to local and Southeast Asian art, and underscores my point that the arts really is for everyone.
I look forward to even more collaborations between our schools, our community partners and our cultural institutions in future.
Let me once again congratulate Assumption Pathway School on the successful opening of The Storyteller exhibition.
I hope that this is not the end point of your artistic goals and aspirations. I am excited to see the fruits of your labour, and to encounter the tales that these artworks present and share.
I wish everyone a pleasant afternoon ahead. Thank you for having me.