Artist Fadhlin A.G. finds her first Chingay foray a fruitful one as working with residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh and Marymount helps her rediscover the meaning of art and community.
She sent in her proposal on a lark, unsure as to whether the People’s Association would take to her ideas for Chingay. But to her surprise, she was accepted as the lead artist for one of the 17 PAssionArts-Chingay50 Mini Floats. The Circle of Life Mini Float represented the ideas and aspirations of the residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Marymount SMC.
Artist Fadhlin A.G. is 32, and a fine arts major from the LaSalle College of the Arts. She teaches painting at the primary and secondary school levels and conducts art workshops at tertiary institutions.
But Chingay50 took her to the community where she worked hands-on with the people young and old, learning about them and their community, and working with them to transform their ideas into a 3D sculpture.
Around 135 residents from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Marymount SMC worked on painting recycled compact discs with their memories, before assembling into a sculpture representing the continuity of life. It was an artwork that personifies security, warmth and hope.
Starting From Zero
While Fadhlin had been involved in events, and even public works, nothing has come close to Chingay.
“I’d not done large-scale events,” she confessed. “I didn’t know much about Chingay either, though a few of my friends had been involved before… I thought it was all about performance and wasn’t aware there was a category for visual arts. Plus, as a Jurong girl I didn’t know much about Bishan, Toa Payoh or Marymount. This opportunity allowed me to explore the area in Singapore as well as the Chingay culture.”
Sharing and Learning
Fadhlin spent a week in the community and got to know them a lot better.
“I talked to the residents and shared my videos and vision,” she says. “I learned the history of these areas, and interesting places and things going around their HDB, such as installations in Toa Payoh.”
“It wasn’t easy,” she reveals, “it may have looked simple in concept but to combine all their stories together, I needed to understand to put them in sequence.”
The shape of the Circle of Life symbolises continuity, no end nor beginning. And the CDs were a perfect shape to convey the message.
“It was fun working with the different age groups. The kids share with me what happened in school, what they did when they visited shops and playgrounds. And older residents shared what’s happening in their lives, and the history of the place such as the old buildings that used to be around,” adds Fadhlin.
A Sense Of Community
One word encapsulates the feeling of working on Chingay for Fadhlin “wholesome”.
“From initially not knowing much about Chingay to now, I realised this is the kind of work I’d like to be involved in,” she says. “I like to work with people when I’m doing arts, the involvement with the community, meeting so many talented people. There’s passion in them that makes me want to be like them, to be passionate about my work.
“Chingay is truly related to what’s happening in Singapore, to what’s going on in the community. And I really feel like I’m part of Chingay when I saw the float move.”
Hopes and Dreams For Chingay
Fadhlin hopes Chingay will endure as a Singapore institution, to allow for more talents to be uncovered, be it in performance or visual arts.
“The longer the Chingay tradition endures, the more we can see talented people come out to play,” she says. “There are more and more people getting involved in arts, so there’s really a big future for Chingay as more and more in the arts industry can actually work together to create this Chingay tradition.”