Returning for its third edition this month, National Gallery Singapore will be bringing its popular Children’s Biennale to more children around the world through its first-ever “phygital” experience. Guided by the inquiry “Why Art Matters”, the Gallery Children’s Biennale seeks to empower children to navigate the changing times with empathy and confidence through playful and interactive art experiences that explore topics relevant to the times such as Home, Diversity, Time and Environment.
The Biennale’s online experience launches on 22 May 2021, making the children’s art programme accessible to local and international audiences. This is followed by on-site art installations at the museum which open to the public from September 2021. By going “phygital,” the Biennale also offers double the fun for local audiences as they get to participate in more and new ways, from creating digital art through a finger swipe to exploring immersive installations at the Gallery. In a time of physical restrictions, the hybrid format also fosters the connection between children and artists, with the majority of the online works allowing children to co-create with established international artists and connect with peers around the world through the artworks.
The Biennale will feature online works and on-site installations by 9 renowned artists and art groups: Dinh Q Lê (Vietnam), husband-and-wife duo Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan (Philippines/Australia), Jeremy Sharma (Singapore), Joyce Ho (Taiwan), Khvay Samnang (Cambodia), Nandita Mukand (Singapore/India), Nona Garcia (Philippines), Sandra Lee (Singapore), and Speak Cryptic X ADDADDADD (Singapore).
Further cementing the Gallery Children’s Biennale as a global leader in children’s art experiences, the Gallery has partnered with Groninger Museum in the Netherlands to launch the first Dutch KinderBiennale in June 2021. This follows its successful partnership with Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) in organising Europe’s first Children’s Biennale in 2018.
Ms Suenne Megan Tan, Director of Audience Development & Engagement at National Gallery Singapore says, “The role of art in nurturing critical thinking and building character in children is more important than ever in these changing times. Art matters, not least for children, and we are excited to be able to take the Gallery Children’s Biennale global with our first-ever ‘phygital’ Biennale, as well as our international partnerships with the Groninger Museum and SKD. Our new hybrid online and on-site format makes it possible for us to reach out to children in and beyond Singapore, and connect them with international artists and each other through art.”
A digital journey of creative exploration and character-building through the 4 topics
The digital experience is accessible via the microsite, where children will be able to embark on a myriad of online adventures with interactive online games, immersive animated stories and digital artmaking as they engage with the 9 commissioned artworks.
The Themes of the Gallery Children’s Biennale
Categorised according to the themes of Home, Time, Diversity and the Environment, the works look to inspire children to embrace the values of acceptance, openness and diversity, in addition to providing them with a space to unleash their creativities. On top of the 9 digital artworks, children, aged 0 to 3, 4 to 7 and 8 to 12, will also be able to participate in other online activities such as tutorials, sonic and somatic workshops, storytelling sessions and games inspired by the artworks as part of the digital experience.…
Artworks under the theme of Home will explore the notions of home and community, and what it means to be working together for a greater good. For example, Speak Cryptic X ADDADDADD’s collaborative artwork, BEHOME is a series of interactive games and stories revolving around the humble bee, and how bees work and care for each other within their hive community. As they play through the different activities and learn more about the honey-making process, children will gain a better understanding of how every individual can make a positive impact on the community around them, regardless of their size. In a world still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, the concept of showing care and support for one’s community is an important lesson that the work hopes to impart to young audiences.
Children are empowered to creatively express themselves and tell their personal stories through artworks that touch on the theme of Diversity. In Dinh Q Lê’s Voices From The Centers, children will learn to create a 60-second video in response to an artwork from the National Collection, using digital weaving techniques inspired by Lê’s signature photographic weavings. There will also be an online gallery for cultural exchange, where audiences can browse through user submissions and discover interpretations of the various artworks from the National Collection by children from around the world. Through this artwork, children will not only be introduced to the National Collection in a fun and engaging manner but also get the opportunity to creatively express themselves on a public platform.
Children will also gain a better understanding of the concept of time through artworks such as Joyce Ho’s A Day’s Book. The work invites children to share their stories on the microsite by signing up for 30-minute timeslots to access the artwork page and share their anecdotes of the day in a digital diary. At the end of each day, the ‘diary’ is completed, documenting a full 24-hour day through an amalgamation of 30-minute snippets contributed by young participants. To enhance the experience for children, the digital contributions will be transformed into physical children’s books available for browsing as part of Ho’s complimentary on-site installation at the Gallery in September 2021. Through Ho’s work, children will be able to discover what a particular time of the day looks like for other children and learn about how the passage of time is experienced differently around the world.
The artworks under the theme of Environment will touch on the pertinent issues of environmental damage, such as climate change, the animals around us, and how the use of plastics affects our environment. In Sandra Lee’s Conversations with an Octopus, children will get to immerse themselves in a beautifully illustrated interactive story about a girl and her wise old friend, the Octopus, as they go on various adventures such as sailing through the ocean and exploring an underwater library. Along the way, children will gain more environmental awareness as they get to learn about the problems facing our world today, such as plastic litter in the oceans, and what they can do to play a part in tackling the issue through interactive elements in the story.
Spreading Gallery Children’s Biennale’s spirit of play to the rest of the world
Inspired by the 2019 edition of Gallery Children’s Biennale and its mission of stimulating young, curious minds through art and imaginative play, Groninger Museum will be co-organising the inaugural KinderBiennale with the Gallery from early June to January 2022. Taking inspiration from the Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019 theme “Embracing Wonder”, the Dutch Children’s Biennale will feature three works from the 2019 edition by artists Eko Nugroho, Donna Ong and husband-and-wife duo Andreas and Hazel Lim-Schlegel. Groninger Museum will also be sharing the Gallery Children’s Biennale 2021 microsite on its digital platforms to support the shared aim of connecting children around the world through art.
Andreas Blühm, Director of Groninger Museum says, “At the Groninger Museum, we believe that knowledge-sharing should be reciprocal – we have equally as much to learn from children as they have to learn from us. The extent of imaginative and collaborative play that the Gallery Children’s Biennale encourages is something we found especially inspiring, so we decided to introduce it to the Netherlands. We are grateful for the National Gallery Singapore’s invaluable support and expertise as we work together to launch the inaugural Children’s Biennale, and we look forward to further collaborations that will encourage greater engagement of art amongst children.”
The Gallery also has an ongoing partnership with SKD, which saw the two institutions collaborate on Germany’s first Children’s Biennale in 2018. Inspired by the success of the 2018 Biennale, which drew more than 110,000 visitors, both institutions are working on the next edition of the SKD Kinderbiennale.
Dr Marion Ackermann, General Director of SKD says, “We are heartened by the success of our first Children’s Biennale, which not only saw encouraging visitorship numbers but more importantly also introduced contemporary art to new audiences and provided opportunities for the public to engage in dialogue. We are excited to continue partnering with National Gallery Singapore on future editions of the Children’s Biennale.”
Gallery Children’s Biennale is proudly supported by Development Partner Tote Board, Strategic Partner Cultural Matching Fund, Major Partner Keppel Corporation and Supporter Deutsche Bank.
Mr Fong Yong Kian, Chief Executive of Tote Board says, “Tote Board is glad to continue to support the Gallery Children’s Biennale. The Biennale serves to develop our younger generation through art, in the areas of creative thinking, confidence building and self-expression. We look forward to this year’s edition of the Biennale, which will bring families and children around the world together through meaningful interactions with art.”……
The online experience for Gallery Children’s Biennale will be available from 22 May 2021 to December 2022 at childrensbiennale.com. The on-site installations for Gallery Children’s Biennale will be available from 4 September 2021 to December 2022 at National Gallery Singapore. Details about the on-site installations will be announced later. Please visit www.childrensbiennale.com for more information about the exhibition.