I am sure many of us have, in our lives so far, encounter departures of loved ones, treasured objects, shifting locations, or simply having to say goodbye, quite reluctantly.
The house at 13 Wilkie Terrace has stood in the same location for 77 years now, will be saying goodbye to the Chia family who have lived there all these while. It is a bittersweet goodbye. It is an old, old house, with most of the original features (doors, windows, tiles, paint, toilets, etc.) still intact, very much used and treasured by the family. The house holds precious memories for the family, and instead of just packing up and moving on, some members of the family decided to share this experience and story with everyone.
The little idea sprung during a causal conversation among Yen Phang (artist and also a family member of the Chia family) and his friends. Soon, it became bigger, with 15 artists from different background and fields coming together to create artworks for the exhibition. Besides the artists, the team also grew with friends that volunteer their expertise in different areas to curate and run an exhibition. From coordinators to campaigning for sponsorships; planning and organising, everyone has no specific task but somehow fit and gel together, taking initiative to handle what needs to be taken care of to run the show. The exhibition became bigger and it is an event. The house has brought these people together and created an event, to say goodbye.
An obvious personal charm and influence the house contains is that she has aged. She has seen how the country and society has changed over these 77 years, yet nothing has changed much in her. She stood quietly there, providing shelter and warmth for the family within her, allowing each member of the family to come back to love and familiarity, no matter what great changes they have to go through in their lives. This charming spirit is perhaps the main reason how the kampong spirit is evident during the preparation of this event. Everyone working in this event helped in big and small ways.
The theme DISPLACEMENTS was set for the event, and what better ways it is to have everyone to enjoy art together, to meet new friends, to share life experiences (and regrets) and to say goodbye to the house. The collective display of the artworks and art activities bring strangers together, friends and love ones closer, and reminding us not to take people and things in our lives for granted. Hopefully, through this experience, we also learn, or find an answer to the next displacement in our lives.
Karen and Alex Mitchell
Matthew G. Johnson
Sören Niewelt & Jessica Larbig
Participating Artists for Community Sharing:
Chee Wei Teck
NAFA and LaSalle students
Displacements events from 2nd to 23rd June 2013
13, Wilkie Terrace Singapore 228027
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Written and photographed by Karen Mitchell