Laughter and giggles filled the halls of the National Gallery Singapore, which hosts the Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: Embracing Wonder showcase.

The second edition of the biennale, which runs until Dec 29, aims to inspire young, curious minds through 11 interactive and multi-dimensional artwork by 13 Singaporean and South-East Asian artists – including two pieces by renowned Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho.

The gallery’s audience development and engagement director Suenne Megan Tan said the biennale aims to spark curiosity of its young visitors about the world around them, encourage openness to discover diversity and imagine new possibilities.

“Inspired by a child’s unfettered imagination and ability to embrace all things new, the works will activate their senses and reignite their sense of curiosity, excitement and wonder,” said Tan.

Several artwork in the showcase take a look at exploring nature to encourage imaginative play.

Visitors can embark on a journey into the unknown with Filipino artist Mark Justiniani’s Stardust: Soaring Through The Sky’s Embrace, which features a 16m bridge.

While crossing the bridge, visitors can look down at what appears to be an endless rock formation that glimmers and glows, as they encounter a galaxy of cosmic elements. The installation is the third iteration since its launch in 2017 – and Justiniani has since been invited to take part in the Venice Biennale this year.

Singaporean artists Hazel Lim-Schlegel and Andreas Schlegel invite visitors to go on a sensory adventure in The Oort Cloud And The Blue Mountain. The 3D wall relief art is motion-activated and engages viewers with LED lights, sounds and handmade objects inspired by cosmic landscapes and objects.

In Every World, Donna Ong transports visitors to five magical landscapes inside frosted domes, each enclosing a unique ecosystem from English and tropical gardens to the worlds inhabited by cacti and mushrooms to an underwater world and an underground universe.

The journey continues in BIG HUG by the husband-wife duo of painter Milenko and sculptor Delia Prvački, where visitors are introduced to the big ideas that form the connections to a diverse, everyday world depicted through paintings and ceramics. The interactive environment allows children to explore the concepts of family, friendship and teamwork through activities that inspire compassion and empathy, while imagining themselves in different professions.


This installation brings to life the popular story of Karung Guni Boy written by Lorraine Tan and illustrated by Eric Wong. Ming, the Karung Guni Boy, loves to collect and find new uses for old items. Photo: National Gallery Singapore

Several pieces in the biennale encourage visitors to explore diversity through other cultures, such as Eko’s Kenangan Kunang-Kunang (Memories Of Fireflies), an interactive installation of colorfully lit Javanese paper lanterns. Another is The Other Wall, a large-scale art installation by Myanmar’s husband-wife duo, Nge Lay and Aung Ko, which offers a rare glimpse into a typical Myanmarese childhood.

Visitors can also have fun composing their own tunes at Chance Operations by Song-Ming Ang, who is representing Singapore at the Venice Biennale.

The interactive installation is a massive wind chime made of thousands of steel pipes of various lengths, painted brightly with a decorative motif in green, blue, yellow, red and pink. It is equipped with 350 ping pong balls that visitors can throw against the makeshift musical instrument to compose spontaneous tunes.

Singaporean writer Lorraine Tan and illustrator Eric Wong’s Karung Guni Boy is brought to life with The Story Of Karung Guni Boy installation. There, visitors can put on their “tinkering caps” to create new inventions out of recycled materials just like Ming, the boy in the award-winning children’s book who collects old items and uses his imagination to create new inventions.


The Other Wall installation reflects an idyllic life in the countryside of Myanmar, also known as the Shwe (golden) land. Artists Aung Ko and Nge Lay have tried to recreate the lives of the Shwe people by casting everything, even the plants, in gold. Photo: National Gallery Singapore

The gallery’s Keppel Centre for Art Education, which won the 2018 Children in Museums Award, presents three reimagined spaces to introduce children to art at an early age and spark new ways of learning.

In one of them, visitors can board Dayung Sampan – Be Your Own Captain On Deck by Singaporean sculptor Zainudin Samsuri and interact with sculptures like large propellers, a giant foot resembling a sampan and a birdcage that offer limitless ways to explore their imagination.

Tan said that the gallery strongly believed in the huge role art could play in children’s development: “Art is a place for children to learn about themselves, trust their ideas and explore what is possible, all of which are important in enabling children to become confident, independent thinkers.” – The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network