Celebrating Singapore’s vibrant literary landscape, Textures – A Weekend with Words will explore and champion Singapore writing in over 30 programmes from 9 March 2018 to 11 March 2018. Co-commissioned by The Arts House and #BuySinglit, and supported by the National Arts Council, the inaugural three-day festival also emphasise the literary community in Singapore — from writers, publishers and booksellers, to translators, editors and more.
Textures invites everyone to dive in, appreciate, and enjoy the power and beauty of words. Festival-goers can choose from a gamut of activities including dramatised performances of iconic Singaporean works, panel discussions, film screenings, workshops and other programmes that traverse genres and forms.
“When The Arts House was the former Parliament House, words exchanged within these walls shaped and built modern Singapore. Today, the ability of words to touch and change lives is ever more relevant,” says Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited, “Textures is a festival that embodies The Arts House’s identity as a home of words whilst celebrating Singapore’s literary community, and the joys of reading and writing.”
The Introductory Chapter
Out of Print Exhibition
Textures offers a starting point to get acquainted and fall in love with words.
Bringing together a publisher, a book buyer and a literary agent, the panel discussion Trade Secrets is a rare behind-the-scenes introduction to the world of books. Launched in November 2017, the book Kiasunomics© follows the life of Teng from birth to adulthood, and examines the influences and outcomes of the decisions many Singaporeans make everyday. At Textures, two of the three professors-turned-authors will share excerpts from their research findings, and how the fictional characters in the book aid in explaining and presenting the results.
In Herstory, audiences get to witness Meira Chand, Catherine Lim and Suchen Christine Lim brought together on a panel for the first time. They will discuss the challenges and triumphs of their successful literary careers that has spanned several decades.
The Witness of Poetry: Emotions, Trauma and Healing workshop will explore how poetry may offer a powerful means of healing. Participants will be guided to excavate buried emotions and express them in crafted language.
At Out of Print exhibition in Gallery I, visitors explore and uncover the historical importance of 16 Singapore titles published between 1965 and 1995, and discover how contemporary reinterpretations of their covers inject fresh energy, curiosity and interest in past literary works.
Also within the Gallery I, Room of Recommendations is a showcase of local favourites titles: page-turners recommended by writers, publishers and thinkers in the Singapore’s literary scene. Visitors can also check out Room of Lost Books and Wandering Writers, an exhibition that introduces books published between the 1960s and 2000s.
After a successful run last year at Gillman Barracks, the #BuySingLit Bazaar makes its return and features established and independent writers and publishers. Stuck on you, modelled after the popular magnetic poetry sets, is an installation that invites all ages to create their own poems or pieces of flash fiction.
“The term Singapore literature is most often associated with creative writing. With Textures, we wish to broaden this association by encompassing the myriad of expressions from our literary community. Textures invites all to explore how words from and of Singapore, expressed in different ways, connect us and weave meaning into our lives.” says Jobina Tan, Head of Programming at Arts House Limited.
Beyond the pages
The Page on Stage
Textures explores creative ways of bringing literary expressions to life.
Produced by award-winning actress and producer Tan Kheng Hua, The Page on Stage features two actors performing excerpts from memorable stories by some of Singapore’s most popular writers. Characters from stories written by Gopal Baratham, Colin Cheong, Philip Jeyaretnam and Simon Tay leap off the pages and onto the stage with direction by seasoned theatre practitioner and television host Brendon Fernandez.
As part of The Arts House’s Poetry with Music series that was launched in 2017, Note for Note pairs three poets with three musicians to result in a tasting palette rich with intertwined layers of meaning and new soundscapes.
Pledge, Plays, Prose: The Literary Works of S. Rajaratnam celebrates the quiet literary contributions by Singapore’s first Foreign Minister and one of modern Singapore’s founding fathers. Excerpts of radio plays and stories written by the journalist-turned-politician will be read, followed by a panel discussion on his works and how they reveal the depth of his intellect, imagination, and idealism.
Published in 1863, William Blake’s classic poem Auguries of Innocence has been given a 21st century spin by poet Marc Nair with his rewrite and update,Auguries of Modern Innocence. In keeping with Blake’s legacy as a poet and painter, eight graphic and comic illustrators—Dan Wong, Jerry Teo, Neo Ann Gee, Chen Yan Run, Brenna Tan, Caleb Tan, Russell Ong and Wu Yanrong— have come together to bring Nair’s poem to life with their visual interpretations. The exhibition will be accompanied by an artist talk featuring Nair and other artists, and a drop-in workshop where participants will get to modernise a fragment from one of Blake’s poems and work with an illustrator to create a customised drawing.
Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure is based on the upcoming film The Wayang Kids, directed by Raymond Tan. The creative minds behind the middle-grade novel, author Eva Wong Nava and Tan, will engage in a discussion on how Singapore literature can play a part in encouraging inclusivity and preserving our cultural history.
The Writes of Passage
Making Comics! Working with others in the Sequential Art
At Textures, budding writers will get to engage with established writers, editors, and publishers to take their passion further.
In Just Write Your Legacy, audience can listen to excerpts from life stories written by seniors who took part in National Library Board’s Guided Autobiography (GAB) programme. The GAB participants will also share their experiences of attending the programme.
To provide budding writers with an opportunity to seek feedback on their manuscripts, Editorial Consultations offers 30-minute one-to-one consultations with established editors. In December 2017, Textures made an open call for manuscripts for poetry, fiction and non-fiction categories. These consultations will be conducted by publishers Math Paper Press, Epigram Books and Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) respectively.
Since Sonny Liew’s Eisner triumph, there is a surge of interest in Singapore comics. Making Comics! Working with others in the Sequential Arts is a three-hour workshop for ten writers and ten artists who will collaborate in pairs under the guidance of Lim Cheng Tju and Benjamin Chee, the writer and artist team ofGuidebook to Nanyang Diplomacy, and Dave Chua and Max Loh of We’ll Eat When We’re Done. Through practical exercises, each pair will explore how writers and artists work together to produce comics and try their hands at creating their own sequential stories.
In other words
Hear Stories! Tell Stories!
In this weekend with words, festival-goers can also enjoy programmes that celebrate the plurality of languages in Singapore.
New Malay-language publisher, Unggun Creative will present Tanjong Katong Airnya Biru — a reading of excerpts of stories from a newly launched anthology of the same name, accompanied by a wayang kulit performance. Recitals of Yesteryear – Kata-kata Kita is a performance-talk that discusses the impact of Malay children’s songs from the 1950s to 1980s. Veteran writers Maarof Salleh and Eunos Asah will be featured in a poetry recital and forumPoetry as Social Commentary or Fleeting Memory as they discuss the role of writers in advancing the Malay literary scene.
In the mood for words is a multidisciplinary performance and installation set to a personal collection of Chinese prose by established theatre practitioner Neo Hai Bin. The participatory and interactive elements invite audiences to enter the writer’s mind for a glimpse of his ruminations and inspirations.
In the workshop-performance Hear Stories! Tell Stories!, children will learn how to tell a great story in Tamil while New Trends in Tamil Writing will feature a panel of writers reading passages from new literary works and sharing their thoughts.
Exploring the world of translations, Textures traces the intricacies and sensitivities in the art of preserving meaning across different languages.
In Building Bridges: Culture and Language in Translation, Singaporean Malay-to-Chinese translators Chan Maw Woh and Wing Chong open doors into the rich and layered world of local and regional Malay literature, illuminating significant Malay writers and their works and examining the latest developments in contemporary Malay literature. Both speakers will also discuss the challenges and rewards of serving as a bridge between two worlds — how the act of translation goes beyond mere linguistic interpretation to elucidate and embody a culture’s spirit and essence.
Humanities lecturer Dr Nazry Bahrawi will discuss Uttering is Feeling: Poetry of Dissent, the latest Malay poetry collection by Cultural Medallion recipient Mohamed Latiff Mohamed. In this talk, Dr Nazry will also comment on its translated version vis-à-vis its Malay original.
Date: 9 March 2018 to 11 March 2018
Venue: The Arts House
Time: 10 am to 11 pm
Public admission for all programmes is free except for The Page on Stage and Note for Note. Advance registration for selected programmes is recommended due to limited seating capacity. For more information and to pre-register, please visit theartshouse.sg/programmes/textures-a-weekend-with-words/ or join the conversations on www.facebook.com/theartshouse.
Textures celebrates the power and beauty of words. It invites audiences to experience and appreciate how words give us the ability to express ourselves as well as give meaning to our lives and the world. With its profound ability to connect and unite whether spoken or written, words breathe life into the vast breadth of human thought and feeling.
In this weekend of words, we also celebrate Singapore writing and the people who contribute to it. From mastering the craft to those building a community of writers and readers, they are all part of the weave and the fabric of our literary landscape.
About The Arts House
Occupying an almost 200-year-old building that was home to Singapore’s first parliament, The Arts House continues in the distinguished tradition of this gazetted national monument and now plays a key role in the country’s arts and creative scene. The Arts House at the Old Parliament, as it is affectionately referred to, promotes and presents multidisciplinary programmes and festivals within its elegant spaces. It focuses in particular on the literary arts, celebrating the works of written and spoken word artists from Singapore and beyond. As a key partner of the annual Singapore Writers Festival, the House is the hub of this premier literary event and organises some of the key festival highlights.
The Arts House is run and managed by Arts House Limited. For more information, visit www.theartshouse.sg.
#BuySingLit is an industry-led movement to celebrate stories from Singapore. Advocating ‘Buy Local, Read Our World’, homegrown book publishers, retailers and literary non-profits have come together to encourage more people to discover and embrace Singapore’s literature. Through buying and reading local works, you support the writers who bear witness to our lives, as well as the businesses in our community that deliver these stories to us. Most of all, you will experience the profound joy of unravelling the multi-faceted world around you.
About Arts House Limited
Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL manages two key landmarks located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District – The Arts House, a multi-disciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming, and the Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, a heritage building that is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It also runs the Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses, and performing arts space Drama Centre. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performance and interdisciplinary arts in Singapore commissioned by the National Arts Council.
AHL was set up in 11 Dec 2002 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) under the National Arts Council and was formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House Limited on 19 Mar 2014.
All photos courtesy of The Arts House