Eng Tow



Eng Tow (b. 1 October 1947, Singapore–1) has been lauded as one of Singapore’s most outstanding local female artists of the 1980s.2 She began her career as a tapestry artist working with different textiles3 but later ventured into other art forms such as printmaking and papermaking.4 Her works have received critical acclaim both locally and overseas.5

Education
Eng studied art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) in Singapore6 and then left for England to further her studies.7 Upon completing her foundation studies at the Coventry College of Art in 1969, she was admitted to the Winchester School of Art in Hampshire.8 She graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours,9 and went on to the Royal College of Art in London10 to pursue a Master of Arts.11


Career
After obtaining her master’s degree in 1974,12 Eng worked in London as a freelance textile designer for several years, selling her works to companies such as Courtaulds and Designers Guild.13 Her designs were represented in Europe and the United States.14 With a grant from the Crafts Council, Eng set up a workshop with fellow artists and craftsmen in 1977, teaching, exhibiting and designing in various parts of the United Kingdom (UK).15

In 1981, Eng relocated back to Singapore.16 In her home country, she kept herself busy with numerous contracts including creating works for the Land Transport Authority (LTA),17 working with interior designers and designing endpapers, book covers, tapestries, furniture and accessories, as well as theatre props and sets.18 In 1990, Eng held papermaking workshops at the National University of Singapore’s School of Architecture, and in the following year, conducted plant-drawing workshops for children at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.19

Throughout her artistic career, Eng has been both an artist and an educator. Between 1976 and 1981, she lectured at various institutions in the UK – Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education,20 Trent Polytechnic, West Surrey College of Art, and University of London Goldsmiths College. She was also a visiting lecturer at the National University of Singapore’s School of Architecture in 1988.21 From 1996 to 1999, she served as an adjunct staff member at the Curtin University of Technology’s School of Art in Perth, Australia. This was followed by a stint as the course supervisor for Curtin University in their Singapore campus in 2000. In that same year, she was also a member of the Foundation Course Advisory Committee for the LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore.22

Stylistic conventions
Eng is known for her textile paintings, or “cloth reliefs”,23 some of which have won critical acclaim. The Washington Times considered her cloth piece “White on White” (1983), which was part of a travelling exhibition in the United States (US) in 1991,24 a work that represented a modest reinvention of conventional art media.25 Although her early career revolved around textiles, she started developing an interest in printmaking and papermaking in the 1980s.26 Since then, her works have revealed a mixed-medium and interdisciplinary approach.27


Eng’s art has been described as intense and she constantly strives to push the boundaries of her artistic knowledge and style as well as the materials she uses.28 For some of her paintings, the brushes were made traditionally out of chopsticks and bamboo leaves.29 Her work process is laborious, and a piece may take many months before it is completed – a reflection of her desire to constantly explore where her materials can take her.30

Most of Eng’s works reveal her passion for nature,31 as she has stated: “My present inclination is to be as simple, fresh and natural as possible; to express myself as directly as a child’s first drawing so that the conception and execution approach fusion when I put a mark on paper".32

Solo exhibitions
1977:
 Wall Hangings, 21 Antiques Gallery, London, UK.33

1982: Works on Cloth, Goethe-Institut, Singapore.34
1983: Contemporary Textile Art, Citibank, Singapore.35
1987: Dari Laut (From the Sea) New Works in Paper and Cloth, Goethe-Institut, Singapore.36
1988: Works in Cloth and Paper, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong.37
1991: Works in Progress, Erica Underwood Gallery, Perth, Australia.38
1992: Reflections, The Gallery, Fort Canning Centre, Singapore.39
2015: Grains of Thought, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.40

Selected group exhibitions
1974:
 Degree Show & Convocation, Royal College of Art, London, UK.41

1975: Textprint II, The Design Centre, London, UK.
1976: Inaugural Show, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.42
1977: High Standards Queen's Silver Jubilee Celebration, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK.43
1978: Exhibition of Contemporary Quilts, The American Museum, Somerset, UK.
1979: Tapestries of Today, Contemporary Art Society, Reed House, London, UK.
1979: Homespun to Highspeed: A Century of British Design, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK.
1980: Contemporary British Crafts, Sotheby’s, London, UK, and Munich, Germany.
1981: Textilkunst, Institut für Kunstlerische Textilgestaltung, Linz, Austria.
1982: British Needlework, National Museum of Modern Art, Japan.
1983: Summer Show, British Crafts Centre, London, UK.
1984: 25 Years of Art in Singapore, National Museum of Art, Singapore.44
1985: Second Contemporary Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Museum, Japan.45
1986: Second Contemporary Art Show, National Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea.46
1988: Singapore Contemporary Artists, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong.47
1988: Choice Objects, UK.
1989: Washi Workshop 1989, Tokushima, Japan.
1989: Contemporary Art in Singapore, Amsterdam and Groningen, Netherlands; Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Mannheim and Nürnburg, Germany; and Glasgow, Scotland.48
1990: 3rd International Biennale of Paper Art, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Duren, Germany.49
1990: Modern Art Travels East-West, World Trade Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands.50
1991: 25 Years of Art from Singapore, Washington DC, US.51
1991: Creation, International Exhibition of Paperwork, Hall of Awa, Tokushima, Japan.52
1995–1996: International Paper Symposium, Kyoto, Japan.
1998: Art in the World Exhibition, Paris, France.53
1999–2000: Dreams 1900-2000: Science, Art and the Unconscious Mind, New York, US and Vienna, Austria.54
2001: Chinese Whispers, The Study Gallery, Dorset, UK.
2001: The Big Picture, Melbourne, Australia.55
2002–2003: Singapore Modern Art in the 1970s, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.56
2005: Art of the Second Generation, NAFA, Singapore.57
2006: Highlights of SEA Collection, National University of Singapore Museum, Singapore.58
2010: Singapore in Southeast Asia: Constructed Landscapes, National University of Singapore Museum, NUS Centre for the Arts, Singapore.
2014: A Changed World: Singapore Art 1950s–1970s, National Museum of Singapore.59

Awards and fellowships
1977: New Craftsmen’s Grant, Crafts Council, UK.60

1978: The British Crafts Award (Tex), Telegraph Sunday Magazine, UK.61
1986: Fellowship, Asian Cultural Council, US.62
1989: Fellowship, Japan Foundation, Japan.63
1991: Artist Residency, Curtin University, Western Australia.64



Author

Adlina Maulod



References
1. Lim, R. (1990). Singapore artists speak. Singapore: C.H. Yeo, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN)
2. Cheah, U.-H. (2000, November 18). Views of 2nd-generation S’pore artists. The Business Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Chua, C. (1982, February 28). Art. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Wong, S. (1992, August 20). Nature’s reflections. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
5. Long, S. (1996, June 23). Nature at the tip of her paint brush. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
6. National University of Singapore Museum. (2015, March 2). South and Southeast Asia Collection. Retrieved 2016, August 15 from National University of Singapore website: http://www.nus.edu.sg/cfa/museum/asia.php
7. Straws in the wind. (1978, July 25). The Business Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Lim, R. (1990). Singapore artists speak. Singapore: C.H. Yeo, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN)
9. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
10. Chia, W. H. (1987, March 22). Eloquence of humble cloth and paper. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ngui, C. (1987, March 20). Catches from the sea. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Mohan, B. (1978, December 22). Two S’pore artists making their names in London. New Nation, pp. 12–13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Chua, C. (1982, February 28). Progressive textile craft has come a long way since the Sixties: Eng. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Savage, C. (1987, March 23). Cloth works that have rippling effects. The Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tinsley, B. (1983, September 29). Cloth sell… works well. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. What draws them back? (1981, September 7). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. National Heritage Board. (2015, October 23). A textile print by Eng Tow. Retrieved 2016, August 15 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/learn/collections/listing/2006-01447
18. Wee, C. (1981, October 8). Eng Tow, fabric designer: My two rooms. The Straits Times, p. 5; Chua, R. (1984, November 3). A salute to teamwork. The Straits Times, p. 1; Fish skin, coconut shells, coral... blend them m your living room. (1989, July 16). The Straits Times, p. 13; Holmberg, J. (1988, February 29). Spectacle in the park. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Eng, T. (n.d.). Eng Tow. Retrieved 2016, August 16 from Eng Tow website: http://www.engtow-artist.com/work.html
20. Mohan, B. (1978, December 22). Two S’pore artists making their names in London. New Nation, pp. 12–13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
22. Eng, T. (n.d.). Eng Tow. Retrieved 2016, August 16 from Eng Tow website: http://www.engtow-artist.com/work.html
23. First Hong Kong show for Eng Tow. (1988, March 20). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Sullivan, M. (1991, July 17). Singapore art impressesThe Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Gibson, E. (1991, May 27). Eclectic Singapore art survey misses the mark. The Washington Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
26. Sabapathy, T. K. (1987, March 24). Fluid expressions of the sea and marine life. The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. My art, my works and my hopes. (1989, January 18). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Sabapathy, T. K. (1985, December 12). Art as a continuous process. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Wong, S. (1992, August 20). Nature’s reflections. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Ngui, C. (1987, March 20). Dive into Eng Tow’s deep blue world. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Yeo, S. (1994, June 11). Under the banyan tree. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Lim, R. (1990). Singapore artists speak. Singapore: C.H. Yeo, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN)
33. Spiced by passion and verve. (1977, December 30). New Nation, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Sim, A. (1982, November 11). Cloth art. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Tinsley, B. (1983, September 28). Art on cloth. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Ngui, C. (1987, March 20). Catches from the sea. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. First Hong Kong show for Eng Tow. (1988, March 20). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
39. Wong, S. (1992, August 20). Nature’s reflections. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Huang, L. J. (2015, November 10). Welcoming wings. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
41. Lim, R. (1990). Singapore artists speak. Singapore: C.H. Yeo, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN)
42. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
43. Lim, R. (1990). Singapore artists speak. Singapore: C.H. Yeo, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN)
44. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
45. Lim, C. (1985, September 15). A sense of something stirring. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
46. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
47. Sabapathy, T. K. (1988, May 11). Local art goes HK. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
48. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
49. Sasitharan, T. (1990, May 24). Gallery. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
50. Treat for modern art enthusiasts in Singapore. (1990, April 29). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
51. Sullivan, M. (1991, July 17). Singapore art impressesThe Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
52. Eng, T. (1992). Reflections: Works by Eng Tow. Singapore: Deutsche Bank, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 ENG)
53. Eng, T. (n.d.). Eng Tow. Retrieved 2016 August 16 from Eng Tow website: http://www.engtow-artist.com/exhibitions.html
54. Cheah, U.-H. (2000, November 18). Views of 2nd-generation S’pore artists. The Business Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
55. Eng, T. (n.d.). Eng Tow. Retrieved 2016, August 16 from Eng Tow website: http://www.engtow-artist.com/exhibitions.html
56. Nayar, P. (2002, November 22). Back to the future. The Business Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
57. Ngiam, Y.L. (2005, September 23). First S’pore Art Show promises to be a feast. The Business Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
58. Eng, T. (n.d.). Eng Tow. Retrieved 2016, August 16 from Eng Tow website: http://www.engtow-artist.com/exhibitions.html
59. National Arts Council. (n.d.). Singapore’s visual artists: Part 2 (Artists A–F). Retrieved 2016, August16 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/singaporeartsscene/visualarts/SVA.html
60. Chua, C. (1982, February 28). Progressive textile craft has come a long way since the Sixties: Eng. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
61. British award for S’pore designer. (1978, July 24). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
62. Savage, C. (1987, March 23). Cloth works that have rippling effects. The Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
63. United Overseas Bank. (2004). The 23rd UOB painting of the year competition – 2004. Retrieved 2016, August 15 from UOB website: http://www.uob.com.sg/assets/pdfs/poy2004_annex2.pdf
64. Sorry. (1991, August 30). The New Paper, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Eng Tow [Ephemera].

(Call no.: RCLOS EPHE P46)

Kwok, K. W., Arun M., & Sasitharan, T. (Eds.). (2002). Selves: The state of the arts in Singapore. Singapore: National Arts Council.
(Call no.: RSING 700.95957 SEL)

Tan, S. Y. (2003). Art in transit: North East Line MRT – Singapore. Singapore: Land Transport Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 747.8531 TAN)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Arts>>Visual Arts>>Printmaking
Eng, Tow, 1947-
Arts>>Printmaking and graphic arts
Artists--Singapore--Biography
Visual Arts