The Singapore Art Society



Established in 1949, The Singapore Art Society (SAS) is considered the first multicultural art society in Singapore.1 The society aims to foster the practice and appreciation of art in Singapore.2 SAS organises regular art exhibitions and overseas painting tours. It also administers the Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Awards and the Youth Art Awards, which are platforms for artists to showcase their works and to promote art in Singapore. Its members include Cultural Medallion recipients such as Chua Mia Tee, Lim Tze Peng, Tan Kian Por and Wee Beng Chong.3

Establishment and organisation

SAS was established in October 1949 by Richard Walker, Charles Sulisbury, Francis Thomas, Roy Morell, Liu Kang, C. A. Gibson-Hill, Phyllis MacKenzie, Suri bin Mohyani and Tok Khoon Seng.4 The objective of SAS was to “establish an independent body which could foster the practice and appreciation of art in Singapore”.5 Membership was open to any art lover, regardless of their affiliations.6 The society was noted for its multiracial artist memberships and for being well-organised.7

In 1954, SAS had a new constitution allowing for representatives from other societies and organisations in Singapore that had a special interest in the arts to sit on the SAS council. These societies and organisations included the British Council, Malay Art Society, Society of Chinese Artists, Indian Fine Arts Society, Young Men’s Christian Association Art Club, Singapore Camera Club, Malayan Institute of Architects, University of Malaya, Nanyang University, Teachers’ Training College, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, China Society and the Friends of Singapore. The Art Superintendent, Singapore, who was the local representative of the Federation of Malaya Arts Council, also become an ex-officio member under the new constitution.8 In 1984, however, the constitution was revised, and the clause that allowed for representatives from other societies and organisations to sit on the council was removed.9

Exhibitions and other activities
One of the main functions of SAS is organising exhibitions. In the first eight years after its establishment, the society held most of its exhibitions at the British Council, where it was based.10 Throughout the years, it has organised exhibitions showcasing various art forms, including paintings, photography, ceramics, sculptures, as well as exhibitions by local and overseas artists. SAS has also organised or participated in exhibitions overseas, such as the joint exhibition of paintings by artists in Singapore and Malaya in London in 1955, a travelling exhibition held in major cities in Taiwan in 1985, and the 2009 Incheon Global Cities Arts Grand Festival.11

In its early days, apart from exhibitions, SAS also conducted painting classes and weekly life drawing classes where artists sketched or painted live models, as well as organised overseas painting tours.12

In 1954, in order to “consolidate local interest in the arts”, SAS published its journal The Singapore Artist.13 It contained articles on art in general, artists and their works, as well as reports by SAS. While most of the articles were in English, there were also Chinese and Malay translations and some colour illustrations. The journal ceased publication after its third issue was published in March 1955.14

SAS, together with the Society of Chinese Artists, Singapore Watercolour Society and the Modern Art Society, initiated the establishment of the Federation of Arts Societies in the early 1990s, so as to bring together the arts societies in Singapore to promote art and culture.15

SAS administers two awards: the Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Awards and the Youth Art Awards.16 The Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Awards was inaugurated in 1979 and aims to promote art in Singapore by providing a platform for local artists to present their works.17 The Youth Art Awards, which is supported by the National Arts Council, aims to provide a platform for young artists to showcase their works and to organise high-quality public art exhibitions.18

The society continues to hold art exhibitions locally and overseas, such as The Nanyang Spirit Exhibition of Art – which was held at Art Spice Gallery in New Delhi in 2014, and Commemorating NS50 Through Art – which was held at various locations in Singapore in 2017. An overseas painting trip to Nepal was organised in 2013.19

Presidents20
1949–53: Carl A. Gibson-Hill
1954–67: Ho Hok Hoe
1968–71: Liu Kang
1972–73: Christopher Hooi
1974–80: Liu Kang
1981–83: Ho Hok Hoe
1984–95: Ho Ho Ying
1996–2009: Khor Ean Ghee
2010–: Terence Teo

Timeline

Oct 1949:
Establishment of SAS.21
1950:
Launch of first photographic exhibition on 29 January 1950.22 Its first annual exhibition of works by local artists opens on 11 March 1950.23
1954:
Inaugural issue of The Singapore Artist is published in September 1954.24 SAS also has a new constitution allowing for representatives from other societies and organisations to sit on the SAS council.25
18 Jul 1955:
First overseas exhibition is held in London.
1977:
Tan Tsze Chor, patron of SAS, donates $50,000 and starts the Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award Fund. The first Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award is presented in 1979 to the most outstanding artwork displayed at the 30th anniversary Art Exhibition. In the years to come, other donors also contribute to the fund.26
30 Sep 1984:
The revised constitution is approved at the 35th Annual General Meeting. The revisions include amendments made to the number of members and positions in the SAS council, as well as the removal of a clause that allowed representatives from other societies and organisations to sit on the council.27
28 Mar 1997:
SAS moves to 10 Kampong Eunos.28
2002:
Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award Fund is renamed Dr Tan Tsze Chor-Singapore Art Society Trust. The trust is formally registered on 17 June 2003.29
2013:
SAS is awarded the National Arts Council’s Patron of the Arts Award.30




Author
Goh Yu Mei



References
1. Kwok, K. C. (1996). Channels & confluences: a history of Singapore art. Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 KWO)
2.
Singapore Art Society News. (December 1954). The Singapore Artist, 1(2), 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 705 SA)
3.
Singapore Art Society artists' directory 1949–2014. (2015). Singapore: Singapore Art Society, pp. 7, 11, 22–38, 226, 230, 234, 235­­­. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN-[DIR])
4.
 《今日新加坡美术:新加坡艺术协会廿五周年纪念,1974》 [Art in Singapore today: Singapore art society 25th anniversary, 1974]. (1974). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, n.p. (Call no.: RCLOS Chinese 709.5957 ART)
5.
Singapore Art Society News. (December 1954). The Singapore Artist, 1(2), 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 705 SA)
6.
 《今日新加坡美术:新加坡艺术协会廿五周年纪念,1974》  [Art in Singapore today: Singapore art society 25th anniversary, 1974]. (1974). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, n.p. (Call no.: RCLOS Chinese 709.5957 ART)
7.
Hsu, M.; Lai, C. K. translated. (1999). A brief history of Malayan art. Singapore: Millennium Books, p. 116. (Call no.: YRSING 709.595 HSU)
8.
Singapore Art Society News. (December 1954). The Singapore Artist, 1(2), 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 705 SA)
9.
 新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009 [Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN)
10.
Souvenir magazine to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore and the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Art Society. (1969). Singapore: Singapore Art Society, n.p. (Call no.: RCLOS 759.95957 SIN); Kwok, K. C. (1996). Channels & confluences: A history of Singapore art. Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 KWO)
11.
新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009 [Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, pp. 18–29. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN); 星马画家展览会在伦敦帝国学院举. (1955, July 20). 南洋商, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12.
Singapore Art Society. (1969). Souvenir magazine to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore and the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Art Society. Singapore: Singapore Art Society, n.p. (Call no.: RCLOS 759.95957 SIN); A brush with Singapore Art Society. (2015). Singapore: Singapore Art Society, pp. 9, 11. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 BRU); 新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009 [Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, p. 18. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN)
13.
Ho, K. H. (September 1954). Introduction. The Singapore Artist, 1(1), 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 705 SA)
14.
Hsu, M.; Lai, C. K. translated. (1999). A Brief History of Malayan Art. Singapore: Millennium Books, p. 116. (Call no.: YRSING 709.595 HSU)
15.
Tanoto Foundation Centre for Southeast Asian Arts at NAFA. (2011). Visual Arts Group - Federation of Art Societies Singapore. Retrieved 2019, January 2 from Tanoto Foundation Centre for Southeast Asian Arts at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts website: http://tfcsea.nafa.edu.sg/arts_group_introduction.aspx?id=12
16.
Singapore Art Society. Dr Tan Tsze Chor Award. Retrieved 2019, January 2 from Singapore Art Society website: http://singaporeartsociety.com/dr-tan-tsze-chor/; Singapore Art Society. Youth Art Awards. Retrieved 2019, January 2 from Singapore Art Society’s website: http://singaporeartsociety.com/youth-art-awards/
17.
Singapore Art Society. (2018). Art Competition Form. Retrieved 2019, January 3 from Singapore Art Society website: http://singaporeartsociety.com/dr-tan-tsze-chor/sign-up-form/
18.
Singapore Art Society. (2012). Rules & Regulations. Retrieved 2019, January 3 from Singapore Art Society website: http://singaporeartsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/SAS-Youth-Art-Awards-Terms.pdf
19.
Singapore Art Society artists' directory 1949–2014. (2015). Singapore: Singapore Art Society, pp. 35–38. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN-[DIR])
20.
新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009[Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN); Singapore Art Society. History of Events (Text). Retrieved 2018, December 28 from Singapore Art Society website: http://singaporeartsociety.com/about-us/history-of-events-text/
21.《今日新加坡美术:新加坡艺术协会廿五周年纪念,1974》[Art in Singapore today: Singapore art society 25th anniversary, 1974]. (1974). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, n.p. (Call no.: RCLOS Chinese 709.5957 ART)
22.
 ‘Art’ with a capital ‘A’ – CG. (1950, January 30). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23.
 S’pore artists show talent. (1950, March 11). The Singapore Free Press, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24.
新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009[Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, pp. 20, 22, 25. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN)
25.
Singapore Art Society News. (December 1954). The Singapore Artist, 1(2), 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 705 SA)
26.
新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009[Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, pp. 22, 23, 25. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN); 《新加坡艺术协会卅周年》[30th anniversary Singapore Art Society]. (1979). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会. Available via PublicationSG.
27.
 新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009 [Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN)
28.
新加坡艺术协会画家名鉴 1949–2009 [Singapore art society artists’ directory 1949–2009]. (2010). 新加坡:新加坡艺术协会, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 759.95957 SIN)
29.
 Singapore Art Society artists' directory 1949–2014. (2015). Singapore: Singapore Art Society, pp. 28–29. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN-[DIR])
30.
Singapore Art Society artists' directory 1949–2014. (2015). Singapore: Singapore Art Society, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN-[DIR])



The information in this article is valid as at 21 May 2019 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
Art--Singapore--Societies, etc.
Organisations>>Associations>>Arts Groups
Singapore Art Society
Arts organisations