after the red lights
all images by J
It's a great sign that there's been, in the last couple of years, more residency and gallery spaces initiated by arts practitioners. Great because I hope it's a sign that there's a larger sense of community, and a recognition that coming together, instead of staking out turf, is the way to outgrow our small pond/island mentality.
Of course, in the late 80s, there was already the Artist Village, and the late Kuo Pao Kun's The Substation at Armenian Street. The former no longer exists as a physical space, but the latter still survives today with its small blackbox theatre, a gallery, classrooms and a courtyard that has been turned in a live-music cafe/pub Timbre. And early this year there was Emily Hill
Nonetheless, these "artist communes", studios and cafes have always inhabited cities, whether planned or unplanned. Wherever the real estate is affordable, typically in depressed neighbourhoods, artists have always found their way there. Over time, their presence would lend not only life but a level of "desirability" to the place. City planners have sometimes used the arts therefore to revitalise neighbourhoods, introducing art programmes to their schools or community clubs.
But as always, I digress! Friends, what I really want to introduce is post museum by the good folks behind p-10.
Located at the end of Rowell Road (yes, that infamous red-light lane in Little India), Post-Museum takes over 2 shophouses and gives them a new coat of paint and reinforced flooring, while stripping bare their walls to reveal the raw bricks underneath. Bricks and mortar aside, the space comprises artist studios, a room for an artist-in-resident, offices, a exhibition space/gallery, a library and a new vegetarian cafe called Food#03 with its own in-house baker!
Level 2 studio spaces at Post-Museum
This Saturday, J and I went down to a small fundraising show at the Post-Museum where artist Chua Koon Beng showed 18 charcoal sketches of the different people who have contributed to or interacted with the project - construction workers, a designer, a baker, an artist, the owner of the shophouses, the foreman...
We have always enjoyed the projects curated by p-10 that we have managed to see, such as this or that. But what I've always enjoyed and admired is that not only do these folks really do make things happen, they've kept their hearts and heads in the right places, and they are open about it.
J tells me, for instance, how he likes the fact that among the objectives listed on their simple A4 photocopied introduction, one bullet point reads "Making improvements to our lives and the world we live in". Another 2 bullet points read "Reponding to our location and engaging the community in it" and "Making greater connection between the arts and the society at large". When we spoke to JE, one of the p-10 team, about their location at Rowell Rd, she had said matter-a-factly that they hoped to also bring a new and different energy and life to the street as the space evolved.
These objectives are not what anyone would normally declare given all our easy cynicism. But if it is important, then saying it is the first step to doing.
And how amps wish the team well with these objectives over the next decade or even more!
Post-Museum is at 107-109 Rowell Road. The team is looking for corporate partnerships and private investment. You can:
> Leave a message here or at the p-10 blog if you or your company/organisation is interested. The last I heard they are looking for a sponsor for some hardware/electrical fittings for their exhibition space, and any other form of corporate partnership.
> Check out the works by Chua Koon Beng, which are for sale between $1,000-12,000 to raise funds for the programmes of the Post-Museum.
> Visit the gallery or bring some friends for a meal at Food#03 when the place is completed by the end of this month.
> Take the chance to first visit the Museum of Shanghai Toys a few shops down at 83 Rowell Rd!