Arts Fiesta Workshops Promote Multiculturalism

by Elizabeth Goh

batik MCC president batik paintings henna workshop (2) henna workshop
The president of the Malay Cultural Club explains about batik painting. |Photo by Elizabeth Goh

Batik painting, Chinese paper cutting and henna painting were three of the free workshops conducted to tie in with the festival’s SG50 throwback theme

The annual Arts Fiesta returned not only with a theme celebrating Singapore’s golden jubilee, but also with a brand new component – free lunchtime workshops from Nov 4 to 18.

Sponsored by the Student Development & Alumni Relations Office (SDAR), the three workshops were held outside Munch @ Seventy3 every Wednesday, from noon to 2pm. Activities from different cultures like batik painting, Chinese paper cutting and henna painting were demonstrated for about 80 people.

These workshops were organised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Malay Cultural Club (MCC), Chinese Calligraphy Club (CCC) and Indian Cultural Society (ICS).

The lunchtime workshops were organised following the good response to a screen-printing workshop and gave everyone a chance to interact with art, instead of simply watching concerts and performances. The workshops were based on the Arts Fiesta’s SG50 multicultural theme, focusing on traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian art forms.

“(The participants) have some sort of interaction and get to bring (the art) home. Rather than being just a passive participant, it allows them to be more active and take part in it. For a lot of the workshops, there’s some sort of skill that you learn,” said Ms Petrina Loh, organiser of the lunchtime workshops and a Student Development Officer from SDAR.

According to Nisha D/O Jeyamohan, Projects Head of ICS, the henna painting workshop hoped to boost the festive mood amongst Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s students as it was conducted a few days after Deepavali. It also aimed to promote and foster strong bonds among Singapore’s different cultures.

Silmi Afiqah Binte Mohamed Ali, President of MCC and a final-year Arts Business Management student, agreed. She believed that these workshops were a good way to be informed about the practices of different races.

She said, “It opens up a space for dialogue to discuss the origins and use of the art forms in a certain culture, and how it affects them today. Art is ingrained in many cultures, and it is a good medium to learn about one another.”

However, CCC faced a problem – the duration of their workshop. CCC’s student coach, Year Two Lin Jing Wen from Accountancy, said that students might have been reluctant to join the paper cutting session as they needed time to eat their lunch.

“(It was) a bit rushed for the helpers. Some participants advised us to put the workshop from 1 to 3 pm or even later, as they were too hungry. Many just take a look but hesitated to join as they wanted more time for lunch,” she said.

Jace Lyn, a first-year Early Childhood Education student, was one of the participants who enjoyed the henna painting workshop and said that she would come again next year.

“I think it’s very intrinsic and you can choose different patterns. We can learn that there’s actually not only one type of henna; there’re different designs, traditional and simple. Some people may not be able to do henna themselves, so this gives them a chance to do it in school.”

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