National Gallery Singapore launches online festival for children to play, learn with art

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A first-ever online art festival for children to play, learn and create with art was launched Monday in Singapore, as part of efforts to bring more art experiences to audiences amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Presented by the National Gallery Singapore, its biennial children's festival, Small Big Dreamers, returns for its second edition with a digital twist, said the National Gallery Singapore in a media statement.

This year's "#SmallBigDreamersAtHome" festival runs from Monday to March 28, 2021, even as the gallery remains temporarily closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

An interactive website will host fun and engaging activities for children aged six to 12, featuring close to 30 interactive games, hands-on activities, and videos inspired by artworks from Singapore and Southeast Asian artists.

These are designed to let them unleash their inner artist while learning about artworks within the national collection and beyond.

Suenne Megan Tan, director of audience development and engagement at National Gallery Singapore, said it is a chance for parents to engage their children with art, even as more families spend time at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"#SmallBigDreamersAtHome allows children to learn while being in their element with the online platform and ignites their imagination through creative play. We hope that it will serve as a springboard for new and regular visitors to take their own self-guided adventures into the world of art," she said.

As they scroll through the website, visitors can learn about the artistic process, as well as interesting facts and details behind each artwork.

These range from learning about still life painting as shown in Singaporean artist Georgette Chen's "Tropical Fruits", ink painting in Yeo Shih Yun's "My INK-credible Adventure" and the use of lines in Indonesian artist Sudjana Kerton's "Gamelan Orchestra" piece.

Using the collection of activity sheets, children can also take part in arts and crafts projects, such as how to make a pendulum painting, a 3D house and shadow art.

They also get to play with interactive games which educate them on the artmaking techniques used within the artworks.

The children can also explore a series of on-demand tutorial videos facilitated by educational experts, independent artists, and illustrators, and get inspired to embark on projects of their own.

Storytelling sessions along with sit-down chats with artists, educators and curators will join the line-up later this year.

The festival is supported by the Gallery's development partner, Tote Board.

Fong Yong Kian, chief executive of Tote Board, said that they are seeing new ways of community engagement - from online classrooms for students to teleconferencing with vulnerable seniors.

"These are trying times but organisations are adapting to new ways of operating, and Tote Board is ready to support the Gallery in devising novel unconventional ways of bringing art to the people."

"A dose of art and fun for the whole family can be especially beneficial to mental and emotional well-being," he added. 

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