Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Singapore Calligraphy Annual Exhibition 新加坡书法年展

The first Singapore Calligraphy Annual Exhibition was held from 3 to 8 September 1981 at the National Museum Art Gallery. It was then known as the First National Calligraphy Exhibition.
Since then, it has been held 29 times annually till this year. The event is organised by the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.
At the first exhibition, there were 112 pieces of calligraphic works on display by 50 calligraphers, aged between 19 and 81. One must admire the organisers’ good foresight of starting this annual event, especially at a time when the event was marked by a report filed by a newspaper with a big heading ‘Dying Art?’. The report started with three disturbing questions: ‘Is Chinese calligraphy a dying art in Singapore? Should it be taught as a subject in schools? What is its relevance to us in modern living?’ It also noted that ‘calligraphers are becoming a rare breed as fewer of the younger generation take an interest in it because even fewer are able to teach it’.
The report also quoted someone who said, ‘Who wants to see those unintelligible scribbling and blotches of black ink?’
Over the years, the organisers have obviously proven their critics wrong. Today, Chinese calligraphy is definitely not a dying art in Singapore. In fact, more people are learning the art and the number of calligraphy classes conducted by various organisations has increased considerably. At the Singapore Calligraphy Centre alone, there are more than 40 classes attended weekly by about 500 lovers of calligraphy.
The annual event has definitely played a positive role in maintaining a high level of interest of the art in Singapore. It is to be expected that many of the calligraphers who participate in the exhibitions over the years are also actively involved in calligraphy teaching.
This year, it was held from 25 to 28 April 2009 at the Lee Kong Chian Hall at the Singapore Calligraphy Centre.

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