Gallery Children’s Biennale: Interview with Suenne Megan Tan

Suenne Megan Tan, Director of Audience Development & Engagement at National Gallery Singapore
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The inaugural Gallery Children’s Biennale takes place from 20 May to 8 October 2017 at National Gallery Singapore. We speak with Ms Suenne Megan Tan, Director of Audience Development & Engagement at National Gallery Singapore, about this new event
on the Singapore children’s calendar.

Little Day Out: What can we expect at the inaugural Gallery Children’s Biennale?

Suenne: Gallery Children’s Biennale is an art exhibition specially curated to captivate the imagination of young visitors. Taking place once every two years, Children’s Biennale features interactive art showcases and performances created by artists for children and parents to introduce and further the understanding of art of Southeast Asia in an engaging and educational way, through discovery and exploration.

The Children’s Biennale also complements the Gallery’s permanent exhibitions, by extending the art experience beyond the confines of traditional exhibition spaces and taking art into the public spaces of the Gallery, to enable a holistic and engaging learning journey for our young visitors.

A key aim of the Gallery Children’s Biennale is to incubate, pilot and research new approaches of art engagement, within a museum context, where artists and visitors function as partners and contributors toward a shared learning experience. While this advances the development of art education and the learning of art by an individual, it also transforms museums into active learning environments in which people can feel, think, look and respond, moving comfortably from what they know to new areas of knowledge.

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Leveraging on the whole museum as a place for learning, Gallery Children’s Biennale will feature highly interactive artworks in the Gallery’s public spaces, which are created by artists specially for children and their parents. Each art installation is created with accompanying activities and ideas for discussion that aim to spark the imagination of young minds, and generate creative thinking for a new generation of Singaporeans.

Little Day Out: Why did National Gallery Singapore feel that this was the right time to launch the Gallery Children’s Biennale?

Suenne: The Gallery strongly believes that art education plays a huge role in the development of our future generations. The younger generation represents the future workforce, and they must be able to think innovatively to compete internationally. Hence, we are always looking at ways to engage with young learners to nurture an early interest in the arts by showcasing how it can be fun, inspirational and educational. Through the Children’s Biennale, we hope to create a platform where younger visitors and their parents can come together to explore fresh perspectives and innovative methods of art engagement.

Little Day Out: Why was the theme of Dreams & Stories chosen?

Suenne: Gallery Children’s Biennale is premised on the belief that every child is creative – everyone dreams and has stories to tell – and we want to activate their senses, and enable them to express their thinking, ideas and emotions through the universal theme of ‘Dreams & Stories’.

The first edition of Gallery Children’s Biennale welcomes the inner child in every one of us, regardless of age, to embark on this creative journey to explore the world through the eyes of nine artists from Singapore and beyond. We believe that, just as every person has a story, so does every artwork.

Art ignites imaginations, evoke emotions, captures cultural values and expresses aspirations. Through the different forms of art and the stories they tell, visitors to the Gallery Children’s Biennale will come to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

Little Day Out: What are some of the highlights that families can look forward to at Gallery Children’s Biennale?

Suenne: Gallery Children’s Biennale brings together a myriad of interactive art installations and activities specially curated for children and parents to embark on a journey of discovery.

National Gallery Children's BiennaleThere will be ten installations and new commissioned works by artists from Singapore and beyond, namely Chng Seok Tin, Mark Justiniani, Yayoi Kusama, Vincent Leow, Lynn Lu, teamLab, Tran Trong Vu, Ian Woo and Robert Zhao. Ranging from art installations to performance art, the different forms of art present an inspiring sensory experience for the young visitor.

For a fuller experience, visitors to the Children’s Biennale can pick up a Gallery Children’s Biennale Art Pack and use it to help uncover the stories behind the artworks in the Biennale. Produced as a learning resource, the art pack contains activities and ideas for discussion, which are designed to enhance the appreciation and understanding of the art on display, and provide children the opportunity to reflect and express their own thoughts and creativity. Art packs are available at $5 per pack at the Gallery.

In conjunction with the Children’s Biennale, a series of public programmes, film screenings, special tours for families, and artist led workshops for children have been lined up. Visitors can also look forward to an outdoor festival in August. Spanning across four months, there is something for everyone to explore and discover at the Gallery Children’s Biennale.

Little Day Out: What do you hope visitors will take away from a visit to the Gallery Children’s Biennale?

Suenne: Every artwork tells a story. Artists may create works inspired by stories of imaginary places or characters from myths, legend and folktales, and introduce us to people from long ago, or describe places that we have never seen. Other times, artists create works to express their beliefs and concerns about the world we live in.

By engaging artists to create works accessible for the children, allowing them to touch, stick, walk, browse, organise and even perform an artwork, the Gallery hopes to bring young audiences closer to the usually distant, if not venerated, art pieces. We hope that visitors will be inspired to revisit works of art in the Gallery and contemplate the ever-changing ways in which art constitutes a larger story of ourselves. We hope that the Gallery Children’s Biennale will inspire and cultivate an interest in art amongst our young visitors, helping to nurture the next generation of art lovers.

Gallery Children’s Biennale

Dreams & Stories
20 May to 8 October 2017
Ticketed and free activities
Tel: 6271 7000

READ: Gallery Children’s Biennale: Dreams & Stories at National Gallery Singapore

READ: 6 Things You Should Know About the Gallery Children’s Biennale 2017

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