It is in our human nature to seek out appreciation – and in these moments, we exude our fullest potential. By knowing that we are recognised, valued and, therefore, significant. And for those who actively pursue appreciation and meaning, try walking through an art gallery – especially one that is designed to stimulate, thought provoke and exercise inquisity. One like Sky Deep, an art exhibition held at the UOB gallery in collaboration with the Pathlight School for Autism.
The exhibition features 16 unique art pieces, showcasing the unbridled expressions of the artists. Like forms of beauty that come in various shapes and sizes. The same can be said of confidence – delving from the impressively large art work to the humbly small painting that offers more than skin deep glimpses of their creators”
Ms Rhoda Tan, Vice President, Group Strategic Communications and Customer Advocacy of UOB believes that this platform has encouraged people with different abilities to gain more confidence.
Varying from Chinese ink on rice paper to acrylic and marker on wood or canvas, the art pieces represent the different worlds of the artists. For a skill that demands a high level of organisation, motor skills and creative expression – the paintings are detailed, vivid and very well conceptualised.
We chat to Ms Loy Sheau Mei, Senior Vice Principal of Pathlight School and Ms Jacelyn Lim, Deputy Executive Director, Autism Resource Centre and Head, Employability & Employment Centre about the conception of Sky Deep:
Intersection : Is this the first time that Pathlight has ventured into such an exhibition?
Ms Loy Sheau Mei : We held our first art exhibition in 2011 when we launched our Artist Development Programme (ADP). It was held in school and featured works by 8 artists then.
In January 2015, we held our inaugural public art exhibition, “Art for Autism: Diversity” at The Fullerton Hotel. The exhibition, featuring 58 new works by 17 student artists from the school’s award-winning ADP, was a celebration of the diversity of talents and the unique perspectives of people with autism.
Since then, we have been blessed by many partners like UOB who recognise the talents of our students and invited to participate in several art exhibitions.
Intersection : How did this collaboration with UOB come about?
Ms Jacelyn Lim : We share a common belief in supporting inclusion and celebrating abilities. This is evident in all our collaborations with UOB so far.
The partnership between Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) and United Overseas Bank (UOB) first started in 2013 when UOB worked with our Employability and Employment Centre (E2C) to look at hiring adults with autism for one of their job functions. To date, they have employed 17 adults with autism at its UOB ScanHub and this has been a very successful employment model.
In 2014, through our frequent interactions, UOB came to know about the school’s art talent programme called Artist Development Programme (ADP). This is a programme that was initiated in 2011 to identify students with special artistic abilities and help develop their talent from young.
UOB invited our students to participate in its annual 34th UOB Painting of the year competition in 2015. Our Pathlight student, Ezra Chan, aged 16, who is also an ADP artist, participated and won the Most Promising Artist of the Year award (Emerging Artist Category for Singapore). Following his win, UOB formally invited Pathlight School to exhibit his work, together with 13 of his fellow ADP artists’ works at its gallery.
Intersection : What does this mean for the students? How do they feel about having their artwork displayed in a public space?
Ms Loy Sheau Mei : The students were proud to see their works on display. They were brought to see their exhibition at the UOB Art Gallery and the first thing they did was to look for their own piece and asked to have a picture taken of them with the piece on display. They were also very ready to share their inspiration of their work, even though some of them may not be very verbal. But they were all able to share their perspective through their work in their own unique ways
Parents are obviously very proud of their children’s achievements. Some of them never imagined that they would one day see their children’s works exhibited in such reputable public places. They have seen how their children have grown in confidence both as a person and an artist.
Every opportunity to showcase the works of artists with autism is a platform for us to enable more people to understand and celebrate the talents and abilities of these special people. Such exhibitions contribute to the artists’ growth and development. They help to broaden their horizons and build their confidence and self-expression to share with others their interests and inspirations for their art pieces.
Intersection : What are some of the responses that you’ve got? Especially from the parents of the students themselves.
Ms Loy Sheau Mei : Parents are obviously very proud of their children’s achievements. Some of them never imagined that they would one day see their children’s works exhibited in such reputable public places. They have seen how their children have grown in confidence both as a person and an artist.
Every opportunity to showcase the works of artists with autism is a platform for us to enable more people to understand and celebrate the talents and abilities of these special people. Such exhibitions contribute to the artists’ growth and development. They help to broaden their horizons and build their confidence and self-expression to share with others their interests and inspirations for their art pieces
UOB Art Gallery, 80 Raffles Place, UOB Plaza 1 Ground Floor, Singapore 048624
Now to 27 March 2016
Monday to Friday: 9.00am to 6.30pm
Saturday: 9.00am to 2.00pm
The exhibition is now on at the UOB Gallery, UOB Plaza 1 Ground Floor, until 27 March 2016. Subsequently, the works will be dislayed at The Art Faculty at The Enabling Village at 20 Lengkok Bahru, from 2– 30 April 2016.