Singapore, 16 October 2015 – Singapore honours four distinguished arts practitioners with the Cultural Medallion (CM) in recognition of their contributions to the development of our arts and cultural scene. The Young Artist Award (YAA) was also conferred on seven artists aged 35 years and below, who are making a mark through their artistic dynamism and outstanding potential to be key contributors in the artistic community.
Cultural Medallion (CM)
2 Four artists will be conferred the CM by the President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, they are:
- Chua Mia Tee
One of the most respected realist painters in Singapore, Chua has contributed several seminal works that explore everyday life in Singapore and chronicle the development of our history and are now part of the National Collection. Renowned for his skill in creating oil paintings, Chua continues to demonstrate artistic excellence and even his current works are well-collected by private and public collections. Most recently, Chua created an iconic portrait of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, for the $50 commemorative note produced to mark Singapore’s 50th year of independence.
- Haresh Sharma
A playwright recognised for creative versatility, Sharma’s works range from experimental pieces and interdisciplinary projects to dramatic social commentaries. With over 100 plays to his name, Sharma has consistently produced outstanding works with a distinct Singaporean flavour. Some his award-winning works like Fundamentally Happy (2006), Good People (2007), and Gemuk Girls (2008) typify the socially conscious bent of his writing. His piece Off Centre (1993) became the first Singaporean play to be included in the Ministry of Education’s ‘O’ Level syllabus for English Literature. Sharma’s works have also been recognised both locally and overseas, which include the most recent 2014 S.E.A. Write Award for literary excellence. For his contributions to local theatre, Sharma was also conferred the Young Artist Award in 1997.
- Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao)
Lim is a leading figure in the promotion of Chinese literary culture in Singapore. His varied writings deal with the major themes of our contemporary society and the mystery of human nature. Lim’s works have been translated to critical acclaim internationally, and with his role as a mentor to budding writers and in various writer residencies, his contributions to Chinese Literature truly extend beyond his original works. Most recently, Lim was awarded the Singapore Literature Prize in the Fiction category for Lin Gao Wei Xing Xiao Shuo in 2014.
- Margaret Leng Tan
Tan has established a prolific career as a virtuoso pianist and an innovative multi-toy instrumentalist who occupies a unique and important space in avant-garde music internationally. Tan first made history as the first woman to earn a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Juilliard in 1971, and then as the first Singaporean musician to perform on Carnegie Hall’s main stage in 2002. Alongside her achievements on the international stage, Tan remains closely connected with Singapore’s artistic scene. For her pioneering work in the arts, Tan was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Young Artist Award (YAA)
3 The seven YAA recipients, who will receive their awards from Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth are:
- Chun Kai Feng
Chun is well-known for his sculptural and installation works, inspired by notions of collective memory and socio-cultural icons. Kai Feng has a long list of accolades, including a prestigious High Commendation at the 25th UOB Painting of the Year in 2006. Chun’s work has been exhibited extensively overseas in public collections in Hong Kong’s M+ Museum as well as at the Singapore Art Museum. This year, Chun was among the few Singaporean artists selected to participate in the XXIXe Ateliers Internationaux du FRAC des Pays de la Loire residency in conjunction with Sing-France Festival in France.
- Chun Kai Qun
As a visual artist, Chun’s works are underlined by an interest in the social biography of objects relating to notions of identity, manifested as dioramic installations and sculptures. A co-founder of LATENT SPACES, a curatorial group that reinvents idle spaces as experimental exhibition venues, Chun often activates the larger arts community by making accessible unconventional arts spaces for collaborative ideas. Chun is a recipient of the Merit Award for the 3rd CDL Sculpture Award (2007) organised by the Singapore Art Museum, and has participated extensively in exhibitions, residencies and collaborations both in Singapore and internationally.
- Diana Soh Li Ling
Soh is recognised as a prolific young composer in the international contemporary music scene, known for integrating interactivity, theatre and electronics in her music. With her musical flair and unique approach, her compositions are varied, spanning choral music, opera, orchestral and chamber works as well as interactive electronic music. She has participated in numerous highly acclaimed international festivals and has worked with internationally acclaimed composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Wolfgang Rihm, Beat Furrer, and Isabel Mundry. An advocate for the sharing of musical ideas and music education, she has also served at the University at Buffalo as well as in the School of the Arts.
- James Tan Khoon Song
Committed to producing intricate lighting design with high production quality across art forms and performance genres, Tan has collaborated with leading theatres and companies in Singapore, including prominent series and festivals. Although his work is primarily behind the scenes, James’ designs have travelled abroad in various Asian productions. The first Singaporean to be awarded The United States Institute for Theatre Technology YD&T Lighting Design Award, Tan is dedicated to grooming and mentoring the next generation of technical theatre professionals.
- Kirsten Tan
Tan is a prolific writer and director known for creating a rich body of highly acclaimed works recognised for their humanity, sensitivity and deadpan humour, often exhibiting nuanced observations of life and emotionally evocative cinematic experiences. Her works have been screened in over fifty international film festivals, with her recent accolades including the L’Atelier Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival for Popeye. While currently based in New York, Tan remains very active in Singapore’s film scene and was part of the pre-selection jury for the Singapore Short Film Awards 2015 and was the co-founder of the Asian Film Archive.
- Loo Zihan
Loo is a performance and moving-image artist and educator who has created a body of incredibly keen, thought-provoking and interrogative art. His notable works have been described as having strong performative use of space and narrative, often studying tensions and multiple perspectives on Singapore's history and society. Loo has devoted himself to developing the next generation of creative minds, as an educator at the School of The Arts, and Nanyang Technological University Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information and Art, Design and Media.
- Muhammad Riduan Zalani
Riduan is an exceptional percussionist and educator who has influenced significant developments in Singapore’s drumming scene. An active percussionist, producer, creative director and leader, his sensibilities and innovative ways in the art of drumming and community engagement have made him a sought-after performer and an advocate for the value of arts. Riduan is skilled in an array of drum practices including drums of the Malay Archipelago, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian drums and has taken his music around the world, representing Singapore in renowned music, folklore and dance festivals internationally.
4 CM and YAA recipients will have access to the CM Fund and YAA grants respectively to support recipients' continuous artistic pursuits and their efforts towards advancing Singapore’s artistic development for the benefit of society. As part of the NAC’s capability development efforts, the grant quantum for YAA recipients to undertake arts projects or studies within two years of receiving the award is $20,000. The grant allocated to each CM recipient from the Cultural Medallion Fund, to be used for a single project or multiple projects over the recipient's lifetime, is $80,000.
5 “It is gratifying for us to be able to recognise and celebrate the achievement of our Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award recipients. As individuals, they have each made indelible contributions to our cultural landscape with their unwavering pursuit of excellence in their respective fields. Their creativity and perseverance inspire young artists and Singaporeans alike,” says Ms Kathy Lai, Chief Executive Officer, NAC.
6 The public is also encouraged to look out for the Cultural Medallion Speaker Series in the upcoming months ahead, where they will have the opportunity to meet the esteemed CM recipients, and hear their personal stories. The Cultural Medallion Speaker Series was first introduced in 2012, and is a platform for recipients that year to engage with the wider public through sharing about their artistic philosophies and journeys.
Please refer to the following annexes for more information:
Annex A– Profiles of the Cultural Medallion 2015 recipients
Annex B– Profiles of the Young Artist Award 2015 recipients
Annex C – List of Specialist Assessment Panel Members
Annex D – A Look at 36 Years of the Cultural Medallion