This March, get ready as The Arts House’s Textures: A Weekend with Words returns to breathe life into literature through a smorgasbord of arts events. Themed “These Storied Walls”, the third edition of the festival dives deep into the venue’s many identities and history. From a Scotsman’s planned estate to a courthouse, assembly house, our nation’s first parliament, and now Singapore’s literary arts centre, the walls of The Arts House have been etched with many stories; imagine the fantastical tales they would tell if they could speak to us. In this celebration of local narratives, Singapore’s writers, artists, and performers will come together to create more stories for the walls to tell, celebrating both The Arts House’s past as a heritage site and its present as Singapore’s home for local literature.
This year’s edition features an array of interactive elements that animate Singapore literature, ranging from VR experiences, audio-visual exhibitions, and interactive installations to bridge audience with storytellers and stories. Shared Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited (AHL): “In the last 3 years, The Arts House continues to fulfil one of its key mandates to grow Singapore’s literary arts centre – where literature and its community continue to be celebrated. For this year, Textures takes on the theme ‘These Storied Walls’, and through a marriage of technology and storytelling, infuses a new sense of energy into The Arts House – an important landmark in the Civic District. Through Textures, we hope to invite readers to be part of the intricately woven tapestry and collectively, strengthen the fabric of our literary landscape”.
In this third edition, the festival is led by Lisa Lip, Senior Manager of Programmes and Producer for Textures, who commented: “As our annual festival celebrating Singapore literature, we wanted this edition of Textures to be more immersive by reimagining how visitors can engage and interact with literature beyond adaptive performances. As such, this year’s programming features more installations and participatory activities that require visitors to go a step further — move a bit closer, look a little longer — to get the most out of the experience. The theme ‘These Storied Walls’ reminds us of The Arts House as a heritage building, but more importantly it also alludes to a sense of uncovering the undiscovered. Also, having to listen closely to others as well as ourselves to discover the complex layers behind the works of our authors and artists”.
Out on the The Arts House Lawn, look forward to two installations by local illustrators Drewscape and Troy Chin. The illustrator behind popular children’s series Sherlock Sam, Drewscape’s world will be brought to life in a giant lenticular cube that children can enter and explore from within. Surprises can also be found in the form of QR codes embedded in In Universe— the accidental collision of different universes of Troy Chin’s work caused by one of his characters, Phoebe Su.
Search the house and find hidden nooks like House of Cheah, which recreates the studio of local comic artist Cheah Sin Ann, known for creating Singapore’s first English language daily cartoon strip The House of Lim. Here, visitors will get to step into his “office” and see some of his best work displayed around the room.
Come face to face with spooks in Sorta Scary Singapore Stories, a VR installation by Tusitala in collaboration with four local illustrators. View 360° digital illustrations interpreting extracts of four local horror stories via VR headsets and audio recordings. A tip: go a little closer and you’ll be privy to even more details. You can also catch Tusitala’s Christine Chong together with Sing Lit Station’s Charlene Shepardson and writer Troy Chin in Digital Singlit for a discussion on how digital platforms can be used to change the way we experience literature.
Also bringing the supernatural to life is master storyteller Kamini Ramachandran with sound artist FERRY in O/Aural Waves — Spirited Words. This experiential installation explores the superstitious within the realms of religion, culture, and spirituality. During the day, the installation will feature storytellers recounting tales in the four national languages. In the evening, Kamini will arrive to tell the stories live accompanied by FERRY’s live foley where audiences can create and add their own sounds to the soundscape and be a part of the storytelling process.
Come on down to the Book Clinic and listen to certified “book doctors” who will prescribe a SingLit book to match your mood. Then head to the pharmacy – the #BuySingLit Book Bazaar, to pick up your prescription, and then drop some fan mail off at the Dear Author mailbox to thank your favourite authors.
At the film gallery, Our Monster Tongue’s Say What Ah? lets you put your ears up against the walls as voices from the literary community read their favourite SingLit extracts. For something a little lighter, wander around to find a pair of roving performers in a crosstalk style conversation inspired by Felix Cheong’s popular humour series Singapore Siu Dai, with plenty of hilarious musings to be learnt at Cross-Talk Siu Dai Pop Ups.
Listen to the sounds of the gamelan in Panggilan Pulau (An Island’s Call), a performance inspired by selected poems from Annaliza Bakri’s anthology Sikit-Sikit Lama-Lama Jadi Bukit, while Nazry Bahwari’s lecture-performance Rasa Sarang (라사 사랑) The Translator’s Dilemma explores concepts of translation through Mohammed Latiff Mohamed’s short story K-Love.
Goddesses of Words is back to present double-bill theatre performance Angry Indian Women. Created and performed by Grace Kalaiselvi, Pramila Krishnasamy, Mumtaz Maricar, and A Yagnya, the production examines identity politics by responding to poems by Pooja Nansi and Deborah Emmanuel in a fiercely unapologetic showcase. Meanwhile, Marc Nair’s Handbook of Daily Movement reinterprets Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with choreography by Sudhee Liao andmusic by Mantravine to explore our modern motivations and anxieties.
In Sollum Swaramum — சொல்லும் ஸ்வரமும, poems are read aloud alongside classic songs from Tamil cinema of the 1930s to the present. Literary groups Kelana Pantun Temasek (KPT) and MatterLess (所谓诗社) will also be presenting poetry in new ways, with KPT’s pantun performance Penghulu Di Kota Batu, while MatterLess presents a dramatised poetry reading in re:VERSE 4.0.
Workshops, talks and panel discussions will also be taking place throughout the festival, with a talk by Kite in the Evening Sky author Mr Shaik Kadir, panel discussions with Chinese travel writers in 《一段旅程，一段故事》, and a panel discussion about genre with local writers Desmond Kon, Gwee Li Sui, and Yeow Kai Chai in Crossing Writing Genres: The Demands of Craft.
Get some hands on experience across various workshops, such as Contemplating Morality: Writing About Illness & Death, where Desmond Kon guides on writing about death and illness, while filmmaker Saleem Hadi teachers about character construction in Creating Characters — Tamil Writing Workshop. For the kids, let them go on a blast to the past with Adventures of Kampong Boy, allowing them to learn about old-fashioned games and Malay traditions like ketupat-making in this participatory performance.
Kids can also have fun recreating the past by dressing up in costumes representing 1950s Chinatown in The Story of the Redscarf 《辛苦了，红头巾》(Chinese storytelling for Kids). Led by Patrick Yee, parents can join in the fun too in Patrick Yee’s Magical World of Illustration, a hands-on workshop where parents and children can create and draw their own books together.
This edition of Textures then, is set to be a full-on interactive experience, with installations to activate your imagination by adding new dimensions to stories, and plenty of activities, performances and experiences to be enjoyed over the festival period. Re-discover the joy and beauty of literature and reading with the Arts House, as Textures returns this March.
Images courtesy of Arts House Limited
Textures 2020 runs from 13th to 22nd March 2020 at the Arts House. Tickets and full programme lineup available here