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Singapore’s beloved literary festival presents local literature to the heartlands

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From 26 Mar to 25 Apr 2021, The Arts House will present the fourth edition of Textures, an annual literary festival that celebrates Singapore literature (Sing Lit) and its diverse community. Textures will take on the form of a mobile installation and travelling library this year. The Bottled City installation will start off at The Arts House and move on to the heartland communities of Jurong, Yishun and Toa Payoh. Visitors are invited to discover and learn more about the scenes and landscapes that populate our Singapore Literatures through books, miniatures, papercut sculptures, terrariums and cross stitch.   

“The mobile presentation format for Textures 2021, our annual programme spotlighting Singapore literature is a new way through which Arts House Limited has tried to rise to the challenge during these challenging times, taking work out of the confines of The Arts House, to the heartland HDB estates to help our local writers find new readers and advocates”, says Arts House Limited Executive Director Tan Boon Hui

Textures has always been about presenting Sing Lit in different ways to find new audiences. With the current restrictions to performances as well as the ongoing renovations of the House, a physical and virtual installation seemed the best way to keep the spirit of the festival alive while reaching as many people as possible. I am excited that Poet and Artist Jason Wee is the first guest Artistic Director for Textures, bringing together the literary and visual world needed for this edition. His vision for The Bottled City has brought together a host of artists and artisans who have responded so beautifully and creatively to the written word. There is truly something to delight everyone,” says Lisa Lip, Senior Manager of Programmes and Producer for Textures. 

Jason Wee adds, ‘‘The past year gave us the language of quarantine, sheltering and social distances, which develops a sense of smallness and interiority, as our lives and worlds take place within a protective bubble. I’d like to take this smallness as an opportunity nonetheless for curiosity and exploration, to grow our fascination about others and our island, and our senses for pleasure and surprise.’’ 

Discover Alternate Worlds 

Keep a look out for these beautiful and intricately designed papercut sculptures by artist Ashley Yeo. Inspired by the shifting dualities of the protagonist twins in JY Yang’s Tensorate fantasy series, readers will be able to discover the book plates which are inserted in the books. 

Murder mystery fans can look forward to reading and solving crime themselves with the public beta launch of a unique online interactive story. In a special commission of graphic novelist and artist Troy Chin, A Red Sky at Dawn is set in 1941 Singapore: a dead body is found at the former courthouse (now The Arts House) with five witnesses who may be suspects. Imagine you are new detective Baba Leong and you are paired with an unwilling veteran, Sergeant Hugh Crawford, to solve the case. Experience a dynamically adaptive mystery determined not only by the choices you make, but also by changes over time. This is an all-new web application built, penned, and drawn by Chin which can be enjoyed on both desktop and mobile devices. 

Nature-Inspired Creations 

Featuring three distinct terrarium scenes depicting the personal journeys of protagonists, visitors will be able to view the terrariums which have been inspired by two graphic novels and a poetry collection. The terrarium creator Mossaique sees a common thread of loss and the afterlife of loss in all three books. One of the terrarium scenes is inspired by Weng Pixin’s Sweet Time, where Mossaique imagines the female protagonist sitting on a cliff after an argument with her beloved, looking to the horizon and seeing an uncertain future.  

Suffian Hakim’s novel Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher is peppered with corny jokes such as ‘a deer caught in the headlights of a rainbow-colored steamroller’ and asking a horse ‘why the long face?’ Inspired by these funny phrases and humorous takes of taxidermied animals, visitors will be able to spot cardboard trophy creations such as a horse head and deer head, created by Jason Wee and Paper Carpenter

Food For Thought 

Cake lovers will be able to admire a cake shop miniature, designed by Kin’s Miniatures. Her creation is inspired by Yeoh Jo-Ann’s Impractical Uses of Cake, featuring a cakeshop named Advocakes that sells flavours like coconut, yuzu, and baked goods that are the delicious objects of desire for the teachers in Yeoh’s novel. For those who prefer local drinks and desserts, you can feast your eyes on mini collectibles like kopi-o cups, ang ku kueh and chendol. These food miniatures highlight Singapore Siu Dai 3: The SG Conversation by Felix CheongAng Ku Kueh Girl & Friends: The Blur Sotong by Wang ShiJia and Afternoon Tea at Raffles Hotel by Fleur Vella Chang

Moving on to more thought-provoking issues like the sustainability of the food supply and how our choices contribute to climate change, visitors can view the 3D-printed objects designed by Justin Noah Chua, and fold their own paper crab following Justin’s origami instructions. His works are inspired by Eating Chili Crab in the Anthropocene, edited by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson

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