The Gathering has closed on 25 Mar 2022 and we thank all of you for your generous support!

Kreta Ayer Square, Chinatown
by Wong Lip Chin, curated by John Tung
the gathering
About

The Gathering: 千岁宫 (Qiānsuì gōng) recreates opportunities for an elegant gathering (雅集: Yǎ jí) inspired by the winding stream party experience (流觞曲水: Liúshāng qū shuǐ), and set within a Chinese garden. The new site-specific art commission continues local artist Wong Lip Chin’s ongoing interest in developing multi-modal art experiences delving into the intricacies of Chinese culture and history and is produced and curated by Singaporean curator and exhibition-maker John Z.W. Tung.

Beyond its existence as a site-specific installation paying close attention to the history and architecture of the space, the holistic experience extends beyond visuals to engage the olfactory and auditory senses through the artist-led tea and incense experience, taking place on weekends, that forms an integral part of the artwork concept. This participatory artwork is a novel installation concept steeped in culture. Emerging as an oasis within the iconic heritage site, the artwork extends beyond visuality to serve as a platform for experiences.

In developing the project, Wong’s extensive historical research and employment of antiques and precious materials towards creation of the installation celebrates both intangible and tangible Chinese heritage. By cherishing what has been valued for centuries and adapting it for the contemporary audience, the installation exists as the manifestation of the ideorealm (意境: Yìjìng) — the soul of the Chinese aesthetic experience, ever-present but nigh-untranslatable. The Gathering: 千岁宫 accords the rare opportunity of encountering a time beyond our own.








The Gathering: 千岁宫
25 feb – 25 mar 2022
Kreta Ayer Square, 21 Banda Street, Singapore 050005
9 am – 7 pm, daily

@thegathering.chinatown (Instagram)
facebook.com/thegathering.chinatown


winding stream The Winding Stream Party: Tea and Incense Experience

Winding stream parties (流觞曲水: Liúshāng qū shuǐ) date back more than 1600 years, where Chinese literati (scholar-officials) would seat themselves along the banks of a coursing stream and compose poems as cups of rice wine float down to reach them. Re-envisioning the experience for contemporary audiences of all faiths and cultures, an intricately constructed table with a winding stream feature within the garden serves as the main gathering place for a tea and incense pairing experience hosted by the artist, Wong Lip Chin.

Drawing on his extensive and growing body of research on tea and incense culture, Wong’s thoughtful selections and pairings are sure to tantalise the tastebuds and invigorate the olfactory senses while intimating its evolution and permutations through history. Informed by traditional Chinese medicine, teas and incense that will be utilised during the experience have been blended and crafted by himself. Served on a set of exclusive tea ware, made from Singapore clay, and specially crafted for the programme by Kim Whye Kee of Qi Pottery, the experience offers an elevated encounter with the self and others.

26 / 27 feb , 5 / 6 / 12 / 13 / 19 / 20 mar
16 sessions available (every Saturday and Sunday)

10–10.30am & 5–5.30pm
Location: The Gathering: 千岁宫

$10/pax, 4 pax/session


Programmes

By partnering with local artisans, performers, and heritage businesses, The Gathering: 千岁宫 will be further activated with a host of public programmes that evokes appreciation for Chinese culture while serving as a conduit for the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. These programmes are made possible through collaboration with The Gathering: 千岁宫’s Programmes and Outreach Partner, deck.



free programmes


Walking through the Garden:
Acoustic Chinese Instrumental Music Performances

6 mar (Sun) / 12 mar (Sat) / 19 mar (Sat)

6pm–7pm
Location: Kreta Ayer Square, Chinatown

Free admission (capacity of 40 pax due to safe distancing measures)

Walking through the Garden is a series of duet performances which showcases the beauty of Chinese instrumental music within the site of The Gathering: 千岁宫. The performances will feature an erhu, a bow-stringed instrument and a zhongruan, a plucked-string instrument. The repertoire prepared provides a point of entry into the melodic qualities of these two instruments. Audiences can expect a mix of popular, contemporary and classical tunes which will demonstrate the versatility of the instruments.





The History of Nanyang Tea
with Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant

10 mar (Thu)

8pm–9pm
Live-streamed on Facebook , conducted in English

Established in 1925, Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant is one of the oldest tea merchants in Singapore. Drawing from the traditional cultural roots of tea and adapting to the tropical humid weather of Singapore, the founder and the 4th generation successor of Pek Sin Choon has innovatively created signature tea blends that reflect changing tastes and preferences informed by the local climate. The online presentation shares the history and story behind Nanyang tea, the process in which the tea blends are created, and tips and tricks to enjoying a perfectly brewed Chinese tea.

Watch at https://fb.me/e/1gSqqn25l





Artist and Curator’s Talk
with Wong Lip Chin & John Tung

17 mar (Thu)

8pm–9.30pm
Live-streamed on Facebook, conducted in English

During the Artist & Curator’s Talk, hear directly from artist Wong Lip Chin and curator John Tung on the inspirations that led to the conceptualisation, as well as the key ideas that The Gathering: 千岁宫 contends with. Covering an intertwining of topics that is coalesced within the installation, tune in to find out more about the plethora of antiques, bonsai, literati rocks, and tea and incense that has been employed in the creation of the artwork.

Watch at https://fb.me/e/2UxPimooI





A Lifelong Obsession
Stories with Chengtai Nursery

21 mar (Mon)

8pm–8.30pm
Live-streamed on Facebook, conducted in Chinese with English Subtitles

Hear directly from the founder of Cheng Tai Nursery, Tan Kim Kwang about the stories of one of the oldest and largest nurseries in Singapore dedicated to Bonsais.

Watch at https://fb.me/e/2ugygnvny



ticketed programmes


Tea Routes
with Kim Whye Kee

26 feb (Sat) / 12 mar (Sat)

2.30pm–4.30pm
Starting Point: Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant (36 Mosque Street, Singapore 059514)
Ending Point: The Gathering: 千岁宫 (Kreta Ayer Square)

$25/pax, 10 pax/session

Led by ceramist Kim Whye Kee of Qi Pottery with support from Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant, Tea Routes is a guided tour around the Chinatown precinct with a specific focus on Singapore tea culture. Singapore Chinese tea culture began with the arrival of tea from China in the early 20th Century that quickly evolved into bustling trade and the development of unique tea blends representing the stories of early Chinese migrants. The walk starts with a visit to Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant with special behind the scenes access to witness tea preparation. It then continues into the cultural heartland of Chinatown — to experience first-hand the brewing of Nanyang Tea and the local ceramic wares made of clay from the 70s.





Photowalk
with Ken Cheong

6 mar (Sun) / 12 mar (Sat) / 19 mar (Sat) / 20 mar (Sun)

9am–11.30am
Starting Point: Thian Hock Keng Temple (to be confirmed upon registration)
Ending Point: The Gathering: 千岁宫 (Kreta Ayer Square)
Conducted in English (6 / 12 / 19 mar) and Chinese (20 mar)

$20/pax, 10 pax/session

Journey with established local photographer Ken Cheong to uncover new ways of experiencing and understanding the streets of Chinatown through the camera’s viewfinder. In addition to tracing the history and heritage of Kreta Ayer as the heart of Chinatown, gain deeper insight into the precinct with its century old temple and old street names that are closely intertwined to the history of early Chinese migrants of Singapore.

Photographic guidance and advice will be provided during the walk (no prerequisites). Participants are encouraged to bring their own dslr camera or smartphone with camera function.




Gallery

Installation Shot of The Gathering: 千岁宫 
The Winding Stream Party: Tea and Incense Experience
The Winding Stream Party: Tea and Incense Experience
Photowalk by Ken Cheong
Photowalk by Ken Cheong
Tea Routes with Kim Whye Kee
Tea Routes with Kim Whye Kee
The Winding Stream Party: Tea and Incense Experience
The Winding Stream Party: Tea and Incense Experience
Walking through the Garden: Acoustic Chinese Instrumental Music Performances
Recording of Online Talk with Pek Sin Choon
Recording of Online Talk with Chengtai Nursery
Photowalk by Ken Cheong
Photowalk by Ken Cheong
Tea Routes with Kim Whye Kee
Tea Routes with Kim Whye Kee
Walking through the Garden: Acoustic Chinese Instrumental Music Performances

People

Artist:
wong lip chin

Wong Lip Chin is a Singaporean artist seeking to reinvent tradition. Inspired by elements of modernity in historical art periods, Lip’s distinct visual style simultaneously pays homage to pop culture and traditional Chinese aesthetics influences. His eye-catching and large-scale paintings, installations, and performances are autobiographical expressions of his personal dilemmas set in a playful world of eccentricity. Lilou and Oomoo, two cartoon like characters, make recurring appearances as his alter-egos to bring levity and contradiction to otherwise serious and sorrowful subject matters. As demonstrated through his ventures in creative entrepreneurship and creation of multi-modal art experiences, Lip’s artistic practice also takes a populist and democratic approach, where the everyday serves as an inspiration, and the quotidian is elevated into a ‘Life-style’. At present, he is pioneering a neo-Nanyang style to bring about a cultural turn to the local and regional art scene.

Lip was formally trained in printmaking at lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore, and graduated with a b.a. in 2009. He was an adjunct lecturer at lasalle from 2014 to 2018. Since 2007, he has held many solo and group exhibitions with galleries and museums globally. After his first solo exhibition, Now You See (2009), Lip came to the public eye with Exquisite Paradox (2013), a repurposed, vintage bus-stop, which was first presented as a readymade sculpture, and then later as a commissioned outdoor installation at the Singapore Art Museum (2016). He held his large-scale solo exhibition, Thousand Knives (2015), at Galerie Michael Janssen, Singapore, which then made waves at Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korean. As a creative entrepreneur, Lip also set up Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones, a multi-concept store with f&b, retail, and lifestyle, in 2017.

@lip.chin / lipchin.com






Curator:
john tung

John Z.W. Tung is an independent curator and exhibition-maker. In his former position as an Assistant Curator at the Singapore Art Museum (2015–2020), he curated and co-curated 9 exhibitions, alongside serving as a co-curator for the Singapore Biennale 2016, An Atlas of Mirrors, and the Singapore Biennale 2019, Every Step in the Right Direction. Three of the artwork commissions he curated for the biennales were finalists for the Benesse Prize, with one work winning the prestigious award. He is also the editor of the Singapore Art Museum’s first publication to chronicle its exhibition history, Singapore Art Museum: An Index of Exhibitions (1994–2018). His recent appointments as an independent curator include Festival Curator for the 7th Singapore International Photography Festival, Departing and Arriving (2020), Associate Curator for the Open House programme, For the House; Against the House (2021 & 2022), and the Curator of the first exhibition to examine the significance of the ground-breaking Singaporean artist initiative 5th Passage — 5th Passage: In Search of Lost Time (2020, Gajah Gallery). Projects he has co-initiated include The Forest Institute (2022), a large-scale architectural-art installation dedicated to secondary forest ecologies.

To date, his close work with artists has realised more than 50 artwork commissions and site-specific adaptations ranging from the minute to monumental. He continues to work on numerous independent projects and publications as well. He holds a ba (Hons) in Arts Management awarded by Goldsmiths, University of London (at lasalle College of the Arts) and an ma in Cultural Management from the Chinese University of Hong Kong where he graduated on the Dean’s List. He brings with him close to a decade of involvement across different fields in the arts, culture, and creative industry. Encompassing both creative and administrative roles, his experiences have spanned the curatorial, editorial, as well as pedagogical.

@johnsavage.fromthewoods / lipchin.com





The Gathering: 千岁宫 team

Artist:
wong lip chin

Producer & Curator:
john z.w. tung

Project Manager:
hong shu-ying

Designer:
gideon-jamie

Social Media:
woong soak teng




Project Partners
Landscaping Partner & Bonsai Curator:
chengtai nursery

Chengtai Nursery was established by Tan Kim Kwang in 1990, on a steep forested hillslope that proved to be such challenging terrain that he was the only person willing to bid for it. His vision of creating the largest bonsai garden in Southeast Asia, was driven by his desire to share his love for bonsai with the nation and create a healing sanctuary for all.

The nursery is known today as a rare gem in the West of Singapore, with over 2000 bonsai trees from China, Japan, Taiwan, as well as 200-year-old antique clay water pots, rock boulders sculpted by river currents, and fossilized wood—all on display from his private collection.






Heritage Partner:
pek sin choon tea merchant

Pek Sin Choon Pte Ltd is a Singapore-based tea merchant located along Mosque Street in the Chinatown heritage district.

Founded in 1925, the near century-old company has since established itself as the foremost purveyor of premium Chinese tea in the city-state. Pek Sin Choon supplies tea to over 80 percent of the Bak Kut Teh market segment, making tea an integral component of this unique culinary culture.

Today, the company is helmed by fourth generation descendent and tea man Peh Ching Her, better known as Kenry Peh. The company continues to source, blend and roast tea the traditional way. Each pack of tea is painstakingly packed by hand in-store.






Official Teaware:
qi pottery

Qi Pottery founded by Kim Whye Kee in 2016 is a homegrown atelier of handmade tea ware and ceramics. After spending a decade of his youth in prison, Kim Whye Kee picked up pottery in the last few months of his sentence. He then went on to graduate with a BA Hons. degree in Fine Arts at lasalle College of the Arts in 2013.

He is the co-founder of Beacon of Life (BoL) and Beacon of Life Academy (BoLA), an initiative working with ex-convicts and at-risk youths, respectively, in the community. He has also worked on separate community projects with the boys of the Singapore Boys Home and residents from Taman Jurong.
















Art Around The City is an initiative under a partnership between the National Arts Council and Singapore Tourism Board, which features a series of visual art installations and programmes across key tourism and art precincts. The public art activations aim to add vibrancy to each iconic precinct, engage with the public and spotlight Singapore-based artists and curators.

The Gathering was live at Kreta Ayer Square from 25 Feb 2022 – 25 Mar 2022. The project was well-received and we thank the public and friends for the generous support!