This iconic sculpture is the latest donation to the world's largest institutional collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art
10 May 2018, Singapore – Dubbed fondly as the grandfather of Singapore sculpture, Cultural Medallion recipient – the late Dr. Ng Eng Teng is remembered for his distinctive, large-scale sculptures that depict whimsical interpretations of humanist themes, bringing vibrancy to public spaces in Singapore. In recognition of his contributions to Singapore through these public commissions, one of his iconic masterpieces – Mother and Child – will now be accessioned into the National Collection, joining seminal works by other pioneering artists, including Liu Kang and Georgette Chen.
The three metre-tall sculpture was donated to the state by the late Dr. Ng’s family. Cast in bronze, the sculpture features a mother in the intimate act of lifting and holding her child, conveying the caring and warm love of a mother towards her child.
Cast in bronze in March 1996, the distinctive bronze signature piece is the second and last large sculpture in Dr Ng Eng Teng’s series of work on the subject of Mother and Child and is currently situated at Tampines Central Park. Singaporeans would also recognise a similar work which used to be displayed outside Far East Shopping Centre in 1980, and was one of the signature features of the Orchard Road landscape then. Following the donation, the sculpture will be installed in front of the Gallery, and become part of the Gallery’s façade on a long-term basis from 2019.
Dr. Eugene Tan, Director of National Gallery Singapore said, “Ng Eng Teng played many roles in the development of art in Singapore. He was one of our pioneer artists, a mentor, and more importantly an inspiration to young artists today to push the boundaries of art boldly while keeping closely connected to the audience. We are very grateful to his family for this generous donation of Mother and Child, which will allow generations after to learn and appreciate his contributions to Singapore’s art scene.”
“The family is pleased that Eng Teng’s Mother and Child has found a long-term and prominent place in Singapore’s national visual art institution in the civic district. It is wonderful that locals, as well as many tourists, will get to enjoy the sculpture which holds a special place in our hearts. This would be in keeping with Eng Teng’s wish for his large, durable, bronze sculptures to be sited outdoors for general public viewing,” said Ms. Jacqueline Ng, sister of the late Ng Eng Teng and representative of the Ng family.
The Gallery previously received major donations including more than 500 works by various Singapore artists from art collector and the Gallery’s founding chairman Mr. Koh Seow Chuan, as well as more than 120 works by renowned Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin from art collector Mr. Yeap Lam Yang. The Gallery also received a recent donation of 28 artworks and archival materials by Singapore artists Mr. Lim Yew Kuan and Mr. Lim Hak Tai, from their families in 2016.
Dr. Tan shared, “Our collection was historically formed through the goodwill of private supporters and artists. Private support has always been integral to building our collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art. The strengthening of the National Collection allows us to deepen our research and scholarship, and help us present Southeast Asian art to the world and to the greater community.”
Besides the donation of artworks, the Gallery’s Art Adoption and Acquisition (AAA) Programme provides an opportunity for art supporters to “adopt” key artworks of historical and artistic significance from the Gallery’s Singapore and Southeast Asia collection or to make a donation to the programme. Funds from the programme will go towards strengthening the National Collection through the acquisitions of new artworks, deepening research and scholarship, and enhancing our mission to showcase Singapore and Southeast Asian art to the world. To date, donors including the Yong Hon Kong Foundation, BinjaiTree, Lam Soon Cannery Pte. Ltd, Emma and Joseph Cherian and other donors have contributed over $10 million in support of the Gallery’s AAA programme.
Visitors looking to learn about the origins of the National Collection can also visit the latest exhibition (Re)collect: The Making of our Art Collection at the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery happening from 11 May to 19 August 2018.