Keong Saik Road may get all the credit for being one of the coolest streets in Singapore, but its neighboring Bukit Pasoh Road is just as vibrant, with its colorful history and stretch of restaurants and bars. So as part of this year’s Singapore Design Week, creative agency OuterEdit is spotlighting the area with a new festival, Street of Clans.
Taking local creative communities to the street, the weekend-long event combines art, design, music, culture, food, and heritage, with interactive installations, neighborhood trails and, most interestingly, a rare look into the Chinese clan associations that you may have glanced past but never given a second thought.
Each of the four clan associations will collaborate with homegrown artists and designers to tell stories of old in a new perspective. For Gan Clan, which has roots dating back to the 1940s and now houses a heritage centre with historical artefacts, its work with installation artist Matthew Sia involves a conversation between visitors and the space. Filled with suspended, holographic whirligigs (wind spinners) that form a constellation portraying the clan’s past, the piece invites visitors to interact with it and reflect on the clan’s relevance in the modern world.
As for Tung On Wui Kun, it’s working together with contemporary furniture label Scene Shang and printed scarf designers Binary Style to produce an artwork that reflects the clan’s love for Cantonese opera. Established in 1876 by immigrants from Guangdong, China, the clan association is one of the oldest in Singapore, having played a big part in preserving and promoting the tradition of Cantonese opera here.
At Chin Kang Huay Kuan, which was founded in 1918 to look out for the welfare of immigrants to Singapore from Jin Jiang, Fujian, China, the joint effort with Lasalle and Nafa graduate Ong Lijie features silkscreened and painted illustrations on fabric and paper in an exploration of the bonds between people.
Finally, the local Koh Clan teams up with To The Power Of for an engaging installation called ‘Let The Good Times Roll’. Formed in 1948 by a group of influential Kohs at the time, the clan eventually moved into its Bukit Pasoh Road shop house in 1971. Its work welcomes visitors to join forces on a small quest that, when accomplished successfully, will result in a mix of audio and kinetic elements coming to life.
If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood, now’s the time to discover what it has to offer, with artist installations such as 8EyedSpud’s work with watering hole Humpback. Eateries in the area will also host live portrait sessions, with Natalie Wee at Casa Poncho, Esther Lim at The Lokal, Jasmine Ang at 8 Cafe & Bar, and more. Those who’d like to get their art on can join in the community art sessions by Band of Doodlers and paint wooden boat sculptures with the illustrators.
Plus, look out for music performances from a line-up put together by Bandwagon and Zouk, with names like Adia Tay, Hubbabubbas, Sam Driscoll, Che’Molly, and Jeremy Boon providing the beat backdrop.
Other activities to check out include a tasting session by chef Malcolm Lee of the one Michelin-starred Candlenut, a pottery workshop by Studio Asobi, five design talks headed by folks from Roger&Sons and Love, Bonito, and guided tours led by Gan Clan, Tan Kah Kee Foundation, and Straits Clan.
Street of Clans is on Mar 8-10; Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm at Bukit Pasoh Rd. Free.
MRT: Outram Park
This article, Street of Clans: New festival offers a peek into Chinese clan associations in Bukit Pasoh with artist collabs and design trails, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!