Children’s Season Singapore 2019 offers children a slew of new experiences at three heritage centres, the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, the Malay Heritage Centre and the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC).
The National Heritage Board reaches out to school-going children and youth in Singapore with fun, engaging educational programmes (and long-term collaborations with the Ministry of Education and schools) to stimulate an interest in the greater exploration and ownership of Singapore’s heritage.
Building social cohesion is a shared responsibility, and all of us must do our part. Dialogue is especially important for us to learn from the experiences of others and strengthen ties between communities … towards a shared harmonious, peaceful, and better future.
Ms. Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community &Youth
@ the First International Conference on Cohesive Societies
Pushpa Venkatraman writes about her recent experience at the Indian Heritage Centre, at a children’s workshop on Kala Sangam Crafting Traditions and Ajrak printing in particular.
What is Ajrak ?
Ajrak is an ancient form of textile printing using patterned stamps or blocks, originating from Gujarat in India. Khatri Abdul Razak Mohmed, master craftsman, led the workshop, introducing children to a simplified experience of a tradition of printing that typically goes through 17 stages in a month before a handmade masterpiece is created.
What is the experience for children ?
Children and accompanying adults were grouped, and each child given a fabric placed on thermocol padding. Blocks were numbered. Children began with the base print and embellished the pattern and colour with other block prints – some waiting patiently to use the blocks in sequence, others following their own block print sequences.
They listened attentively to explanations and demonstrations, and when their turn came to try out the process, enthusiastically and meticulously ensured the blocks were set correctly on the fabric, carefully watching the edges as they printed. They learned why the base block print was important and why it was necessary to ensure the fabric stayed on the thermocol (for the print to set). Wood powder was sprinkled to solidify the print, instructions given for wash and care, and the children could take their work home.
Why do parents support these children’s workshops ?
One parent, participating with her three children and husband, said her daughter had personally googled the IHC website and signed up for this workshop. She felt it was a wonderful learning experience for the whole family to know where hand-made printed fabric came from and appreciate the hard work involved in its making.
Karen, another parent, mentioned that she had been to two previous demonstrations held by Kala Sangam and enjoyed them so much that she had come with her daughter and her friend for this special workshop. She found the demonstrations and actual hands-on experience a lot more interesting and meaningful than just reading about them.
Craftspeople are available to interested children and adults for the entire week of their visit and hold daily demonstrations of their work at IHC.
Details on upcoming craftspeople and timings are available on the IHC website.
Mr. Khatri Abdul Razak will hold demonstrations at IHC, daily, from 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. & 1.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. till Sunday, June 23rd.
Text and photographs by Pushpa Venkataraman