Joanne Peh gets artsy for ‘Portraits of the People’

The actress sketched her self-portrait which will be incorporated into the Art Connector, a commemorative walkway linking City Hall MRT station to the National Gallery Singapore.

When you stroll along the Art Connector, a commemorative walkway that links City Hall MRT Station to the National Gallery Singapore when it opens next year, be sure to look out for Singapore actress Joanne Peh’s self-portrait.

The 31-year-old sketched her self-portrait ‘live’ at Velocity @ Novena on Tuesday for Portraits of the People, a travelling community engagement programme spearheaded by National Gallery Singapore to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday, and also shared her personal reflection of the National Pledge.

Peh, who had to re-sketch her portrait several times before she was satisfied with it, told xinmsn that while she loves trying different ways of making art, sketching on a tablet was a challenge for her.

“[The sketching was done] on an iPad, so for me it was a bit of a struggle but I am not put off by that and I hope that people are not as well because it’s fun,” she said.

Joanne Peh gets artsy for Portraits of the People
Joanne Peh takes a selfie before sketching her self-portrait.

Over the next six months, Singaporeans are encouraged to come forward to self-sketch their portraits and reflect on the National Pledge through Portraits of the People, which will travel to 50 different locations islandwide over, including schools, shopping malls and community centres.

Participants will be provided with a tablet and guided on-site by facilitators through the process, and the portraits will subsequently be etched onto the 290-metre Art Connector as a tribute to the people for their contribution in building Singapore.

A website will also be launched in December to allow more people, including those overseas, to participate in the programme as well as locate their etchings on the completed Art Connector when it opens in November 2015.

  Joanne Peh gets artsy for Portraits of the People
Artist’s impression of how the self-portraits will be etched throughout the Art Connector. (Designed by FARM Architects, image courtesy of National Gallery Singapore).

Describing the initiative as “meaningful”, Peh said she is very excited to be part of a programme that  introduces art to the masses as not too long ago, she too was “a complete novice” when it came to art, and it was through her husband, actor and art lover Qi Yuwu, that she developed her love and appreciation for it.

So what's her advice for those who are too intimidated by art to participate in Portraits of the People?

“Be brave enough to try and if you don’t like it (your sketch) the first time, just do it again. You have to believe in yourself that you can achieve it.

“I think there is a perception with art is that it is something that is very elitist or something that I don’t know enough about so I can’t appreciate it, I think this mentality can be changed.

“I can speak from my personal experience that I am also a layman, I don’t know anything about art… but then I realised that all of us are artistic in some way, it’s just that maybe we haven’t discovered that yet so hopefully Singaporeans will be brave enough to give this a shot and find your own creative element.”


Portraits of the People is currently at Velocity until 28 November, and at United Square from 11 to 28 December 2014. Check National Gallery Singapore’s Facebook page for more updates on the venues. 

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