Young artist, Tan Shao Qi, gives back to the community through her love for ceramics

School of the Arts (SOTA)’s Tan Shao Qi was a participant in the Arts Excellence Programme in 2015 This programme offers advanced learning opportunities for those passionate and talented in the arts, through participation in masterclasses and workshops by prominent experts, as well as overseas arts festivals and summer programmes at internationally renowned institutions. Shao Qi had the opportunity to participate in immersion trips to Shizuoka, Japan, and to the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia.

“One of the key highlights was being exposed to new materials and techniques in creating artwork – using traditional tie-dye, woodblock printing, sculpting with honeycomb paper when I was in Shizuoka, and working in a foundry in Melbourne where I got to cast objects in bronze and pewter,” said the David Marshall Young Artist Scholar on her most memorable experiences from the learning trips.

The David Marshall Scholarship for Young Artist is awarded to Year 4, 5 and 6 students who are exceptionally talented in the arts, demonstrate leadership and potential to make an impact to the community through their passion for the arts. Shao Qi, then a final-year student in SOTA, also leveraged on her passion for ceramics to help the community – appreciating the plight and personal journey of others and in the process, discovering how she could make a deep impact in society.

When Shao Qi found out that the Singapore Cancer Society was interested in creating rehabilitation support programmes for recovering cancer patients and survivors, she initiated a ceramic workshop so that they could explore their interest in clay-making. The participants were grateful towards Shao Qi for teaching them a new skill, and felt a sense of achievement creating a piece of art they could have never done before. Working with the cancer patients and survivors has taught Shao Qi to be more open and thoughtful. It also showed her how art has the power of bringing people together.

“I learnt that challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. This experience has changed my perspective of life and I am able to better appreciate what I have now.”

Shao Qi was able to bring her new skills and insights to her work. For example, in a subsequent community project done in partnership with another organisation, Shao Qi created contemporary ceramic artworks based on a sentimental object owned by an elderly, Mrs Lai. Drawn by a porcelain pillow which holds sweet memories of Mrs Lai’s mother, Shao Qi created Pillows – a series of seven ceramic pillows engraved with traditional Chinese floral motifs that were favourite patterns of Mrs Lai’s mother. The pillow ceramics were showcased at the Curating Whampoa exhibition, and also at the Singapore Day 2018 in London. The experience and interactions with Mrs Lai has strengthened Shao Qi’s bond with her own grandparents, as she became more appreciative and eager to learn about their past and memories.

Upon graduating from SOTA, Shao Qi plans to further her studies in Fine Arts, continue giving back to the community through her ceramic art workshops.

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