Sketch uncles

by | June 19, 2019

Travelling exhibition shows Singapore’s National Monuments in a different light.

The sketch uncles from left to right: Steven Seow, Francis Theo and Tony Chua.

Steven Seow, 66, has no prior experience in drawing. When he retired in 2016, he chose to dedicate his time to pursing his passion drawing. The 66-year-old is a self-taught artist as well as an avid heritage enthusiast who enjoys sketching three-dimensional aerial landscapes. He uses his memory and photographs taken with his mobile phone to produce detailed drawings of a building within five days at his home in Tampines. To date, Steven has completed sketches of all of Singapore’s National Monuments including the Central Fire Station, Chesed-El Synagogue and the former Empress Place Building.

His sketches are part of a travelling exhibition called “Uncles Love Monuments” by the National Heritage Board (NHB) which is promoting greater awareness of the country’s National Monuments and its Silver Hubs initiative which creates opportunities for the silver community to give back to society through heritage.

Shared Alvin Tan, deputy chief executive (Policy & Community), NHB, said: “We wanted to showcase our National Monuments in a different light and present them through the eyes of artists from the silver generation. In doing so, we hope to bring to life the stories of our monuments and the people who love them, and further cultivate community appreciation of our treasured historic buildings.”

Sketches of 18 National Monuments will be shown at the travelling exhibition, and the monuments include the Sri Mariamman Temple and former Telok Ayer Market, which were among the first few National Monuments gazetted in 1973; well-known monuments including the Former Fullerton Building and Sultan Mosque; and some possibly lesser-known monuments such as Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church and St George’s Church.

Other sketch “uncles” involved in the exhibition include 67-year-old Tony Chua and 69-year-old Francis Theo. Tony began dabbling in abstract art to express his moods and emotions after his retirement in 2008. He later discovered the joy of urban sketching with fellow sketch enthusiasts which allowed him to hone on his drawing skills further. In his free time, he is drawn to interesting subjects both locally and during his overseas trips. Having developed an eye for details, Tony’s sketches are presented in wriggly line works accompanied with line hatching which lend textures and dimensions to his works.

And then there is Francis who is one of the pioneer members of Urban Sketchers Singapore (USKSG). His passion for drawing is fuelled by his love for architecture and travelling. He is skilled in fast sketching methods and was given the nickname “Sketch Machine” by fellow USKSG artists. He is always going around Singapore looking for potential subjects and his constant companions are a sketchbook, a few fountain pens and water brushes. Since retiring in 2012, Francis has kept himself active as a freelance illustrator, florist and art educator.


** The exhibition will travel across Singapore till end of this year, starting at Jurong Regional Library till June 29. From July 1 to 30, it will be at the Marine Parade Public Library; August 1 to 30, Cheng San Public Library; September 1 to 29, library@harbourfront; October 1 to 30, Serangoon Public Library; November 1 to 29, Toa Payoh Public Library; and December 1 to 30, Sengkang Public Library. 

The exhibition will be complemented by sketching workshops at selected library venues, which will introduce participants to the basics of sketching. The 2.5-hour workshop will be conducted by Francis, one of uncles featured in the exhibition and a pioneer member of Urban Sketchers Singapore, and is open to participants aged 12 years old and above. Participants can register for the workshop via the Golibrary website from July onwards, on a first-come-first-served basis.


(** PHOTO CREDIT: National Heritage Board)




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