If you’re looking for things to do in Chinatown and want a cultural experience that’s quite out of the ordinary, The Gathering will check all the boxes. Part of Art Around The City, a collaboration between Singapore Tourism Board and National Arts Council, this art event in Singapore will feature a recreation of a winding stream party. This serves as a main gathering place to experience pairings of specially blended tea and incense. Additional programs include acoustic Chinese instrumental performances along with photowalks, walking tours and online talks that highlight Chinese culture.
The exhibition, held from 25 February to 25 March, is one of four activations that are part of Art Around The City, a public art project that will showcase inspiring and imaginative art showcases at four unique chosen locations from January to April 2022.
A winding stream party? What is that?
An ancient tradition that dates back over 1,600 years, winding stream parties were gatherings where the Chinese literati (scholar-officials) would sit along a river and compose poems. While writing, they would partake in cups of rice wine that were floated down the stream. The parties were so popular that neighbouring countries like Korea and Japan also adopted the custom; in fact, it’s still a regularly practised custom in Kyoto.
Experience a reimagined winding stream party with local artist Wong Lip Chin
The centrepiece of this art activation in Chinatown is Wong Lip Chin’s unique take on the ancient custom that pairs tea with incense. Guests will savour these thoughtful pairings on an intricately constructed table that features its own winding stream and thoughtfully curated landscaping by Chengtai Nursery. Teas and incense used are all blended by the artist, drawing on his knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine. The teas will be served using teaware specially crafted by Kim Whye Kee of Qi Pottery, made with clay from Singapore. This unique experience will be hosted by the artist himself, and is sure to invigorate the senses.
Weekends: 10am-10.30am, 5pm-5.30pm at Kreta Ayer Square. Tickets are available at $10, here.
Chinatown events, photowalks, online talks and more!
Walking through the Garden: Acoustic Chinese Instrumental Music Performances
This series of enchanting performances highlights the beauty of traditional Chinese instrumental music and features the erhu (a bow-stringed instrument) and the zhongruan (a plucked-string instrument). The performances will include both popular contemporary and traditional tunes to demonstrate the versatility of the instruments and offer an easy introduction to the unique melodic qualities of these two classic instruments.
6, 12, 19 March. 6pm-7pm at Kreta Ayer Square. Book here for free.
Chinatown walking tour: Photowalk with Ken Cheong
In this photowalk lead by established local photographer Ken Cheong, you’ll rediscover the streets of Chinatown through a camera lens and learn about the neighbourhood’s history and heritage. You’ll gain insights into a century old temple and learn the stories of the early Chinese migrants in Singapore. Photographic guidance and advice will be provided during the walk so photographers of all skill levels are welcome. Participants are encouraged to bring their own cameras or a smartphone with a camera.
6, 12, 19 March (English), 20 March (Chinese). 9am-11.30am at Thian Hock Keng Temple. Tickets are available at $21.59, here.
Chinatown walking tour: Tea Routes with Kim Whye Kee
Still have tea on your mind? Ceramist Kim Whye Kee of Qi Pottery, supported by Pek Sin Choon Tea, will take you on a tour through the Chinatown neighbourhood with a specific focus on Singapore’s tea culture. You’ll learn about the arrival of tea from China and how its burgeoning popularity evolved into an endless variety of unique tea blends. The walk begins with a visit to Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant and a behind-the-scenes look at the intricacies of tea preparation. You’ll then visit the cultural heartland of Chinatown to learn about Nanyang tea and local ceramic ware.
26 February and 12 March. 2.30pm-4.30pm at Kreta Ayer Square. Tickets are available at $21.59, here.
The History of Nanyang Tea with Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant
With a history tracing back to 1925, Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchant in Chinatown is one of the oldest tea merchants in Singapore. Over the years, the founder and fourth-generation successor of Pek Sin Choon has adapted his tea blends to reflect modern tastes and preferences while keeping his teas true to their roots. Hear about their history and discover insights on Nanyang tea through this online talk. You’ll also learn about the blending process and get tips on making your own perfectly brewed Chinese tea.
10 March. 8pm-9pm. Livestreamed on Facebook. Details here.
Artist and Curator’s Talk with Wong Lip Chin & John Tung
Hear directly from local artist Wong Lip Chin and curator John Tung on the inspirations behind their reimagined winding tea party, as well as the conceptualisation of The Gathering as a whole. You’ll also gain exclusive insights into the materials such as the antiques, bonsai, literati rocks, tea and incense used to create the exhibition in Chinatown.
17 March. 8pm-9.30pm. Livestreamed on Facebook. Details here.
There’s more to see at Art Around The City!
If you’re keen on discovering more art events in Singapore, why not explore Art Around The City’s other exhibitions? The Non Season at Design Orchard is a fashion-focused event that showcases art installations, performances, walking tours and more. It will feature over 20 local and locally based artists and designers including Mike Chang, Marla Bendini and more.
Heading to Little India instead? Local artist Vijaya Mohan will showcase her dazzling rangoli art and host workshops teaching you how to create your own rangoli art at The Rangoli Movement.
Art Around The City is a collaboration between the National Arts Council and Singapore Tourism Board. For more information on their pop-ups around the city, click here.
Written in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board.
Looking for more exciting art events and walking tours in Singapore? Here’s our guide to fun things to do in the city.