Gillman Barracks – Singapore’s contemporary arts cluster housed in a former military camp turns two this September. In addition to its visual arts core, Gillman Barracks will also play host to a series of exciting events and initiatives that complement its existing gallery tenants.
In the past two years, Gillman Barracks has grown in terms of its gallery representation, from 13 internationally acclaimed galleries during its launch to the current 17. Ms Shareen Khattar, Co-Founder of Platform Projects, an independent organisation that engages art collectors and patrons, and aims to enrich the practice, knowledge and audience for contemporary art said, “The Gillman Barracks cluster is a welcome addition to the emerging commercial gallery sector in Singapore. The high calibre and exciting range of art shown continues to help Singapore realise its potential as a centre of contemporary art in South East Asia.”
The Centre of Contemporary Art (CCA), which opened last October, has also been a key destination in Gillman Barracks with its exhibitions, artist residencies and frequent public programmes. CCA’s “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia” exhibition under the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative drew almost 8,000 visitors. CCA also launched its artist residency programme in August this year, which aims to facilitate the development of work, knowledge and research by established and emerging cultural producers from Singapore, Southeast Asia and beyond. The programme has announced its first batch of 18 artists which include 5 Singapore-based artists.
Complementing Gillman Barracks’ galleries and the CCA is a series of exciting events and initiatives that the public can look forward to. Ms Thien Kwee Eng, Assistant Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said, “As Gillman Barracks turns two this year, it will continue to mature and evolve as an international destination for contemporary art. We will grow its visual arts core, and bring in or support new events and initiatives that can provide our visitors a more well-rounded and rewarding experience.” The EDB is a joint developer of the arts cluster together with the JTC Corporation and the National Arts Council (NAC).
DRIVE is the first-of-its-kind public art project presented by the Gillman Barracks Association, and is a recipient of Singapore Tourism Board’s Kickstart Fund. This initiative, which is driven by tenants of Gillman Barracks, will launch at the end of September and will run for four months. It will transform the usually pristine façades of the Barracks’ colonial buildings with outdoor art installations by the galleries, international artists and members of the public. The first phase of the project will see artworks by established artists, while the second phase will involve an open call to the public and a public competition amongst the artists. Ms Audrey Yeo, Gallery Director of Yeo Workshop, the lead behind the project said, “There is a wealth of art content, expertise and knowledge within Gillman Barracks. We hope to share this with the public and get them to participate in this initiative and showcase their works alongside our galleries’ works.”
A series of other exhibitions and events will be taking place in Gillman Barracks during the month of September, which is the Anniversary Celebration month. It will include new exhibitions by the galleries and the CCA – featuring works by international artists such as Annie Leibovitz and Ai Wei Wei, artist talks and docent-led guided tours. All these events will culminate in an Anniversary Party on 26 September from 18.00 – 22.00 when the arts precinct will transform into a mini-festival village for a night filled with exhibitions, public art, live music performances, a local maker pop-up market, and food and bar stalls. Admission to all exhibitions and events will be free.
Other key events this year will include a worldwide drawing campaign called “The Big Draw” on 08-09 November, which will bring families and children together with creative practitioners to draw in completely novel ways. “The Big Draw” is an annual award-winning flagship event of Playeum, a local not-for-profit organisation that focuses on play-based programming in the arts, technology and design for children.
Additionally, the second edition of the successful Singapore Art Book Fair organised by BooksActually and HJGHER, will take place on 14-16 November. Following a successful run at the CCA last year, the Fair will return to Gillman Barracks and will expand to include at least 50 vendors and fringe activities such as film screenings, talks and workshops. A regular enclave-wide event on Friday nights – “Art After Dark” – targeting the post-work crowd will also be launched in November, which aims to promote Gillman Barracks as an alternative night destination in Singapore where one can visit the galleries and enjoy the other lifestyle options on offer.
The NAC and the EDB are working on an Events Fund for Gillman Barracks to be launched next year. The idea is to set aside resources for Singaporean arts groups, artists and the creative community to create impactful performances, talks and events across various disciplines. Further details will be announced in due course. Mr Paul Tan, Deputy Chief Executive of the NAC said, “We want Gillman Barracks to be a place where all Singaporeans can be surprised and inspired by art. By engaging and showcasing our home grown talents in different fields, we can reach out to more Singaporeans, residents and international visitors while making Gillman Barracks a distinctive and vibrant arts cluster.”