We're at the Tian Tian Xiang Shang Singapore exhibition at Raffles City where we're rubbing shoulders with familiar faces like director Boo Junfeng, swimming legend Ang Peng Siong and Ch 8 stars Joanne Peh and Qi Yuwu, both of whom recently celebrated their son's 100th day anniversary. Jo and 715, along with other local creative types like Desmond Tan and Dasmond Koh, have customised their own versions of the Tian Tian figurine, which is basically a porcelain boy pointing to the sky. Joanne's piece shows Tian Tian painted in blue, while his hand is tied with weights. "Those weights represent the fears that weigh us down," she says. On the other hand, 715's figurine, which is plastered with five-cent coins, represents how money-conscious society has become. Arty, we know.
8 DAYS: Do you feel your two kids have inherited your artistic genes?
JOANNE PEH: I feel that it's the other way round. I'm learning so much from my children every day. At home, I create the environment for my daughter to make art so that she can explore more. Because of her, I'm getting a lot more in touch with art. It's very meaningful because I have to go through a lot of trial and error, and I have to figure out how I want to make something before I can teach her. In the process, I get to develop problem-solving skills and risk-taking skills, which I think is very important for me as well.
Some Singaporean parents may not want their children to grow up to be artists as they may feel that it's not a high-paying job. What's your take on it?
JOANNE: I think we are looking at end results a little too much. It's always about whether my kid becomes an artist or a singer, will he or she make a lot of money etc. We should be doing things that we are passionate about and I think that's a lot more important than worrying about where the money is. When you have the passion for something, you will want to be better at it and that in turn, attracts more resources and support that will help you excel at what you do. When that happens, the money will naturally come.
We know you guys really like art, but what if your kids were to come upon art work that features really graphic nudity?
JOANNE: I haven't encountered that yet as my kids are still young. I don't know about that actually. Perhaps I won't deliberately bring my daughter to see them, but if we happen to chance upon an art piece like that, I won't shield her from it. It depends on how she reacts to it, and what kind of questions she asks. Otherwise, there's no reason to say: "Oh no, you can't see this." If you see it, you see it. My philosophy is to never overreact. If you overreact, you end up making it a big deal than it actually is (laughs).
QI YUWU: I feel that it's good if we just let nature take its course. When it comes to things such as nude paintings or artwork, my children will see them through other mediums when they grow up. So I don't want to be too restrictive about such things. I want to become the kind of dad who can share everything with my kids. I want them to express their thoughts to me when they see something like this, how they feel etc. In that way, I'm able to understand how they feel (smiles).
Tian Tian Xiang Shang exhibition is on from now till Aug 21 at Raffles City Shopping Centre Level 3. Admission is free.