Ng Eng Teng : The Grandfather of Singaporean Sculpture

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Singaporean artist Ng Eng Teng was well known for his legacy of figure-shaped sculptures, including themes such as maternal love and human emotion. Forever remembered as the grandfather of sculpture in Singapore's culture, he lived up to the name ever since his human creativity began. In 1934, Ng was a child who loved to play with plasticine. He would make figures out of the material and shape miniature artworks in his play sessions. The young Ng graduated from his Senior Cambridge exams in 1955 and together with fellow artist Liu Kang, went to the British Council to take classes of painting and sculpture. In 1959, Jean Vullock introduced Ng to ciment fondu, a novelty medium at the time.

Sculpture by Ng Eng Teng, Picture taken by Marcus Lim

Studying at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Georgette Chen often invited him to talk about art at her home. There, Ng would find himself amazed by the aesthetic beauty of the ceramic displays. Chen realized that the Singapore she knew did not house any notable sculptor at the time. She told Ng that because of his talent and his fluency with the English language, he should seek to become a pioneer in this artistic field for Singapore. Heeding her advice, Ng left Singapore for the potteries in Stoke-on-Trent in England after he graduated. He also later worked at the Carrigaline Pottery in County Cork as an industrial designer. His designs were often exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Centre of Britain and at various Spring Fairs.

Eventually, after making a name for himself, he came back to Singapore to set up a potter workshop and teach ceramics to the local youths. He also wanted to provide support for his family by doing so. Initially he had wanted to set upa  workshop at his alma matter; the Nanyang Academy, however he was rejected by the Academy's administration, so he set up his workshop elsewhere with the help of his father. Despite their good efforts, profit was very little and Ng soon had to seek employment to pay the bills. His friend Vincent Hoisington had recommended him to the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1968 where he worked for over a year as a visual aids personnel.

In 1970, Ng had his first solo 5-day exhibition held at the lecture hall of the National Library. Since that exhibition, Ng's career skyrocketed and he became known as a well-deserving artist all over Singapore and Australia. He was given the Cultural Medallion Award in 1981 by his country; Singapore. 1988 proved to be an interesting year for Ng as well. He met up with the director of the Paris Arts Centre who acted as the representative of the Olympic Selection Commitee at the time. Ng was commissioned to do a work for the Olympics in Seoul. They eventually agreed on replicating Ng's piece entitled "Portrait" as a larger artwork. This was used in the Olympic ceremony, making Ng a worldwide accomplished sculptor.

He received the Patronage Award from the Singapore Art Museum in 2001. He was also presented several other awards, because of his generous donation of paintings, drawings, pottery and sculptures to the museum. Ng was remembered as a pioneer of sculpture for Singapore, and to this day, lasts in the memory of young and old sculptors alike who wish they could follow in his footsteps and bring greatness to the Singaporean art world.


{ Neeraj Gupta } at: January 12, 2017 at 9:50 PM said...

Amazing creativity
Thank you for posting such a creative art
Mr Neeraj Gupta is one of the well known page 3 personalities in India. He is a sculptures artist also.

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