I was invited to the Opening of the Children’s Biennale at the National Gallery today. My anxious mind of course required a two-day preparation for this, but I had been looking forward to it since the invitation arrived in my email’s Inbox. The build up was, of course, a gradual crescendo at first, and then a rapid stretto build up as the event drew nigh. Anxiety + hypersenses + attention to detail all jumbled together. Creating order from chaos is part of the reason behind all the careful planning that precedes every single occasion.
The National Gallery has now become my favourite art space in Singapore. I love old historical buildings, and this one is a grand one. There are many small little quiet nooks dotted around the huge expanse that one can duck into for some respite, if things get too overwhelming. There are some inaccessible spaces that wheelchair users would be unable to reach, unfortunately, due to the nature of the building, but they’ve done their best to make the exhibits as accessible as possible. I am truly bowled over by the National Gallery’s efforts towards access and inclusion, something I’ve not experienced to this extent in Singapore before. Lucy is welcome in this space, and they treated us like royalty the first time we came (which was a tad over the top, but I deeply appreciate the care they took of us, a stark contrast to always being stopped at the door with many a gruff, “NO DOG ALLOWED!”), but I left Lucy at home today because she wasn’t feeling very well.
We were shown around by Alicia, who so kindly and patiently helped to navigate through the crowds and keep me focused on the exhibits, so I was distracted enough not to go into decline. I used their pilot version of their new Access and Family Guide to familiarise myself with the various installations. Despite some small adjustments and tweaks still needed for improvement, I really like that they included sensory warnings and indications, which are too often overlooked.
I’m still recovering from the sensorial weight of it all, but I absolutely enjoyed myself today. Here are the photographs I took, sans descriptions – I hope you will make a trip there to experience it all for yourself if you happen to be in Singapore any time in the next six months. It is incredibly exciting that Singapore has an art space of this calibre! Thank you, everyone at National Gallery!
Clement Space @ Playeum 2019 – Dawn-joy Leong
Seems as if I’ve been involved in quite a few “firsts” in Singapore lately. The most recent was the very first Autism/Neurodivergent-Led, Disabled-Led Art & Design residency, which was support by the National Library’s library@orchard branch, and yesterday saw the soft opening of Singapore’s first Neurodivergent immersive and interactive space – crafted by two autistic artists and two artists with Down syndrome, curated by Esther Joosa and Imran Mohamed for Playeum, a centre for children to discover creativity in multiple ways. Continue reading
Thriving not despite but because of Autism. Being inside our natural Autistic realm.
The Princess & The Snake (2010)
Autism is trending these days. Well, it’s been top of the pops for quite some time, actually. The more sensational the better, it seems, thanks to neuronormative machinations. Big money is to be made here, so it’s not surprising that the field draws so many quacks and snake oil peddlers. From MMS (which is basically bleach solution) to ASEA water (saline water), to a plethora of expensive dodgy programmes claiming to help “cure” / “shed” / “overcome” / “reverse” Autism, the marketplace is busy indeed.
I can understand that parents, especially non-autistic parents, are desperate. Parenting is not easy by any measure. For a non-autistic parent of an autistic child, finding themselves awash at sea in a realm completely alien to their own, grasping at straws for quick salvation is not unnatural at all. However, what grieves me is, in their readiness to part with money for snake oil, it is their autistic children who will bear the brunt of this folly, the children who will eventually grow up into traumatised autistic adults or autistic adults deprived of their intrinsic worth performing poor imitations of neurotypicality. Continue reading
“Autism, Mental Wellbeing & Higher Education” – NUS Office of Student Affairs. 9 March 2018
“Autism & Neurodiversity – lived-experience & the way forward. 8 March 2018
“Art & Autism” – Dawn-joy Leong
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It was an amazing experience, being a part of such a groundbreaking, massive yet cohesive and well curated festival. (Catch snippets of Snoosphere in this video!)
Moving on ahead, I am looking forward to The BIG Anxiety Festival 2019. Stay tuned, everyone!
Here are the speakers notes for my presentation yesterday (11 Aug 2018) at our disability-led forum on Disability-Led Practice, a groundbreaking first in Singapore. I’ve also added more detailed links to videos in this post.