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Field trip to Mohamed Sultan Road, Jan 2001

Drawings are an imperative and vibrant expressions of the qualities we seek in our design students at the Temasek Design School. These qualities include observation, spontaneity, creativity, vision and innovation. They form the core foundation of all our design programmes.

For the first year students who are new in learning and discovering the domain of drawings, Mohamed Sultan is a place where they are happy to explore with their drawing boards, pens, brushes and colours. To some of us, words like exuberance, mystical, charming and happenings best described the place, while other young students may have the impression that it is a place associated with the wild, unruliness, chaos, and to a certain extent, decadence.

Nevertheless, our local youths should be given the opportunity to derive their very own impressions of this place; to know its past and to feel its presence. I have been bringing students to Mohamed Sultan Road for outdoor sketching exercises since 1991. I was always astonished and intrigued by the outcomes of our young students' works. I am talking about students, many of whom have absolutely no art or drawing background. To most of them, they form their unadorned impressions of the place with no knowledge of its past, present and future. The outing provides a memorable activity to inspire, to educate, to liberate the young mind and spirits. The power of art and drawing is dynamic and Mohamed Sultan acts as a catalyst; and an ambassador to encourage cultural dialogue across generations.

I first brought the students there in 1992 and 1993, we wandered around the warehouses ornamented with classical motifs that were faded, wrecked, dilapidated but charming and mystical. When I revisited the same place in 2000, many old warehouses were replaced with new buildings but all the energy in the past had converged along the row of the newly renovated shophouses which are now bustling with pubs, restaurants and night spots.

Apart from Syed Alwi Road, the oval windows on the facade can only be found at Mohamed Sultan Road. I hope they survive as these windows are important and tangible evidences that testify to the arduous journey of our shophouse heritage.

To the students, they may be just another row of shophouses today but tomorrow, when they walk the same path after they left Temasek Design School, the feeling will not be the same again. Their drawings displayed here will be the testimonials.

students in action!

by a first year student

art, design and education