Oxley Cultural Centre

38 Oxley Road

38 Oxley Road

So there are calls for Lee Kuan Yew’s home to be turned into a heritage site.

As always, I’ve got a better idea, ladies and gentlemen: Oxley Cultural Centre (OCC).

OCC will be an arts and cultural centre at which artists will stay at for residencies between a month to three months.

It’ll follow the same concept as Toji Cultural Centre, where I had such a fruitful time during my residency back in 2013.

Food and lodging will be provided by the OCC, which will have a National Arts Council-appointed manager/administrator to handle finance matters, maintenance arrangements, residency rosters, events such as poetry readings, etc; a part-time chef to provide lunches and dinners for the artists; and other support staff, where required.

Rationale:

  1. “When I’m dead, demolish it,” said the man, in reference to his home.
     
    But what would happen after is a foregone conclusion: A multi-storey condominium called 38 Oxley in its place – not exactly the most fitting tribute to one of the founding fathers of Singapore.
  2. If we preserve it as it is, it’d be an insult to Lee, who specifically asked for it to be demolished.
     
    His rationale for demolishing it was, ostensibly, to prevent an Ozymandian ending to a place where he must’ve had many happy memories.
     
    “I’ve seen other houses,” he said. “Nehru’s, Shakespeare’s – they become a shambles after a while.”
  3. This is the same man who once said that “poetry is a luxury we cannot afford”.
     
    Well, we can afford it now, after all that he and the old guard have done to build the nation – many thanks to them for that.
  4. Right now, we’ve only got Centre42, the Writer-in-the-Gardens Residency Programme and the Pulau Ubin Artists-In-Residency Programme.
     
    In the case of the latter two, they don’t exactly provide spaces in which artists can reside for an extended period of time to work.
     
    Extended interactions are important; artists work in solitude for much of the time – sometimes, not by choice, because the profession is as such.
     
    More opportunities for working closely with other artists – at residencies and festivals for example, where artists work and live together – will help broaden perspectives and deepen understanding about crafts that take years to hone.
  5. To pay tribute to the man in a respectful manner, we keep the house as it is, so there is room for memory and nostalgia, but we put it to another, better use – putting soul into Singapore through the arts and literature.

After all, Lee was always one for pragmatism. Putting 38 Oxley to practical purpose – as the OCC, in higher service of the nation – would’ve been what he’d’ve wanted.

Find out more about the Toji Cultural Foundation, and read what others have to say about their Toji Cultural Centre residency experiences.

A luxury we cannot afford

Ozymandias

Come, it's time to go. (ILLUSTRATION: Ashley Virgilius Leong)

Come, it’s time to go. (ILLUSTRATION: Ashley Virgilius Leong)

I didn’t have anything textual or visual to add to the conversation.

So I went down the aural route instead; I created a playlist I call “Ozymandias”.

  1. Street Fighting Man by The Rolling Stones
  2. Pride (In The Name Of Love) by U2
  3. Eye In The Sky by The Alan Parsons Project
  4. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next by Manic Street Preachers
  5. Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
  6. Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
  7. I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab For Cutie
  8. Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by Green Day
  9. Viva La Vida by Coldplay
  10. Closing Time by Semisonic

Listen to it here on YouTube.

Interestingly, none of the artists that came to mind when creating it were Singaporean…

Quality time, in depth

(PHOTO CREDIT: LAREMY LEE)

(PHOTO CREDIT: LAREMY LEE)

I thought I’d talk a bit more on the nature of quality time. (A primer here, if you’re not familiar with the concept.)

My take: When it comes to romance, neither of you is expected to give up your life for the other.

Your individual careers and hobbies are important too; you need to be whole yourself before you become part of a whole.

But the conventional wisdom is: if you really like someone, you’ll make the effort and give them time – in a reasonable quantity, but with maximum quality.

So you should be spending enough time together, and having a great experience while you’re at it.

At the end of the day, though, you can’t base relationships solely on what happens when you’re together. Because they’re also about what happens when you’re apart.

You still have to keep in touch – although this is subjective.

What is reasonable for some may be anathema for others; X may want an update every hour, on the hour, while Y may be comfortable with a daily summary.

This is where compromise begins, but if it ends there, then it is what it is.

And – as always – if it’s not happening, it probably ain’t gonna happen.

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