Where Art Thou

Make way, huge, established art institutions. This issue, we take you slightly off the beaten track and introduce three not-so-typical art spots that will probably make you think twice about our local art scene – in a positive sense, of course!

Drawn By Passion

Dahlia Gallery


When Debbie Pang graduated in 1993 with a Diploma in Fine Arts, she found it a struggle to pursue her passion, as there were few galleries willing to showcase the works of a young local artist back then.

Today, instead of being an artist, she manages art, and runs Dahlia Gallery. Ms Pang’s areas of focus are clear: providing emerging artists, especially Singaporeans, with a platform “as affordable as possible” to exhibit; and taking their work to regional art fairs – opportunities that were almost non- existent during her youth.

Opened in December 2009, two months after Ms Pang gave birth to her daughter whom she named the gallery after, Dahlia Gallery is located on the second floor of a shophouse in Chinatown, offering a completely different perspective to the mechanical commercialism going on in the street below. Atypical of art spaces, the gallery is dressed in cheery red and blue hues, exuding an intimate attraction, as if inviting visitors to stay and experience its unassuming optimism.

Dahlia Gallery exists as a tranquil art oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of its complicated surroundings, carrying the hopes and aspirations of eager young artists, and the passion of its owner.

69A Pagoda Street Singapore 059228




Opening hours
Tuesdays – Saturdays: 12pm to 7pm; Sundays: 12pm to 5pm Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays

A Photographic Dream

2902 Gallery

A strange mural covers a wall in 2902’s office. In it, a caped camera-headed man leads a flying pencil over skyscrapers.

“That represents our mission,” explains Ms Gwen Lee, Director of 2902 and one of its five partners.

“I don’t see us as superheroes, but we are doing our best to pave the way for artists,” she elaborates.

Built on a dream, 2902’s aim was to fill a void in the local photography scene. An enthusiastic photography hobbyist, Ms Lee felt that while there were many local aspiring photographers, there was no dedicated gallery to market their work.

And so, on 29 February 2008, the gallery simply named after its birthday was born.

Today, 2902 is Southeast Asia’s largest photographic art gallery showcasing works of emerging and accomplished photographers. Housed within the Old School arts complex, it also organises the Singapore International Photography Festival, which, despite being held only twice so far, has gained rave reviews by the international photography fraternity.

In its short existence, 2902 has helped raise the profile and appreciation of photography as an artform in Singapore tremendously. And judging from the gallery’s plans for expansion, and goal to become a regional photography resource centre, this dream looks set to get bigger.

11B Mount Sophia Old School, #B2-09 Singapore 228466




Opening hours
Wednesdays – Saturdays: 12pm – 8pm Sundays: 12pm – 6pm Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays (private viewings only) and Public Holidays

Art On The Wild Side

Wessex Estate


Possessing a laid-back, rustic charm, Wessex Estate, a 28-hectare residential site comprising black-and-white pre-war walk-up apartments in a lush green setting, is today home to about 30 local and foreign professional artists.

Among them, a couple who are retirees-turned-painters feel at one with nature here and hone their craft, undistracted. Having worked for the United Nations previously, Dr Praema Raghavan-Gilbert now spends her time painting with her husband Mr Lee Gilbert, an American and part-time business studies lecturer, in what she calls her “island of solitude”.

Together with Indonesian artist Laila Azra, the trio form Barrosa Studio. Especially for Ms Azra, a mother of three young boys, the studio provides a respite from the chores of daily life, to engage in her lifelong passion for painting.

Similarly, Mr Max Kong, who specialises in mixed-media pieces and shares his studio space with Japanese ceramicist Saya Yamaguchi, feels that the place allows him a sense of “freedom in life”. Both artists, who are in their 30s, live and work there. And even though the space is hardly extravagant, they have every reason to be happy living in Singapore’s Eden equivalent for artists.

“It’s a blessing to do what I do here,” admits Mr Kong.

Breathing the air from this wild side, these artists could hardly yearn for very much more.



Barrosa Studio
4 Woking Road, #01-02 Singapore 138688

Lee Gilbert:

Dr Praema Raghavan-Gilbert:

Laila Azra:

Max Kong Studio
3 Westbourne Road, #01-01 Arabia Court Singapore 138943

Max Kong:

Saya Yamaguchi:

Other Studios In Wessex Estate
Frances Alleblas Studio
2 Woking Road,
Singapore 138707

joyce Loo - joy Clay Studio and Gallery
10 Woking Road,
Singapore 138691

Kelly Reedy - Studio Arts
27 Woking Road,
Singapore 138705

Marisa Keller Art & Printmaking Studio
28 Woking Road,
Singapore 138706

Dick Lim – d’Art Studio
5 Westbourne Road,
#02-03 Blenheim Court
Singapore 138944

Opening Hours:
Visits to all Wessex Estate studios by appointment only.


    Jul 18, 2011
    Ryandall Lim
    Norman Ng
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