August 9 babies photo project revived for SG50

August 9 babies photo project revived for SG50

Friday, 22 May 2015

Media Type
Today (Online)

SINGAPORE — Ten years ago, full-time photographer Tay Kay Chin set out on a personal project to photograph Singaporeans born on each National Day from 1965, in celebration of the country’s 40th birthday.

He is back again, and he is determined to complete the collection for Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. Close to his target with about 38 profiles after this weekend, Mr Tay is still on the hunt for August 9 babies born in the following years: 1970, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1986, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2009 and 2011.

His National Day Babies project came about after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) approached him three years ago to do a second rendition of his first. The portraits with an accompanying quote will be permanently installed at the Marina Bay station by the end of July.

“In celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday, the LTA had planned for an Art In Transit artwork to feature photographs of 50 Singaporeans who were born on Aug 9 from 1965 to 2014,” said an LTA spokesperson TODAY spoke to. “We started working with Tay Kay Chin last year, since he had worked on similar projects in the past.”

In an interview today (May 21), Mr Tay said he had started his project partly out of curiosity, having been born “one day and one month too late” to be a National Day baby. The 49-year-old said his first memory of National Day babies was in junior college, when such students were picked out to say the Pledge. He had always wondered if their birthdays made them more patriotic.

When he first started looking for profiles in 2003, Mr Tay did not have the help of social media and had to rely on broadcasting platforms such as television and radio shows to get the word out. He also had help from word-of-mouth referrals and his own website. Four thousand posters were also put up in public areas such as housing estates and hawker centres.

In the past few months, Mr Tay has been interviewing and shooting various Singaporeans: Some he was meeting for the first time, and some he was meeting again after 10 years.

“At first it didn’t occur to me that (there’s an) extra meaning (to) meeting people I met 10 years ago. But once I met a few of them, it was like meeting a very old friend. It was very heart-warming,” he said.

Looking at how their lives have changed in the past 10 years, Mr Tay said most Singaporeans he interviewed again still talk about the challenges of living in Singapore, though some were more positive than others.

Polytechnic graduate Pauline Ang, 39, was an interesting example of a “perfect Singapore upgrading story”, said Mr Tay. When he first met her, the schoolteacher and mother of two was her husband’s moral support as he started his doctorate at the National University of Singapore.

A decade on, Madam Ang is doing her undergraduate studies at the National Institute of Education after recently receiving a Ministry of Education scholarship. Proud and excited to be part of this project, Mdm Ang said she hopes her participation can help inspire older people and spread the message that you can never be too old to learn.

On plans to do another project for Singapore’s 60th birthday, Mr Tay said: “As long as I can, I would definitely want to do it. There is something very nostalgic about it that I like.”

Source: Today (Online), mediacorp