Long Road To Top Arts Honour

Long Road To Top Arts Honour

Date
Saturday, 19 November 2011

Media Type
Straits Times

Visual artist Lim Yew Kuan, 83, among four recipients of this year's Cultural Medallion.

For visual artist Lim Yew Kuan, good things really come to those who wait.

The 83-year-old held his first solo exhibition in Singapore only last year. The retrospective of his works was shown at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts last July.

This year, he has chalked up another milestone as he was awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest arts honour, last night.

Receiving the award from President Tony Tan Keng Yam at a presentation ceremony held at the Istana, Lim said in Mandarin: "At my age, it is indeed a great honour receiving our country's most prestigious award. My road has been long and difficult, but nevertheless a satisfying and enlightening one."

The son of the late Lim Hak Tai – the founder of the academy – is a prolific artist who is known for his social realistic paintings of Singapore and Singaporean life. Lim also lectured at the academy before becoming its principal, from 1963 to 1979.

Three other arts veterans also received the Cultural Medallion. They are 74-year-old lyricist Mohamed Noor Mohamed Yusofe, better known as Yusnor Ef; composer Kelly Tang, 50; and 54-year-old theatre practitioner Halimah Jaafar, better known as Atin Amat.

Yusnor, a legendary figure in the Malay music industry who has penned the lyrics to more than 260 songs, took the opportunity to plead for support for Singapore's pop history: "Singaporeans need to learn and appreciate our heritage and cultural history, which music is a part of.

"I hope for more government support in the form of publishing and production grants for individuals like me to endeavour in recording our art history."

Tang, whose numerous musical compositions have been presented at prestigious venues worldwide – including the Sydney Opera House and New York's Carnegie Hall – said: "I gratefully accept this prestigious award and I humbly take on the challenge of upholding the ideals and values represented by the Cultural Medallion."

He is currently associate professor of music at Nanyang Technological University's National Institute of Education. Early next year, he will take on a new role as dean at the School of the Arts.

To date, including the four this year, the Cultural Medallion has been handed out to 104 artists since it was instituted in 1979. The honour is given to those who have achieved artistic excellence in their fields.

Atin, who has directed 48 plays as artistic director of Malay troupe Teater Kami, said: "With this award, I hope to see the future generation continue to look at my works, and for Malay theatre to continue to progress."

Cultural Medallion recipients are eligible for an $80,000 grant, which can be used to fund a new arts project.

Former Cultural Medallion recipients include musician Dick Lee, poet Edwin Thumboo and film-maker Eric Khoo.

At the same ceremony last night, six Young Artist Awards were also handed out by Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim.

These awards are given to those aged 35 or below, who have shown promise in artistic excellence.

Recipients can apply for study or project grants of up to $10,000.

This year's recipients are mixed media artist Ang Song Ming, 31; comics artist Troy Chin Chien Wen, 34; stage lighting designer Lim Woan Wen, 34; tabla musician Nawaz Mohammad Mirajkar, 35; stage performer and director Peter Sau, 35; and classical music conductor Joshua Tan Kang Ming, 35. 

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Source: Straits Times, sph