Looking to the Future: Top Tips for New Writers

As a P.S. to the WRITING THE CITY series, Singapore Literature Prize Winner Suchen Christine Lim and UK author Jeremy Sheldon offer some excellent tips and encouragement for new writers.

As Jeremy and Suchen note, rounding off the series: Don’t give up! The world doesn’t owe you a novel. But if you perservere and put in the hours, you will be surprised at what you can achieve.

More on Writing

Throughout the Civic Life project in Singapore, leading writers have shared their thoughts with us on ideas of identity, belonging and community.

You can read three pieces, which feature in the booklet accompanying the TIONG BAHRU DVD, below.

Ng Yi-Sheng on the ever-changing landscape of Singapore.
Alvin Pang on a geography of Singapore mapped through personal reminiscences.
Tan Shzr Ee on the rich linguistic identity of Singapore and Singaporeans.

More on Writing The City

You can see the other films in the series by clicking on the links below.

Watch The Writer’s Eye, here.
Watch Characters, here.
Watch Encounters, here.
Watch The Magical, here.
Watch The Individual And The City, here.

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The Channel 9 Tower in Sydney

While Joe Lawlor was in Australia for the Sydney Film Festival to present TIONG BAHRU at this year’s festival, he ran a number of filmmaking workshops around the idea of film, place and architecture.

At the end of each of the workshops, Joe challenged the filmmakers to make a 90 second film, in the spirit of the TIONG BAHRU film project’s 90 second film competition Where The Heart Is, exploring a particular place that had meaning for the filmmakers.

Jim Poe has come back with a striking and slightly unsettling portrait of the Channel 9 Tower in Sydney, built in 1965, which is soon to be torn down to make way for an apartment block.

Jim’s work makes an interesting companion piece to Stephane Laserre’s Where The Heart Was, an entry for the Where The Heart Is competition, which received special mention for its exploration of the condominiums of Singapore’s architectural past, doomed to fall victim to the developer’s wrecking ball as a result of the en-bloc phenomenon.

Check out more films from the competition at the Where The Heart Is vimeo channel, here.

TIONG BAHRU is now on tour as part of the Travelling Sydney Film Festival and places across September and October as part of Dublin Contemporary, Ireland’s leading visual arts exhibition.

A walk in the park turns sinister…

It is a sunny afternoon in an enchanted corner of England.

Strains of elegiac classical music fade up on the soundtrack, as a camera begins to gently move along a riverbank gradually revealing an elaborate tableau.

Burnt sunbathers, beer-drinking kids, an abandoned baby, a rabbit in a boat, a bicycle accident – in WHO KILLED BROWN OWL, the perfect English arcadia gives way to varying kinds of misfortune, disruption and violence.

With more than a passing reference to the ‘narrative’ paintings by masters such as Bruegel, this spectacular single take 9-minute short is about a lazy Sunday afternoon that goes horribly wrong. Filmed over the course of one afternoon in 2003, WHO KILLED BROWN OWL features a volunteer cast of almost 100 residents of the London Borough of Enfield and is the the first in the CIVIC LIFE series of films.

WHO KILLED BROWN OWL won the Best British Short Film Award at the 58th Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Since July 2003 Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor have worked on a unique and richly cinematic series of films made in negotiation with local residents and community groups. At the centre of the work is the relationship these communities have to the environments in which they live and work. All of the CIVIC LIFE films are shot on 35mm cinemascope making extensive use of the long take and involving largely non-professional casts made up of volunteers from the local communities.

Their most recent film, TIONG BAHRU, is currently on tour around the world. Details, here.

The Individual & The City

THE INDIVIDUAL & THE CITY is the sixth and final episode in WRITING THE CITY, an online creative writing programme written and presented by Singapore Literature Prize Winner Suchen Christine Lim and UK author Jeremy Sheldon.

Directed by Singaporean filmmaker Victric Thng, the series concludes with a look at how the writer’s experiences and identity can provide inspirations for their writing. It includes an extract from acclaimed playwright Alfian Sa’at’s forthcoming collection of short stories, Malay Sketches. The final episode also examines how writers can draw support from each other and provides encouragement to new writers to make that first step into the world of creation. As Suchen notes, rounding off the series,

“Think of salmon swimming up stream against the current, heading towards home. This is you, the individual existing within the crowd. This is you: the writer. Swim, swim and swim again. Or, to put it another way, write, write and write again. Even if the world ignores you or obstructs you … even if no one cares whether you can write or not, just write because you want to. There is no better reason.”

More on Writing

Throughout the Civic Life project in Singapore, leading writers have shared their thoughts with us on ideas of identity, belonging and community.

You can read three pieces, which feature in the booklet accompanying the TIONG BAHRU DVD, below.

Ng Yi-Sheng on the ever-changing landscape of Singapore.
Alvin Pang on a geography of Singapore mapped through personal reminiscences.
Tan Shzr Ee on the rich linguistic identity of Singapore and Singaporeans.

More on Writing The City

You can see the other films in the series by clicking on the links below.

Watch Episode 1 of the series, The Writer’s Eye, here.
Watch Episode 2 of the series, Characters, here.
Watch Episode 3 of the series, Encounters, here.
Watch Episode 5 of the series, The Magical, here.
Watch a P.S. to the series, Looking Forward, here.

ALFIAN SA’AT


Alfian Sa’at is a Resident Playwright with Singapore’s W!ld Rice. He has written over 30 plays, which have been produced by W!LD RICE, The Necessary Stage, ACTION Theatre and Teater Ekamatra. Some of his plays include Causeway, Bulan Madu, Homesick, The Optic Trilogy and The Asian Boys Trilogy. Alfian has also co-written plays with other playwrights, namely with Ng How Wee on Fugitives and with Chong Tze Chien on sex.violence.blood.gore. Alfian has also performed in some of his works and he is a published author, with two poetry collections: One Fierce Hour and A History of Amnesia, as well as a collection of short stories: Corridor. In 2001, Alfian was awarded the Golden Point Award for Poetry and the Young Artist Award for Literature. He has also won the Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award and the Malay Language Council Commendation Award. Alfian’s works have been read and performed in other cities such as Kuala Lumpur, London, Zurich, Berlin and Stockholm. Alfian Sa’at’s forthcoming book, Malay Sketches, is a collection of 35-40 flash fictions, each presenting and articulating a different aspect of “Malayness” in contemporary Singapore. His most recent play, Cooling Off Day, premiered at the 2011 Man Singapore Theatre Festival.

John Gollings on Architecture and Photography

In this report from ABC Radio National’s Artworks, the relationship between architecture and photography is explored.


While many of us are familiar with the look of many cities and their buildings around the world, for the most part this familiarity is the result of glossy imagery, rather than personal experience. And often, the photographic images that we recognise are hyper-real productions, created for the designers by architectural photographers.

So have we become too dependent on these carefully managed photos? Is there a disconnection between the images we consume in magazines and books and what’s really on the ground? And is photography operating too much in the service of elevating a designer’s (and a building’s) profile, for us to maintain any critical judgment of our built environments?

Australian John Gollings is one of the most experienced and recognised architectural photographers in the world, and he joins Professor Philip Goad in conversation with Michael Shirrefs. They discuss the role of the photograph and whether the photographer has any wriggle room to critique architecture with the camera.

Listen to the discussion by clicking on the image below.

More on John Gollings, here.

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Listen to a previous edition of the Artworks programme, exploring Singapore’s performing arts scene, here.

Listen to a further edition of the Artworks programme, exploring Singapore’s visual arts scene, here.

Listen to a two part Poetica special, exploring Singaporean poetry, here.

In Rear Vision, also on the ABC, the story of public housing in Singapore is explored, , starting with the very first developments along Tiong Bahru Road.