Art for Flourishing

Art for Flourishing

February 8, 2021
Singapore is a very developed city but the idea of “work, live and play” is not sufficient. We need to cultivate our “soul” and inspire our people to be more aspirational and less economically-driven because cities that have a “dream” will outperform others in the economic arena. People who are successful should also help and lift others up.

SPEN spoke with Mr Peter Ong, Managing Partner of Rested Edge Advisory, who is the initiator of One Dream, a charity that is focused on societal improvement.

One Dream, staffed solely by volunteers, was created with the belief that people need 4Es: economic, experiential, emotional and evaluative wellbeing. When asked what “evaluative” wellbeing meant, Peter explained that it is the ability to be introspective and reflective, about one’s life and accomplishments such that, “when you look back on your life, you can have peace and happiness in your heart that you have not wasted your time”.

Homes, Hope and Memories

SPEN was particularly interested in One Dream’s first art project, “Art for our HOMES” (where “HOMES” is shorthand for “Hopes and Memories”), which aimed to bring art to the less well-resourced in the community so that they can be exposed to, and live with a beautiful piece of artwork and aspire towards higher ideals for their life. In 2017, One Dream partnered with Singaporean cultural medallion awardee and acclaimed artist, Ong Kim Seng. They persuaded Ong to paint a beautiful scene of Singapore. Ong chose the iconic Singapore flyer. One Dream’s collaborator, the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) then reproduced 300 pieces of it in museum quality lithographic print. These were gifted to 300 two-room flat owners in Jurong GRC.  Minister Desmond Lee, together with artist One Kim Seng, joined by grassroots leaders and One Dream volunteers, personally hung each painting in the first 30 flats gifted.  Their sincere wish was for these home dwellers, some of whom had downgraded to two-room flats due to financial constraints or upgraded from rented premises or one-room flats, to be inspired to create their own “dream” and work towards a better life for themselves and their family, and in turn, help others create or fulfil their dreams. Ong’s art piece is just the beginning for the flat dwellers, to look at life as a beautiful journey. It is also a hope that they will aim towards having a beautiful life and not merely a life of sufficiency.

Image of artist Ong Kim Seng’s creation:

View Ong’s personal take on the project and how art can “change your life” and “enrich your life”:

Unify, Edify and Inspire

One Dream’s second Art project, Art for our Nation, involves renowned Singapore-born celebrity photographer Russel Wong, who created two unique art pieces to honour the front liners in the healthcare and social sectors involved in the fight to contain Covid-19 and the economic and emotional aftermath of it.

Wong’s artwork of Singapore’s national flower, the orchid was reproduced in museum quality lithographic print by STPI, and distributed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and all of Singapore’s 48 family service centres. His belief is that art can shine a light over darkness, and that even for a brief moment, gazing at a piece of artwork that conveys beauty will enable us to be in a “better space”.

Image of Wong’s orchid creation:

Art and Flourishing

With reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, art belongs at the higher end of the construct and is able to trigger expansion and flourishing of the mind. Peter Ong, the person behind One Dream and the two art projects firmly believes that inspiring people to have a dream and helping others to fulfil their dreams is a formula to level up society as a whole. Our schools will do well to promote creativity-related projects. Better still, have lots of art works on the walls so that young children and students are exposed to the aesthetics and be guided to weave their own dreams and hopes. Art galleries should not be a place for a niche group or the elites, but a starting journey for every child to have a glimpse of possibilities so that they can have a flourishing life.

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