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Swim like a Gillman

Pangzi thought he was going swimming when I brought him to Gillman Barracks one annoying afternoon.

“Daddy, what’s Gillman?” he asked.

“Erm, a man with gills,” I replied.

“Daddy, what’s gills?”

“Erm, something to help fishes swim underwater.”

“I want! I want!”

That was easy. So off we went to visit the Centre for Contemporary Art where the exhibition “No Country” was held. (It is ongoing till July 20, 2014.)


Once there, Pangzi generously allowed me a few moments to appreciate the art pieces before asking questions again.

“Daddy, where’s Gillman?”

“Erm, we’re right here. Gillman Barracks.” I wasn’t lying.

“Daddy, where’s the fish?”

“Erm, you see the red cloth? Looks like a fish tail, right?” That was also true.

“I see it! I see it!”


Seems all you need is a little imagination.

All the more I think children need to be exposed to the fine arts early. You never know when you’ll uncover the next Salvador Dali.

“Daddy, is that naked person the Gillman?”

“Erm, let’s move on to the next piece.”


The Centre for Contemporary Art wasn’t there when I first visited the place, but sure makes a fine addition now. It’s not the biggest gallery around in Singapore, but still manages to house a couple of audio-visual sections on top of the general display of paintings and sculptures.

Gillman Barracks has undoubtedly livened up the contemporary art scene of Singapore. Give it some time and let’s see if it will ever reach the commercial heights of similar venues in the region like Beijing’s 798.


“Daddy, I see a black fish!” said Pangzi proudly, pointing to what looked like splattered ink on the wall.

Good, you learn fast.

Then he “swam” to the next section, flapping his arms more like a bird than a fish.

“Daddy, I see fishbone!” he said of my favourite piece.


At this point, someone else in the room had taken an interest in the observations of a five-year-old.

“Excuse me, can you please ensure your son doesn’t get too close to the exhibits?” said a smiling man. I hated that fake smile.

I had a plan. In all seriousness, I told Pangzi, “See that fish painting? Don’t touch it.”

“Daddy, why don’t touch it?”

I shrugged.

You need to know something about my son. If you tell him not to do it, he’s SO going to do it.


We were here: 



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