The Singapore Watercolour Society aims to:
- promote the art of watercolour painting
- undertake research work with the view of improving and raising the standard of the art
- foster and exchange ideas and knowledge (theoretical and practical) of the art
- instill in the public an awareness and appreciation of the art
The Singapore Watercolour Society seeks to achieve its mission through:
- holding exchange exhibitions and organising lectures, seminars and workshops in and out of Singapore
- organising indoor and outdoor painting sessions and painting excursions in and out of Singapore
- publishing magazines, journals, newsletters and other
materials concerned with the art.
History and Milestones
The Singapore Watercolour society (SWS) was officially registered with the Singapore Registry of Societies. At fifty years old, SWS is now one of the oldest active societies promoting the use of water media in Singapore. Eight remarkable leaders have led SWS during its history, namely: Sim Kwang Teck, Chen Chong Swee, Khoo Ean Ghee, Gog Seng Hooi, Ong Kim Seng, Seah Kam Chuan, Dr Michael Lim and current President Seah Kang Chui. Each has made significant contributions to the water media art scene in Singapore.
The formative years of the Singapore Watercolour Society were from 1970 to 1979. On 10 December 1970, SWS held its inaugural exhibition at the Victorial Memorial Hall, with then Minister for Culture, Mr Jek Yuen Thong, opening the exhibition. This was the first-ever watercolour medium exhibition in Singapore. The success of the first annual exhibition led to consecutive Annual Exhibitions from 1972 to 1980. During this period, SWS was also invited to participate in the regional exhibitions, namely Watercolour Society of Malaysia Exhibition and Taiwan Art and Educational Circle Exhibition in Taipei.
In 1983, Ong Kim Seng obtained the Paul B. Remmy American Watercolor Society Memorial Award. He was the first Singaporean to win this award. In 1982 to 1983, Lim Hwee Tiong won the Special Award organised by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art Alumni Association. Keng Tiang Tee’s artwork was collected by the Sun Yat-Sen Nanyang Memorial. In 1985, Lim Hwee Tiong won Tan Tsze Chor Art Scholarship and won 1st Prize in UOB Painting Competition (Representational Category). In 1986, Lim Hwee Tiong was selected to exhibit in Artistes Contemporains De Singapore Au Grand Palais, Paris. In 1986, Low Puay Hua was also awarded Silver Medal by the Salon Des Artistes, Paris, France. Following, consecutively in 1988 and 1989, Ong Kim Seng was awarded the Lucy B. Moore Award and Clara Stroud Award by AWS respectively. These awards brought SWS onto the international stage and renowned watercolour master Dong Kingman was made Honorary Advisor of SWS in 1985.
The 1990s marked an excellent period for our society as we built on the success. Ong Kim Seng continued clinching awards, Signature Membership by AWS (1990), Barse Miller Award by the AWS and Cultural Medallion Award by the Ministry of Information and the Arts, Singapore (1990). In 1994, Lim Hwee Tiong was featured in Art and Artist Speak: Singapore Artists Speak 2nd Edition and participated in the Singapore Artists Works Exhibition held in Paris, France. Seah Kang Chui received the Certificates of Commendation of UOB Painting of the Year in 1992 and 1996. Seah Kang Chui won 1st Prize for Tan Tsze Chor Art Award for realistic category (1997). Seah Kam Chuan won the top award in 1996 at the Society of Amateurs’ Open Poster Competition in UK (1996). Ng Kwee King was selected as one of the new young artists by Shell Discovery Art of Singaporeans (1998). Diana Lim was selected as one of the new young artists by Shell Discovery Art of Singaporeans (1999).
SWS continued its streak of award-winning in the period of the millennium. Awards included, Winsor and Newton Award by AWS to Ong Kim Seng (2000), Dolphin Fellowship Award by AWS to Ong Kim Seng (2001), Ida Wells Award by AWS to Ong Kim Seng (2001), Signature Membership by National Watercolour Society (NWS), USA to Ng Woon Lam (2000), Honorable Mention in February 2001 Issue of International Artists Magazine to Ng Kwee King, 1st prize in Tan Tsze Chor Award in Western Art Category to Seah Kam Chuan (2004), Long Service Award Medal given by Ministry of Education to Seah Kang Chui (2004), Pro Arte Award by the Artist Magazine to Loy Chye Chuan (2006), 1st prize in Western Art Category in Singapore Art Society Exhibition to Ng Woon Lam (2007), Bronze Medal of Honour by AWS to Ng Woon Lam (2009), Signature Membership by NWS to Khoo Cheang Jin (2009).
The 21st Century was labelled the Golden Years of our society as the incubation, and the work of senior members of the society helped the newer generation of the society’s members to prosper. Many of the new members of the society started winning awards and gaining recognition, continuing the success of their predecessors. Today, the society is flourishing and consists of over 160 members, including foreigners. With an established track record of exhibitions and numerous awards, SWS is one of the major players in promoting the watercolour medium in the Southeast Asian region.
Yu Man Ling
Ryan Qin Jiming
Assistant Research Officer