Amateur artists who sold $460,000 of paintings before first
The Straits Times
| Feb 28, 1993
IT WOULD have been enough to make Van Gogh choke
on his celebrated sunflowers. Three amateur artists who had never
exhibited their paintings publicly before raised nearly half a million
dollars at their first show - even before it
Perhaps Van Gogh should have painted bougainvilleas,
the flowers that Jalan Besar GRC MP Peh Chin Hua, 45, chose to paint
for his first art exhibition with community leaders Mr Fok Chow,
76, and Mr Lee Sheau Lim, 50.
They had hoped to raise $150,000 to upgrade the
Geylang West Community Centre by presenting Chinese paintings and
calligraphy to donors pledging $1,000 or more.
Donors who gave at least $1,000 received works
by Mr Lee and Mr Fok. For $5,000 or more, they would get one of
Mr Peh's bougainvillea paintings or his calligraphy pieces.
People who pledged at least $30,000 were rewarded
with one of 10 calligraphy pieces done by Reverend Song Nian, a
guest artist who is a Buddhist monk.
But long before the show opened at the Singapore
Conference Hall yesterday, donors had pledged about $460,000 and
snapped up all 200 artworks. Said Mr Peh: "This is totally
unexpected. If there are any more contributions, we'll have to pick
up our brushes again."
The 15-year-old community centre's improvements
will cost $700,000. Now the artists hope to raise $500,000.
The idea was suggested by a community leader when he saw Mr Peh's
"Our standard cannot be compared with that
of professional artists," said Mr Peh.
Mr Fok, a retired clerk, said he began his calligraphy
as a youth in Canton, China, by painting anti-Japanese banners and
Mr Lee, a businessman and self-taught artist,
said: "I thought I had to donate only 20 paintings. I ended
Brigadier-General (Reservist) George Yeo, who opened the two-day
show yesterday, said it was a more meaningful way of raising funds
than dinners and lucky draws. But he will not emulate Mr Peh.
Said BG Yeo: "Although I'm Minister for
the Arts, I myself am not an artist. If I were to try to sell my
paintings, some people might buy out of a sense of charity or pity,
but it would be a joke."