A Break Between Two Recesses (Detail), 2014, Digital Print, 330 x 50 cm

By DORATHY LYE, Singapore International School, Hong Kong, Head of Department Art & Special Projects

This body of photographic works stems from a preoccupation with the capacity of vessels to be useful tools and modes of transportation in our society, especially in the context of Singapore and Hong Kong, when both islands served as strategic port locations along the Malacca Straits and the southern coast of China respectively, as British colonies.

Boats as vessels are designed to stay afloat and to transverse between different points of destinations. While they may come in various shapes and sizes, they are predominantly small. Though restricted in the functions they play, they are instrumental as connectors between large and more powerful vessels and serve to navigate narrow meandering channels with great ease.

Red Vessel (Broken)_thumbnail

Set Adrift, Red Vessel (Broken), 2014, Digital Print, 30 x 30 cm

Unfortunately, in a fast developing environment, these small vehicles are as quickly acquired and exhausted of their potential. Gone are the days that we would rely on such vessels to serve as our means of livelihood or to transverse us to our destinations. Perhaps with proper maintenance or repair, these vessels may be able to journey the longer mile again. More often than not, they are set adrift or discarded.

In this body of works, the artist celebrates the state of entropy the contributions of the little instruments that have enabled colonial islands such as Singapore and Hong Kong to be the urbanized city-states of today.

Lesson Ideas for A Break Between Two Recesses (2014) / Set Adrift (2014) by Dorathy Lye

This lesson is suitable for students in: Secondary 1 Express

Artwork titles: A Break Between Two Recesses, Set Adrift (Series of 6)

Name of artist: Dorathy Lye

School: Singapore International School, Hong Kong

Possible Guiding Questions

1. What is the subject matter in this series of photographs?

2. Describe how the main subject matter is composed in each photograph.

3. Why do you think the artist has chosen to portray the subject matter, vessels?

4. What do you think is the significance of the subject matter to the artist and to Singapore?

Possible Elegant Art Tasks

Starting point: Interdisciplinary

In this lesson idea, students could investigate a topic in social studies/geography, that allows students to compare then and now. For example, comparing photographs from the National Archives (http://archivesonline.nas.sg) , paintings from the National Heritage Board (http://www.sgcool.sg) or personal family photographs with what they might see today. The teacher could introduce the concept of documentary photography, and simple photoshop filters that could be applied to images to change their visual qualities. These could be discussed in relation to photographs by the old masters, and photographs that a contemporary news journalist might take. The students could be asked to create a series of evocative photographs, that hides the year the photograph was taken. A possible elegant art task could be:

Create a series of up to seven photographs that depicts the characteristics and history of a place in Singapore (e.g. your community surrounding the school, or near your home). You may choose to use the fine art style, or documentary photography style in your work. You could apply filters if it enhances a particular feeling you wish to evoke. Explain your decisions made, and any challenges faced.

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