The St. Nick’s girls are back with more tales of building their very own community art project, SuperbaG50! Diana shares,”We last left off at the conceptualisation of the SuperbaG50 idea, a community art project to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday at our old school’s National Day Celebrations. It did not take us long to work out the finer details. Just a couple more makan sessions was all it took.”

Rough sketches of SuperbaG50 drawn on the back of napkins.

You could say that this community art project also became fantastic cause to gather, and bond over good food and a common goal!

Rendering the specific dimensions of the final SuperbaG50 on computer.

Based on the SG50 theme “Home: Hope & Memories” at our old school, the team decided SuperbaG shall encapsulate the collective hopes and memories of students, alumnae, staff and parents with individual artworks that will come to life in papier-mâché form.

CHIJ St Nicholas’ SG50 celebration logo.

The artworks shall depict memories of the artists growing up in Singapore and in CHIJ St Nicholas, as well as hopes they have for our nation and our school. As a tribute to our first Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, values associated with his lifetime of works will be captured in words to remind us of the qualities we could emulate.

Spot the cute papier-mâché bumblebee above that has stayed intact after all these years.

As we set out to convey our ideas to the student participants, we took the opportunities to share our school experiences with them too. While our partner teacher was briefing the girls, we passed around some of our old papier-mâché products. Papier-mâché was undoubtedly one of those art projects that most primary students would have done at least once. We all remember how we would blow a balloon, prepare a mixture of flour and water, then dip newspaper strips into the starch and stick them onto the balloon. After sticking several layers and leaving it to dry, we would then paint over it to create our desired product.

The types of stationery and wallets that students used to bring to school.

We also shared with the students the types of stationery and wallets we used to bring to school. They were little identity markers of an otherwise fairly homogenous community. Just for fun, we asked the girls to place their wallets on the table and compared it with our retro wallet. See if you can spot the wallet that used to be very popular over two decades ago. If you had recognised the [i:xiz] brand, then you most definitely belong to the ‘80s era. However, we also noticed that certain cartoon characters were evergreen. Sanrio characters such as Hello Kitty and My Melody are still popular today, as well as the famed Forever Friends bear.

Alumnae members working hard on the SuperbaG.

While various parties started on their artwork, our team of alumnae members began working on the SuperbaG itself. As most of us have full-time jobs, we could only work on it during weekends. So week after week, we met in school on Saturdays and painstakingly put layer upon layer of newspapers, shaping various parts of the bag as we moved along.

This massive communal installation art project was possible only with the collaborative effort of our primary and secondary students, teachers, parents, administrative staff, the National Education ambassadors, Green Club and Art Club members; who provided us with all the recyclable materials.

Our daughters, who are current CHIJ St Nicholas pupils, also chipped in to help.

This is us making a gigantic water bottle as an accessory for the SuperbaG. Our former Principal, Mrs Hwang-Lee Poh See, used to remind us to drink lots of water. She would do so every single day, so long as she was in school. Besides reminding us during our flag-raising ceremony, she would also do so at random times of the day. The public address system would let out a tune before Mrs Hwang blasted into the speakers in Mandarin, “宝贝们! 今天天气很热!记得要多喝水!” (Translated: “My darlings, the weather is very hot today! Remember to drink more water!”)

The gigantic water bottle that will be used as an accessory for the SuperbaG.

We did not realise it before, but working on this project together had led to more than we expected. Funny anecdotes of our schooldays, reminiscence of the little things and habits, and rekindled friendships. We also did not realise how much we missed being students. As we continue working towards our final product, below is a preview of a memory artwork.

Alumna’s illustration of her school memories.

This alumna’s artwork is inspired by her vivid memory of our school which comprises the following:

1) The tree-lined Ang Mo Kio Street 13 that gently slopes upwards towards our main school gate;

2) The steel vehicle barrier nicknamed “Omega Gate” that has a specially designed inverted U-shape to allow us to walk through it without having to go under it;

3) The baby crocodile pond that greets us as we enter the main gate;

4) The fried chicken wings that we love so much, from a canteen vendor who had been with our school since our Victoria Street days; and

5) The watering can that holds so many memories associated with the daily watering of the bougainvillea plants that line the balcony of every classroom. Many meaningful conversations were made and lasting friendships formed next to those pretty pink flowers.

Here is a large serving of the legendary fried chicken wings of CHIJ St Nicholas. It was estimated that the late Aunty Meow Lang who passed away last year possibly fried up to three million chicken wings in the 41 years she spent with the school! Her recipe and perfected cooking method have been passed down to her daughter who is currently managing the canteen stall.
Just as Singapore has a national flower, our school flower would undoubtedly be the bougainvillea. Our older alumnae would beg to differ though, as our basketball court at the former Victoria Street premises were filled with morning glories. Either way, we love our school flowers!

There was an article titled “Crocodiles charm girls of St Nicholas” from The New Paper dated 29 August 1989. Yes, it’s true. Our crocodile pond made it to the news when the six baby crocodiles first arrived. One of them was even nicknamed Toady because it had no tail and the girls thought it looked like a toad. Another was nicknamed Alexandra the Great for no apparent reason.

Some of the baby crocodiles from the crocodile pond in St Nicholas Girls’ School.

The SuperbaG will be completed in time for National Day and we look forward to sharing more memories of our old school and growing up in Singapore with all of you in our next blog post.

Click here to read up on our previous SuperbaG post!



Words and Photographs from Diana, Teen Yen and the other St Nicholas alumni
Published by irememberSG blog

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