The National Library Creative Residency invites creatives from different artistic disciplines to draw inspiration from the collections of the National Library, Singapore and the National Archives of Singapore.
We are keen to collaborate with creatives who employ innovative and imaginative methods to conceptualise new works inspired by the digital and physical collections from the National Library, Singapore (NLS) and the National Archives of Singapore (NAS).
Residents are encouraged to reimagine or reinterpret the collections in ways that provide fresh perspectives and make them more engaging to a wider community of users. The Residents are required to share their concepts, and this could take the form of videos, publications, literary works, artworks, musical compositions, or more. Such sharing helps to enhance or reshape public discovery, exploration, and engagement with our collections and content.
We are on the lookout for projects that make effective and meaningful use of our collections. Applicants are to propose and employ suitable methods to conceptualise new creative works inspired by the collections. The themes include but are not limited to the following:
The National Library Creative Residency is open to Singapore-based creative practitioners (individuals or collectives) working in any discipline or form of expression. This includes but is not limited to visual and digital media artists, composers, musicians, designers, writers, and creatives. We also welcome inter-disciplinary creative practitioners.
Successful applicants should possess relevant research and artistic credentials or equivalent; preferably have an established record of achievement in their chosen field of research and the potential to excel further.
The award of the Residency is for a period of six months:
All Residents are required to sign an agreement which includes the following obligations:
• Develop and/or produce a conceptualisation, completed work, or body of works inspired by NLB’s collections. Depending on the proposal, this can be, but is not limited to, artworks, musical compositions, digital visualisations, literary works, graphic design, or video games. All productions and conceptualisations will be archived by NLB where possible.
• Participate in an engagement session with NLB staff on their use of NLB’s collections.
• Give a public presentation, which may be live-streamed, based on their Residency research.
• Acknowledge NLB in presentations or publications of the works resulting from the Residency.
• Submit a final report/write-up of 1,000 to 3,000 words on the project, detailing the creative and thought processes behind the works.
Each application must include:
1. A completed application form. In providing information on academic credentials and previous experience, scanned copies of testimonials and documents are acceptable and must be attached at the time of application. If you are selected for the Residency, the original or certified copies bearing the university/company seal must be presented for verification.
2. A detailed proposal (not exceeding 10 pages, excluding references and annexes) that includes the following:
a. A comprehensive outline of the proposed topic of research, including details of the NLS and/or NAS collections and resources to be used and how they are crucial to the research objectives. Please also specify if you are using materials from other sources.
b. Description of the intended outcome of the project, including the form that the creative output would take, for example, painting, video, performance, script, etc., and the possible platforms (within NLB or in other contexts) where this output can be showcased.
c. Key project milestones and estimated time needed for each milestone.
d. How the proposed project will provide new perspectives on the NLS and/or NAS collections.
3. A Curriculum Vitae (CV) that includes the following information:
a. Details of research awards or residencies previously and concurrently held.
b. Details of professional seminars/conference papers/public lectures presented.
c. A list of major publications and exhibitions participated in.
d. Portfolio of at least five (5) projects/works that demonstrates relevance to the proposed idea.
e. Details of any other past or current involvement in creative projects.
4. Reference letters from two referees that should address the following:
a. The applicant’s qualifications, ability and experience.
b. The quality of the applicant’s previous works.
c. The applicant’s demonstrated capacity to complete projects within a reasonable time frame, and the feasibility of the project in terms of available resources and time or other constraints.
d. The applicant’s awareness of relevant available sources in NLS and/or NAS and an assessment of whether these sources are likely to support the research proposed.
e. Whether the project will make a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field.
Applications should be emailed to NL_Creative_Residency@nlb.gov.sg by 16 June 2023.
Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Shortlisted applicants may be invited for an interview. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made known within three months of the closing date.
Applicants will be assessed based on the following criteria:
• Originality and artistic merit in proposed creative work.
• A strong track record of artistic/creative achievement and production demonstrated through a portfolio of previous work and referees’ letters. For digital projects, applicant must possess the requisite skills and software to build and deliver the project independently.
• An effective concept and project plan explaining the relevance of specific library and/or archives’ collections to the project, how they will be used in developing and meeting the objectives of the creative work and residency. The proposal must be achievable within timeframe of six months.
For further information about the Residency, please contact:
The Administrator, National Library Creative Residency
Playwright Jean Tay studies the history of Singapore’s approach in the containment of contagious diseases, as well as public attitudes and stigmas surrounding sickness through the histories of different hospitals and quarantine sites (such as St John’s Island, the old St Andrew’s Mission Hospital and old Middleton Hospital), in order to bring these histories to life through theatre. In doing so, she delves into oral history accounts, public histories of hospitals and quarantine sites, as well as the personal memories of individuals with unique experiences there.
Artist Khairulddin Wahab investigates the historical process of disenchantment in the natural world through Singapore’s environmental history, working with materials related to plantation agriculture and land use in Singapore, which have informed and formed the land. He draws from natural, material, and environmental resources in the National Library and National Archives, in particular materials such as cartographic surveys, colonial representations of the island and plantation and aerial photographs, using these resources as departure points for a new series of paintings.
A Stubborn Bloom
The collective A Stubborn Bloom takes cues from visual and social life in Singapore in the 1990s to develop a video piece revolving around a fictional teen character. Inspired by the collections from the National Library, the National Archives and Asian Film Archive, the duo have found a multiplicity of entry points to relook Singaporean life in this period. Highlights from their research include artistic productions from the 1990s such as book manuscripts, theatre plays, music and indie films, newspaper articles on youth, architectural publications, tertiary prospectus and teen magazines. These materials provide clues to the embodied experience of teen-hood and the structural developments in place that had ushered Singapore into the new millenium.
Tan Shao Han
Tan Shao Han draws upon the National Library’s and National Archives’ collections of primary and secondary sources, oral history interviews, microfilms, and photos to aid in conceptualising and designing a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG), “Da Xia” / “大侠”. "Da Xia" is a game of historical fiction inspired by the first half of the 20th century. Players assume the titular role of “Da Xia" or "gallant” who is a desperate hero caught up in wartime upheavals. While historical imaginations of Singapore’s WWII experiences are often concerned with nations and empires' military and geopolitical objectives, “Da Xia” takes a different, more personal direction to focus on the everyday lives and quotidian heroics of civilians and survivors during WWII and the Japanese Occupation. This game draws inspiration from various Chinese literary and storytelling traditions (such as the Nanyang, gongan, and wuxia genres) to imagine shadowy worlds of danger and skulduggery during this tumultuous time.
The National Library Board is pleased to announce the recipients of the National Library Creative Residency 2022:
Title of project: “Where the flowers never stop blooming”
Title of project: “On Sale Soon: Cloth Made in Malaya”
Title of project: “The Streets On Fire”
Title of project: “Hybrid Storytelling in Horror Narratives: Using films in theatre productions to inspire youths and create immersive experiences”
More information on the Creative Residency 2022 projects will be available at a later stage.