It is no secret that Singaporeans love food. Ask any Singaporeans to list their favourite food, I am sure they can give you a long list of dishes and many of them can be found in the hawker centres!

I love food and the best thing is that I stay in Bedok where there are plenty of good hawker centres!

Singapore is now working towards nominating our hawker culture for inscription into UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  Hence, a travelling exhibition, Our SG Hawker Culture, is designed to raise greater awareness of our hawker culture and to encourage Singaporeans to pledge their support for Singapore’s nomination.

I was excited to catch the exhibition last Saturday, 23 March when it was at Bedok Town Square.

There was a colourful information board for the public to pledge their support for this Singapore’s nomination.

I was impressed with the miniature model of Singapore hawker centre created by artists (Jocelyn Teo (AiClay), Oo Xin Man (Handxmade) and Janice Ng (Msparkpark)) It was awesome!

This exhibition also has “A Day in the Life of Our Hawker Centres” photography showcase, a project by the Ministry of Communications and Information in collaboration with Makansutra and five photographers from the Istoria Co-operative.

Mr Wilson Wong, Mr Alex Ortega, Mr Lawrence Teo, Mr Francis Lee and Mr Ronald Low presented their first-hand visual account of the 24-hour journey of the hard work, dedication and passion of the people who have kept the hawker cultures vibrant and going! Captions are done by Mr KF Seetoh from Mankansutra.

Mr Ronald Low from the Istoria Co-operative explaining his photographs to Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

We also had the opportunity to interview Mr Wilson Wong, Chairman of the Istoria Co-operative and one of the photographers of this photography exhibition.

 

How did you get involved in the “A Day in the Life of Our Hawker Centres” photography exhibition?

We were invited to pitch for the project and presented our documentary portfolio to the panel that was made up of representatives from the Ministry of Communications and Information and Makansutra. We were successful in our very first pitch.  We were elated!

 

Why did you decide to be one of the photographers for this photography exhibition?

I believe in the cause!

Having been living in Australia for 3 to 4 years, I learnt to cook my own meals. Going to a restaurant or the nearest food joint takes a lot of effort and time. It is not cheap too although the food is really delicious. For example, fried rice in Australia costs 12 AUD but the ingredients used are fresh.

Hawker culture has existed in Singapore for the longest time, and you would assume that it would always be there. It is indeed part of our lifestyle but it has also evolved with times to suit the current trend and progression of the nation.

Hence, through the photography exhibition, we would like to raise awareness to the public on the hard work put in by hawkers who labour from as early as 3am to prepare the delicious dishes to satisfy our stomachs. We would also like to encourage the public to show their appreciation to the hawkers for their contribution to the hawker culture and we should not take them for granted.

 

What are your thoughts of the hawker culture at the place where you took the scene?

I was at 85 Fengshan Centre, adopting the stance of a tourist at the hawker centre so that the photos would remain neutral and hawkers would not be influenced by my presence.

To me, Fengshan Centre is a good compromise of preserving the hawker culture and combining the current trends. I am glad to see that vibrant hawker culture at the Fengshan Centre, which is patronised by the young and old all day from breakfast to supper, still exists and resonates with my memory of the old hawker culture.

Having observed the hawker centre for 24 hours, it makes me wonder how hawkers are able to sustain throughout the quiet and busy periods. Hence, the more I shot, the more I stand by my belief that the public should be made aware of the efforts made to have the meals served as they patronise the stalls to ensure that the hawker culture would not be taken for granted.

We tend to remember a place through its buildings and environment. When it is being replaced, the memory would change. Through capturing the image above, it raises the awareness of the environmental and public needs of the centres too as we preserve the hawker culture.

 

What will you tell the public about our hawker culture?

Do not take the hawker culture for granted.

Be the influencer for them!

As you understand the hard work and get to know the unsung heroes who have contributed to the hawker culture, do help appreciate their contribution.

Share with others on the delicious hawker food you have tasted and their locations. This will help raise the profile of the hawker culture and differentiate Singapore’s hawker culture from other countries’ – hawker centres where the citizens are supportive of their own heritage and culture.

We hope that the co-operative movement could also come together to preserve our wonderful food heritage and we look forward to partnering SNCF and some of our other affiliates for food heritage projects.

The exhibition will move to Suntec City East Atrium Level 1 from 25 March to 31 March 2019 from 11am -10pm. Do show your support!

Istoria Co-operative champions the sustainability of creatives in Singapore, with a focus on photography and design for a start. It has developed a special package for fellow co-operators for events videography / photography plus book-keeping services.  It is finalising its strategic alliances with an events management company and an award boutique design consultancy company which will enable Istoria Co-operative to offer a wider suite of services for clients.

If you are interested to find out more about Istoria Co-op’s suite of services, please contact ronaldlow@istoria.sg

 

 

 

 

 

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