Friday 4 March 2022


The fifth edition of TEXTURES (4 March 4 to 3 April) returns with the theme The Great Escape, opening in six Festival Pavilion locations (Oasis Terraces—Punggol; Sumang WALK – Punggol; Ang Mo Kio Public Library; Canberra Plaza; The Arts House, Sengkang Library) and offering workshops and programmes in other community and public library spaces (Sembawang; Toa Payoh). 

Jason Wee at Oasis Terraces

Artistic Director Jason Wee helms his second consecutive festival, and following from last year’s theme, The Bottled City, says that this year’s theme originates from “a shared desire to escape despite having travel restrictions”, bringing Singlit outreach through imaginative ways that bridge “the divide between high and low art,” and spanning different genres of literature, to the heartlands. Designed as roving art exhibitions, the festival celebrates the cross-fertilisations between the arts and Singlit with a host of exciting programmes across age groups: from story dramatisations, art and story workshops to podcasts and cooking demonstrations. 


Eight local artists responded to self-selected Singlit works with beautiful illustrations, digital and photographic artworks. Particularly eye-catching are the artworks by designer HAFI, inspired by Khir Johari’s book, The Food of Singapore Malays: Gastronomic Travels Through The Archipelago; object maker Masuri Mazlan’s reimagination of a volume 2 for Singa Pura Pura, the Malay speculative fiction anthology compiled by Nazry Bahrawi, artist Loh Xiang Xun’s botanical interpretation of Meihan Boey’s The Formidable Miss Cassidy, which won the Epigram Prize in 2021; Grace Boey’s photograph that evokes the dreamscape of Daryl Qilin Yam’s novella Shantih Shantih Shantih; and even short-short fiction gets a nod, as in Nature Shankar’s digital collage inspired by Jemimah Wei’s story “The Life Cycle of Temporal Biomatter Attachments” in X-R-A-Y, an online journal. 

HAFI. digital illustration.

Masuri Nazlan, digital illustration

Loh Xiang Xun, Pen and Ink on Paper
Nature Shankar, Digital Collage

Grace Baey, mixed media.

The exhibition displays a carefully-curated selection of SingLit books, colour-coded as age-appropriate, and while I was surprised not to see more limelight on speculative fiction/fantasy/steampunk hugely popular with younger readers, I was delighted to see the focus on cookbooks, featuring not just Malay and South Indian cookbooks, but also Chinese cuisine as broken down into Hokkien and Towchew cookbooks. Book selections, each with its own QR code to enable easy borrowing from the NLB, also range from nonfiction, historical novels to short story anthologies, including the popular A.J. Low series, Sherlock Sam, showcasing the best in SingLit. A book bazaar is set up at The Arts House, with an online bookselling component –, and events will be live-streamed to complement the Festival. 

That’s not all. In this array of offerings, master storyteller Kamini Ramachandran will be adapting and performing stories from Singa Pura Pura and retelling them in a set of four videos in Wildest DreamsPeople, Places will feature narrations of three SingLit works by three acclaimed local actors, Erwin Shah Ismail, R. Chandran and Lim Yu-Beng. In CrossTalk, a podcast series will showcase local literary talents Clara Chow, Daryl Qilin Yam and Jennifer Anne Champion responding to the works from more senior literary stars such as playwright Kuo Pao Kun, and poets Robert Yeo and Lee Tzu Pheng. Authors Felix Cheong and Dr. Yeo Wei Wei and A.J. Low will also be conducting workshops in schools. 


Not to be missed of course is the installation The City Beneath The City at The Arts House, a collaboration with design firm WY-TO of Jason Wee's short story featured in The Best Singaporean Short Stories Volume Three, featuring, as the title suggests, a subterranean city, and one thing about graphics is this: if watching the movie makes us pick up the book, seeing makes one more likely to read the original for oneself.


This innovative blend of programmes traverses multiple cross-sections of spaces at once, virtual and live, heartland versus more central geographies, literature and art, all forms of writing and storytelling using different media. It truly offers multiple pathways of hybrid adventures and signals the future direction of smart-city engagements with literature and the arts.


For detailed information of programmes, check out the 


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