Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 76: Art Vibe! OMG, ART VIBE! :)

The National University of Singapore, my alma mater, had everything I ever wanted - an interesting bunch of people to hang out with, a great Indian classical dance group that offered superb training and performance opportunities, a single room in a lovely hall as my personal haven, good Indian and other cuisines, lectures that one didn't really need to attend if one didn't want to etc. What it didn't have was an Art club. I was very much into drawing and painting back in India and that part of me was pretty much dead in Singapore.

One day in my third year, I just got this idea into my head that we need an Art Club. There was the NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) which had several performance arts groups and even a film making club but not a painting club, for no apparent reason. I was so convinced by the idea and the need for it that I went and proposed the opening of a student led Art club to one of the senior officials of CFA. He found the idea utterly ridiculous and told me that it is impossible to get a bunch of students to come together and paint because painting's not a group activity. I told him that he was completely mistaken because I used to be part of one such very active group back in India and I don't see why the same cannot be done in Singapore.

He put forward a challenge. He said, "Prove it to me. If you can get 10 students to sit together and draw or paint for 1 hour, I will give you your club." I gave him 25 students who sat together for 4 hours and did just that.

Thus was born "Art Verve" the first ever visual art group in NUS.

Over a semester, we successfully organized a couple of workshops in water colours and chinese painting that were taught by professional artists and had group activities including a sketching trip to Pulau Ubin, an island off Singapore etc. However, after just a few months since it started operating, CFA scrapped the club saying that we were "not committed enough", even though the real reason was that we didn't make them any money unlike the music and dance groups that held ticketed performances. Art Verve was not a worthwhile enough investment for them.

I was devastated. I could have many faults but "not committed" was not an aligation I could accept. So after a few shell shocked hours and shedding a bucket load of tears, I decided that this was not the end. I decided to continue the club outside of CFA. And interestingly enough they retaliated. CFA told me that Art Verve was their intellectual property and it will have to be renamed if it were to continue. And so, Art Verve became Art Vibe.

That was my last semester in NUS and before I left, I made sure that Art Vibe collaborated with the NUS Museums for a painting exhibition and our members contributed a substantial chunk of the exhibits. In fact, some of the works by our members were so well appreciated that a few good souls sponsored good quality frames for them! That was my last activity with the club before I passed it on to the new committee. I heard about its updates now and again but was no longer in touch.

Today I am extremely happy. I mean I am EXTREMELY happy because I came across the Art Vibe blog ( I feel so happy that the club still exists after all these years, in spite of all that it had to go through! I was aware of its existence but today, through the blog, I actually could catch a glimpse of all the activities that they are currently doing and see pictures of groups of students sitting together and making works of art exactly like I had imagined all those years ago! In fact, I heard a couple of years ago that CFA approached Art Vibe and ask them to be part of the organisation again. Am not sure whether that worked out but I am just glad that the club still lives on and lives on rockingly well! I can't stop smiling!

924 more to go.

NUS Museums Exhibition - me with my paintings.

P.S. Just wanted to add that that in spite of my bad experience with CFA regarding Art Verve, I still loved the place and have gone back to it several times. That building with its dance studios was my second home and would always hold a special place in my heart.


  1. Your legacy continues in NUS :D Good stuff! You should go back some day as founder and alumnus ;)

  2. Hehe... yeah, I really should! Would be good to see the activities! :)

  3. Dear Shilpa,

    This is Rohan from the ArtVibe team. Would be great to have you over one of the weekends. Dhanya is the person in-charge and would be contactable via

    Hope to hear from you.. :)

  4. Thanks Rohan! :) Yes, I would love to join one of your sessions! Do you guys meet regularly every weekend? Anyway will drop a note via email as well!