We got to Art Garden every year, usually at least 3 times because Anya loves the installations and activities there. I read some reviews that said this year’s Art Garden is better than last year’s but Anya wasn’t as excited as she was last year and kept asking me where some of the installations from last year were.
Our first stop was The Enchanted Garden City where fairy tales have been given an Asian twist. This was one of my favourite rooms because it was so interesting to see familiar stories reinterpreted. For example, Red Riding Hood is in a kebaya with a scarf over her head and carrying a traditional Chinese wedding basket filled with ang ku kueh.
Anya liked being able to see her drawings projected onto a magic mirror in the room. One suggestion: I think the Hey Diddle Diddle rhyme could have had the cat playing some Asian instrument, like an er hu, instead of the typical fiddle.
Around the World in Eighty Worlds is very whimsical but it was sad to see that some of the items in the room have already been damaged by overenthusiastic children. Anya had fun tossing rings but she cheated a little by standing very near the target. I love that the entire room forms the face of a cat. And if you stand and look from the other direction, you see another cat!
We spent a significant amount of time watching the selection of short films on Level Two. Some of the films are pretty good. Anya’s favourite was Molly, a film about a cat who frees a fish trapped in a bowl, and mine was Colour Theory, a film about a scientist who discovers a way to bring colour into his black & white world only to make a difficult decision.
Stellar Cave II was visually quite spectacular with shapes of animals being made from just screws and thread. It’s nice to sit in the room and admire the shapes but Anya didn’t want to spend very much time in there because of the dark. After the room is a small area where kids (and adults) can try making animal shapes from screws and thread.
The Incredibly Magical Expanding Room is similar to the Reactive Wall from last year’s Art Garden, except that this time there are only lines appearing in response to sounds made into the microphone. The lines give the illusion that the room is changing in size but otherwise was not particularly interesting. We both prefer last year’s Reactive Wall which had a whole bunch of colourful and varied images.
Our least favourite area was Les Rêves Engloutis – Glossy Dreams in Depth. You put on 3D glasses, sit on a bed and get spun into another room filled with strange nightmarish images that appear to be pulsating and moving because of the 3D glasses. Anya was quite freaked out after we were rotated into the room and didn’t want to walk through so we asked to be rotated out again. Apparently, a few kids burst out crying when they see the room. We peeked in from the other end and saw a rather repulsive-looking elephant standing in the corner.
She refused to give the room another chance but was quite happy to make a monster mask in the activity room. Honestly, I didn’t really understand this particular area and it gave me the creeps as well but I guess the older kids will be okay with it.
We stayed there for about 3 hours until closing time and went to explore Landscape in the Box outside. The boxes are all designed by NUS Architecture students but we weren’t supposed to touch them so it wasn’t a very interactive display. I think the donut-shaped ping pong table they had last year was so much more fun!
Art Garden is at SAM at 8Q (8 Queen St) until 1 September from 10am to 7pm daily. I’m sure we’ll be going a few more times! It’s free for Singaporeans (show your IC), PRs and visitors aged 6 and below.