It is a very natural thing for authors to write (and speak!) about their books.
It is a lot less common for authors to write about the illustrations and artwork within their books.
But in this post, I am doing just that. Here, I’m deliberately sharing a little bit about some of the illustrations that will be featured in my book, My Father’s Kampung: A History of Aukang and Punggol.
I think there is some value in sharing a little about the beautiful and creative artwork that supports the overall narrative and community stories featured in the book.
In addition to photographs captured by several people, including Sarafian and his father; S. Lim; the Arozoo family; the Yeo family; and my own family, my book has artwork depicting various scenes from rural, kampung life in north-east Singapore in the 1900s.
Most of the images would be depictions of kampung scenes in the 1940s to ’60s.
The illustrations are wide-ranging, including street hawkers; a scene from Teochew opera; a pig farming settlement; stilt houses in Punggol; a typical village; and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Montfort (since the book covers Aukang and Punggol, these specific images were chosen for the commission).
These individual and small pieces of beautiful artwork are rooted as much in reality, as in the artist’s imagination.
Beautifully created by a young Singaporean artist I specially commissioned for the book, these stylised paintings bring to visual life certain scenes in the book, and help readers, especially younger audiences, vividly imagine what life was like back in the kampung.
Consistently, throughout the book, the artwork augments and supports the narrative of life in the kampung, but doesn’t take readers’ attention away from the community and personal stories I share.
I think these artistic visuals subtly enhance the tale, by giving it added flavour, without being distracting.
As Robert Yeo observed in the foreword, “The lively interviews with prominent Teochews of the area and the apt photos and illustrations all add up to a comprehensive and intriguing tale.”
I fully agree with his beautiful words.
To me, the artwork is part of the larger tapestry of this book, and supports My Father’s Kampung to tell its comprehensive and intriguing tale.
But the beautiful artwork also supports more than just my book. The art also reaches out to a wider audience, such as the larger Catholic community.
As part of the commemoration of 200 years of the Catholic Church’s history in Singapore, the Chancery Archives also wrote a piece partially inspired by My Father’s Kampung, called the “The “Holy Land” of Aukang“. In it, they featured some artwork from the book, after obtaining my permission.
Chancery Archives also featured Aukang in an article called “The Serangoon Teochew enclave” in CatholicNews, 16 May 2021.
As I have obtained permission from Chancery Archives to share these articles, you can read or download them here:
Thank you for joining me on my writing, publishing, and speaking journey over the years! Here’s to more adventures together. While I have spoken at many events and locations, here are some selected memorable moments for your viewing pleasure: