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Singapore’s pioneering trades through firsthand accounts of six tradesmen and community contributions – April 16th, 2013

Casting wedding jewellery, writing letters, hand painting movie posters are not occupations that are commonplace today. National Heritage Board (NHB) through the exhibition ‘Trading Stories: Conversations with Six Pioneering Tradesmen’ is working with the community to document and present our Nation’s old trades.

Trading Stories will run from 15 March to 23 June 2013 at the Stamford Gallery, National Museum of Singapore. Opening hours are from 10am to 6pm daily and admission is free. For more information, please visit

The exhibition will provide insights on the old trades of Singapore through the personal stories and memories of six pioneering tradesmen from a traditional goldsmith to a movie poster painter, tukangurutor Malay confinement lady, Samsui woman, poultry farmer and letter writer, and through contributions from the community. The exhibition will also showcase how these early trades have evolved over the time to remain relevant and useful in society today.

To further engage the community, there will be a series of street theatre performances and demonstrations of old trades during the weekends of May and June. And to encourage a greater appreciation of the contributions of our forefathers amongst our younger generations, school programmes will be introduced to help enhance the Trading Stories experience for primary and secondary students.

The exhibition features over 20 exhibits contributed by the community. They include private artefacts and keepsakes, locally produced documentaries and a community photography exhibit on old local trades. Visitors are also welcome to leave their personal memories of old trades.

“Said Mr FaizalSomadi, who contributed his works of Jawi calligraphy (Arabic calligraphy in Malay language) to be showcased alongside the story of the letter writer, “I have always been interested in more traditional forms of writing, such as the Latin manuscript and Arabic calligraphy, also known as khat. To me, learning khat is not only part of my heritage and culture, but I am also doing my part to ensure that it continues to live on for the future, which is why I also give lessons to others on khat. I sometimes incorporate khat into my work as a graphic designer; I want to show that traditional writing can still be very much part of our lives today.”

Ms Thangamma Karthigesu, Director of the Education and Outreach Division, NHB, said, “The Singapore we know today is built by the hands of those before us. It is important that we acknowledge the resilience, resourcefulness and innovation that our forebears have demonstrated, as these qualities serve to shape our future as well. We are very heartened that our six tradesmen so generously shared their life stories with us, so that more Singaporeans will know about these values that have carried them through life. This exhibition would also not be possible without the contributions from members of the community that have helped create an impactful showcase that we know will resonate with Singaporeans of all ages.”

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