Uniquely Singapore

Exploring Our National Identity

Lesson 2

national language class.jpg
national language class.jpg

Learning Activity 1

What does it mean when someone asks you: "What is your name?"

What do you say when someone asks: "Where do you live?"


These were two questions that artist Chua Mia Tee asked himself in 1959, the year he made this painting and also the moment when Singapore gained self-governance from its former colonial masters, the British.

What makes these two questions even more fascinating is that Chua asked them in Malay, the language that would soon become Singapore's national language in the hope of uniting different ethnic groups through a common Malayan identity. In the painting, some Chinese students are seated around a table, learning the national language from a Malay teacher. Behind the teacher hangs a blackboard, on which these two basic questions about identity and belonging are written.


Both questions are so simple but powerful, going to the very essence of what it means to belong to a place.

Masterpieces from the Gallery: National Language Class by Chua Mia Tee

Dr Cai Heng Curator National Gallery Singapore

National Language Class (1959)

Chua Mia Tee 


What does being Singaporean mean to you?

Write 2 - 3 sentences on what makes Singapore unique / special. 


World Class (2012)

Dawn Ng

What is World-Class?

To the Chinatown uncle, sipping a perfectly soft-boiled egg with local-brewed coffee may be world-class. To another, it may be caviar with red wine. It seems that our lives are full of comparisons; why can’t we just be our own world-class standard instead of letting others dictate if we are doing it right?


Let's Draw!


Is there anything in Singapore that is World Class to you?

What makes you say that? Let's draw it out!


Somewhere Over A Concrete Rainbow (2010)

Dawn Ng 

Dawn Ng is an artist from Singapore. She works across a breadth of media ranging from collage, photography, illustration, light, and installations. She is most well known for her ubiquitous Walter series that was acquired by the Singapore Art Museum and Sixteen that was exhibited at the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong.

Click on this link  if you would like to learn more about Dawn Ng and her Walter Series.

Learning Activity 2


Photography as an art form arose from advancements in technology which allowed photographers to manipulate their images to fit their artistic expression. Let's watch the video below to learn how you can use different techniques to compose your photographs better.

Share Your Learning

How do you feel about photography now?

Which technique did you like best? What makes you say that?

Share your thoughts with a partner.

Art Challenge

Photography is a fun art form to learn.

Let's explore photography and use it to document your thoughts about what is Uniquely Singapore. Look around your home and the surrounding areas. Take 2 - 3 pictures of what is Uniquely Singapore to you and upload them into the padlet below.  


30 minutes


Mobile Phone / iPad

Art Club.png