" I was inspired by the sharing of their Hawker story from the elderly I met during my MA art therapy class on Zoom, so I created fried fishball noodles with fried tofu. I haven't eaten such a dish before but I do love fried tofu. The curry and cumin powder that was used to add colour to the noodles reminded me of Laska which is the flavour I hope to create with this fishball noodles. Talking about food is a great conversation with anyone as it brings out the life and the memories of the person"
Yau Gee Lam, Student (MA Art Therapy)
Yau Gee Lam, Fishball noodles, Flour, salt, water, cardboard and spices, dimensions varied
"This unique hands-on project surfaced several humorous memories of when I first came to Singapore. I remember one older local gentleman sitting beside me smiling. He was amused that Ang Mo was able to use chopsticks. I smiled back and pointed at my belly saying, "yes...when a man must eat, he will find a way." Using the materials provided for this project, I created one of my local favourites, Bak Kut Teh."
Ronald Lay, Lecturer (MA Art Therapy)
Ronald Lay, Bak Kut Teh, clay dough, wooden chopsticks, plastic spoon, paper container, dimensions varied
Our Social Media Community
Hawker food gives me a sense of comfort. An influx of new dining spots have entered Singapore in the past few years, dining at the hawker centre grounds me and brings me back to my roots. -Xu Ning
When I was having a meal at Albert Court Hawker, an elderly gentleman at my table was eating Rojak and listening to music on his phone and humming to it. He noticed my foot tapping and increased the volume and smiled at me. It was a bright sunny day, and the preppy song made me want to visit the beach! - Roshni
I remember Papa would buy me 4 packets of rice plus half a chicken. Mama laid down the newspaper. The kids jostling around, together with the adults, we dived in. Mouthful of the fragrant rice and chunky succulent chicken meat. Conversations around. - Shulian
The real reason I visit a hawker centre is not for the food but for the great company... coo! The flocks of pigeons that come to greet me while I sit and enjoy a meal remind me of home where this is a common sight at local eateries. -Simran
When I was much younger my mom used to bring me to the hawker centre to buy me a bowl of warm, sweet tau huay. I used to enjoy it very much while my mom rushes to the market. She will often inform the Tau Huay stall uncle (owner) to keep an eye on me while she goes off to shop. It was such a pleasant community, keeping a lookout for each other. -Buvi
I love wonton noodles
Elders of Singapore
We facilitated art workshops with the elderly to honor and celebrate their memories shared with Singapore’s hawker culture through online platforms. Due to the Covid-19 situation sessions were provided through online platforms and residents were sent individually packed art kits. We would like to especially thank the staff of the respected nursing homes for making this possible.
Mdm Teresa Wan, 算盘子, flour, salt, oil, and warm water, displayed on wooden panels
Mdm Wan created some yam abacus seeds. She kneaded the dough carefully while sharing that this is a traditional Hakka dish made of yam and tapioca flour that takes the shape of an abacus. It is often eaten during the Chinese lunar new year as it symbolizes reunion, wealth, and prosperity.
Mdm Wan suggests that we continue to support dishes like this so that it does not disappear in the hawker scene.
Elders of St Joseph's Nursing Home (STJH)
Elders of Moral Home for the Aged Sick
Elders from All Saints Home (Yishun)
Elders from Ren Ci Nursing Home (Bukit Batok)
Welcome to Project Memories, an art-based community engagement where members of the public from different generations respond to their personal memories, narratives, and interpersonal experiences with Singapore’s vibrant hawker culture.
The mere smell of a beloved dish or even the distinct design of a childhood utensil can send us back in time to a foregone memory. The recipes we enjoy through our lives and the spaces where we feast as a community connects us to each other in the present as well as to our ancestors in the past.
PROJECT MEMORY ONLINE ARCHIVE
The project, originally meant to be a physical art event pushed boundaries in reaching diverse hawker crowds through different means such as online workshops & art tutorials for the public, individual & group zoom art making sessions for the elderly in care homes, and social media engagements to appeal to the younger public.
What's more, we brought hawker food into their homes when they could not visit the hawker centers and facilitated intergenerational dialogues where participants responded to the experience of each other creatively!
Notably, as we tide through wave after wave of changes in these uncertain times, hawkers have been some of the hardest hit yet they continue to bring us comfort. Join us as we ride the streams of colours, smells, sounds, textures, and flavours that may lead into rivers of personal and intergenerational memories.
Artists in Singapore
[Shen Jiaqi] Reminiscing Seletar, Acrylic painting on wood panel, 43x66cm
The hawker centre on Seletar Hill is one that held many of my childhood memories, from the weekly routine of getting Saturday morning breakfast to the delicious ‘ban mian’ that I loved as a kid. I can recall making friends and meeting neighbors who made a living from the food centre, and how they would excitedly tell us about the day’s happenings. As a child I would sit and watch the repetitive motions of the stall owners as they serve one customer after another, while my family chats with the friends whom they bumped into. These are precious memories that can never be recreated, as the site is now a bustling shopping mall. This painting is created after the only photo I could find of Seletar Hills food centre, as we did not yet have the habit of documenting our daily lives and surroundings as much as we do today.
Depicted with colors of the sunset, this work is an attempt to honor the various hawker centres that have been demolished as part of our country’s progression, and how the collective memories that were created within these spaces form the history of our nation’s hawker culture.
Note to audience
All photographic images on this archive were taken and documented with exclusive consent given to FoundSpace for this project by the artists and/or persons shown in the images. The audience is strictly advised to not copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, display, modify, or in any way exploit the content, nor distribute it in any form without the knowledge of FoundSpace.
Click on each image to know more about the artist's narrative.
"When my mummy shared with me about hawker food, it reminds me of my favourite pizza, it has salami and broccoli, and sausage bread, dumplings, and noodles"
Jake Koh (age 5)
Koh Hoi Leung, My favourite food, flour, salt, water, 15cm x 20cm
"This artwork is my fond memory when I think about hawker culture: On one rainy day, my grandmother bought takeaway wanton mee home for lunch. It was hot and steamy, perfect for a pouring day."
Harry Lee (age 13)
Harry Lee, Mee, Wanton , Flour, water, salt, acrylic paint, 15cm x 12cm
Jamie Koh, Hawker delights, flour, salt,
water, varied sizes
"Set 1: This is my first project. It is a bowl of ramen and a tray of utensils. I chose this because I like Japanese ramen and I think the tray of utensils is very fancy.
Set 2: This is my second set. This is a plate of prata and beside it you will notice a bowl of curry to go together with the prata I chose this because I love to eat prata especially with curry.
Set 3: This is my third and last project this one you will see its very different from the others because it is a huge tongue and a piece of meatloaf you might misunderstand the meatloaf for something else but I understand because when I made this I did not plan it i just stuck two short chop sticks in."
Jaime Koh (age 9)
"I remember one hot and sunny morning, my parents brought me to my local small hawker center a few blocks away from my house and all I craved for was half-boiled eggs and some hot tea."
Jasmine Tan (9 years old)
[Jasmine Tan] Half-boiled eggs and tea,
Flour, water, salt, varied
LASALLE College of the Arts community
D. participated in our Project Memories workshop at LASALLE College of the Arts. She says "As an international student from Hong Kong, the hawker culture in Singapore reminds me of those comfort local food culture in my city"
"The whole interaction with the materials was just like the time when I bake on my own. Like I have control over the different "ingredients" and I started to make the dish I wish to. And the most important thing for my dishes or baking is to let them look as nice and tempting as possible because the nice looking of the food adds a lot of marks to the eating experience!"
Image by the artist
d., Guilty Pleasure, Sculpture; Flour, Salt, Spices, Plastic Box, Wood Stick, 15x15x8 cm
"Hawker Culture" mean memories to me. I believe it is made unique to every one of us. How we consume "Hawker Culture" at different times of our lives brings back certain memories that we had - for instance, having kaya toast when I was studying overseas versus when I started working.
Eating traditional breakfast inside "kopitiam" (coffee shop), which used to be a simple daily affair for all of us, has become impossible during circuit breaker. Playing with lightings and shadows on this illustration, I hope that people can still find comfort and hope from this dish that is forever gold to me.