Singapore Indian Heritage publication
Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore
Creative and Art Director
Bryan Angelo Lim
Mok Yuin Peng
The Indian Heritage Centre is a National Heritage Board museum that focuses on the stories and objects of the Indian community in Singapore. As an entry point for visitors to explore and understand the Little India precinct, its permanent collection takes them on a journey from the South Asian ideas, philosophies, objects and peoples that first arrived in Southeast Asia which interacted, amalgamated and flourished with local ideas, beliefs and craftsmanship to how South Asian people settled and took root here to become the integral part of Singapore’s cultural and identity fabric.
Singapore Indian Heritage is the museum’s first publication. Taking advantage of the format of a book and what it can present, the monolithic 556-page publication puts together the intense research that culminated in the curation and presentation of its permanent collection, allowing its curators and knowledge specialists to go more in-depth than what the exhibition display format could offer. A visual feast for anyone interested in South Asian culture, the publication features catalogue entries of over 300 artefacts, photographs and documents in their collection that truly befits the vibrant and colourful heritage and stories of the Singapore Indian community.
Understanding the diversity—in terms of language, religion and beliefs—within the Indian community, the overarching concept drew on the idea of the macro- and microcosm in which the knowledge and understanding of the universe—no matter how esoteric and abstract—may be seen and understood from the tiniest of physical condition and context.
This idea not only is a common thread in many belief systems of Indian origins but can also be in how the story of the Indian diaspora in Singapore is part of the larger South Asian narrative. Type was, then, set huge and applied across the page to juxtapose against small type; photographic images of the objects were often presented zoomed out to be viewed in full but also zoomed in close to reveal the micro details.
In order to not essentials and simplify what “Indian-ness” meant, the art direction took on a much more universal approach by consciously avoiding to draw upon very specific visual motifs that might allude to particular aspects the Indian visual culture or privilege one community over another. This not only allowed the objects to speak for themselves, but also subtly hinted at how objects and traditions from South Asia evolved and adapted to local contexts when they arrived in Southeast Asia. Instead, huge colour blocks of both bright, saturated colours and muted, desaturated colours were used to demonstrate the broad-ranging facets of the Indian culture, as well as the ebb and flow of the Singapore Indian story.