Chng Seok Tin

Chng Seok Tin (莊心珍; 6 October 1946 – 6 September 2019)[1][2] was a visually-impaired printmaker, sculptor and multi-media artist from Singapore. She was often inspired by the i-Ching and Buddhism.[3] Her work has been shown internationally; Chng had over 26 solo shows and 100 group shows.[4] In addition to her art, she was also a prolific writer and has published 11 collections of her writing, mostly in Chinese.[5] She also advocated for artists with disabilities.[6]

Chng Seok Tin
Born(1946-10-06)6 October 1946
Died6 September 2019(2019-09-06) (aged 72)
Known forPrintmaking, sculpture, mixed media


Early life and educationEdit

Chng grew up poor in Katong, in a "leaky attap house in Kampung Chai Chee."[4] Her parents wanted all of their seven children to go to school.[4] Chng attended Chung Cheng High School which had an excellent art department, taught by teachers from the Shanghai Art Academy.[7] Later, in 1966, she attended the Teachers' Training College.[5] She began to teach Chinese at the Tanjong Katong Girls' School later that year.[4] Eventually, Chng started taking art lessons privately, and then attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts where she received a diploma in Western painting.[4] In 1979, she received a BA from the Hull College of Higher Education in England.[4] Also in 1979, she had an exhibition of prints at the National Museum of Art Gallery in Singapore.[4] Chng then received an award from the Ministry of Culture to study advanced printmaking in 1980.[4] In 1983 she earned her masters in arts from New Mexico State University and then a masters of fine arts from the University of Iowa in 1985.[4]

In 1986, Chng headed the print-making department at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts.[3] She was also an art editor for the Joint Publishing Company in Hong Kong.[8]

Visual impairmentEdit

In June 1988, Chng and a group of her students were visiting art museums of Europe.[3] While trying to catch a bus with her students, Chng fell and hit her head on the pavement in London.[3] After the accident, Chng experienced bouts of dizziness and while back in Singapore, found out that she had a brain abscess.[3] Chng lost 90% of her vision in 1988[9] after she had surgery on the brain abscess caused by the fall.[10] For about a year after becoming nearly blind, she felt "tormented" but then she became "philosophical about it."[3] She said that finally meeting other blind people was a turning point.[3] Another turning point was an invitation to return to the print-making department at Lasalle.[5] Brother Joseph McNally, president emeritus at Lasalle, reached out to her because he said that even without her sight, Chng still commanded good print-making technique.[3] Chng was able to "see" the colors of her prints in her mind.[11] She said of her work, "I had all the basics in my mind and I had to slowly start using them."[5] She said that losing her sight forced her to "rely on her feelings."[12] Chng taught at Lasalle until 1997.[13]

Later careerEdit

Chng "never hesitated to comment on the social milieu" in her work.[13] In 2001, she was named Women of the Year by Singapore's magazine, Her World.[10]

While Chng was a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in 2003, she protested the United States invasion of Iraq with other artists.[14] The work that resulted from her experience range from landscapes of Vermont to prints inspired by the Iraq War.[14]

In 2005, she was the first person from Singapore to hold a solo exhibition at the Headquarters of the United Nations.[15] Chng explored the opportunity of showing her work at the UN after she heard about a Chinese artist showing work there.[15] She contacted an old schoolmate, Lee Fong Yang who works at the UN Headquarters, who inquired on her behalf and helped her arrange the show.[15] She also received the Cultural Medallion that same year.[5]

In 2007, she received the Singapore Chinese Literary Award from the Singapore Literature Society.[16]

Chng had a retrospective exhibition at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 2011.[5] In 2014, she was inducted into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame.[6] In 2015, Chng was recognized by the Singapore Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth "as a pioneer of the modern printmaking practice in Singapore."[17]

Chng died of cancer at the age of 73 on 6 September 2019.[2]


  1. ^ "Chng Seok Tin | Infopedia". Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  2. ^ a b hermesauto (2019-09-06). "Cultural Medallion recipient Chng Seok Tin dies aged 73". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Sim, Arthur (4 November 2001). "Life's a Game of Chess: Eyes Wide Shut". The Straits Times (Singapore) – via Lexis Nexus.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nanda, Akshita (6 January 2010). "Who Am I? I'm a Survivor". Asia One. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Shetty, Deepika (12 September 2011). "Look Back in Wonder: Artist Chng Seok Tin's Retrospective Shows Losing Her Sight Has Not Been a Stumbling Block". The Straits Times (Singapore) – via Lexis Nexus.
  6. ^ a b "Chng Seok Tin". Singapore Women's Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  7. ^ Ho, Janet (6 August 1997). "Old-Timers Aim to Draw the Young". The Straits Times (Singapore) – via Lexis Nexus.
  8. ^ "Visual Artist - Chng Seok Tin". Tanoto Foundation Centre for Southeast Asian Arts at NAFA. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Blind Inspiration: The Works of Disabled Artists, Including Cultural Medallion Winner Chng Seok Tin, Are on Sale at Raffles City". The Straits Times (Singapore). 29 July 2006 – via Lexis Nexus.
  10. ^ a b Archdall, Susan (8 May 2002). "Artist Shapes New Life From a Tactile World". The Advertiser – via Lexis Nexus.
  11. ^ Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia (5 January 2006). "Victor Tan and Chng Seok Tin". South China Morning Post – via Lexis Nexus.
  12. ^ Ho, Pamela. "Profile: Chng Seok Tin". The A List. Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  13. ^ a b Nayar, Parvathi (26 May 2001). "Breaking Out of the Mould". The Business Times Singapore – via Lexis Nexus.
  14. ^ a b Chin, Neo Chai (12 February 2004). "Sounds Fit to Print: Artist Chng Seok Tin Joined a Raucous Anti-War Protest When She Was On a Printmaking Stint in America Last Year". The Straits Times (Singapore) – via Lexis Nexus.
  15. ^ a b c "Near-Blind Artist is First S'porean to Exhibit at UN". The Straits Times (Singapore). 13 May 2005 – via Lexis Nexus.
  16. ^ "Biography: Chng Seok Tin". Art-2 Gallery Singapore. Retrieved 16 August 2015.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Singapore Honour Pioneers of Arts, Heritage in Glitzy Event". The Malay Mail Online. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.

External linksEdit