SEEDing Something New


by Ely Nayir

What inspired three MA Asian Art Histories graduates to establish an independent art space, and how do they see their space contributing to the local art scene? Did their experience at LASALLE College of the Arts shape their plans? In this podcast, current Asian Art Histories student, Ely Nayir, sat down with the three founders of newly-formed SEED The Art Space Ltd (SEED) to find out what they each bring to the table.

Ely interviewing Connie and Ivy, Image courtesy of Lourdes Samson

Ivy Lam, Lourdes Samson and Connie Wong first met as students in the MA Asian Art Histories Programme at LASALLE in 2017. Although coming from very different backgrounds, the strong camaraderie of their cohort formed the foundation for their current partnership. The initial idea was sparked off when Connie shared her idea of starting a non-profit space to support artists and the local art community upon graduation. Committed to her graduation plans, she first approached Ivy and Lou to be part of this initiative, while their classmate Tina Jailani joined as their first collaborator. Connie mused that the name of their new venture was inspired by the biblical parable of the mustard seed, “similar concept to our platform, a very small seed we envision its potential to turn into something much bigger.”

To kick off their business plan, the team launched their maiden exhibition in November 2019 in collaboration with local artist Ernest Chan Tuck Yew, who is coincidentally also an alumni of LASALLE. Not only did the exhibition present miniature paintings as an expansion of Chan’s artistic practice as a printmaker and painter, it also allowed audiences to appreciate Chan’s dexterity in adapting this traditional painting format to more contemporary approaches. The exhibition aimed to contribute to ongoing discourses on contemporary painting in Singapore, which is aligned to SEED’s vision of “seeding” new ideas, new audiences and new dialogues. SEED hopes to continue pursuing such small but meaningful projects with artists, in order to expand their practices further. “We are not chasing numbers,” explains Ivy, “we are chasing our authenticity and how true we are to our core of why we started SEED.”

The different backgrounds of the founders have been the key to making their small team work. Drawing on Connie’s financial expertise, Ivy’s training as an art teacher and arts administrator, and Lou’s marketing experience and collector network, the SEED team is able to complement each other quite effectively. “I’m sure they didn’t know what they signed up for,” Connie joked. They all feel, however, that their shared passion for art and their grounding in art history and academic research sets their initiative apart. When asked how the MA Programme at LASALLE influenced SEED, Lou answers candidly, “Even with my original background in business, having this arts education and having the ability to think critically and academically about all aspects of art, gave me the confidence to actually start up this project with my friends.”

SEED directors, from left to right, Lourdes Samson, Ivy Lam and Connie Wong, Image courtesy of Tina Jailani

Mindful of how the current global pandemic has affected the local art scene, SEED is also working on projects outside their physical space. Their website is now being developed and, in response to social distancing measures, the team is also embarking on a podcast series with artist friends and other collaborators. They are already planning their next exhibition and they have some small projects lined up with institutional and individual collaborators. The founders of SEED are working to build their non-profit initiative from the ground up and are so far enjoying the ride. “The fact that we can pursue this shared passion together,” says Lou, “makes it an even more worthwhile experience.”

Lourdes Samson, Ivy Lam and Connie Wong graduated from the MA Asian Art Histories programme in 2018.

Ely Nayir is a current student of the MA Asian Art Histories programme.

Click below to listen to the podcast Interview.