A year ago, the idea of “art therapy” may have been written off as indulgent, or silly, even.

But what the pandemic has shown us is that we need all the help we can get. We have turned to yoga sessions to stretch ourselves into some sense of peace. Or we’ve made tuning into wellness podcasts a part of our work-from-home routines, hoping to glean the secret to a balanced life. We’ve baked, crafted, and worked out.

But we’ve also turned to art, whether by the creation or the appreciation of it. Consider the popularity of art exhibitions in the last few months, or all those Instagram posts showcasing creative works proudly made at home.

Indeed, art can be a powerful tool for healing, boosting our emotional and mental well-beings, or simply getting by. “That’s why artists repeat themselves – because they have no access to a cure,” wrote Louise Bourgeois.

It’s not surprising, then, that our own art institutions have responded to the times by offering various programmes that marry art with wellness. It’s a potent combination that encourages us to slow down, contemplate and be present in the moment.

If that’s what you’re looking for, read on to discover what’s in store for you at the art galleries and museums across Singapore.

Art of Being Calm

The ArtScience Museum’s Art of Being Calm series teaches you to master exactly that. The monthly video series introduces creative tools and hands-on activities that you can easily participate in, all in the name of “finding serenity”. Besides a guide to meditation, past episodes have included artsy tutorials on doodling or crafting “Calming Jars” — something that will sure take your mind off the bad stuff over the weekend.

Watch the latest episode here.

Slow Art

(Photo credit: Nevi Ayu E. / Unsplash)

While there is no “right” way to look at art, it’s generally advised that you do so with the generosity of your time and attention. If that’s not something you’ve figured out how to do, the National Gallery Singapore’s Slow Art programme can help you out. During each hour-long session, you’ll be guided through the principles of “slow looking” and mindfulness to take in a single artwork, discovering its nuances and emotional depth. Maybe you’ll find something that you can relate to, or that you’ll want to explore further. Either way, you’ll leave the session with much more than basic visual literacy.

Sign up for a session here.

The Care Collection

“Girl with Folded Arms” (1980) by Chong Fah Cheong (Photo credit: courtesy of National Gallery Singapore)

We all know the toll that the pandemic has taken on our nation’s healthcare workers. To support them, the National Gallery Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum teamed up to create The Care Collection, comprising artworks that revolve around themes like courage, hope, resilience, self-compassion and growth. These are utilised in SingHealth’s art therapy sessions to help healthcare workers get to the heart of their struggles and express their feelings. If you’d like to use The Care Collection for your own art therapy needs, simply get in touch with the National Gallery.

Therapy Trail

(Photo credit: Asian Civilisations Museum)

The Asian Civilisations Museum is a treasure trove of artefacts from different cultures, including those that have been used for health and wellness purposes. The museum’s Therapy Trail lets you go on a self-guided tour through its galleries to discover these objects, such as a 19th century Sumatran medicine jar and a thousand-year-old Chinese incense burner. Their origins and uses will certainly offer some food for thought and, more importantly, remind you that there are a myriad of ways to soothe your soul.

Discover the trail here.

Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks.

(Photo credit: NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore)

For the month of March, the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is showcasing Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks., a one-of-a-kind exhibition that combines soundwalks, sonic wayfinding and other physical and aural experiences. Instead of merely standing in front of a framed work, the immersive exhibition will encourage you to participate by walking through these various projects around the scenic Gillman Barracks. The point is to be present in the moment — something that we should all learn to do, especially with an afternoon to kill.

Find out more here.

Header photo credit: Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.