Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Start of a new series

Kwan Sai Kheong (b. in Malacca in 1920) was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education from 1964 to 1975 and concurrently, Director of Education from 1964 to 1972. From 1975 to 1980, he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Singapore. He passed away in 1981.

Kwan started out his career as an art teacher at Raffles Institution in 1946, his alma mater. (he attended a Chinese medium school before that) He obtained a diploma in arts from Raffles College on a scholarship. In the 1950s, he received another government scholarship to study painting at the Royal College of Art in London. (University of London)

In the mid 1940s, while working as a teacher during the day, Kwan was making ends meet by playing the violin and the saxophone at nightclubs. He was also an accidental cartoonist as he drew cartoons for The Straits Times and The Free Press to supplement his income.

A few years ago, a family member of his passed me a set of the cartoons Kwan drew between the period 1946 to 1951. A lot of them dealt with life in postwar Singapore, the changing socio-economic millieu and the emerging political landscape towards independence.

I am starting this new series to load Kwan's cartoons in chronological order on a daily basis. I'll add whatever comments I can about the context of the cartoon. But this is where I hope the rest of you can come in, especially the Singapore history buffs and those knowledgeable about Singapore in the mid 1940s and early 50s.

Btw, Kwan also designed the Merlion.

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