8Q sam – formerly Catholic High Primary School

Another old building has morphed at No.8 Queen Street – an old building that onced served as Catholic High School. When the school was relocated to Bishan, the former school building was left vacant except for a temporary occupation by Kim Yan Methodist Church. Later, the building was slated to become an extension to the present S.A.M. (Singapore Art Museum – formerly St Joseph’s Institution). The building was given a facelift and a new lease of life.

You may have some recollections of the former Catholic High School premises and perhaps have studied there during your school days.

Catholic High School, No.8 Queen Street. circa 1954 (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore). Notice the policemen in their beige khaki uniform at that time. The old street lights seen on the left of the photo are from a bygone era. Pay careful attention to the school entrance pillars on the right of the photograph. 

Catholic High School, circa 1956 (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore). Notice the bull-horn handlebars of the bicycles at that time.

Courtyard, Catholic High School, circa 1956 (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

Today, the former Catholic High School building serves a new purpose…a centre for the arts. Here’s some photographs taken a few weeks back nearing its completion.

Transformed into a very bright and colourful centre for the arts.

If you look closely and comparing with the first photo above, you will notice that two former pillars which were the entrances to the school were not demolished. Retaining a bit of history. Perhaps if you were to visit 8Q sam, take the opportunity to have a closer scrutiny of the pillars.

8Q sam is Singapore Art Museum’s new wing for contemporary art. Both the main museum building and the new 8Q building were originally built to serve as schools. 8Q sam was the former Catholic High Primary School. Read more at 8Q sam.

It’s approximately “88 steps” from the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), but the new wing, 8Q, is expected to go the distance for contemporary art. Revamped to the tune of $6 million, the former Catholic High School building along Queen Street will open tomorrow night with the group show 8Q-Rate: School. The exhibit will feature new works by eight artists working with eight curators on the theme of “school”. The works will include a range from urban pop art to installation to video to sound from artists such as Donna Ong, Tan Kai Syng, Jason Wee, Chong Li-Chuan and the phunkstudio design collective. The opening night will also feature live music by Zouk’s DJ Tony Tay. According to the museum’s new chairperson Jane Ittogi, 8Q, which houses six galleries on four levels, is the “first defined mainstream space” for contemporary art in Singapore. “It’s a special space and will hopefully send a positive message to local practitioners of contemporary art,” said Ittogi, who takes over from Koh Seow Chuan, the museum’s chair from 2005. The launch of the new space and exhibit is in line with SAM’s focus on contemporary art this month. Museum director Kwok Kian Chow said they are planning to hold around six exhibitions at 8Q a year. Asked if the contemporary art shows at 8Q, named after its address, 8 Queen Street, will be pushing the envelope further than usual, Kwok said that the challenge will be to the artist as well as the public. He added that they are also looking into collaborations with other more established contemporary art spaces like TheatreWorks’ 72-13 or The Substation. ~ TODAY, Aug 14, 2008


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