Over 1,200 rare, fascinating and beautiful images vividly bring Singapore’s history to life – including the first ever photographic portrait taken in 1843; the lyrical landscapes produced by the early professional studios; evocative portraits that reveal the faces of a cosmopolitan city; the efforts of early amateurs to capture a colonial city less polished and perfect than in postcard views; the gritty shots of photo-journalists who chronicled World War II and the road to independence; and the late 20th-century professionals who have documented the extraordinary post-independence changes to the island.
The two-year quest for the new and compelling unearthed fresh images, which are reproduced alongside classics without which no visual history of Singapore would be complete. Each image conveys a strong sense of place, and together they tell the story of a nation of mainly immigrant stock and the island they transformed from a fishing village to a global city state.
Gretchen Liu developed a special interest in antiquarian photographs and their attendant social history through her involvement as an author and book editor in numerous projects documenting Singapore’s heritage.
She is author of Pastel Portraits which documents Singapore’s architectural heritage; In Granite and Chunam, a classic on Singapore’s gazetted national monuments; Singapore Sketchbook which portrays in watercolours the restoration of the city’s conservation districts and buildings; and Raffles Hotel, the lavish commemorative book produced in conjunction with the restoration and 1991 opening of Raffles Hotel. She also penned the history of the National Museum in its centenary year and introduced the studio portrait in From the Family Album: Portraits from the Lee Brothers Studio. As a book editor, she was responsible for A Vision of the Past, authored by architect Lee Kip Lin and Nineteenth Century Prints of Singapore, one of the first attempts to document Singapore’s early visual history.
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