Iskandar Jalil First Singaporean Artist To Receive Prestigious Japanese Award

Renowned local potter Iskandar Jalil was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Japanese Ambassador to Singapore Haruhisa Takeuchi on Tuesday (Jun 9).

Twelve Singaporeans have received the award since 1967, but Mr Iskandar is the first local artist to receive the prestigious award.┬áThe award bestowed by the Emperor of Japan, recognises Mr Iskandar’s contributions, through pottery, in building cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and Singapore for over 40 years.

“He has been a friend of Japan for so many years, and we are also very much appreciative of his work and his attitude to the younger generation – to inspire the younger artists to try to do their best,” said Mr Haruhisa Takeuchi. “It is very much a delight for us (to confer this award), and a privilege as well.

“Over the years, he’s been a frequent visitor to the potteries in Japan, and through his activities both in Japan and Singapore, there has been happy interaction between the two cultures through pottery. So I think that’s been very significant.”

But in his acceptance speech, Mr Iskandar said the focus should be less on winning awards, and more on creating a new generation of artists.

He added that the way in which pottery and crafts are taught needs to be changed – urging young artists to not just dabble in the craft, but to take on apprenticeships lasting 30 or 40 years. “There is no shortcut. You work with a master potter, with the university, and you improve a lot that way. But it takes a long time,” he said.
“If we Singaporeans are in a hurry, it’s difficult for them to understand then and achieve what they want. Whereas in Japan, you have to learn the basics. There is always the rule, the methodology, the way it should be done.”

The Japanese ambassador and Mr Iskandar with their spouses and Minister of State for Culture Community and Youth Sam Tan, with the Patent of Decoration. (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

Mr Iskandar also hoped that people and institutions would be able to appreciate people for their potential, rather than forcing them into fields they cannot perform in. “It’s about understanding what the material can do for us, then can it be successful. We should understand our students, what they can do, what they should do.”



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