Traditional Art & Craft Exhibit and Demonstration at Singapore Botanic Gardens

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The Tuyang Initiative had the wonderful opportunity to work with Singapore’s National Parks Board and the team at Singapore Botanic Gardens on the opening of the Ethnobotany Centre and Garden.

Ethnobotany is the study of the traditional knowledge and customs of people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses.

Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, opened the Ethnobotany Garden and Centre on 30th June 2018. It was officiated by Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development.

The Tuyang Initiative Talents, Mathew Ngau Jau and Rose Belarek, Co-founder of The Tuyang Initiative, Juvita Tatan Wan together with Singapore Minister, Desmond Lee.

We had the responsibility to curate traditional items, either used on a day to day basis or from ceremonial to festivities, which illustrates the significant influence of the natural surroundings to the Kenyah community’s art and craft. These items were exhibited at the Craft section of the Garden.

This international showcase is an example of how we work towards our mission in maximising promotion of the cultural heritage of the Dayak communities we work with. In turn, this gives back the pride and belief to the communities that it is possible to practice aspects of their cultural heritage, across the value chain, while contributing to its preservation and development. And importantly, earning fairly from it.

We are currently in discussion for more opportunities to work with impactful international platforms such as Singapore Botanic Gardens, so our communities will get to continue showcasing the vastness of Sarawak’s Dayak cultural heritage in the near future.

Watch the coverage of the launch of the Ethnobotany Garden and Centre on Channel News Asia.


”The Singapore Botanic Gardens had the opportunity to work with the Tuyang Initiative earlier this year (Feb 2018- Jul 2018) as part of the recently opened new attraction of the Gardens, the Ethnobotany Garden.

Juvita Tatan Wan as the main coordinator for the organisation was responsive and helpful. After a quick explanation of the brief, she was able to quickly adapt the company’s offerings to suit our needs, which included both workshops during the opening week of the development, and hand-made artefacts that could be showcased in the garden. It was a joy working with her.

Both the workshops and the handcrafted artefacts from the team at the Tuyang Initiative were a great value-add to the development. There is clear intentional effort to raise awareness amongst the general public of indigenous knowledge; the artists engaged were familiar with their craft and authentic plant materials were used in creating the artefacts for the Gardens. As a result, these were effective in offering an educational insight into the intricate relationship between humans and plants, much in line with the vision of the Ethnobotany Garden. We are satisfied with the professional work done for us at the Ethnobotany Garden.”

Shawna Ng
Deputy Director, Singapore Botanic Gardens Development National Parks Board (Singapore)

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