Bonding through art

For the love of family… In a bid to bond with her grandchildren through art, Noriah Binte Abdul Majid recently took up online art classes and completed an array of paintings and drawings. 

LOOKING at the beautiful artworks Noriah Binte Abdul Majid created over the past few months, it is hard to imagine that the 60-year-old used to fare poorly in art as a student.

The grandmother of three recently completed over 13 pastel art pieces and at least five urban sketches after attending art classes on Zoom (an online video-conferencing platform).

“I gravitate towards therapeutic activities. While I’ve never been good at art, I want to learn and improve so that I can create art with my grandchildren… especially my eldest grandson, who likes to draw!” Noriah said with a laugh.

So when her colleague suggested in March that they both join the Brahm Centre’s course on Pastel Nagomi Art – a Japanese art form which uses the fingers and soft pastels to create decorative cards – Noriah took a leap of faith and enrolled herself in the course.

“At that time, we weren’t sure if the course, which was scheduled to commence on 17 June, would be held on-site at Brahm Centre or online due to COVID-19. It turned out to be fully online and was my first time attending an online art course. Surprisingly, it was fun!” she said.

Madam Noriah working on a pastel art piece

Art at work… Noriah applying the finishing touches to one of her pastel art pieces.

In fact, the soft-spoken senior found that attending the eight-week course online enhanced her learning experience.

“During each two-hour lesson, the camera focused on the teacher’s demonstrations and we could instantly follow. It was different from the classroom setting where participants tend to crowd around the teacher’s table and obstruct others’ view,” she said.

Besides the pastel art course, which is offered under the National Silver Academy (NSA) and subsidised for seniors aged 50 and above, Noriah also found herself joining other online Zoom classes to learn urban sketching and painting with plant extracts during the ‘circuit breaker’ period.

Madam Noriah's urban sketches and water colour paintings

Artistic eye… Noriah completed these urban sketches and watercolour paintings during the online classes conducted by artist Kelvin Seah, who runs the School of Kingdom Art.

For the IT-savvy senior who works as a Senior Technical Executive at a local polytechnic, e-learning has never been an issue. However, Noriah admitted that she would choose to attend lessons in the physical classroom – like the one-day Customer Service Excellence course under NSA which she took up at Temasek Polytechnic last July – over e-learning. “I still prefer the classroom, though I’m now more open to online learning!”

Her dream to learn art as a form of bonding with her grandchildren has only just begun. She spends her leisure time working on pastel art and other art projects with her five-year-old grandson. She also enjoys reading in her free time.

One thing’s for sure, pandemic or not, online or in a classroom, nothing can break Noriah’s determination to keep learning.

Encouraging other seniors to try out NSA courses for themselves too, Noriah said: “There’s always something new to learn. Learning enriches our lives and keeps things interesting!”

About National Silver Academy (NSA)

  • NSA is a network of post-secondary education institutions and community-based organisations, offering a wide range of learning opportunities to seniors aged 50 and above. It is administered by the Council for Third Age (C3A), an agency that promotes active ageing in Singapore.
  • Eligible seniors can enjoy subsidies when taking short courses under the NSA.
  • Singaporean seniors who wish to participate in exam-free modules at the post-secondary education institutions only need to pay a token fee.
  • Seniors can also use their SkillsFuture Credit to defray the out-of-pocket cost for most NSA courses.
  • For more information on NSA courses, visit or call the NSA hotline at 6478 5029 (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm, excluding public holidays).


Article published on: 30/10/2020