The Last Artisan
Retiring after seven decades, the head artisan of Singapore’s Haw Par Villa theme park reflects on his life and legacy.
Dismembered limbs. Topless mermaids. Crabs with human heads. These Chinese folklore-themed statues, in all their surreal, grotesque glory, are seared into the minds of visitors to Singapore’s Haw Par Villa. But no one knows them as well as Teo Veoh Seng. Decades ago, he started out as an apprentice at the park, which opened in the 1930s; now, at 83, Teo has finally decided to retire. Though his successors prepare for his departure, what will be lost when the master craftsman steps down?
Interspersing interviews with animation, this documentary weaves personal and national histories into a portrait of an unlikely Singapore hero. It sheds light on an artisan whose quiet dedication has preserved a uniquely charming slice of a city hounded by rapid urban developments.
Cast & Credits
Director-producer Craig McTurk received a student Academy Award in 1994 for his documentary short Street Songs. Based in Singapore for the past 17 years, he is a senior lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. In 2013 he released the photo essay collection Parting Glances. The Last Artisan is his first feature film as a director.
Craig McTurk, Chris Twyford
Teo Veoh Seng, Chen Jin Long, Zhang Hua Bing