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Eight weeks of making art at TLC

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Yam Choon Hian signed up to study art and creativity at The Learning Connexion as part of eight weeks professional development leave, from February to April, during New Zealand’s summer season.

The Learning Connexion, and New Zealand, were highly recommended to Yam by his friend (and ex-colleague) Gwee Poh Hee*, as a good place to embrace a wide creative perspective.

Yam teaches art to 13-17 year olds at Xinmin Secondary School in Singapore and is hoping to take some new ideas and a sharper skillset back home to share with his students.

“When you have been teaching for a long time you are not really growing…it’s good to pick up new skills to have something more to offer.”

Art is just one of the many subjects Yam teaches at high school. He also teaches mathematics and physical education. His previous art experience before coming to study art making at TLC was mostly with two-dimensional forms. Yam chose to come to New Zealand, and The Learning Connexion specifically, to try out 3D art making, learn some new techniques and to be amongst like-minded people with whom he could share ideas.


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Images: 3D preliminary drawings and art produced by Yam during his eight weeks of classes at The Learning Connexion.


Yam said that he really liked the variety of modules TLC had to offer its students. The biggest challenge however, was what to pick amongst the many choices. Because of the numerous exciting options available to him, Yam ended up scheduling 13 days of back-to-back art classes in his first two weeks!

“It’s quite rare to wake up everyday wanting to go to work, or be excited about going to school.” 

Yam said he chose his class subjects based on his perceived weaknesses and for the variety they would offer. Trying new and challenging things and achieving personal growth was most important to him. This goal, however, meant he ended up with at least six days of classes a week and, on some weeks, that grew to seven classes a week.


Yam decided upon the following eight week art timetable:

Monday   Hot Art with Dennis Berdinner
Tuesday   Dry Media Magic with Dan Wilkinson
Wednesday   Illustration – Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced with Iain Watt
Thursday   Sculptural Ceramics with Mel Ford
Friday   Photography: Exploring the Power of a Series with Leigh Mitchel-Anyon
Sunday   Painters with Sarah Brock


He also attended a weekend class of Projectile Painting with Tutor Gary Freemantle. 


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For Yam, the best thing about TLC was the one-on-one interaction and connections he made with all of the tutors, technical and support staff. “You ask for one or two things and you get back a whole lot more. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for what they do. They spend a lot of time going through the processes and explaining stuff.”

He said he also found it very easy to organize and coordinate everything about his study before he arrived in New Zealand.

At the end of his eight weeks, Yam said that he now thinks that even more than two terms at TLC would not be long enough - that perhaps he should have just taken two years off!

Asking questions and just watching his fellow classmates has taught him so much. Yam explained, “The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn.”

He has plans to travel down to the South Island to engage in some outdoor adventures before heading back home, and back to reality.

“It’s been great fun, just focusing on doing art. But it went too fast!”


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Yam has been journaling about his TLC experience and time in New Zealand so that he can report back to the Ministry of Education in Singapore and his school. He has plans to try and get a ceramics class started at his school, and he will look at introducing his students to using brown paper and playing with charcoal. He said there’s no kiln back at his school (yet), so he has lots to organize.

We can’t wait to hear how things go.


Interested in doing professional development training in art? Call The Learning Connexion School of Creativity and Art on 0800 278 769 and/or request a prospectus to find out more. We offer NZQA approved programmes and a wide variety of creative classes in 2D and 3D.

Find out more about what we offer our International Students.


* Poh Hee is also an international student at TLC. Read about her art journey here.


  • Leigh
    09/05/2016 9:03am (8 years ago)

    Was wonderful to have chats with wise Yam in the classes I had with him :)