Congratulations to the Artisan of the Year Award 2021 winner – Mr. Steven Low Thia Kwang
Born in 1966, Steven Low Thia Kwang is one Singaporean who specialised in using clay to express his inner thoughts and love for visual beauty. His inspiration never fails to move away from the context of Nature.
Recently, in the 30 Days of Art with the National Arts Council (NAC) to inspire and uplift our country, Singapore, which emerge from the Covid-19 circuit breaker, Steven created a set of clay globes in the style of the older Planet series. The spheres, streaked with swirls of colours, look like miniature Earths.
Steven has been doing ceramics for 30 years and has remained committed to his craft. Every country he goes to, he learns the local techniques and cultures and incorporates them into his work. For his planet series, he learnt the 12th-century Eastern-European technique known as "Obvara Firing" - traditionally using only milk, yoghurt, flour and sugar - and has honed it to mastery. He also mixes local ingredients to create a unique colour. He is always reinventing and observing the world around him, perfecting various techniques and always looks to improve his craft and create something that he can be proud of.
He has many students over the years who would be happy to volunteer each of their personal stories of how Steven goes above and beyond to pass down all the knowledge he knows selflessly. He is not afraid and does not keep any technical knowledge he has since he is always reinventing and learning and that is one of the many attributes that I, along with his many students, respect him the most for.
He always works tirelessly and helps those in need - whether it is service at St.Luke's Elderly Care to bring them joy and teach them a craft to express their creativity and relive their youth, or building the community oven/kiln at Ground Up Initiative for free so that the volunteers and staff can enjoy and have a great time with some good food, Steven always looks for ways to contribute and help people connect to something authentic within themselves, and to serve the community in the best way he can.
Deservingly, Steven is the winner of the 2021 Artisan of the Year Award.
Some of the comments Steve received from the judges, during the internal judging process:
  • Making use of his hands, Steven extends his craftsmanship beyond his objects. He is a genuine multi-talented artisan.
  • Steven is modest, genuine, likeable and comes across as someone who is always ready to share his knowledge and craft with the community.
  • He has shown strong passion in his work, learning and sharing new techniques along his artisan journey. He has come across as someone who is happy to give away his skills and yet forever ready to learn new ones.
  • He has demonstrated real desires in always pushing the boundaries in his artisan journey and pursuing quality at the same time.
More of his work can be seen on his Instagram and Facebook handles.

The Artisan of the Year Award, instituted by the Rotary Club of Singapore in Rotary Year 2014-2015, recognises outstanding individuals who display extraordinary commitment and passion towards their vocation, maintain high ethical standards and use their vocation to serve society.
For this award, an Artisan refers to anyone who does skilled work and makes things with their hands to serve society (examples - carpenters, chefs, cobblers, jewel makers, potters, tailors, weavers, etc.) 
Judging Criteria:
  1. Commitment (Does their vocation to the best of their abilities) 
  2. Passion (Loves their vocation) 
  3. High Ethical Standard (Always practises fairness in their vocation) 
  4. Quality craftsmanship from Singapore (high level of workmanship using their hands)
Rotary year                       Name of Winner
2020/21                              Mr. Steven Low Thia Kwang
2019/20                              Mrs Wong Mah Jia Lan
2018/19                              Mr Kim Whye Kee
2017/18                              Mr Sin Jin How
2016/17                              Mr Barry Yeow
2015/16                              Ms Pearl Yang Yingsu
2014/15                              Rtn Teresa “Terry” Maria Lobaton