As early as the late 1930s, Dr Tan started collecting Chinese art. He named his studio and collection 'Xiang Xue Zhuang', drawing inspiration from the fragrance of plum blossoms permeating the air in winter. This collection is important in Malayan and Singapore history as it was the earliest, the largest and the best for a private collection. Paintings and calligraphy from the collection date as far back as the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties. Dr Tan's collection was mainly famous for its Ren Yi paintings, Qi Baishi seals, duan inkstones and Yixing wares. This work bears the name of a famous local collection, Xiang Xue Zhuang. This collection was started by the late Dr Tan Tsze Chor, who had his studio name specially commissioned by Shen Yinmo (1883-1971). Shen was a famous Zhejiang calligrapher and poet who was a founder of the New Culture Movement, which was a departure from traditional Confucian thinking to a more Western thinking based on democracy and science. Shen's forte was in writing the running script. In calligraphy, he advocated using the wrist to move the brush.