Colouring Public Spaces

Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations Building
Waterloo Street

In conjunction with the centenary celebrations of International Women’s Day in March 2012, a hundred women and girls from several social community groups gathered to repaint a part of the mural fronting its premises. It is located within the arts and heritage district of Waterloo Street and Bras Basah Road. To preserve a slice of history, a part of the original mural first painted in 2002 was left untouched.


Street art is more than just about making an area pretty. It has the power to bring together people in a community and strengthen relations between nations.

By Evonne Lyn Lee with additional reporting by Tracy Lee-Elrick



rt adds to the character of Singapore’s public spaces, transforming its physical landscape into galleries with an emphasis on making art more accessible and bringing it to where people work, live and play.

Public art in Singapore — seen in public spaces in the form of murals and street art installations — comprises commissioned works and murals.

Commissioned works include the bronze statue Mother And Child, depicting a mother carrying a baby, by renowned Singapore sculptor Ng Eng Teng (1934– 2001). He created three of these statues and one of them is currently at suburban Tampines Central Park.

Public murals can be found in void decks and on the facades of public housing blocks, at community clubs and residential committees.



MacPherson Void Deck Art Gallery
Block 56, Pipit Road

Around 350 volunteers, aged from four to 70, spent two weeks with artists from Social Creatives painting Vincent van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers on the walls of the void deck of the residential block.

The new extension to the gallery, at Block 71 Circuit Road is the combined effort of volunteers, local residents and family members of staff of multinational corporations like Credit Suisse and Chandler Corporation as part of their community work involvement.


Holland Village Void Deck Art Gallery
Block 8 Holland Avenue

Social Creatives’ second void deck art gallery: Public housing residents, undergraduates from arts schools, La Salle and NAFA, as well as corporate volunteers put together this pop-up art gallery modelled after the works of late American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.



Social Creatives is a Singapore-based non-profit social enterprise which specialises in painting murals for good causes. It engages the community in its artistic endeavours — getting residents of public housing estates, youths at risk and volunteers to paint murals in public spaces, to foster interaction. Examples are the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Geylang Home for the Aged and void decks of public housing apartments.

To date, the group has helped create more than 160 murals and engaged over 19,000 participants. It has plans to paint about 350 one-room flats of lowerincome families.


Baharuddin Vocational Institute
48 Stirling Road

This mural is a tribute to the Baharuddin Vocational Institute devoted to manual and applied arts such as metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing. In its early years, lessons were held in borrowed premises until the 1970s when the institution got its own building. Formerly called Queenstown Vocational Institute, it was renamed in 1968.



The Elephant Statue presented to Singapore by Thailand’s King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to commemorate his visit in 1871, is believed to be one of Singapore’s very first pieces of public art. The bronze statue originally stood in front of the Victoria Memorial Hall but was moved to the front of the Court House (later the Assembly House, and today’s Old Parliament House, also known as the Arts House) in 1919.* It is a testament to the strong relationship Singapore and Thailand enjoy.

*Source National Library Board



Knowledge Marina One, Sky Garden This free-standing kinetic sculpture highlights Singapore artist Edwin Cheong’s talent in creating ‘art in motion’ using technology. Inspired by the form of trees, the leaves of the sculpture, made of mirrored panels which move with the wind, reflect the beauty of the surrounding landscape and architecture of Marina One development. It is scheduled to obtain its permit for temporary occupation in 2017.



At the Marina Bay financial district, four artworks that will be created by a Singaporean and two Malaysian artists will be placed at Marina One, a commercial-and-residential development opening in 2017.

The curated art pieces underscore the significant ties between Singapore and Malaysia according to Kemmy Tan, COO of M+S, a joint venture between Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and Khazanah Nasional, the Malaysian government’s investment fund. M+S has also commissioned another five artworks for luxury condominium, Duo, that will also include a hotel and office block located on Fraser Street in Bugis. The Duo development is slated to open at the end of 2017.


Exquisite Paradox
Block 41 Gillman Barracks, next to the Naked Finn restaurant

Wong Lip Chin’s installation of the original 1980s design of the bus stop, a common element of Singapore’s landscape.



In 2015, in conjunction with Singapore’s jubilee celebrations, SG50, the National Arts Council has invited Singapore artists to come up with meaningful public art works in the city. The top three proposals will receive a budget of up to $400,000 each to produce their works.


Portrait of an Artist
Block 39 Gillman Barracks

Artist-in-Residence Koh Nguang How pays homage to the late sculptor Shui Tit Sing (1914–1997) who was active in Singapore’s arts community in the ’60s and ’70s. Titled Portrait Of An Artist, he superimposes a photograph of Shui on the door of his studio. At night, when Koh hangs a digitally printed image resembling a translucent screen, it creates an illusion of the late artist walking into his studio.


The artistic creations of Singaporean artists Dawn Ng, Wong Lip Chin and archivist Koh Nguang How as well as Indonesian painters Maryanto and Bambang ‘Toko’ Witjaksono, liven up the façade of Gillman Barracks.

Gillman Barracks, a former British army camp built in 1926 in the Western suburbs, is Singapore’s latest contemporary arts cluster of 17 international art galleries and a Centre for Contemporary Art.

Ng’s photographic prints, Wong’s blackand- white historical images and Koh’s remodelled bus stop sculpture are part of Drive (, a public art project running from now until January 2015. This outdoor exhibition of public artworks — from murals and photographs to sculptures and multi-media installations — features works from different art galleries and international artists.

Meanwhile, the other galleries at Gillman Barracks have ongoing exhibitions that feature a changing lineup of works every two months.


Block 7 Gillman Barracks

Indonesian artist Maryanto’s 10m x 10m artwork, Camouflage amidst the lush greenery of Gillman, showcases his work as statements against the degradation of the natural landscape owing to pollution and mining in Indonesia.






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