Confession: I am quite obsessed with finding street art. I have a love for public art. Murals and street art are always a fun thing to photograph. It’s something I do in every city that has street art. Any travel day that I end up photographing multiple murals marks a truly successful day of travel photography, in my opinion.
In the past decade, there has been a surge in popularity of one particular type of art in Singapore, the mural. Murals improve the urban landscape around them and create a sense of community through shared visual experience. Much like the flowers, trees, and plants maintained throughout the city, murals provide a splash of color in parts of town dominated by brick, concrete, or limestone. It is no wonder that murals have become popular and they will continue to provide color downtown and throughout the city.
In between the sleek skyscrapers of our Housing Development Blocks (“HDB”), creativity blossoms on the walls of housing estates, in quiet alleyways, and within bustling neighborhoods, bringing with it a flutter of radiant energy and charm. I explored the whole of Hougang HDB town to hunt down as many artworks as humanly possible so that I could break down the works of art by neighborhood. I realised that they are a great addition to our sense of place and offer ‘belonging’ for the residents staying in Hougang, as well as for the arts community.
Here are some of the cool and creative designs I saw along the way, from edgy graffiti to retro scenes. I think the photos in this collection have done a pretty good job of photographing murals with some good results. I hope it helps you chart out your own course to see these sights up close.
I love street art. I have been a street art fanatic for many years. What began as mere curiosity, many years ago, soon became a deep appreciation, and occasional obsession. There’s something so impressive about artists pouring themselves into works that in all likelihood will be removed or destroyed. Aside from the more technical aspects, it’s simply a beautiful way to liven the concrete backdrop of an otherwise bland, almost dismal scene. Sometimes it’s a multi-story mural exploding with colour, becoming a focal point of the neighbourhood. Other times it’s a simple stencil, maybe conveying some cheeky social commentary.
In Helsinki, the city considered by many as the cultural capital of Finland, street art isn’t just an art form. It’s an intrinsic part of the city’s history and identity. Finland has a wonderful street art program. I found a wonderful art area. In their constructions zones, they put up blank walls surrounding the scene. On these walls, street artists are allowed to “deface” them and showcase their art. This blew me away. The beauty brought to the construction site from the artists made it a better destination. The bold colours used by the artists contrasted strongly with the brown wall of the stadium. Each section held a different message depending on what the artist wanted to portray. The result is that street art has burgeoned and become one of the defining aspects of the city’s character. Buildings tall and small are daubed with beautiful murals.
The Hong Kong Island line was extended to the East at the end of 2014, with Sai Ying Pun station being the final one to be opened in March 2015. I have travelled there a few times and it is a very interesting MTR station.Not only do you have to take an escalator to reach the middle level, but you actually have to take a lift up to the street level. That’s how far down the station is.
There is a wonderful artwork depicting the neighbourhood – it is a painted bas relief created by Ms Louise Soloway Chan. Chan, originally from Britain who has lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years. Her artwork, 3D bass relief panels in Sai Ying Pun Station, bring together the past and present of a neighborhood where a congested, traditional wet market shares a wall with trendy Western-style cafeteria, both overflowing with the intense minutiae of daily life. The artwork shows different sights from Sai Ying Pun, for instance the escalator that has been built up to the High Street...the people shopping at the wet markets and little shops of the area...the day and day activities happening on the street of Sai Ying Pun....
西营盘铁路车站，是港岛线西延段最后一个通车的车站，以紫色做车站的主调颜色。西营盘站最大的卖点是富有当区特色的艺术品，是整个港铁网络中 “艺术气息最浓厚” 的车站。
Whilst exploring Taiwan last year, with my usual eye out for street art, I noticed a couple of those electricity boxes; the kind you don’t usually notice. I don’t know what the correct name for them is – Electricity transformer boxes or kiosks? Circuit boxes? Junction boxes? Electric utility boxes? Anyway, I’m talking about those boring-looking grey metal boxes that control the electricity supply to nearby buildings.
So, the reason I noticed them was that they were colourfully painted. And then I spotted more. You can’t miss these painted electrical boxes throughout Taiwan. They are virtually everywhere, and most commonly painted with landscapes or flowers. I’ve snapped a handful of them to share with you, during my walks around the city. Each box is painted on all sides. No two boxes are painted alike, although you will see recurring themes and color palates.
Permission for the street exhibition was given to brighten up Taiwan’s main streets. The only regulation was that the electricity warning sign couldn’t be painted over.
Street art is becoming a big obsession. One of the first things that I do when I decide on a new destination is to find out whether or not I’m going to get my fill of street art. When I decided to be in Taiwan for two weeks, and Taipei for a large majority of that, I knew I needed to scope it out. Luckily, one of my favorite things to do while traveling is just to wander the streets. And from wandering and gaining some insight from a local in Taiwan, I was able to find some of the best Murals in Taipei.
Taipei may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of street art culture, but be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. In Taipei street art and better yet, good street art is easy to come by. The capital of the island country of Taiwan is rife with large and small scale street art.
Here are my favourite photos of the street art that I saw. And as always, if you know of any more, leave them in the comments!
My photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on urban street art in Singapore and Hong Kong《转角遇上艺术新加坡与香港街头涂鸦节日》is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 24 February 2018! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
When it comes to the street art scene, Hong Kong is not a name that is usually among the most talked about. In the ensuing years, mural art has ballooned in Hong Kong amid a growing scene with local and international artists and increasingly favourable attitudes towards art in the public, by the public. Murals spread across Hong Kong, with diverging degrees of style, quality and message.
2013 saw the launch of HKWalls, a street art festival that has helped ferment discussion about public art spaces in the city. The following year saw the Occupy movement and its accompanying flurry of creative expression in public spaces. The protests turned out to be a rife platform for the creation of street art, with students, activists and citizens leaving their marks on the city’s concrete and turning the streets into extraordinary art installations. Their visual messages and rebellions were catapulted into the world’s consciousness via the international media reporting on the protests. I always remind people to look up in Hong Kong. If we only pay attention to the street level, we’ll miss so many wonderful things. Here take a look at some of the pieces that brightening up Hong Kong walls.
Look Out For Stunning Street Art at the Under-Renovation Singapore Funan Mall - Constructions Not Necessary Always Have To Be Boring & Dull-looking
Every city tells its own unique story by the street art it has. I am a big fan of it, because it’s made for everyone and like each and every piece of art, there is always a message to reflect upon. Singapore Funan IT Mall was closed for a complete overhaul. But if you walk by there now, you might do a double take: the hoardings are covered in graffiti. A local artist teamed up with the mall to make the hoardings his personal canvas. It's so nice to see some public art in the otherwise all-business part of town.
I’m not sure how my street art obsession began but it was definitely at some point during my travels, when my creativity was sparked and my mind opened up enough to explore what I had until then considered messy scribbles. Or maybe I just fell in love with the irreverence and rebelliousness I sensed behind those scribbles. Suffice it to say that the mere act of travel helps open up my mind to new forms of art - a creativity and curiosity fueled by the different sights and lifestyles.
As I travel, whenever I walk down a street and see splashes of color covering up an otherwise drab wall, I’ll stop and take a picture, imagining hooded youngsters slinking around at night, with paints and brushes and cans under their jackets, furtively slingling brush strokes at cement. I’ll probably be wrong about the image – but I won’t be wrong about loving what I see.
My photo essay on Ipoh's Burps & Giggles Cafe & SG's Potato Head Cafe《绘本里的咖啡时光》is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 17 August 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
I am a huge fan of street art (you should know that by now for readers who have been following my blog). I have many pictures taken from hundreds of street art works, in dozens of cities/countries. I am always on the constant lookout for fascinating street art. Street art is proof that some of the best pieces of art, at least contemporary art, are not locked inside museums. Instead, they are out in the open for everyone to enjoy.
Singapore may not be associated with great street artwork compared to other Western countries, but there are hotspots that are (legally) tainted with unique and striking street art. Kampong Glam district (near Bugis shopping area) is a long-time creative art enclave and is one of the best places to wander around and discover the street art scene. Here are some places in Kampong Glam district in Singapore to admire these jaw-dropping works by both local and international street artists in this area.
Along Victoria Street between Jalan Klapa and Jalan Pisang:
My Photo Essay《牛车水壁画说故事 Street Art In Chinatown》Published in Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报副刊缤纷版 Dated 14 March 2016
A great start to a happy week! My photo essay on《牛车水壁画说故事》"Street Art in Chinatown" is published in today's Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报副刊缤纷 newspapers dated 14 March 2016!
Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, zbNOW/早报现在, you have made my day! 感谢、感恩!
Found this wonderful piece of street art in Singapore at People's Park Complex Level 6 Open Carpark.
The one day Aliwal Urban Art Festival 2016 kicked off Singapore Art Week yesterday! Held in conjunction with Singapore Art Week, the event promises to bring out the best of the streets, channeling everything great about Singapore’s urban art scene at the ultimate urban district, Kampong Glam.
At Aliwal Arts Centre in Aliwal Street in the Kampong Glam area, urban art and street culture took centre stage with graffiti art showcases, a space for a skateboarding competition. Aliwal Art Centre is an enclave of art studios that has a wide range of tenants across visual and performing arts. The centre paid special tribute last night to street culture with their annual Aliwal Urban Arts Festival.
Local graffiti gurus from the Rascals (RSCLS) performed in glorious street art at event. As a street art fan, I’m absolutely thrilled to see initiatives like this: I’ve always wanted to be in thriving street-art communities, as it always adds a distinctive flair to a place that makes it feel more personal, more yours.
I love simply wandering around cities with my camera in hand, stopping whenever I want to take photos. During a trip in Perth, I wandered down unknown streets and laneways, which concealed magnificent street art pieces, often several meters in width and height, and behind skyscrapers, restaurants and small businesses. It was a wonderful way to really discover a new city and the creative side of its local artists. Street art is absolutely thriving in Perth.
Perth’s hip inner suburbs have been undergoing a transformation over the past few years. Increasingly, alongside the trendy venues — on walls once neglected and covered in graffiti — you’ll find street art. Perth street art is known to be bizarre, ranging from faces out of place in a sea of swirling colour, to a snake eating its own tail. These random depictions are eye-catching, surreal and rising in growth, leaving people curious as to what’s around the corner.
These are not tags. This is real art. And real artists are behind it. They are often really stunning pieces and they’re very popular additions to the streets cape. Communities are recognising that street art can enrich their neighbourhoods. There are really talented people and it makes sense to engage them to help make the country's neighbourhoods more interesting.
I must emphasize that there is a difference between graffiti and street art. The beauty in street art is liberty. Graffiti is just writing with a spray can. Street art is using the same tools for design, for artistic expression.
One thing I have noticed out and about in Fremantle is a predominant graffiti culture. It’s not really mentioned in any guidebooks but round every corner or down every dingey alleyway is an artwork waiting to be uncovered. I know graffiti can often be divisive, but I personally love it, especially when its done well. I’m not a fan of tagging – where’s the talent in writing your name on a wall? But lots of the graffiti in Fremantle (Freo) is intelligent, can be tinged with a bit of a political message or is just really aesthetically pleasing. I at least am of the opinion that they are art and not vandalism, as long as it's designated (the owner of the building is okay with it), it's not offensive and it clearly has had some thought gone into it.
One of Fremantle’s most iconic buildings, Woolstores, had undergone an artistic transformation. The heritage-listed 1927 building was designed with a series of colorbond panels which have been installed around the building, covering the many broken windows that the building has been known for. A team of local Perth street artists took part in painting murals along the doorways and over the boarded window areas along the ground level of the building.
The works can be seen anytime on the outside of the Woolstores building, which is on Cantonment Street in Fremantle.