I’ve been noticing some murals springing up in the city in recent months, even our humble HDB flats have been catching my eyes more. There are plenty of unique, compelling HDB blocks in Singapore which are painted in vibrant colours or feature giant murals on their walls, boasting all sorts of creative designs from abstract art to pop art. Their bright splashes of colour brightening up the once-grey walls, they never fail to perk me up! Singapore may be a concrete jungle, but as the murals on the streets and charming heritage buildings show us, you can find beautiful art almost everywhere in the city. Since many of the oldest and prettiest buildings have been demolished these past few years, it is time to start paying more attention and appreciate wall murals as a community. I don't wish to wait till it's too late to treasure the colourful murals around us.
The HDB void decks in Serangoon Central were given a fresh, colourful coat of paint. That’s the dose of nostalgia these murals offer. Many of those murals harken back to Singapore’s simple kampong days as a fishing village, while you’ll can also find a lively mix of everything from Sir Stamford Raffles to our modern buildings in the area. They are great examples of meaningful and impactful ground-up initiatives and the final product is a new appealing space that many residents, both young and old, treasure and are proud of.
Still think public housing blocks in Singapore are boring? I hope you'll change your mind after you get to the end of this article.
Art has traditionally been used as a medium of expression but conversations have often been restricted within the four walls of a gallery, catering only to a niche audience. However, arts and culture are not confined to just galleries and museums in Singapore anymore – they come alive on the void deck walls of many an HDB estate. Public art took on a life of its own, breaking down walls of confined spaces and spilling out to the heartlands, making the art experience accessible to all.
More murals – or rather, art pieces – were done up at another void deck in the West side of Singapore. Non-profit group Social Creatives transformed a portion of the void decks of Blocks 749 and 750 Jurong West St 73 into a ‘Picasso’ community art gallery. The gallery pays homage to spanish artist Pablo Picasso and his famous Cubism style by creating a more intimate relationship between the artists and the community through collaboration. This is also to encourage local residents to know more about the art history and embrace the arts culture of their city.
There is another thing I would say is perhaps not unique but certainly as a whole Picasso brand it is unique. There are so many stories, myths and legends surround Picasso brand that it’s hard to know which are true and which are partly true. This is what made him memorable and his name shareable to wider audience outside art connoisseurs and art collectors.
Today, Pop Art is one of the most instantly recognisable forms of art. The influence and mark of pop art artists can be seen in almost every aspect of our modern society. At first glance, Pop Art might seem to glorify popular culture by elevating soup cans, comic strips and hamburgers to the status of fine art on the walls of museums. Pop Art focused on mass production, celebrity and the expanding industries of advertising, TV, radio and print media. Ultimately, it shaped a completely new cultural identity in the field of art and design. The art movement aims to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art, thus blurring the lines between high and low arts.
Campbell’s Soup, Marilyn Monroe, Coca-Cola and words like ‘whaam’ are some examples of Pop Art. If they aren’t enough of an indication, you can spot a Pop artwork pretty easily as they are bright and bold in colour. But while easily recognisable, artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein exhibited their own, unique style.
There is a pop art gallery in Singapore created by Social Creatives, which you do not need to pay any entry fee to visit, and that is located at Block 8 Holland Avenue, a HDB property in Queenstown estate. I was pretty excited about the exploration because I love bold pop art and just about any image inspired by it. The conclusion of the visit was that I found it so fascinating. Basically the paintings are spoofs of renowned pop art artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring added in with certain Singapore elements. The artists gave the artwork there a uniquely singaporean twist, so don’t be surprised to see words like “aiyoo” and “sedap” too. There are a few reasons why i personally like Pop Art which are elaborated as you browse the collection of photos below. See if you agree.
Step Into The World of Vincent Van Gogh at the Void Deck Art Gallery in Singapore MacPherson HDB estates
There are places in Singapore not many are aware of which has a good showcase of artworks – and I am not talking about galleries or museums, but your very own housing estates. For people who live in HDB would think that their public housing block look rather dull and lifeless. Standard practice on some buildings is to leave the first floor open, except for the structural elements. This area is called the "void deck".
In a void deck in MacPherson, you’ll find that the walls are painted in Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s signature yellow and blue, with reproductions of his famous artworks such as Sunflowers and Starry Night. Arts charity group Social Creatives calls it a “void deck art gallery”, said to be the first of its kind here.
You do not need to buy an air ticket to fly to Amsterdam to visit the Van Gogh Musuem to find artistic inspiration. Instead, take a stroll through one of Singapore’s heartlands at Macpherson HDB estates, to enjoy the colourful art gallery without visiting to any museum. It's so nice to see art and colour on what would otherwise have been ordinary plain walls. It's also a nice way to educate the public about art and show them some of the masterpieces of the great painters like Van Gogh.
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!
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.
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