Construction Site-Turned Southeast Asia's First Official Graffiti Hall of Fame at Singapore's Kampong Gelam
People who are familiar with urban art would have heard of the Hall of Fame, which refers to a space legally dedicated to street art. In the graffiti world, a Hall of Fame is a vibrant hub where artists new and renowned can hone their craft. Some of the major cities in the world – including New York and Sydney – have said spaces where artists can work their magic; and now, Southeast Asia’s first official graffiti Hall of Fame can call Singapore home.
Southeast Asia’s first official graffiti Hall of Fame was recently launched in Singapore by precinct association One Kampong Gelam and the Singapore Tourism Board on 28 April 2021 on an unprecedented scale. The Hall of Fame is set to be one of the most prominent street art experiences in the region. There are altogether 17 Singapore-based artists unleashed their works on tall metal canvases along Bali Lane and Ophir Road. The enclave has long been famed for its colourful street art splashed across its back alleys. In 2019, it also welcomed Singapore's first outdoor gallery, Gelam Gallery (click here to read my post on Gelam Gallery).
But the interesting part about Singapore’s Hall of Fame is that a construction site has become an unexpected canvas for art. Originally erected as noise barriers for ongoing construction works, the tall metal canvases have become the stage for the best muralists from Singapore. Each mural comes with a handy QR code, allowing you to check out artwork descriptions and artist info through the Hall of Fame microsite.
FROM BALI LANE:
Yi Shu (‘Art) by veteran graffiti artist ANTZ. I always find his art very distinctive. He sprayed a monkey: an animal known for its wit and cheer. Composed of several small monkeys, this mural celebrates an eye for detail and the attention to our environment.
Tamotori Hime (The Pearl Diver) by full-time tattoo artist Sei10. He sprayed an environmentally-charged reflection of our present-day world with his piece, weaving together Japanese folklore and batik motifs drawn from Kampong Gelam’s heritage.
Wall the Lane by former skater Has.J. He sprayed a cheeky mirror to pedestrians on the street with his abstract, dynamic mural, highlighting how each of us has our own unique ways of walking the line.
Under the Same Sun by a collaborative work between popular Indonesian muralist Stereoflow and Singaporean artist ZERO under RSCLS. One half is painted in Singapore at Bali Lane and the other half resides in M-Blok in Jakarta, Indonesia, achieving through art what travel cannot right now.
Veteran graffiti artist Slacsatu sprayed a big Betta Fish, known distinctly for its survival instincts. The fish, to the artist, is a symbol of strength and resilience in the way it has maintained its purpose and heritage while keeping up with the fast-progressing world.
Local Graffiti Monsters by AshD and NOEZ23. This cheeky, collaborative mural reimagines graffiti artists as contemporary pendekars (warriors) equipped with bright-coloured spray-cans.
Atomick by artist Jojie Atomick draws attention to our digital identities. It creates a parallel between the purpose an artist’s moniker typically serves, and the digital versions of ourselves we present online. As most of us find accelerated expression online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this piece takes on greater relevance.
The Gathering by former concept artist and digi-matte painter Didier Jaba Mathieu. He sprayed a continuation of his murals around Kampong Gelam, some of which were painted as early as 2010. This latest piece titled ‘The Gathering’ is inspired by ancient civilisations such as the Zapotec people and their community spirit.
I was happy to chance upon the artist in action when I dropped by to photo-document the Hall of Fame that time.
FROM OPHIR ROAD:
The murals along Ophir Road are titled "The Journey", a mashup of the precinct’s past and present, and inspired by five artists' personal memories of Kampong Gelam.
This mural is also by ZERO and this is his impression of a person’s state of mind when roaming Kampong Gelam. It is an eclectic combination of the old and new: art, culture, architecture and traditions are seen intermingling. The piece is loud, fun and unafraid to show its bold colours.
This mural on the sidecar is another one by Slacsatu and it is his impression of the sidecar experience tour in Kampong Gelam - popular with both locals and tourists. The composition of the mural combines the classic Kampong Gelam energy balanced with a contemporary desire for discovery and adventure. One of the main highlights of the piece is the great arc borrowed from the iconic Sultan Mosque.
This mural by a Singapore-based urban artist and researcher from Manila, Philippines, SPAZ plays with perspective and structure, imitating the sights and sounds experienced in an alleyway in Kampong Gelam. It is a collage of the people and textures the artist has experienced in the precinct.
This mural by graphic designer and urban artist Adam Wang (also known as Dem) pays tribute to the various communities that have found a haven in Kampong Gelam. Commonly sighted in and around our streets, the pigeons in this mural represent artists growing and spreading their wings. In some ways, the work celebrates Kampong Gelam’s role in nurturing the local creative urban scene.
This mural by Studio Moonchild (a collaborative effort of two Singaporean artists, ANACATHIE and FREAKYFIR) delve sinto the resonance between the traditional and the contemporary with their depiction of a child of many cultures.
The right part of mural by graffiti and visual artist Boon Baked takes you back in time through a magical portal that tells a story of Middle Eastern trade routes and Arabic influences. It is the artist’s imagination of Kampong Gelam’s history and becoming.
The other side of the mural on the left was done by KILAS and his ornamental line work combined with artist Boon Baked’s illustrations together create a magical portal. His mural inspired by an imaginative history of Kampong Gelam.
This mural is named "Constant Elevation" which is a collaborative piece by ANTZ and Hegira alongside Didier Jaba Mathieu. The concept is a fictional, futuristic piece depicting a Kampong Gelam of the future. It features iconic red-roof shophouses and friendly street cats overlooking the scene, reminding us of the precinct’s essence and charm. The mural's design combined Jaba’s signature flying cities, with Hegira’s Arabic calligraffiti and ANTZ’ love for painting animals.
The vibrant neighbourhood of Kampong Gelam has long been known for its fascinating cultural landmarks and gorgeous street art, but things have now gotten a whole lot more interesting. If you are in the vicinity, you can see the colourful creations brightening the streets. The artists’ spray paint and imagination to the metal wall turned a drab construction site into a work of art. These street art pieces are expected to be on display until the completion of construction works in two years’ time.
I think the creation of the Hall of Fame is not easy at all for the artists, given the unpredictable rainy weather. The artists faced many challenges that a normal building wall wouldn’t present. I hope all of you can show your support to these street artists who have helped to strengthen Kampong Gelam’s position as Singapore’s leading street art precinct and the country’s largest open-air gallery !
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