In the last couple of years I have come to appreciate street art. There are so many reasons why people love street art and why it is becoming more popular or important for people of all walks of life. Street art is an important part of history and identity for many metropolises, and sometimes even has the ability to breathe life into communities. I have tons of Singapore street art / wall mural pictures and I will continue to blog about them bit by bit in 2021.
I have a lot of great memories of Bras Basah Complex, so today I decided to dedicate a post on wall murals at this place. The Bras Basah Complex has been a familiar place to many Singaporeans for the past three decades. The commercial-cum-residential complex became Singapore’s well-known City of Books, an unofficial yet representative name just like the Beach Road’s Army Market, the Arcade where moneychangers ply their trades, or the famous Sungei Thieves Market with their second hand goods. I used to buy books and stationery at this place when I was a student. I still frequent Bras Basah Complex very often nowadays, not to buy books, but for the endless supplies of art materials from Art Friend for my painting works.
Most of these vibrant and cheerful wall mural paintings at Bras Basah Complex were created by students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts ("NAFA"), as part of Central Singapore CDC’s Painting Smiles initiative. This arts initiative was titled "Painting Smiles" which aimed to bring smiles to visitors or residents through the use of bright and therapeutic colours on wall murals. There are also some other wall murals done by local street artists.
The Bras Basah Complex is made up of two 25-storey blocks, where the first to fifth floor are catered for commercial purposes and the sixth to 25th level as residential units.
This particular artwork “Rainbows” is part of a larger street art campaign called 50 Bridges, an initiative by the Australian Commission of Singapore in celebration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence which has 50 pieces of street artworks all across the island. Singaporean street artist Sheryo and Aussie partner Yok created a series of rather distinctively colourful artwork, and Bras Basah Complex was one of the locations.
Do you love to eat ice cream? I wrote a post about mobile ice cream sellers many years ago in 2012 and you may read it here.
An event that drew the crowds to the Bras Basah Complex in the 1980s was the popular xinyao (Singapore Chinese folk songs) concerts and competitions. Local xinyao singers with their new releases of songs and cassette albums often attracted hundreds of fans, largely made up of students and young adults, that filled up the entire atrium.
As mentioned earlier, Bras Basah Complex was known as City of Books (shu cheng, 书城 in Mandarin) as the complex is famed for its numerous bookstores. So naturally, most of the wall murals in Bras Basah Complex are associated with books.
These wall murals were done by Lee Kow Fong a.k.a. Ah Guo 阿果 in Mandarin, who creates charming, child-like worlds that capture the imaginations of both kids and adults alike.
I am always on the constant lookout for new art showing up on the walls and surfaces of any city or building because I think this is a great way to feel the pulse of a dynamic city's street art scene. Sometimes, this can help develop positive interactions between businesses and members of their community, for example, in Bras Basah Complex.
Art in the street just makes me happy and cheer me up and I hope you feel the same too. Street art makes my day and my commute more interesting and adds character to what would otherwise just be grey and boring. Art reminds me as well as all of you to feel alive. It’s there to beautify a space. It wakes people up, inspires and motivates them. And sometimes it can make people think. I feel street art is important to keep urban areas and their residents energised and inspired.
Next time you travel somewhere, be it in Singapore or a foreign country, take some time to explore the street art of that city. You will undoubtedly be led of the normal tourist path, but I am sure you will be surprised by what you find. If you are interested to know more about street art, you may click here to browse all my street art blog posts to-date.