If you are looking for a refreshing view on art, then street art is definitely the answer you need. Many have described it as intriguing, creative, and unhindered. As most of you are aware, I have always been on a lookout for interesting street art and raise awareness of them through my photo lens and blog writing. I love the thrill of discovery and that moment of personal appreciation and enjoyment in front of street art.
I have been advocating that street art is an important part of the identity of cities all around the globe, as it can help shape and define the sense of community and personality of a metropolis. There are many cities that already offer “street art tours” as graffiti and urban expression have already become relevant touristic attractions. Therefore, we cannot deny that this type of art is loaded with social, touristic, and even economic value, just like it happens with the work of Banksy, one of the most popular and sought after street artists of the century. Street artists create art out of their own creative need and to hopefully make us think as we pass their work.
Street art is also diverse. There are many different designs, styles, techniques, and types that help decorate the various surfaces that we see. Street artists come from different backgrounds, countries, and cultures. And with this, the birth of different forms of street art that dazzles and impresses me. I certainly appreciate street art and think it improves our urban areas.
Here's my latest Singapore street art photo series which are all found in Bukit Merah area. Does Bukit Merah make you think of anything? IKEA only? Take a trip down Jalan Bukit Merah and there is so much more than that. The art trail "Bukit Merah Diaries" by Brilliant Corners, is a part of the Arts in Your Neighbourhood programme organised by Singapore National Arts Council, to inspire people to explore this art trail in these neighbourhoods. I realised these murals were inspired by the residents’ childhood memories as I explored the neighbourhood. As a fan of street art, it’s my mission to understand the story behind every art piece that I come upon throughout my adventures. These street artists were invited to consider the residents’ memories and the history of the estate while creating their artistic response, giving new works of art in the neighbourhood. #dontsayinevershare
"Capteh On & On" by Polkaros at Blk 3 Jalan Bukit Merah
Ros Lee is the designer behind lifestyle brand Polkaros who does more pottery, textiles and home décor. She created a mural with two of her signature characters Yuki and Pierrot playing Chapteh. Capteh is an old school children’s game that requires one to continuously kick a colourful shuttlecock in the air for as long as they can.
"Swim Or Float" by Kristal Melson at Blk 2 Jalan Bukit Merah
The artist relived her childhood through her children who are fascinated by guppies, goldfish and fighting fish. With a dash of nostalgia, she illustrated the childhood icons in her signature vibrant tones. The mural is remixed with iridescent spots that recall the memory of vintage parties where kids blew bubble balloons using a tiny plastic straw and a blob of gum, paying tribute to simpler joys of the past.
"Tong Kia" by ANTZ at Blk 2 Jalan Merah
Tong Tong machines were once favoured by children who would insert a coin into the machine and turn a knob to receive a surprise toy. Inspired by this memory, the artist ANTZ painted a set of larger than life machines near a row of convenience stalls. Packaged in plastic capsules within the drawn machines are retro toys and games such as opera masks, cassette tapes, flag erasers and more. ANTZ’s trademark monkey stands in front of the machine, ready to try his luck.
"Three? Four? Five Stones!" by Sadiq Mansor at Blk 3 Jalan Merah
The mural of Three? Four? Five stones! is an imaginary world filled with historical and mythical references based on Red Hill and its residents’ childhood memories. Framed by gambier trees and brickworks that symbolise the architectural heritage of the area, the mural also pays tribute to beloved local icons like the playground dragon motif and gem biscuits.
"YO YO" by Delphine Rama at Blk 12 Jalan Merah
Through geometric shapes and perspective play, Belgian-born artist Delphine Rama depicts the scene of a child in the midst of a fancy yo-yo trick. Her work is reminiscent of a time when children and teenagers around the world would spend hours trying to master yo-yo tricks. Apart from a well-researched colour scheme that expresses the environment, Rama plays with light and shadow to create depth.
"Yung Nadim’s Game" by Has.J at Blk 28 Jalan Bukit Merah
Goli (also known as guli or kelereng) is a traditional kampong game played using marbles. Each player uses their marbles to displace other players' marbles in an attempt to claim them. The artists imagine this to be the favourite game of a fictional folklore hero Yung Nadim. In his signature playful composition, Has.J portrays the skill and accuracy required to own the game, paying tribute to young bravery.
"Magic Lamp Post" by BAKED at Blk 28 Jalan Bukit Merah
Magic Lamp Post was inspired by an old photograph of a now-defunct playground in Bukit Merah. The mural depicts a scene straight out of BAKED’s imagination: When street lamp-posts light up in the evening, the playground comes to life and plastic ducks and horses morph into oversize creatures, seemingly teasing the scale and perspective of children and adults.
After exloring the "Bukit Merah Diaries" at Jalan Bukit Merah, I continued with the art trail, to explore the other nearby murals in Bukit Merah area, all within walking distance - the next is Lengkok Bahru Estate.
Murals within Lengkok Bahru Estate
This mural "Worry Free Wall" is found at Blk 49 Lengkok Bahru and they are part of a larger initiative named “Seeing the Obvious” - a joint community project between social enterprise 3Pumpkins and students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Design. These two murals (the other below) were completed in February 2020 to brighten up and create an identity for the Lengkok Bahru neighbourhood.
"Wall of Fortune" mural at Blk 55 Lengkok Bahru.
Murals at Enabling Village at Blk 20 Lengkok Bahru
Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic made a visit to Singapore in 2015 to create 3 murals in the Enabling Village that were inspired by young talented artists from the Artist Development Programme of Pathlight School, an autism-focused school. These murals are found inside the Enabling Village compound which is open to the public.
This particular mural was inspired by Jolie‘s Secret Garden and is painted on the wall of The Art Faculty ("TAF") which is a social enterprise by Autism Resource Centre. TAF retails art and merchandise created by special talents with autism and related challenges. For every sale of artwork and merchandise, their differently-abled artists earn royalties, and also learn about the value of work and financial independence.
These two murals were inspired by Tan Jun Yi‘s The Animal Parade which involved some doodle art as well. They can be found at the wall of the playground facing the open carpark.
This mural can be found at the pillar behind the outdoor terrace and it was inspired by Selena Seow‘s Birds of a Feather.
Gateway Theatre at 3615 Jalan Bukit Merah
Local street art duo Inkten and Clogtwo (a.k.a. Ink and Clog Studio) completed 4 murals (AMPLITUDE, LONGITUDE, MAGNITUDE and SOLITUDE) at the exterior of the Gateway Theatre. Gateway Theatre is a creative arts space in the heart of Bukit Merah.
The Mill at 5 Jalan Kilang
I have always wanted to drop by at the industrial office The Mill because it is designed by Swan & Maclaren alongside James Adams, whose other masterpieces include the Art Deco style Parkview Square at Bugis that is reminiscent of Gotham City.
Local artist Ceno2 did some wall murals at The Mill’s open carpark space on level 1. The murals add to The Mill’s dramatic facade which make it a place worth checking out.
Street art is really becoming popular in Singapore. Street art makes cities and streets more colorful, which means that inhabitants of an area rich of urban art are more likely to experience happiness and joy. Street art adds color and vibrancy to the world that, frankly, adds beauty to this world. We will know that society can be dark at times, and the only way to keep it light and bright it to add some colorful art. Thankfully, Singapore’s streets are littered with art in the recent years that are filled with dazzling colors.
Also, it can make commuting much more interesting, since street art is temporary, and what has been on a given wall for months or years, is likely to disappear from one day to another. When this happens, commuters and/or pedestrians might be surprised with the next piece, adding a touch of color and inspiration to a journey that would otherwise be gray and boring.
Street art is just simply beautiful. I hope we can all contribute to and do our part to promote the art of street art ! I will continue to blog about street art in 2022.
You may like to read more about all my street art blog posts here.