While Singapore has risen to become a first-world nation, the same cannot be said for our arts community. I have always been a huge fan of well decorated street walls aka wall murals or wall graffiti so prevalent overseas, and will always make it a point to appreciate the amount of hard work and dedication put in by the artists.
Being the law abiding citizens that we are, I would say our street mural scene still has much room to grow. Don’t get me wrong, I just think that there is a fine line between vandalism and street art, and we could definitely expand on the latter.
Some of the walls along the side alleys could use with some sprucing up, adding a new breath of life to our cityscapes. I’ve taken the liberty to highlight 10 murals that you need to hunt down while you’re here in sunny Singapore.
If you’ve been to Penang, you probably would have seen some works by Lithuanian street artist, Ernest Zacharevic. Initiated by the local residents living in the Joo Chiat area as a contribution to Singapore’s independent public art landscape, Zacharevic completed ‘Jousting Painters’ on one of the walls in 2013.
After being subjected to the weather for three years, the mural looks rather faded but still has an attractive charm about it. It captures the playful imagination of children and reminds us to never forget our childhood.
How to get here:
It’s going to be a bit of a challenge finding this one in particular, so here are some directions:
‘Jousting Painters’ is along the intersection of Joo Chiat Terrace and Everitt Road. It will take you about a ten minute walk from Eunos MRT station. A faster way would be to take Bus 33 from Dakota MRT station and alight at “bef Joo Chiat Place” (bus stop code: 82151).
Walk straight down the road bypassing Kim’s Place on the right until you see the Joo Chiat Terrace sign.
Turn right once you hit this intersection and walk until you see a yellow painted wall on the right. Take the first right after the yellow wall and you would have arrived at the location.
To check out Zacharevic’s other works along Victoria street, take Bus 33 at the bus stop after Tembeling Road and alight at Blk 461 (bus stop code: 01219).
The mural is pretty easy to miss if you’re not looking carefully. A central theme of Zacharevic’s murals is that they always revolve around children. This one clearly showcases the curiosity of children, with the eyes giving off a look of shock, perhaps by what the child manages to see.
In Zacharevic’s words, “Most of my work is photography based and site-specific, so I photograph my subjects and later choose angles for painting. Working with children allows more anonymity, I don’t consider my artworks to be portraits of a specific person, but rather a universal experience.”
Walk down the street and see if you spot a few more of Ernest Zacharevic’s works like ‘Kids in Trolleys’, ‘Girl with Lion Cub’ and ‘Boy Climbing’.
A five minute walk from Bugis MRT station, Haji Lane is considered to be one of the hippest parts of town. Walking along this stretch, you can find many eateries and retailers selling a pretty wide range of products.
Hippie-meets-tribal murals greet you from all sides of the Piedra Negra shophouse, making for killer Instagram OOTDs. Most of JabaOne‘s works can be found in this area along with works by ZincNiteCrew (aka ZNC), see if you can spot them!
This rather obscure little building is just a few streets down from Aliwal Arts Centre, directly in front of the Malay Heritage Centre. Apparently, there is a store called ‘The Black Book’ which is run by graffiti crew ZNC, selling spray paint and apparel.
The mural of a traditional dancer here reflects the strong emphasis on the Malay cultural heritage showcased in this area. Do keep an eye out for the occasional graffiti battles conducted here that are truly a sight to behold!
Don’t miss the murals along the walls of the Aliwal Arts Centre, with the centre housing one of Singapore’s more popular art collectives, RSLCS, on the second level. Current members include a Young Artist Award Winner, ZERO.
Accessible via Little India MRT station, this cultural enclave is home to quite a few street murals by some popular street artists.
Ernest Zacharevic returns to the list with one of his first murals in Singapore that was painted in 2012. You can find it located on the side wall outside Perak Hotel (12 Perak Road). Apparently, there are also a few murals inside Perak Hotel, but you need to be a guest in order to see for yourself.
I love how he didn’t let the structure of this wall affect him and instead went along with it, resulting in yet another awe-inspiring mural that you need to check out!
Located at the pedestrian stretch beside Rowell Road and Desker Road, the wall on the Broadcast HQ building (107/109 Rowell Road) features murals by two renowned American street artists (El Mac & Tyke Witnes AWR) created as part of the Singapore Night Festival 2010.
The detail on this mural up close is hauntingly beautiful, depicting a man looking downcast – a sight that is pretty common in Little India, given the number of migrant workers who visit the area.
If only El Mac had more opportunities to showcase his work here. Check out his other works on his blog!
Located beside the ‘Light in Little India’ mural, ‘Green Goblins’ will probably cater more to the younger crowd. I love how the letters have personality incorporated into them.
Apart from the three Little India murals mentioned here, do check out some of the other nearby works like:
A hangout spot for youngsters in the heart of Orchard Road, *SCAPE has commissioned a few walls to be painted in order to give budding mural/graffiti artists a platform to showcase their talent.
A showcase of racial harmony, I suspect this piece was painted during the year of the Rabbit. Each rabbit is wearing the traditional outfit of each race, with traditional motifs included in this mural as well. The murals here change quite frequently so you’re guaranteed a surprise each time you drop by!
Do check out the other murals at the Skate Park and Youth Park as well, with a couple of them done by the ZNC crew.
Our very own local muralist, Yip Yew Chong, has painted a few murals along Everton Road, Spottiswoode Park and Tiong Bahru. The murals depict local heritage scenes that are very dear to him and are based on his memories living or playing in the area.
His first mural ‘Ah Ma’ was completed in August 2015 and depicts the rich Peranakan culture of the Blair Plain Conservation area where Chong lived for over 20 years.
Other murals by Yip Yew Chong to look out for:
Try and see if you can find the remaining goat murals located at Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre, as part of the Animal series done by Ernest Goh.
It would be a pity not to include this three-story mural of a peacock done by Mike Makatron that covers one of the walls inside the Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre. It blends beautifully with the surroundings and sure makes for an impressive photo!
I certainly learnt quite a bit from hunting these murals down and at the same time learnt to appreciate the local culture that we have. Art in this case, has helped conserve some of the memories from our childhood and reminds us to look back and treasure what we once had.
Let the search begin!
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