An Update From the Field: Singapore a Creative City

I realized today that it has been over two months since I contributed anything to this conversation on urbanization from my place here in Singapore. Although I have kept very busy encountering this city through my work at the National University of Singapore and in my daily life I have to admit that I miss taking the time to reflect upon these things on this blog. So here goes my attempt at more regular updates on the unique urbanization issues that face this city-state of Singapore.

Walter, a giant inflatable installation project by Dawn Ng, has appeared across Singapore

To the outside world Singapore is not known as a particularly creative city.  The insider though that has seen (or studied) Singapore’s economic development and urban planning over the past few decades can attest that the arts have come a long way in the recent past. Of course Singapore is still not quite the same arts scene as New York, it is working towards becoming creative city in its own means. Some of my favorite examples of these creative expressions are “Walter” a piece of pop-up art, unexpected murals in and sculptures in HDB estates, and the musicians found at a few MRT stops.

20111031-182735.jpgThe guitarist at my MRT stop.

When I left New York City one of the things I knew I would miss were the jazz musicians in the subway stations. So I was pleasantly surprised one Tuesday night when I saw a musician (playing a Johnny Cash song of all things) outside my MRT stop here.  Although this site is not as common as New York it was still a nice surprise to see that there is a space for this type of artist.

Murals near my block.

Shortly after moving into an HBD flat I noticed a series of very cheerful murals painted in the void decks of a few blocks (buildings) in my neighborhood.  These particular murals were painted as part of the “Rediscovering Void Decks” project in 2010 initiated by a group of government agencies.  I am not sure how many neighborhoods benefited from this program, but I know many void decks could certainly use more colorful expressions from the local residents. Unfortunately most of these space right now lack very much creativity on their walls and in how they are used.

Sculpture at the playground near my block.

The first time I saw this sculpture of giant man reading in a pool near the playground in my neighborhood I thought it was quite out of place but at the same time quite comical.  Now this huge sculpture is a part of my morning walk to the bus and a daily reminder that Singapore does in fact have an emerging creative side.

– Melissa

For a full guide on public art in Singapore visit:  Photo credits: All photos by Melissa except for the first photo of Walter by Dawn Ng.


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