My eyes were well and truly opened this week, as I took a fascinating Art in Transit tour organized through the AWA (American Women's Association), a fabulous women's group I am a member of here in Singapore.
Countless times I have used the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) system, but never really paid any attention to my surroundings, let alone noticed some of the amazing art found amongst it floors and walls. It was so interesting to learn some of the stories behind this art and the artists who created it.
Our mission is to increase visual art literacy and to promote art appreciation in Singapore by offering an art education programme for primary and secondary school students, art events and presentations in the community, art tours for the public, as well as developing a body of well-trained and committed volunteers to serve as art advocates, providing a vital resource in the community. This is best encapsulated in our motto: “Art Education for the Community by the Community”.
Courtesy of Art Outreach Singapore
Our guide Tiffany told us we would be looking at art work in four stations along the North East (Purple) line, starting at Dhoby Ghaut.
The North East line was the first MRT line to have artworks installed in all it's stations. The artwork alone cost S$6.8 million. Some of these pieces are massive installations on walls, others unobtrusively integrated and etched into the floors.
DHOBY GHAUT STATION
Round glass pieces adorn pillars at every entrance to Dhoby Gaut. The theme is Universal Language, from glass circles on pillars and walls, to patterns and mosaics incorporated into the floor depicting the hunter and the fish, to a massive wall mural, it was amazing to see this art that I must have walked by a hundred times, in a whole new light.
Entitled Interchange, this piece is situated in the link walkway between the two MRT lines, hence the name.
The mural starts out in a very soft way, very earthy and organic, this done by Milenko. Gradually we see a move towards a much bolder feel, this section done by Delia Pvracki. As you turn the corner, the piece incorporates massive square ceramic tiles, each individually created by Delia.
As we exit the train at Clarke Quay station, we are shown an interesting feature incorporated into the floor. As discussions regarding the art installations were taking place between architects and designers in the planning stages, the Architects themselves became inspired. Etched into the floor is the shape of the Singapore River, and it's bridges.
As you step off the train here, we see a beautiful calligraphy piece etched into the floor. This is a poem by the artist Tan Swie Hian etched in striking black and white.
These large muted wall reliefs entitled The Commuters, depict people in motion. The artist apparently had a particular love of fashion magazines which is also evident in his pieces.
One particular panel depicts a mobile phone, which of course has seen a lot of change since the time of the art's installation (2001). People in Motion is so apt in todays times, as people walk busily by, usually on their mobile phones. Sadly this also means they oftentimes miss the art completely.
All of the stations have plaques describing the art installations and the artists. They are sometimes a little obscure, so you have to hunt for them, especially in the larger stations. Thankfully the ones in Outram were found as we exited the turnstiles.
This graphic artist is responsible for the 9 circle art pieces installed at one of the entrances to the station. Entitled Memories, each circle with it's human head shape within, depicts every day Singapore life in a bold way.
As I headed home after the tour, via the MRT of course, I took a look around Downtown, my closest station, the one that I walk through nearly every day. Sure enough, there was a beautiful leaf wall mural that I had never really noticed before, and an informative plaque to go with it.