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> 2003 and earlier > Dec 2003

that 'other' public art | Dec 31, 2003

Wired news story on a website that documents ever-changing graffitti...

everyone has an opinion, and that's the trouble | Dec 25, 2003

Great story on the public art tribulations of a small town in North Carolina that wanted to commemorate Martin Luther King's speech there with a memorial."But, either way, the work of art meant something to almost everyone. For the town council that meant trouble."


The story is originally from the Guardian, but I found it on a South African newspaper website.
is it big enough? | Dec 25, 2003

Martin Gayford in the Telegraph thinks that the problem with public sculpture these days is that it is just not big enough. It's still stuck in a human-related scale that dates back to 16th century Italy. After all, "the modern city is not a trim, Renaissance sort of place. It is huge, sprawling and chaotic. In that context an abstraction outside a corporate tower looks no more impressive than a cufflink."


He's inspired by two recent works in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson and Anish Kapoor's Marsyas.
Orange censors | Dec 25, 2003

UK Telco Orange sponsored an interesting public art project, of projecting images on public buildings, including Buckingham Palace. A sort of super Christmas light-up, but alas some of the images make some people uncomfortable. Guardian story, reprinted in Art Daily.

Looks Like Public Art to me | Jul 22, 2003

This letter appeared recently in the Straits Times.

"I am appalled by the multitude of stickers that line the fences, lamp posts and dustbins near Lucky Plaza, discarded by visitors to Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre who have had their temperatures checked. Such behaviour paints us as ugly Singaporeans. You won't see this in other developed countries like Japan.


Pasting stickers indiscriminately is almost like littering or vandalism. It is not easy to remove them. I urge the Government to impose a fine of at least $100 on those who discard these stickers improperly."

[by]WINSTON HO WING LONG


Personally, it sounds like a totally appropriate piece of public art, a spontaneous response to the SARS crisis... Hey Winston, leave room for the 'buzz'. It's crucial to the economy after all!
New Minister Speaks on Public Art | Jun 8, 2003
In his speech at the Liu Kang artworks donation ceremony at Singapore Art Museum, new Minister of Information and the Arts Lee Boon Yang had this to say about the role of public art in Singapore:
For the present, MITA wants to increase visual arts awareness with more arts education and outreach programmes. MITA will work with URA, NAC and NHB, and various stakeholders to display art at public spaces, and to strongly encourage building owners to incorporate art in their developments. To be a Renaissance City, Singapore should become a city where art is seen all around us, not just in galleries and museums but where we work, in our MRT stations and educational institutions, shopping malls and of course in our homes.

Speech was given 31st May, sorry for the delay in posting the link.

Higher ticket prices, but nicer art... | Jun 6, 2003

Mita has released the text of Khaw Boon Wan's speech at the launch of the the new North East subway line's public art program - 'art in transit'. Given the public outcry about the increased price of tickets to use the North East Line, one element in the speech of the Minister of State for Transport might have been predicted:

"the artworks ...[were] carefully integrated into each station's architecture, without causing any increase in budget. For example, the floor and the walls have to be tiled anyway. But by incorporating the art works into the design and the selection of the tiles, we achieved a wonderful outcome without any increase in cost."

Art for free! But seriously, we are looking forward to reporting on this major new installation of Singapore public art. Ticket prices are one thing, art another.
Public Sculpture of the City of London: a book review | May 23, 2003

The seventh volume in a series on the public sculpture of the UK, by Philip Ward-Jackson, has appeared recently, and is reviewed here in the London Review of Books, by Peter Campbell. A public sculpture in London seems to share at least one characteristic of its counterpart in Singapore: a "tendency to be eloquent in ways that those who commissioned it, or even those who made it, could not have planned."

* says it is a "thing you must do" | Apr 8, 2003

Fashion fascists Wallpaper (*) have done a Singapore feature: the article has a certain swish bravado in the way it recycles neocolonial cliches, and the photos are nifty. Best of all, * shares our appreciation of Singapore's public art. Number 4 on the list of 10 things you must do is:

"a sculpture safari around the corporate core -- each of the big banks is given a fanfare at street level (a Dali here, a Botero there, a Moore around the corner) which, tallied together, provide a virtual embarras of pricey pieces


Of course * is not global enough to throw in the Yu Yu Yang...Keep working.
along the Singapore River: updates | Mar 9, 2003

Two new sculptures added to the database, two of the new works along the Singapore River, put in place under a Singapore Tourism Board scheme: A Great Emporium and From Chettiars to Financiers. The labels are interesting, but almost impossible to read (a new twist).

Singapore's Public Sculpture Scheme to get an upgrade | Mar 6, 2003

This year's budget speech had a variety of goodies, including the announcement that it would enhance the Public Sculpture Donation scheme. This was in line with the "Remaking Singapore" committee recommendations mooted late last year. Details will be released by National Heritage Board July 1st.

new in the public art database: Vanda Miss Joaquim | Feb 8, 2003

"Miss" Shiah Chyi Yun and Rich-art Enterprises


commissioned by the Tanjong Pagar Plaza Residents' Committee

label: This sculpture commemorates the birthplace of our national flower

Vanda Miss Joaquim

Sculpture Designer: Miss Shiah Chyi Yun

Fabricator: Rich-art Entreprises Pte Ltd

Project

Project initiated by Tanjong Pagar Plaza Residents' Committee

[logo of TPPRC] [logo of RCs]

The Vanda Miss Joaquim Pavilion was officially opened by Assoc Prof Koo Tsai Kee, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of National Development and Defence and Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC

on April 14, 2002

This project was completed with grants from the government
public art that sends the wrong message | Feb 4, 2003

The UN has covered up a tapestry version of Picasso's Guernica that hangs outside a meeting room near the UN Security Council chamber, in an area where statesman are in the habit of making press statements. The Art Daily report quotes an unnamed diplomat as stating "that it would not be an appropriate background if the ambassador of the United States at the U.N. John Negroponte, or Powell, talk about war surrounded with women, children and animals shouting with horror and showing the suffering of the bombings." See the stories on IndyMedia and the Washington Times. A webizen on Plastic wonders if it wasn't Picasso who said "Art is the lie, that reveals the truth."


As it happens, AlterNet correspondent Gar Smith posted a story a few days ago that compares the Pentagon's announced "shock and awe" airstrike plan to the Nazi bombing of the Spanish city Picasso's painting commemorates.
Developer launches public sculpture contest for Robertson Quay site | Jan 29, 2003

CDL has announced a "CDL-Singapore Sculpture Award", for the winning design for a site-specific work to be placed in front of a new mixed commercial/residential development on Robertson Quay.


The top prize is S$ 8000, but this would not be the fee for creating the final work. "CDL reserves the right to collaborate with the artist to realise the design/marquette into one full sculpture, for which the artist will be given a separate payment for consultation and supervision."

CDL's record with public art to date has been poor: this is a step in the right direction. Let's see how things go. Judges are Cheung Yee, Anthony Poon, and Baet Yeok Kuan. The brief is: "The sculpture, based on the theme of wind and water, responds in movement to elements and forces of nature, be it wind or rain. The sculpture is to be contemporary and modern in expression and selection of materials, appropriate to the development, and site specific."
the brain trust | Jan 28, 2003

Singapore's Today newspaper ran a short piece on Han Sai Por's new sculpture at the Defense Science Organisation HQ. I quote the story in full:

"A new sculpture at DS National Laboratories in the Science Park pays tribute to Singapore's home-grown scientific and technological minds.


Unveiled by A*STAR chairman Philip Yeo on Friday, it was designed by local sculptor Han Sai Por, who is famed for her many stone sculptures. The work is made of granite obtained at Mandai Quarry, and took a year to complete.

From one giant granite boulder, Ms Han sculpted numerous "brains". each piece was intricately crafted to reveal its individual characteristics."
- Today, January 27, 2003
lost in the Brain Forest | Jan 25, 2003

Unveiling of Han Sai Por's latest piece at the Defense Science Organisation Headquarters gets a mention in the Straits Times, and a pix (reproduced here). I can't wait to see it in person. Looks silly and weird, and just might work...

Public Art: How Much do you know? | Jan 19, 2003

Arts Central has been airing these little two-minute spots on Singapore public art. cool!


Well, sort of. The spots reinforce exactly the sort of "there is one correct interpretation" mentality that is seen on some many of the labels of Singapore public art. The title of this series is not "what do you think?" or "what do you feel?", but "what do you know", ie a test that you probably will fail... I've only seen one of the spots, about the Dali, and sure enough, when the question "what does it mean?" is aired we get:



- one luckless member of the public putting forward a pretty plausible reading (the ball hanging in the torso of the figure represents the center of the universe, reinforcing the message that the bank is the center of Singapore's financial world)



- this is then corrected with the expert opinion - Bridget Tan of the Art Museum quite sensibly refusing to give "the answer" but instead giving some background on Dali's interest in natural science.



and then, in titles, an excerpt from the label, giving the absurd line about the exposed brain pan of the figure representing 'an open mind'. See the entry in the database for more...
Public Art Database updated | Jan 13, 2003

Public Art Database updated


Just updated the Singapore public art database. We are up to 90 sculptures now! I also divided the sculptures up by area, in an attempt to make the list a little more user-friendly. New pieces include Victor Tan's Millennium (with another hilarious label) and Tan Wei Keong's My Way, in front of the new headquarters of the Ministry of Education.
FORGET theme parks. Safari public art. | Dec 15, 2002

The Straits Times headline was: "Forget theme parks". Here's the lead, and the ST caption. Further editorial comment unnecessary!:


"With theme condominiums, fantasy is right at your doorstep. Take Savannah CondoPark in Simei.(ed note: please!)



City Developments' (CDL) 648-unit project, which is slated for completion in 2006, is dressed up like a safari theme park. Features include 110 bronze sculptures of animals such as elephants and panthers, and a water slide around a 'volcano'.



CALL OF THE WILD: This is an artist's impression of how the Savannah CondoPark will look like. For buyers who like this jungle theme, condo living could turn out to be a real adventure."
There is a plan | Dec 1, 2002

The Public Sculpture Masterplan was announced in September 2002. It updates a 1991 plan (huh?) and sets aside five more sites for major public art commissions.


  • Road junction at Orchard/Scotts Rd

  • Pocket park at Orchard/Grange Rd Junction

  • Hillside facing River Valley Rd

  • Road junction of Finlayson Green

  • Road junction at Robinson/Maxwell Rd


The MasterPlan makes recommendations on the character of the works to be installed in each location, and announces tax relief of up to twice the appraised value of donated public art works.



At the announcement ceremony, the Minister for National Development Mr Mah Bow Tan made the following quotable quote:
«The move of the Merlion sculpture to its new home here at the Marina Bayfront epitomizes the spirit of change and continuity in the making of modern Singapore.»
The Granite Lady | Nov 27, 2002

Ex-colleague Yong Shu Chiang has written a nice profile of sculptor Han Sai Por in today's issue of Today. She is up for a some sort of more or less dubious "woman's" award. Sai Por says she survives on commissions and only sells two or three pieces a year. Her ³Seeds² have moved from their temporary home in Fort Canning Park, a very nice setting, and are now installed at Esplanade. I will try and photograph them and update the public art database accordingly...