We have just spent a week in Singapore. It was a family visit and a short break from the cold UK weather. So it was not really an arty trip which maybe is a good job as there isn’t all that much on show or, at least, not much contemporary stuff.
The arts has not been a priority as the country has been building its modern infrastructure but more recently there seems to be a recognition that culture is good for tourism and enhancing a country’s perception abroad. So there is now a Singapore Biennial and a fantastic new Arts Centre and there is a National Arts Council which supports various projects.
We arrived on New Year’s Eve which seemed relatively quiet though there is an official firework display with local celebrities performing (therefore best avoided) we did see a few flares over the harbour which is permanently packed with ships that move incredibly slowly – this is the busiest port in the world.
We enjoyed a trip to the Peranakan Museum and the Singapore Art Museum. I love the colours of the Peranakan crafts – with lots of pink and yellow, its much softer than the red and gold of the Chinese.
We didn’t see all of the Art Museum but there was a good exhibition of art from the Philippines.
There is some good public artwork around the place, most of the new office skyscrapers and shopping malls include some sculptures to add a bit of interest.
We saw a lovely installation in the underpass at the Esplanade Arts Centre by Cindy Harjatanaya called ‘Come Play With Us’ which included drawings cut out and stuck to the wall or resting on shelves with bears and other toys made from paper. This would not have lasted a day in most places before being vandalised or stolen but in Singapore if it says Please Do Not Touch the Artwork then nobody touches the artwork, I’ve never felt so safe and relaxed in a big city before.
We also found one independent gallery in an ornate old building called Black Earth which was showing an excellent solo exhibition by local artist Chieu Shuey Fook
There is a website which is a bit similar to artinliverpool and they also produce a nice printed gallery guide every month – www.sagg.com.sg
Apart from that we relaxed by the pool, did a 10km nature trail which included a shaky treetop bridge and sampled the local food and shops.