Being a huge fan of street art, I have thousands of pictures in my archives, that I took from hundreds of street art works, in dozens of cities/countries. Also in Singapore I am always on the lookout for street art.
Like there are plane spotters, bird spotters and wildlife spotters, I am a street art spotter;-).
Vandalism laws and severe punishment
Now Singapore is not the easiest place to keep a street art lover happy. That is because spray painting on (non-designated) walls or public property without permission of it’s owner is considered to be vandalism. And for vandalism you can get fined up to SGD 2.000, get jail time up to three years and up to eight cane strokes. Not something to be taken lightly, as several people unfortunately have experienced in recent years.
Not exactly an environment for a thriving street art scene. Maybe that’s why there are less then 50 active street artists in this town.
I’m not against regulations and restrictions per se. On the contrary, it annoys me deeply to see a building uglified by some sh*tty tags and slogans. And if we are talking about a beautiful building or private property that is maintained well, then it should not be touched (uninvited) by a good art work either, for that matter. That, indeed, I find vandalism. Note the words ‘beautiful’ ,’private property’ and ‘uninvited’;-).
Usually though, there are numerous blind walls, ugly walls and alleys, that can only get prettier through some cool street art. There is a whole range between forbidding something everywhere, always and entirely, and creating controlled -okay-, but welcoming spaces for street artists. With maximum artistic freedom there. How nice would it be if the government policy would move a bit more away from a big fat ‘no to street art’, towards a bit more ‘yes, please’!? They seem to be more lenient the last years, so I hope that that trend continues, because I would love to see more street art in this city.
Street art is more than tagging, at least it can and should be
Personally I don’t give much about street art that consists of just ‘tags’ aka words and lettering. I don’t think the audience is thrilled by that, merely the taggers themselves. I prefer street art that is good art, like any other art. Running into cool pieces, like the ones from local street artist Ceno2, is the highlight of my day! Having said that, there should be room for all street art and street artists alike at those designated spaces.
Where to find street art in Singapore?
- (Commercially) commissioned or curated work
(e.g. in Joo Chiatt, on Clarke Quay, at The Substation)
- Designated places
(like Somerset Skatepark, Scape and Youthpark)
- Void-Decks of HDB flats
(Like Blk 123 Stirling Rd, Blk 56 Pipit Rd, Blk 8 Holland Avenue, 20 murals around Queenstown, murals in Edgedale Plains and Edgefield (both in Pungoll)). I have not visited any of these locations myself though.
- Temporary projects
(like the recently finished Eminent Plaza project or the project at the underpasses of the bridges along Singapore River). The ones in the underpasses along the Singapore River may still be there.
- The in-betweens or illegals
Which are the specific locations/adresses
- Somerset Skate Park.
This is one of the few designated places where street artists are allowed to work. They have two walls for that. Both the skatepark and the graffiti walls are in use all the time, which is pretty cool.
Pieces here sometimes get painted over within 24 hours! I live across the street, so fortunately me and my camera are able to catch most of them before they disappear.
(To be clear: the following two murals are not there anymore.)
- The Graffiti Walls at Scape and at the Youth Park.
The huge wall of the Youth Council itself used to have a super cool mural. Since some years another mural replaced it. I don’t like the new one at all, but it may stay for several more years, I guess.
For both Somerset Skate Park as for the Graffiti Walls at Scape and at the Youth Park goes that you have to be lucky with what you will find. One time the art is sh*t, but stays for two weeks, the other time the art is cool, but disappears the next day. You never know.
Over the years I have seen and photographed many beautiful pieces at 1. en 2. ! At Scape there are a few murals and wheat pastes that seem quite permanent, but there is also something new from time to time. Definitely worth exploring on a regular basis.
(The following two pictures show murals that are not there anymore, just to be clear.)
- A curated wall at The Substation
In the alley between the Peranakan Museum and The Substation and on the back wall of the Substation are some wall-filling cool pieces.
- Haji Lane and Kampong Glam.
I name them together, since both areas are easy to cover in one walk.
In Haji Lane you definitely have to explore all walls of Piedra Negra and of Blu Jazz Cafe and the alleyway in between them. There are spectacular murals covering the entire building! (By Didier Jaba Mathieu) They are there since years and I don’t see them being removed any time soon. Yay!
Several shops in Haji Lane have murals, but those do change frequently. There are some pretty murals in the alley across Piedra Negra/Blu Jazz, leading towards Arab street.
Look carefully around on the intersection there and in small alleys, because there are a few more pieces on the walls. (e.g. Baghdad Street). There also is a shop facade on Bali Lane that has a mural high up.
After exploring the area around Haji Lane, walk over towards Aliwal Arts Centre, making a stop in between at Sultan Arts Village. Walk around this small cluster of galleries and studios, since there are murals all around.
Most of them seem permanent, but at the back street artists are practicing, so there will be different pieces there every time you go.
After Sultan Arts Village, head over to Aliwal Arts Center at Aliwal Street, Kampong Glam. Go round the back. You will find murals along the side wall and on the back wall.
Finally head over to Victoria Street, around Jalan Klapa, to see several super cool works by famous artist Ernest Zacharevic from Penang. Does this guy really still need an introduction? If so, read my post about him and his art here. There are several works of him along Victoria Street. Girl with Lioncub, Children in Shopping Trolleys, Children with giant Exclamation Mark and a small one of a Peeping Tom, easily overlooked.
- Large mural at Clarke Quay.
This is a commissioned work. It’s beautiful. Kala Roseane depicted the history of Clarke Quay in this enormous piece. Exact location: on the Whampoa Ice house, adjacent to the G-MAX Reverse Bungy Kiosk.
- Joo Chiatt.
On the corner of Joo Chiatt Terrace Park and Everitt Road, the same artist as in 4., Ernest Zacharevic, made a large mural on a private house. He also painted three minions, like he did in Penang. I don’t care for the minions too much, but the mural is great!
- Butik Batok Skate Park.
Never been to myself.
- The National Youth Council in To a Payoh.
Never visited this location.
- Rail Corridor.
This location is on my bucket list, although my expectations are not that high. I doubt wether it is such a nice location for the artists. Sure, it’s great to have a place where you can meet and play, but don’t you also want to be seen by ‘the audience’? It seems pretty far out there and a bit dark and gloomy.
How to find this place? It concerns two walls beneath the Commonwealth Avenue Viaduct structure. This location is a temporary one, for now.
- Wall at Labrador Park .
Nope, never been here either.
- The area around SAM.
Graffiti and murals around here change all the time, so you have to explore this area yourself to find out if there is anything interesting. Usually the wall in Queen Street is fully covered. Too bad that there also often are trucks and cars lined up in front of this wall, making it hard to fully appreciate the pieces.
- Gillman Barracks.
When I was there, there was one wall with street art, but I was not impressed.
- Large piece at Rowell Road, Little India.
I saw this one when it was just done and fell in love right away. How cool!
- Pasarbella Market.
There is a mural on the side of the building, but the way it is positioned it is hard to see it completely.
- Hotel Naumi.
Fun mural of a police officer confiscating a vehicle. There are also murals on Hotel Clover The Arts.
Talking about hotels and murals: there are more and more hotels and hostels in Singapore that hire street artists to apply murals on the walls of their rooms. A trend that I totally encourage!
Some famous local street artists:
- RSCLS aka Rascals
- SKLO aka Samantha Lo aka Sticker Lady
- Rebel Daughters
- Vagabond INK
- Social Creatives
Want to find out more?
- I wrote three articles about the murals along the Singapore River under the bridges.
- check out @singaporestreetart on Instagram, as well as: #streetartsg and #streetartsingapore
- have a look at my Pinterest board on murals in Singapore
- read this wikipedia article: ‘Murals in Singapore’.
Do you know of more street art in Singapore? Please let us know via the comments, so that we can update the information.
Not living in Singapore? How is the street art situation in your city? Is there a lot? Is it allowed? Do you like street art?