One Kampong Gelam Presents Southeast Asia’s First Official Graffiti Hall of Fame
From April 2021, Singapore’s historic ethnic quarter turned urban art precinct activates a mural experience like no other
(Singapore, 28 April 2021) If you walk down Bali Lane or drive along Ophir Road you may have noticed the construction going on. For businesses the five-metre-high metal wall can have a negative impact on business as people cannot see their shops and they are more likely to stay away from the area. One Kampong Gelam, an association representing and supporting the interests of stakeholders in the precinct, had an idea they hope will mitigate the negative impact of construction that will go on for two years.
Press Conference at Punjaby Dawat with the artists. Left to right: Ashley Erianah (Emcee), ZERO, SPAZ, Tulika Ahuja and slacsatu
Graffiti Hall of Fame
Already known for its abundant colours and outdoor murals, One Kampong Gelam conceived a brand-new visitor experience, Southeast Asia’s first official graffiti Hall of Fame. A graffiti Hall of Fame is a place with walls that can be painted on legally. Launched on 28 April 2021 on an unprecedented scale, 17 Singapore-based artists are unleashing their expressions on the metal hoardings that span over a collective 230-metre stretch.
The artists are now at work and you can see the colourful creations brightening the streets. The artists have applied spray paint and imagination to the metal wall turning a drab construction site into a work of art. Not that its easy. The artists faced many challenges that a normal building wall wouldn’t present. Working so close to the traffic on Ophir Road could be a bit unnerving, and pedestrians ignored the barriers to keep them out and away from the working artists were also a problem. The painters often worked late at night when there were fewer cars and people about.
But it has been the weather that has given them the most stress. Sudden downpours have washed out newly painted images. Working on metal presents difficulties in that it doesn’t dry as quickly as other material. However, as they use spray paint it does dry quite fast so works quite well. The wind was also an unwelcome guest at times. Working high on the wall and the wind shakes and rattles the metal wall it can be a little unnerving.
Turning Adversity Into Opportunity
Spanning a whopping 131 metres along Bali Lane and 107 metres along Ophir Road, the five-metre high Hall of Fame is set to be one of the most prominent street art experiences in the region. Erected as noise barriers for ongoing construction works, the metal canvases will become an evolving stage for the best muralists from Singapore and eventually, the world.
A question the artists couldn't answer was what they would do in two years time when the wall would be removed. While they didn't know what they would do they responded that they had two years to think about it.
Committed to keeping the precinct lively and full of fresh appeal, One Kampong Gelam representative Aileen Tan stated, “Construction works typically affect businesses and shopfronts. We are working with the stakeholders to reverse the narrative and activate the noise barriers to magnify the public space instead. Artists are the best people to visualise stories of adversity turned opportunity.”
Singapore’s Leading Street Art Precinct
Home to traditional businesses and with the iconic cultural landmarks, Sultan Mosque and the former Sultan’s Palace, Kampong Gelam naturally became one of the city’s arts and cultural hub. It was gazetted as a conservation area in 1989 and was a popular spot for catching performances such as wayang kulit and ketoprak.
Over the decades, artists, musicians, and business owners have maintained an organic growth for the thriving and diverse urban arts hub we know today. Murals and street art sprouted in Kampong Gelam as early as 2010, many of which were commissions pioneered by business owners. The addition of Southeast Asia’s first official graffiti Hall of Fame strengthens Kampong Gelam’s position as Singapore’s leading street art precinct and the country’s largest open-air gallery.
Celebrating Singapore’s Urban Artists
This world-class Hall of Fame celebrates vibrancy, diversity and a freedom of expression, as large-scale artworks are painted in an array of signature styles. Kicking off the production are 17 artists, ranging from established faces to rising names, who have set the bar high for the quality of murals to come.
Prolific street artists ANTZ and Didier ‘Jaba’ Mathieu present stand-alone murals on Bali Lane as well as a collaborative piece on Ophir Road with Hegira, Singapore’s pioneering representative to the international street art scene back in 2003. It is the first time that the trio are painting a collaborative piece together, drawing deeply from the essence and charm of Kampong Gelam.
Constant Elevation is their fictive imagination of the precinct, replete with friendly street cats and red-roof shophouses.
Ophir Road will also see The Journey, a mashup of the precinct’s past and present, and inspired by five of the artist’s personal memories of Kampong Gelam. Artist duo Studio Moonchild depict a child of many cultures, a metaphor for how the traditional and contemporary co-exist uniquely, while Dem imagines artists as ubiquitous flying pigeons, growing and spreading their wings on their own journeys. KILAS and Boon Baked then create a time portal, bringing the four murals together by telling a story of the precinct’s fictional past.
On Bali Lane, view a light-hearted piece from AshD and NOEZ23, who reimagine graffiti artists as contemporary pendekars (martial arts masters) equipped with bright-coloured spray-cans. Has.J’s playful, abstract mural mirrors pedestrians on the street, communicating how we each walk the line in our own unique ways. Full-time tattoo artist Sei10 sprays the environmentally-charged Tamotori Hime (The Pearl Diver), seamlessly marrying Japanese folklore with the precinct’s Batik heritage to tell a story of the state of our current world.
Hall of Fame Microsite
QR codes will accompany the murals, allowing visitors to access the Hall of Fame microsite, complete with artist information and artwork descriptions. The artists will also be joining forces in a three-episode mini-series Street Art in Kampong Gelam, which features insights from stakeholders including the Manager of Aliwal Arts Centre Kenneth Chng. Covering topics such as the evolution of Singapore’s urban scene and the role of public art in society, the first episode will debut on Wednesday, 5 May 2021 on the microsite at www.HOF.visitkamponggelam.com.sg.
Co-creation Across Borders
In the spirit of celebrating regional talent, the Hall of Fame welcomes its first cross-culture collaboration, taking place remotely between popular Indonesian muralist Stereoflow and Singaporean artist ZERO. Part of Singapore Tourism Board Indonesia’s SingapoReimagine campaign, which aims to spark conversations to reimagine the future of travelling, the duo will present one holistic narrative across borders titled ‘Under the Same Sun’. ZERO’s signature style will be remixed and presented as part of the Hall of Fame on Bali Lane while Stereoflow will paint his signature remix at M Bloc Space5, Jakarta.
Events At Kampong Gelam
Led by One Kampong Gelam, the association representing and supporting the interests of stakeholders in the precinct, Hall of Fame @ Kampong Gelam is an initiative that is supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Land Transport Authority, and GS Engineering & Construction Corporation. “We are honored to have the support of their support to bring this to life,” added Aileen Tan, “
Alongside the Hall of Fame, visitors can also look forward to related activities and urban experiences offered in the precinct. Connect with the energy of Kampong Gelam through curated self-guided walking tours, artist-led spray-painting workshops, and refreshed neighbourhood adventures. More details will be released at a later date.
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