TAPAC mural project: Completion

We have created a new landmark in Singapore’s urban landscape and possibly the largest triptych in the world (let me know if it is not). This old school building at 182 Cecil Street houses several performing arts group under the National Arts Council Housing Project for the past 22 years (since 1985). Previously, most people assumed that it is an abandoned building waiting to be demolished, it was not clear to the public who are the tenants and its presence is invisible to passerby who went about their hurried chores in the Central Business District (CBD).
I proposed this mural to the National Arts council because I saw it as an opportunity to challenge myself with a graffiti style mural, furthermore Telok Ayer Performing Arts Center (TAPAC) could do away with the drab facade and take on a vibrant look – the potential of the three big walls facing a busy street was previously ignored. The tenants were supportive of the idea, however I had to wait indefinitely for the time this building undergo its renovation and repairs cycle to be able to start working on it. Several artists were approached to collaborate on this project, when I finally got the approval and work schedule (almost three years later), all the intended collaborators are not available – so I had to do it alone with 3 assistants.
Long time ago when I completed my diploma in graphic design at NAFA (fifteen years ago), I fancied myself working on a big mural, a rather odd thing in Singapore that does not have a strong culture for street art or murals like Los Angeles or Mexico. Well now I’m finally able to do one. The experience of working outdoors for one and a half month is a humbling experience. We were at the mercy of scorching sun and rain. Its a lot different from the cushy studio we usually worked in. Many finer skills for using the spray can was learned on this job. It made us more confident and we worked faster nearer the end. Undeniably, the threat by the main contractor to pull out the boom-lift crane if we do not finish on time was the big stick.
There’s heavy human traffic in front of the building along Cecil Street towards Tanjong Pagar MRT and its encouraging to see people take notice of the wall, taking pictures as we worked, some even cheered and gave their thumbs up – strangers who openly expressed their appreciation for what we did… Singaporean’s do appreciate art it seems. Of course there are also the few vocal ones who had to tell you how they would have done it differently. Well I’m not angry because I’m usually too tired to be angry. I visibly lost some weight doing this and that I like very much.
I thank my full-time assistant Mr. Dino Hafian; My student interns from Nafa: Glenn Koh and Wilmer Phuah for sticking with me on this demanding task. To all the people that has helped and cheered on. I thank you and hope to be able to do more public commision art.
These mural’s have been spotted at:
Artcrimes (Graffiti.org) News: The Bench
Keropokman: What beautiful mural on wall along cecil street
Keropokman: Part two of Tapac mural

7 thoughts on “TAPAC mural project: Completion

  1. I must thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this website. I really hope to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal blog now πŸ˜‰

  2. Congrats to you and your team.. amazing mural.. Keep up your good work.. Will drop by the place sometime to get the real feel of it..

  3. Thank you for appreciating our work. This is my first big project, so I just do what’s practical. We initially worked with a painted undercoat, but later realised that it was too tedious and unnecessary. We used spray cans direct.
    Labour is divided, know everyone’s strength and weakness and capitalise on it. My famous line on the crane was “Capitalise on your mistakes”.

  4. Wow! That must have been a whole lot of work to do. I just have a few questions for people like you guys who are into murals. What do you do as foundation or start-up before applying all the paints as final step into your work? Do you also do something like division of labor?
    When I was still in college, my dorm mates and I would join this painting contest sponsored by the College of Fine Arts. Most of the time, our base is a portion of the road in the parking lot. But it’s a bit smaller in terms of space or area compared to yours.

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