Public art for play: Five new art installations in Jurong

Mr Lim Chin Hock and his son, Yu Da (both above), are intrigued by artist Lim Soo Ngee's JTC Wind Chamber, whose pipes can be used as speaking and listening tubes. Artist Liyu's Drive (left), a "car" made of scrap material, is inspired by the former
Mr Lim Chin Hock and his son, Yu Da (above), are intrigued by artist Lim Soo Ngee's JTC Wind Chamber, whose pipes can be used as speaking and listening tubes.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Mr Lim Chin Hock and his son, Yu Da (both above), are intrigued by artist Lim Soo Ngee's JTC Wind Chamber, whose pipes can be used as speaking and listening tubes. Artist Liyu's Drive (left), a "car" made of scrap material, is inspired by the former
Artist Liyu's Drive (above), a "car" made of scrap material, is inspired by the former Jurong Drive-in Cinema.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The history of Jurong is the theme of this season's Arts In Your Neighbourhood, which features five specially commissioned works of art

In the open field near Jurong Regional Library, nine-year-old Lim Yu Da climbs on a blue sculpture of the Chinese character for "abundance".

The character, pronounced "yu", is part of his name and is also the first of two characters which make up the word "Jurong" in Chinese.

The sculpture by artist Yeo Chee Kiong is one of five works commissioned by the National Arts Council's Public Art Trust, launched during the council's Arts In Your Neighbourhood season.

The season, which started on Nov 9 and runs until Sunday, takes arts activities to heartland areas. This edition's theme is the history of Jurong.

There are activities in neighbourhoods from Tampines to Woodlands and Chong Pang.

Key works in the Jurong area include #seeyoursg, a one-hour walking trail on Saturday, curated by Shophouse & Co, a "placemaking studio", which researches and helps implement creative uses for urban spaces.

It is complemented by an exhibition at Jurong Regional Library until the end of the month.

  • BOOK IT / LARGER THAN LIFE: THE UNSPOKEN HISTORIES OF JURONG NEIGHBOURHOOD

  • WHERE: Canopy @ J Link and adjacent field near Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1

    WHEN: Tilll Jan 28

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: www.verticalsubmarine.org/largerthanlife.html

The wall next to Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre has been transformed by street artist Slacsatu into a batik-inspired street art installation, The Storyteller, which will remain until the end of this year.

Then there are the five works of art in the open field near Jurong Regional Library, a showcase titled Larger Than Life: The Unspoken Histories Of Jurong Neighbourhood and curated by art collective Vertical Submarine.

  • #SEEYOURSG

  • WHERE: Jurong Regional Library

    WHEN: Saturday, 10 to 11am and 4 to 5pm. One-hour trail starts every 15 minutes

    ADMISSION: Free, but register at seeyoursg-jurong.peatix.com

    INFO: Recommended for ages 12 and older. There is a complementary exhibition at Jurong Regional Library till Nov 30. Go to artsforall.sg

Curator Justin Loke, 38, says that since the works are near a children's playground: "We wanted them to be playful and also to go against the stereotypes people have about Jurong."

For example, artist Lim Soo Ngee, 55, has always lived in the North-East and says he used to think of Jurong as "ulu" or out of the way.

His brick-and-pipe artwork, JTC Wind Chamber, pays homage to the industrial development of the area via the Jurong Town Corporation, but the pipes can also be used as speaking and listening tubes.

Hanging [Out] Garden by multimedia sound collective Syndicate, a work of Spanish moss and metal pipes, showcases artist Cherry Chan's memories of the former kampung in the estate and its transformation into Housing Board heartland.

Artist Yeo's One Cubic Jurong invites up to 16 people to stand in holes of various depths in the blue sculpture. Participants try to achieve the same height by moving around, symbolising the negotiations needed to ensure similar levels of prosperity in society.

The work which stops most passers-by is artist Liyu's Drive, a "car" made of scrap from other vehicles. It is inspired by the former Jurong Drive-in Cinema, Singapore's first and only drive-in theatre, which was started in 1971 by Cathay Organisation and closed in 1985 because of poor attendance.

Mr Lim Chin Hock, 52, remembers the drive-in cinema and named his son Yu Da because the family lives in Jurong. The father of one, who works in the technical industry, saw the art installations while walking by with his son.

"It's a little bit different. I like it," he said, trying out the JTC Wind Chamber and Drive.

Yu Da, nine, too excited to speak, rushed back and forth between the car and the sculpture bearing his name. "We'll come again," his father promised.

Ms Chua Ai Liang, senior director of engagement and participation at the arts council, has observed several interactions such as this with the programmes under Arts In Your Neighbourhood.

At first, people are hesitant to touch artworks or stop for a performance, but then, they relax and enjoy the experience, she says.

"When it's curated for the town, it helps evoke that curiosity. It's much more engaging," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2017, with the headline 'Public art just right for play'. Print Edition | Subscribe