SINGAPORE - Two urban art centres have been established downtown within the Bugis and Orchard districts, to provide guidance, support and exposure for young artists dabbling in everything from music to poetry, and film to photography.
Firstly, this InstaScram presenter rode the Moto Guzzi Bobber to the first independent arts centre, The Substation.
The Substation had been an old power distribution substation for the buildings along Armenian Street since the 1940s and the building itself dates back to 1926. Its revamp on Sept 16, 1990, into an independent arts venue was spearheaded by the late Singaporean playwright Kuo Pao Kun.
It was the first building to be established under the National Arts Council's Art Housing Scheme. You can experience Kuo's vision of nurturing an open, diverse, multi-disciplinary space in this interview.
The Substation has within its walls a black box theatre, a gallery, a dance studio and multi-purpose rooms. It also used to have a garden, which was used by youthful punk, ska and alternative musicians for their gigs, as well as theatre productions. Now, the garden has been converted and is part of the Timbre Bar & Bistro, where you can grab a bite, a drink or enjoy some live music.
An assortment of colourful and vibrant graffiti dots the walls surrounding The Substation. There is an abundance of art in various forms that have been created within the building too.
The Substation is located along Armenian Street, which is very much a part of the vibrant local arts scene. The streets are closed to traffic for several events every year, like the Singapore Night Festival. The street is home to other attractions, like the Peranakan Museum, which is next to The Substation, and the row of art galleries across from it.
The Substation’s reputation has evolved over the last two decades. But its mission to provide a platform for alternative art still remains.
Next up, we rode over to another photogenic arts location that is distinguished by 19 repurposed shipping containers that make up the independent arts space, DECK, which stands for Discovery Engagement Community Knowledge".
The site, partially sponsored by public donations, was launched in 2014 to cater to the community of professional and amateur photography enthusiasts in Singapore and South-east Asia. The place is a treat for the eyes, where you’ll find yourself whipping out your cameras to take some fabulous pictures.
The space features two galleries, a resource library, an activity area, an artist studio and even a cafe. The team behind DECK came up with the concept of assembling the shipping containers into a neat, modular-based art space as a creative alternative to the land shortage in urban Singapore.
It is the first photography-centric independent space in Singapore that provides a conducive environment for local photography. DECK also hosts many exhibitions and programmes, including the Singapore International Photography Festival, which is a biennial and non-profit event.