RGS plans to showcase iconic 1979 mosaic mural

Raffles Girls' School will be moving the 1979 mural (left) designed by Mr Ho (above) to its new campus' boundary fence, so that members of the public can view it. The mural features about 15 landmarks, including the National Theatre, which no longer
Raffles Girls' School will be moving the 1979 mural (above) designed by Mr Ho to its new campus' boundary fence, so that members of the public can view it. The mural features about 15 landmarks, including the National Theatre, which no longer exists.PHOTOS: DARREN SOH, NG SOR LUAN
Raffles Girls' School will be moving the 1979 mural (left) designed by Mr Ho (above) to its new campus' boundary fence, so that members of the public can view it. The mural features about 15 landmarks, including the National Theatre, which no longer
Raffles Girls' School will be moving the 1979 mural designed by Mr Ho (above) to its new campus' boundary fence, so that members of the public can view it. The mural features about 15 landmarks, including the National Theatre, which no longer exists.PHOTOS: DARREN SOH, NG SOR LUAN

Artwork depicts about 15 S'pore landmarks, and will be moved so the public can view it

A 1979 glass mosaic mural at the former Braddell-Westlake Secondary School depicting about 15 landmarks of Singapore will get a new lease of life next year.

The mural is a veritable time stamp of the era, but not many Singaporeans have seen it first-hand because the school was closed in 2005.

Raffles Girls' School (RGS), which will be building its new campus on the site, plans to change that.

In response to queries, an RGS spokesman said it is planning to move the mural to the new campus' boundary fence, so that members of the public can view it.

Designed by art teacher Ho Cheok Tin, now 69, and titled The History of Development in Singapore, the mural features the National Theatre, which was torn down in 1986, and the Singapore Cable Car, which began operations in 1974.

The RGS spokesman said that it sees "value in retaining it as best as we can, to remind students of our shared history" as the mural depicts familiar scenes of Singapore's development.

Mr Ho, who is now retired but helps out at Fuhua Secondary School's Art Club as a Chinese painting instructor, welcomed the news.

"I'm very happy that my work will be retained as a record documenting memories and landmarks of the past that no longer exist," he said.

He added that the mural, which was made using specially ordered Italian glass, is also featured in a Primary 6 art textbook in a chapter on arts appreciation.

The mural was one of three that Mr Ho produced for the Ministry of Education as a teacher at New Town Secondary School.

Concerns about the mural's fate had been raised by school alumni and other members of the heritage community here over the years.

For instance, in 2012, former Westlake Primary School pupil Jaswinder Kaur wrote to the ST Forum requesting that the authorities preserve the "lovely" mural.

She said: "The mural is a beautiful work of art reflecting the aspirations and success of a nation..."

Dr Yeo Kang Shua, an assistant professor of architecture and sustainable design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, told ST that the mural's standard-sized, pre-fabricated mosaic artwork style was popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The artwork has social memories tied to it and is representative of the particular era.

"It also helps generations of Singaporeans to recall and understand the architectural diversity and landmarks of the time," said Dr Yeo.

Landscape and architecture photographer Darren Soh, who had flagged the mural as public art worthy of being retained back in 2013, said he applauds RGS "for going out of their way to do this".

He added: "The mural is an important time stamp of what the country was aspiring to be and captures the buildings that were springing up which we were proud of."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'RGS plans to showcase iconic 1979 mosaic mural'. Print Edition | Subscribe