Mural, mural on the wall - art on show for all

Although pigs used to run loose in kampungs in old Singapore, the animals were omitted from the mural out of respect for Muslims living in the area. Property owner Mr Tan (left) got Mr Yip to paint scenes of kampung life as the Upper Changi area used
Property owner Mr Tan (left) got Mr Yip to paint scenes of kampung life as the Upper Changi area used to be a kampung.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Although pigs used to run loose in kampungs in old Singapore, the animals were omitted from the mural out of respect for Muslims living in the area. Property owner Mr Tan (left) got Mr Yip to paint scenes of kampung life as the Upper Changi area used
Although pigs used to run loose in kampungs in old Singapore, the animals were omitted from the mural out of respect for Muslims living in the area. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Changi resident turns exterior wall of his home into canvas for local artist

Drive along Upper Changi Road and you may spot a scene of kampung life in Singapore, painted on the exterior wall of a bungalow.

Three boys, in white singlets and T-shirts, sit on a bridge across a longkang as one of them waits for a fish to strike his bait.

A few metres away, a father teaches his son how to pluck papayas from a tree. But as your eyes move up the wall, it may be hard to distinguish the painted papaya tree from the bungalow owner's real papaya tree just behind the wall.

Further down the mural, there are scenes of families in wooden houses, with roosters nearby.

The 2m-by-18m mural, sited beside the main gate of Palmwoods condominium, was painted by self- taught mural artist Yip Yew Chong, 46, last month.

ADDING COLOUR

I'm not sure how many (private home owners) would dare to do this, to decorate their walls in a different way.

But I'd encourage them to do so, to have something colourful and to promote unknown artists.

MR TAN DIB JIN, an adviser to the Singapore Watercolour Society and owner of the Upper Changi Road bungalow featuring murals on its exterior wall

The bungalow owner, Mr Tan Dib Jin, is an adviser to the Singapore Watercolour Society and he wanted to have an exterior wall of his home painted.

Mr Tan, 66, who is also the late philanthropist Tan Kah Kee's grandson, told The Straits Times: "I thought I've such a long stretch of wall which is redundant. It was just painted white and could get dirty.

"So with some colourful paints on it, the wall would be more interesting. Indeed, many people have been attracted to it and have stopped by."

He was interested to have the mural painted by a less well-known artist, as he hoped to promote such artists, and got to know Mr Yip through a mutual friend.

Mr Tan has lived in his house for nine years, but recalls the kampung lifestyle when he went to his relatives' homes in Redhill when he was young. He describes himself as a "nature-loving person", and the Upper Changi area used to be a kampung, so he asked Mr Yip to depict kampung life in the mural.

The scene in the mural takes in aspects of different kampungs in Singapore, and Mr Tan and Mr Yip decided to omit some features.

For instance, Mr Tan recalls seeing pigs running loose in kampungs, but they chose not to have pigs in the mural, out of respect for Muslims living in the area.

Painting the mural in the outdoors was challenging though.

Said Mr Yip: "There were afternoon showers. When I painted the letterbox, the rain washed that all away, and I had to repaint it."

"Around 6pm, there would also be more mosquitoes," he joked.

The mural in Upper Changi is Mr Yip's third of five murals.

His first two are on the walls of a terraced house in Everton Road, near Everton Park. Having lived nearby for about 20 years, he decided to turn that road section into memory lane. He painted an amah, or housemaid, washing clothes in a metal tub. Around the corner is a traditional barber shop scene.

He has another mural in Everton Road, near Blair Road. His latest, done earlier this month, is on the exterior wall of a cafe in Sultan Gate.

Meanwhile, Mr Tan hopes more private home owners would offer to have their walls painted by artists. He said: "I'm not sure how many would dare to do this, to decorate their walls in a different way. But I'd encourage them to do so, to have something colourful and to promote unknown artists."

• For more photos of Mr Yip's murals, go to www.yipyc.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'Mural, mural on the wall - art on show for all'. Print Edition | Subscribe