17 street artists add more colour to Kampong Glam with Graffiti Hall of Fame

The graffiti Hall of Fame along Bali Lane on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The official graffiti Hall of Fame along Bali Lane on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The already colourful arts and culture enclave Kampong Glam has a new landmark - two stretches of street art that span nearly 240m, lining Ophir Road and Bali Lane.

Featuring Japanese folklore elements, time portals and larger-than-life pigeons, the 5m-high "Graffiti Hall of Fame" was created collectively by 17 Singapore-based artists and officially unveiled on Wednesday (April 28).

Standalone murals as well as collaborative pieces adorn these massive canvases, which are in fact metal noise barriers erected around construction sites for the North-South Corridor (NSC) that is slated for completion in 2026.

"Construction works typically affect businesses and shopfronts. We are working with the stakeholders to reverse the narrative and activate the noise barriers to magnify the public space instead," said Ms Aileen Tan, secretary of the precinct association One Kampong Gelam and owner of Blu Jaz Cafe in Bali Lane.

Citing the prevalence of street art in other major cities, association chairman Muhammad Zaki Maarof said: "Street art helps revitalise dead spaces such as alleys, barriers and back lanes. Kampong Glam has always been vibrant, and the Hall of Fame will invite people to the area so it continues developing beyond just a place to eat at."

The project's largest collaboration takes the form of a 107m piece along Ophir Road. Divided into five segments, The Journey blends five artists' distinct styles and personal memories of Kampong Glam, past and present.

Artist duo Studio Moonchild began The Journey by combining pop culture and textile patterns from various ethnicities to illustrate a child of many cultures, while urban artist Dem depicted flying pigeons as a metaphor for artists and homage to the humble bird species that populates local streets.

A time portal painted by artists KILAS and Boon Baked completes the piece, tying the four murals together in a fictional story of the precinct's past.

Such extensive collaboration presented participating artists with the challenge of coordinating their diverse ideas into a cohesive concept for approval by partnering government agencies, including the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Land Transport Authority. To avoid obstructing daytime traffic, artists also had to complete their work in the dark at night.

Wednesday's launch was attended by the artists involved, as well as representatives from STB, URA and GS Engineering & Construction, which is building a section of the NSC passing through the area.

Street artists ANTZ and Didier "Jaba" Mathieu created standalone murals on the 131m canvas along Bali Lane.

Street artist Didier "Jaba" Mathieu adds finishing touches by spray-painting one of the murals along Bali Lane on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

They also collaborated with Hegira on the mural Constant Elevation, along Ophir Road, in which they reimagined Kampong Glam with red-roofed shophouses and friendly street cats.

Hegira, considered one of Singapore's pioneering international street artists, said he found the experience deeply fulfilling. "The most rewarding part for me is the interaction with people who stop by my work - children and elderly are especially real and spontaneous, and sometimes I let them try their hand at spray-painting on my murals."

Boon Baked, a graffiti and visual artist, added: "This community of graffiti artists is small but world-class. I hope that through this hall of fame, Singaporeans can appreciate graffiti and know that there are good graffiti artists here."

Constant Elevation, part of one of the pieces on the official graffiti Hall of Fame along Ophir Road on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Visitors can scan QR codes on the murals to find out more about them and the artists. More Singapore and international artists will also be invited to add to the murals.

One Kampong Gelam also said it has plans to roll out activities such as self-guided walking tours and artist-led spray-painting workshops.

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