Bicentennial artwork on childhood game a stone's throw away

Five Stones, by artist Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, comprises two sets of five stone sculptures and had been displayed at the Punggol Oasis Terraces shopping mall since Nov 7. From today, the 10 stones will be sent to different locations around Singapor
Five Stones, by artist Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, comprises two sets of five stone sculptures and had been displayed at the Punggol Oasis Terraces shopping mall since Nov 7. From today, the 10 stones will be sent to different locations around Singapore, including Tampines, Woodlands and Jurong. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

See if you can spot a giant, inflatable stone sculpture in your neighbourhood in the coming month.

Ten colourful stones, measuring up to 6m high and part of a bicentennial artwork called Five Stones by artist Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, will be scattered in public spaces from today.

The artwork, one of three bicentennial pieces, comprises two sets of five stone sculptures reminiscent of the nostalgic childhood game. One set has a batik design that reflects Singapore's connection with the region, and the other features nostalgic items such as wooden clogs, red double-decker buses and gem biscuits.

The artwork, which had been displayed at the Punggol Oasis Terraces shopping mall since Nov 7, was closed yesterday, and will reappear in different places from today.

Installing the three bicentennial artworks in public spaces was a deliberate decision by the Government to make art accessible, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. Speaking yesterday at the end of Five Stones' showing at the Punggol mall, he said the artworks were a move to inspire more Singaporeans to become artists.

The artwork is one of three bicentennial public artworks commissioned by the National Arts Council's Public Art Trust to commemorate the Singapore bicentennial.

Said Mr Heng: "Situating Five Stones and two other bicentennial public artworks in accessible public spaces was a deliberate choice, for arts and culture can be experienced next to your home, in your neighbourhood.

"It is for all Singaporeans, and I hope that it can inspire more Singaporeans to take an interest in art, to become artists, to (get) budding artists to showcase their work."

The other two artworks are The Time Tree sculpture by Robert Zhao at Jurong Lake Gardens, and the Crossing Shores sculpture by Farizwan Fajari, otherwise known as Speak Cryptic, at East Coast Park.


Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat (centre) joining a storytelling session using handmade puppets at Punggol Oasis Terraces. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Mr Heng held up the three artworks for their ability to explore Singapore's history and progress from different perspectives, which allow people to reflect on how their sense of being Singaporean has deepened over the years.

The pieces of art are part of the activities the Government has put together for Singapore's bicentennial year, which, Mr Heng pointed out, include the Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning, which will be on until the end of next month, and exhibitions at the Asian Civilisations Museum and the National Museum of Singapore, among others.

"I am glad that Singaporeans are not only keen to better understand our history, but also how we can come together to chart our future together," he said.

 
 
 

Mr Heng said the Five Stones artwork was commissioned to create unique and accessible arts experiences for all Singaporeans and to encourage greater engagement with the artwork by Singaporeans.

From today, the 10 stones will be sent to different locations around Singapore, including Tampines, Woodlands and Jurong, mimicking the tossing and gathering of the stones involved in playing the game. The stones will then be brought back together in the Civic District after about a month, as they will be part of an exhibition during the Singapore Art Week in January.

The National Arts Council said that as the stones pop up around the island, they will be placed in unusual positions, such as being suspended or wedged in between spaces in heritage sites, parks, housing estates and commercial spaces.

It said: "The placement of the sculptures aims to spark curiosity, excitement, and prompt passers-by to view their environment afresh."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2019, with the headline 'Bicentennial artwork on childhood game a stone's throw away'. Print Edition | Subscribe