Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles in Boat Quay 'disappears' for Singapore Bicentennial

Half of the statue has been covered in dark grey paint, creating an optical illusion.
Half of the statue has been covered in dark grey paint, creating an optical illusion.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

SINGAPORE - The white, polymarble statue of Sir Stamford Raffles next to the Singapore River in Boat Quay appears to be "disappearing". Since last Saturday, half of it has been covered in dark grey paint, creating that optical illusion.

On Wednesday (Jan 2), the Singapore Bicentennial Office (SBO) revealed that the effect was created with outdoor acrylic paint in collaboration with local artist Teng Kai Wei.

It was conjured up in commemoration of the Singapore Bicentennial to be officially launched on Jan 28 this year.

The SBO, which is under the Prime Minister's Office, oversees the coordination of a nationwide bicentennial commemoration marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the British in Singapore with Raffles' landing on the island, one of the key turning points in the Republic's modern history.

To create the effect on the statue, a layer of liquid acting as a protective coating was applied onto it before the artwork began. This would allow for the paint used in the artwork to be removed later.

On-site work for the statue's new look began on Dec 10, and took about two and a half weeks to complete. It was unveiled to the public on Dec 29.

Mr Teng, 32, said that he hoped his work would make passers-by stop, pause and reflect, as well as evoke their curiosity to find out more about the Singapore Bicentennial.

The artwork will be removed at the end of the day on Thursday.

An SBO spokesman said: "As we enter the Bicentennial year, we want Singaporeans to think more deeply about our history - is our story just about one date or one man? The act of Raffles 'disappearing' is an opportunity to engage Singaporeans in an open dialogue about the many other men and women who also arrived on our shore and made significant contributions."

The spokesman added: "Our history is a longer, 700-year story that dates back to 1299, and will be told over the Bicentennial year with many events planned, many of them by community groups with long histories."


The artwork will be removed at the end of the day on Jan 3, 2019. ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

Mr Clement Loh, 57, dropped by the area on Wednesday to take photos after he had read about it in the Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao. He said: "When they told me Raffles 'disappeared', I guessed that they used this painting effect to blend the statue into the surrounding buildings."

"This is quite novel, so I'm taking photos to show my family," added Mr Loh.

Office worker Yeo Jing Ying, 34, has been to see the statue twice, saying he was intrigued when he passed by it on Dec 13 and it was green.

The 34-year-old, who returned to the site on Wednesday, said: "My first thought was, 'did they remove the statue and replace it with a hologram?'"

"It's actually quite cool," he added.