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Photograph: Rafflesplace.sgLiving World Series by Ju Ming

The best public art trails in Singapore

Get those cameras ready, we’re going on an art trail for murals, sculptures and installations

Cam Khalid
Mingli Seet
Written by
Cam Khalid
&
Mingli Seet
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There’s a good reason why spending time in an art museum takes more than merely an hour. As art junkies, we need a fair amount of time to appreciate and soak up the views of one artwork before moving onto the next. But are art exhibitions and galleries ever enough? The answer is no. From one art type to another, we’ve rounded the best free-and-easy art trails to peep the city’s street art, ranging from 2D murals to 3D sculptures.

RECOMMENDED: Must-see art exhibitions in Singapore and the best museums in Singapore

Raffles Place

Raffles Place Art and Heritage Tours
Photograph: Unsplash

Raffles Place Art and Heritage Tours

When Raffles Place comes to mind, it's often associated with its impressive skyscrapers or its dining scene. But how much do we know about its historical background and the various artistic installations nestled within? Get ready to put on your walking shoes and embark on a leisure stroll accompanied with a self-guided audio tour by the Raffles Place Alliance, where you’ll be able to learn about the area’s  rich history and its array of artistic gems.

Photograph: Rafflesplace.sg

Raffles Place Art Tour

The Raffles Place Art Tour shines light on the intriguing art sculptures and installations that populate the Raffles Place precinct. Before embarking on your walk, download the map and accompanying audio guide

You’ll start from Raffles Place Park and stop by 11 different spots – from One Raffles Place to CapitaSpring, moving on to Ocean Financial Centre, Republic Plaza, and eventually rounding it off at CapitaGreen. Discover sculptures by several artists including Aw Tee Hong, Tan Wee Lit, Yu Yu Yang and Anthony Cragg. The accompanying audio guide is narrated by musician and producer Tim De Cotta and also includes narration from local creatives like graphic designer, painter and ceramicist Marc Gabriel Loh, as well as graphic designer and artist Chris Chai. 

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Photograph: Unsplash

Raffles Place Heritage Tour

If you’re looking to learn more about the precinct’s history, go on the Raffles Place Heritage Tour instead. This guided experience allows you to delve into the origins preceding the towering skyscrapers near One Raffles Place, narrating the transformation of Singapore's business district since the 1800s. Similarly, before embarking on your walk, download the map and accompanying audio guide

You’ll start from the iconic Singapore River at One Raffles Place, then move on to spots like Chulia Street to learn more about its architecture. You’ll also be able to learn about the history of Raffles Place at Battery Road, and immerse yourself in the dazzling streets of Collyer Quay.

For more information on these tours, visit their website here

Tanjong Pagar

Port/raits of Tanjong Pagar: Encounters with Art in the Neighbourhood

If you frequent Tanjong Pagar, you're likely familiar with its upscale restaurants, chill cafés, cheap eats, skyscraper-esque HDB flats, and other attractions. However, how much do we actually know about the area’s history? It’s time to put on your walking shoes and embark on Singapore Art Museum (SAM)’s new public art initiative – an art trail showcasing the evolution of Tanjong Pagar and Singapore through a range of captivating artworks.

Photograph: Daniel Iskandar

Tanjong Pagar Distripark –
Sea of flags by Grace Tan

Start your journey at Tanjong Pagar Distripark Block 39 – SAM’s current home. Here, direct your gaze upwards and spot the massive installation of 400 flags suspended from the top of the building. These swatches of colours that make up the flags were extracted from the scenery and architectural motifs of the area from earlier eras to the current times, showcasing the evolution of the region.

 

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Photograph: Singapore Art Museum

Everton Park –
Everfowl Estate by 
Divaagar

Move on to Everton Park, a well known matured public housing estate in Singapore. Find your way to Block 1 and look out for a series of miniature housing structures modelled after the surrounding neighbourhood. This public installation portrays a vision of how the feathered residents of Tanjong Pagar would live together in harmony as a community. This unusual gathering spot serves as a venue for gatherings, recreation, and occasional interactions between humans and non-humans.

 

Photograph: Daniel Iskandar

Duxton Plain Park – {still} life by Space Objekt 

Carry on with your stroll and head towards Duxton Plain Park, a small area nestled among residential buildings and shophouses. As you arrive at the entrance of Yan Kit Road, you'll come across a peculiarly designed playground adorned with vibrant neon hues. The artwork, entitled {still} life, is an interactive artwork that allows you to step inside and engage with it. Immerse yourself in the piece and take a peek into the various reflective surfaces that are strategically positioned to highlight the different scenes of the park that are often overlooked. Look down and you’ll see the sky, look up and you’ll find yourself staring right back at the ground. 

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Photograph: Singapore Art Museum

Tanjong Pagar Plaza –
Little Islands by Isabella Teng

Conclude your walk at Tanjong Pagar Plaza’s mini tropical paradise. Little Islands consists of three murals that take reference from the beautiful landscapes of Singapore to present a different viewpoint of our homeland and challenge the notion that Singapore is small. The first mural at the Residents’ Corner of Block 4 on Level 1 defines the word “island'' literally with a beautiful illustration of a landmass surrounded by water. Moving on to the second one at Block 7, Level 3, the architectural depiction of shophouses from the early 1900s showcases an enchanting visual journey of how things have evolved over time. Finally, the last mural at Block 4, Level 3, reveals a whimsical depiction of a buoyant island that is seemingly out of place in its surroundings. 

Rail Corridor

Singapore Deviation: Wander with Art through the Rail Corridor

With Singapore Art Museum (SAM)’s new public art installation, there's now one more reason to take a walk along Singapore's picturesque Rail Corridor. Connecting a stunning array of green landscapes integrated with the new art installations, visitors can now enjoy an even more compelling experience. So, it’s time to get off our bums and hit the pavement for some art and exercise!

Photograph: Daniel Iskandar

Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal –
walk walk (Singapore Deviation version) by Tan Pin Pin

Start your art walk at the quaint Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal where you’ll find Pin Pin’s poem walk walk plastered all over the terminal’s ceiling beams. Walk walk delves into the role of walking in our daily routines within Singapore, and how this mode of movement can be interpreted as an expression of freedom. Don’t miss out on a video installation hidden at the terminal’s Transitlink Office featuring individuals discussing the role of walking in their lives. 

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Photograph: Daniel Iskandar

Rail Corridor Access at 55A Commonwealth Drive –
Stagecraft: Landscaped Grounds By Hilmi Johandi

Keep going until you reach the Rail Corridor access at 55A Commonwealth Drive. You’ll notice tall structures that do not seem like anything at first glance. However, these oddly shaped fixtures are actually inspired by early advertising posters of the Federated Malay States Railways (1901–1948). The cut-outs form printed shapes that populate the landscape, infusing the familiar into an unexpected environment.

Photograph: Singapore Art Museum

Wessex Estate –
Moonlight by Sookoon Ang

Just a short distance from the previous spot, you'll find Wessex Estate where a bronze masterpiece awaits. This enigmatic sculpture embodies the fossilised remains of terrestrial vegetation.While it may resemble a charred log in the daylight, the sculpture transforms and blends into the darkness when night falls. This transition is a manifestation of the artist’s aim aim to explore the line between the real and unreal.

Little India

Start at: Little India MRT Station
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Start at: Little India MRT Station

It’s no surprise that one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Singapore is none other than Little India. Be sure to look up and walk through alleyways to not miss out on the best bits of street art when exploring the culturally rich precinct.

Start off at Little India MRT Station and exit at Kerbau Road where you’ll come face-to-face with a tall, playful painting of colourful cows on bicycles by Eunice Lim.

Photo: National Heritage Board

Less obvious places include venturing down the narrow Race Course Road featuring Jaxton Su JingXiang’s mural of a horse galloping through a market, which leads to Chandar Road where you’ll find Nadiah Alsagoff’s tribute to migrant workers.

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Other odd spots include a carpark decked with Zero's painting of Indian actor Rajinikanth, Speak Cryptic's monochromatic floral mural at Park 22 Hotel, and Song's bold piece at 20 Clive Street. Another colourful piece by Zero can be found at 33 Kerbau Road.

Photograph: Shutterstock

Down Tekka Lane, look out for a massive mural along by Psyfool and the kaleidoscopic House of Tan Teng Niah. Keep your eyes peeled as you head down towards the Indian Heritage Centre – there are loads more.

Chinatown

Start at: Telok Ayer MRT Station
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Start at: Telok Ayer MRT Station

The juxtaposition of traditional shophouses and modern skyscrapers is an art in itself. However, take some time to stroll down Chinatown where you’ll be greeted by a number of beautiful street art.

Get your cameras ready for a 40-metre mural by Yip Yew Chong along Amoy Street that captures the early lives of Hokkien immigrants. Head down the small park connecting Amoy Street and Telok Ayer Street for life-like sculptures of early Indian and Chinese settlers. 

Continue down the road towards Amoy Food Centre and head to the back for walls of art that feature dragons and Samsui women. These massive murals are designed and painted by students from the Anglo-Chinese School.

Photo: National Arts Council

Stop by China Square and China Square Central for more sculptures of school children playing the traditional game of capteh, as well as a Peranakan woman on a rickshaw manned by a bare-footed man – both by Lim Leong Seng.

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Then, make your way to Ann Siang Hill where a giant painting of a pig awaits in an alleyway next to The Coconut Club. Note that this mural changes every year to reflect the animal of the year based on the Chinese Zodiac.

Photo: Ripple Root

While you're in the area, catch a couple of brightly hued murals by local art collective Ripple Root. Walk down to Keong Saik Road for vibrant, dreamy floral motifs of the Peranakan tiles by art collective Ripple Root, located next to Loloku.

Then, head around the corner of Kilo Lounge – between 31 Hong Kong Street and 21 Tanjong Pagar Street – for another playful painting. Ripple Root pays homage to the building's heritage as a former nutmeg plantation by featuring a sepoy (guard), pagar (gate), singa (lion), stamp and a nutmeg plant.

Bugis-Bras Basah

Start at: Bencoolen or Bugis MRT Station
Photo: NAFA

Start at: Bencoolen or Bugis MRT Station

Practically a second home to art students in Singapore, the Bugis-Bras Basah district has a chock-full of impressive murals at every nook and cranny. Alight at Bencoolen MRT Station and head out to the NAFA campus where there are quirky benches designed by NAFA students and alumni for you catch a breather before the next art adventure.

Photograph: Yip Yew Chong

Next, head out onto 222 Queen Street and 51 Waterloo Street (aka 222+51). Besides a medley of performing arts offerings, the arts centre has interactive murals – think walls with vintage doors that open to stunning visuals – in the signature style of Yip Yew Chong. Escape to the narrow road next to the building to capture the sights of a sky-high graffiti-filled wall tagged by local and international graffiti artists.

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Make the hipster favourite Haji Lane and its surrounding areas your next stop. Hole-in-the-wall shops, cafes and bars aside, the Arab quarters also boasts some of the best art in the city. Draw your eyes to the massive space cadets along Beach Road, another Yip Yew Ching gem by Sultan Gate, a monotoned Ceno2 special by The Singapura Club, and the contrasting vibrant walls of Piedra Negra which a hot favourite amongst tourists.

Photo: Slacsatu

Stop by the Sultan Arts Village tucked in the quaint Malay enclave of Kampong Glam nearby where you’ll find an explosion of street art and graffiti. Check out The Black Book for all your graffiti tools while you’re at it. Take a stroll further down to Aliwal Arts Centre where fresh wall art pops up on its walls every now and then. 

Draw your attention to this alpha batik piece with a breath-taking explosion of colours right around the corner of Aliwal Arts Centre. It's created by local artists Slacsatu as part of the Aliwal Urban Arts Festival 2019.

Fort Canning

Start at: Dhoby Ghaut or Bras Basah MRT Station
Photo: National Arts Council

Start at: Dhoby Ghaut or Bras Basah MRT Station

It's not just lush greens here at Fort Canning. It's also home to jaw-dropping public art.

Start off at the National Museum of Singapore where you’ll spot a sculpture by YMCA that looks like a couple of ninja stars molded together by Tan Teng Kee. Get those cameras ready as you come across a myriad of impressive sculptures including ridged granite blocks, massive kernels, prismatic bronze figures, a colossal chili pepper, and more by local and international artists assembled around the National Museum.

Soak in the beauty of Romanian artist Alexandra Nechita’s cubism-style bronze female sculpture that’s also United Nations Peace Monument for Asia.

Head towards the nearby Fort Canning Park next for the more sculptures vying for your attention. Scoot over to the ASEAN Sculpture Garden. Sited at the green, tranquil spot are modern sculptures created and donated by the five member countries of ASEAN – The Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

 

Civic District

Start at: City Hall MRT Station
Photo: Roy Tan

Start at: City Hall MRT Station

It’s a blast to past at the Civic District where history meets arts. Alighting from City Hall MRT Station, make your way to the National Gallery Singapore where you can find benches under the sheltered walkway featuring Tan Zi Xi’s (aka MessyMsxi) whimsical characters. 

The gallery itself is also a work of art. It retains the iconic exterior of the Old Supreme Court in all its architectural splendour but undergone a makeover where two buildings are joined together by a curved roof. It’s worth taking a pit stop inside as the interiors and art exhibitions are as stunning as its majestic facade.

We might not have the Michaelangelo statue, but cross over to Victoria Theatre for the arm-crossing piece of the founder of modern Singapore Sir Stamford Raffles. 

Walk down towards the Singapore River for the Arts House where you’ll find the bronze Elephant Statue gifted by King Chulalongkorn of Thailand.

It’s an outdoor art galore down here, with plenty of installations planted in the area. Past by the Asian Civilisations Museum and walk by the Singapore River where busts of historical figures, giant silver balls and exclusive modern art figures are sited. Cross over the Cavenagh Bridge for more bronze statues depicting Old Singapore.

The CBD

Start at: Esplanade or Raffles Place MRT Station
Photo: Pontiac Land Group

Start at: Esplanade or Raffles Place MRT Station

If you’ve been hitting the CBD for either business or leisure, you’ll be accustomed to the eye-catching sculptures by renown international artists including Roy Lichtenstein’s brush-stroked figures in full pop-art glory at Millenia Walk.

A walk towards Pan Pacific Singapore leads you to Lin Emery’s wave-like stainless steel sculpture. Treat yourself to a plethora of abstract art from Marina Square to Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Admire twisting sculptures by Charles Perry, the magnificent figure by Olivier Strebelle, a stunning piece by Antoine Poncet that sits in the middle of the Oriental’s fountain, and more. 

Photo: National Arts Council

For freshly rotated outdoor art, head over to Esplanade’s outdoor plaza where you find local sculptors Han Sai Por’s seed-like giants, Chua Boon Kee's family of five, as well as Lim Soo Ngee's interpretation of a family having some fun by the waterfront.

For Instagrammable murals, check out Christine Lim's whimsical take of a day at the Esplanade at the drop-off point of the theatre, and Speak Cryptic's wall art of musicians at the entrance of the Recital Studio. The most recent addition is Nadiah Alsagoff and Dominic Tong's vibrant showcase of a conductor leading a lively parade.

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Momentum by David Gerstein

A stroll down the waterside gets you a view of the Merlion, and further down towards OUE Bayfront is the famous bull by Anna C Spellini.

The one you can’t miss out is the city’s tallest public sculpture located between Finlayson Green and Raffles Quay – Momentum by David Gerstein. A nod to the Singaporeans who contributed in creating the vibrant city, the cone-shaped, kaleidoscopic sculpture is made up of small figures in a variety of hues, standing at 18-metres.

Orchard

Start at: Orchard MRT Station
Photo: National Arts Council

Start at: Orchard MRT Station

Singapore’s famous shopping district, including its surrounding hotels, is decked with a number of bold outdoor art installations. Come night time, check out Stephanie Scuris fountain sculpture at Regent Singapore where it’s accompanied with multi-coloured LED visuals.

Down St. Regis Singapore sit three abstract art pieces by Li Chen, Fernando Botero and Anthony Poon (pictured), while Hilton Singapore is home to two statues by Aw Eng Kwang, as well as an embellishment by Gerard D’Alton Henderson at the entrance of the hotel.

Before stepping into the air-conditioned shopping havens, admire the stunning outdoor art. Right outside ION Orchard is the unmissable brightly-coloured caricatures by Kurt Laurenz Metzler, as well as Kumari Nahappan’s giant nutmeg and mace.

Walk past Wisma Atria towards Ngee Ann City where you’ll spot a gleaming art piece atop its outdoor water fountain by Professor Liu Ji Lin. Cross over to Paragon for Sun Yu-li’s statues inspired by cave-paintings.

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