Singapore is known for how efficient, clean and organised it is, but there are a myriad of places you can find inspiring, bizarre, cheeky — and even rebellious, art.
At the top of my list will always be Haw Par Villa, a hidden gem of a theme park depicting thousands of scenes from Chinese legends and folklore. From micro to life-sized figures, there’s not one story that isn’t told here. There are a lot of interesting/bizarre/funny/ sometimes terrifying depictions all around.
Haw Par Villa has been around since the 1950s, and it’s not as popular now as it used to be back then. This, to me, gave it very cool abandoned-theme-park-esque vibes (it’s always nice having a place as large as this all to yourself). This unique way of combining art and rich storytelling instantly transports you to the worlds the characters are in, and it ensures you leaving with more knowledge of Chinese mythology than you had going in.
If you’re into finding fun photo ops with friends and family, the Trick Eye Museum on Sentosa is a must-see. Here, you are part of the art, and the sets are designed in ways that play with our minds (a long-winded way of saying…illusions). So turn your portrait mode on and get ready to get stuck in a giant cage held by a giant baby.
3. The Merlion Walk (Sentosa Merlion Park)
Singapore is famous for its Merlions, and a very fun thing to do is go on a hunt to find the 7 ‘official’ Merlions around the city-state. The biggest one is on Sentosa Island (which is apparently getting demolished?!), but don’t be tricked into thinking that that’s the only attraction in the area.
Quietly sitting behind the Merlion is an 120-metre long Gaudi-inspired mosaic walkway. Packed with meticulous detail, it is worth taking a detour and spending some time here on your visit to the Merlion.
4. the ArtScience Museum
The ArtScience Museum, as you maybe have guessed, seeks to explore the intersection between Art…and Science. Or more specifically, art and technology. It’s filled with both permanent and temporary exhibits that include a bunch of interactive games that 20 (or 50)-year-old-you will enjoy just as much as your 7-year-old companion.
I’ve already sung my many, many praises for Gardens by the Bay on a previous post, but while the flower displays are usually the main attraction, it’s also worth paying attention to all the nooks and crannies throughout your walk. They may lead you to find very (well-hidden) interesting pieces!
(The flowers are still obviously very cool – I caught the begonia display last August).
BONUS: A Casual Stroll to…Everywhere
Yes, there is a bonus! I have come across many memorable art pieces interspersed throughout Singapore in many of its public spaces.
In fact, the more time I spend writing this post, the more difficult it is to restrain myself from including sweeping shots of the skyline, of the architecture, of the carefully-curated public spaces, of the many lights. Even some streets and roads that I’ve encountered are absolutely breathtaking.
Essentially, art isn’t limited to pieces recognised by institution (such as museums, gardens, or parks). From your typical morning jog to evening stroll, Singapore is filled with so much colour, light, and creativity that you won’t hesitate to stumble upon something that catches your eye. It may be random (what even was that arbitrary nutmeg sculpture outside of Ion Orchard?!), strange, gorgeous, even revolting — but that’s the beauty and fun of art. It’s also why art is important, because it preserves a particular space and time in a way that no other human experience can. This means that each place’s unique qualities will reflect themselves in the art you discover during your visit, allowing you a window into a different world and perspective.
What kind of ‘art’ do you like to see when you travel? Are you an art-in-everything type of person who would rather roam the streets, or do you enjoy spending hours in museums and absorbing the unique curation of works by artists from the place you’re visiting? (Are you both?!)
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