Does art belong inside galleries? Or should it be part of public spaces? If you're a believer of the latter, you'll feel right at home in Singapore, where there's no shortage of interesting outdoor sculptures to make any shopping trip or city tour a little more interesting.
One of Singapore’s best-known sculptures is Mother and Child, created by Ng Eng Teng, a leading figure in the local fine art landscape. The piece has had more than one home in the city and currently stands at the end of Orchard Road near the Angus Steak House.
Orchard Road itself is home to a number of sculptures: look outside the Ion Orchard shopping complex for the colourful oversized panda by French sculptor Julien Marinetti, which was inspired by the pop art of Andy Warhol.
While you’re outside Ion, hunt down Nutmeg and Mace
, a two-tonne bronze sculpture by local artist Kumari Nahappan. This piece is particularly significant as Orchard Road actually got its name from the nutmeg and fruit orchards that were in the area before it was cleared to be a shopping strip. Both nutmeg and mace represent the lucrative herbs and spices
that made Singapore and the region an important historical trade hub.
If you take a stroll along the banks of the Singapore River
at Collyer Quay, aside from the throngs of people enjoying the view and the office crowd from the nearby buildings, you’ll see The Bird –
a large bronze sculpture of a fat, round bird by Fernando Botero. Placed strategically outside the UOB building, the bird is associated with peace, prosperity and optimism.
Venture a little further into the Central Business District
to Finlayson Green and look for Momentum
, an 18.35 metre steel sculpture spiralling upwards with hand-painted figurines of people. David Gerstein, the creator of this work, was commissioned by property developers in the area to create something that reflects the dynamism of Singapore's multicultural society.
And if you head towards Marina Bay, you’ll be able to see the one of the most famous works of the French sculpter August Rodin: The Thinker. Rodin created several original bronze casts of his original sculpture, one of which is on display at the OUE Bayfront building by Marina Bay in Singapore.
No discussion of Singapore’s sculptures is complete without mentioning the Merlion. This Singaporean emblem has the head of a lion and the body of a fish. The symbol was designed by Alec Fraser-Brunner, and the Merlion can be found in several incarnations around Singapore, including the original statue in front of the Fullerton Hotel by the river, and of course the 37-metre giant Merlion on Sentosa.
The Merlion is better understood against the backdrop of Singapore’s historical names. The city was originally called Temasek, a Javanese word meaning ‘sea town’ and was then named Singapura, meaning ‘lion city’. The Merlion is therefore a combination of these two elements of Singapore’s heritage and personality – its role as a port, combined with the strength and pride associated with lions.