We first met Yew Chong (Y.C) back last year during an impromptu visit to check out his murals at Everton Road. There he was, unassumingly painting and adding the finishing touches to the Barber mural at Everton Road, under the humid September sun.
Take a sneak peek at his murals here:
Since meeting the artist himself, we’ve taken quite a liking to his murals. Not only are they exceptionally well-painted, his attention to details and the way his paintings blend in within the context of the surrounding are quite amazing too. His heritage murals bring back a sense of nostalgia, enabling the public to reminisce the way of life that has passed and fondly missed.
Here is a man so passionate about his art that that he pursues them while balancing a full time day job in the corporate world plus demands of his family life (with 2 kids). Yet, Y.C willingly shares his talent with the community by depicting our heritage way of life. Since our chance meeting in September 2015, Y.C has painted a few more murals (with more on the way!). I promised myself that during my semester break, I must update his works and continue to be inspired. With that, I went mural hunting over a few afternoons to bring to you the complete, ever-growing collection of Singapore heritage murals by Yip Yew Chong (and friends).
I will not be interpreting the murals as I believe the paintings will speak to each one differently, according to our own life’s unique experiences. However, I would recommend the following if you do visit the murals:
1) Bring Family: Bring your children, parents and even grandparents (if possible) along. These murals are great inspirations for sharing and bonding.
2) Take Your Time: Yes, do not rush. Take time to admire the details. If you are privileged to have experienced what he had painted in real life, let the memories come alive again in your conversations. Take your time and savour those moments, again.
3) Step Back: Look at the murals in its entirety. His murals actually blend into the environment. They are also life-sized meaning that it’s probably the actual (or close estimate) of the dimensions of, say, provision shop or the barber shop.
4) Step Forward: Look at the details. They are amazingly, painstakingly painted (often under harsh weather elements). From the TV to the telephone used in the early HDB homes; from the sundries sold in the provision shop to the roasting machine in the kopitiam…no details were spared. Even down to the colour of the chairs that were commonly seen in barber shops during the early 1960-70’s. These murals deserve a mention on our Singapore Tourism Board’s website!
5) Tell Stories: If you are able to relate to these murals personally, retell these stories to your children. You can also share the struggles of those early years and the values learnt.
6) Take Photos….lots of them. These murals form beautiful backdrops for family portraits!
Singapore Heritage Murals by Yip Yew Chong (Up to 30 April 2016)
A. Everton Road Murals
These were the first two murals we saw and we’ve blogged about them in this post.
Map of the Everton Murals
1) Ah Mah (40 Everton Road, wall of former Choa Kim Keat Garage)
2) Barber (40 Everton Road, wall of former Choa Kim Keat Garage)
3) Provision Shop (Corner of Everton Road and Spottiswoode Park Road)
Very detailed depiction of what provisions used to sell. There are still shops like these around but fewer now. Do be very careful of heavy traffic here.
B. Tiong Bahru Murals
There are three. You may wish to start with the first two as they are closer together. The third one is actually not too far off, about 8 minutes walk from the Pasar mural.
Map of the Tiong Bahru Murals
1) Bird Corner (Wall of Blk 69, Seng Poh Road)
A rare sight that still exist among very old estates where older men bring their rare birds to ‘compete’ in singing at the void deck. Used to be a popular past time that has seen better days.
2) Pasar and Fortune Teller (Back street of Blk 72, Eng Watt Street)
A sight that is virtually non-existent in Singapore today: street vendors peddling their wares to residents at the local ‘Pasar’ (wet market).
3) Home (Blk 74, Tiong Poh Road)
Homes were far more simpler and pace of living was much slower then. Just a TV blasting dialect shows (in black and white), catching up with the day’s news via newspaper. No internet, no gadgets nor any other distractions.
C. Murals in the City (Sultan Gate and Waterloo St.)
1) Coffee Story (29 Sultan Gate, Wall of Academy Roasted Coffee Joint)
Artisan coffee shop juxtaposed with the local way of making coffee. Same drink, same effect…different cultures across different time period.
2) Work-in-progress (Inside 51 Waterloo Street)
These three large murals depict the scenes of a local cinema, with a local ‘mamak’ (provision) shop, an old local army outfitter, the old Bukit Timah railway and also the former National Library with its iconic red brick structure. These works are still in progress and due to be completed by end May 2016. We were very lucky to catch Y.C and his friends hard at work painting the murals last weekend. Trisha was painstakingly writing the titles of the classic books in its actual font style. She researched the font type online and then reproduced them on the mural wall. Dana had a chance to contribute to the mural by painting the titles of two of her favourite classics: ‘Matilda’ and ‘Oliver Twist’. What a privilege! We’ll definitely return to see the completed murals.
D. Murals in the East (Upper Changi Road)
Easterners would be happy to know that one of my favourite works by Y.C is situated in their ‘hood’.
1) Kampung (Entrance of Palmwoods Condo, 450 Upper Changi Rd, 487040)
This is an amazing work which depicts the kampung (village) life back about at least 40 years ago. As a child who grew up in my grandmother’s kampung, I can totally identify with the life back then – fishing in the brook (sometimes drain), cycling around the rubber plantation and best of all, the spirit of camaraderie where neighbours are close-knitted and would often share their food with one another. This drawing seems to come to life when seen with the actual plants and shrubs near it.
Every artist leaves their unique mark in their works. In some of Yew Chong’s murals, there are certain items that would ‘appear’ regularly. Can you spot them?
I: A wall calendar with the 12th day of different months
II: An old round wall clock at the 10:10 position
III: A cat, either sitting down to climbing around somewhere
Penang has their street art and we have ours. Personally, I am so proud of these heritage murals painted by Y.C. So much planning, thought and heart have been put into it and you have to see them in person to appreciate the intricacies. These murals serve to preserve the heritage and slice of history in our fast-paced, modern Singapore. Be it this long weekend or the upcoming school holidays, bring your families on a mural tour to relive precious memories long past and enjoy inter-generational bonding through the tales exchanged at these murals.
Please turn up the volume to enjoy this special video compilation of Singapore Heritage Murals by Yip Y.C.
Check out Yew Chong’s blog at http://yipyc.com to find out more about this man and his amazing talent in art. Do pop over to our friend, A Million Little Echoes for more Mural Walk ideas in Singapore and abroad! Lastly, follow my Instagram account @doting_dad. for more updates!