26 April 2021

6 Ways to Check Out Street Art in Singapore

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Sam David When not scuba diving or birdwatching, Sam's busy binge-watching true crime documentaries.

Navigate alleyways and roads to feast your eyes on stunning murals that tell stories of the Lion City

Some say street art is a window into a city’s soul. These masterpieces frame cultural landscapes in a wildly visual way, and it’s pretty intriguing when you finally find out about the narrative behind it all. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they make great Instagram material. For some mural lovin’, here are six tours worth booking and the works of art you can find along the way if you keep those eyes peeled. 

Celebrating the Samsui woman
Celebrating the Samsui woman
  • Couples
  • Heritage
  • Hidden Gem

Titled ‘Welcome to Our World’, this mural was created by Belinda Low under project “Colouring Banda Street”. This piece is dedicated to the Samsui women – female Chinese immigrants who played an integral part in building Singapore. To locate this mural, join the Meet The OG Female Badasses: The Samsui Women And Majie tour by 8th Wave.

Of men and birds
Of men and birds
  • Heritage

In Tiong Bahru, you’ll find a slew of heritage murals by local painter Yip Yew Chong. One of his most iconic works is ‘Bird Singing Corner’, a quaint mural on Seng Poh Lane depicting traditional, long-lost bird singing corners, where dozens of elderly “uncle” bird-lovers would gather daily to admire their caged feathered friends. Go on the Art Deco Treasures walkabout run by Jane’s Singapore Tours for this nostalgic blast from the past, and while you’re in the area, look out for Yip’s other works.

Disappearing trades and traditions
Disappearing trades and traditions
  • Heritage

‘Traditional Trades of Little India’ wonderfully depicts the neighbourhood’s culturally-rich heritage. This mural calls Belilios Lane home; the street was named after Calcutta-born LR. Belilios, a Jewish cattle-trader who held sway over much of the industry way back when. How apt is it that here today you can find paintings of other traditional trades practised by the area’s South Asian community. Tea And Tiffin by Culture Curious is the experience to book to hunt down this mural.

The Thian Hock Keng mural
The Thian Hock Keng mural
  • Heritage

On the back walls of a temple in Telok Ayer that’s over 175 years old there’s an illustration by local painter Yip Yew Chong. Here you’ll learn the story of early Hokkien immigrants, who in the 1800s, had to make the painful decision of leaving behind their loved ones in China to embark on a treacherous journey across the seas to Singapore. To dive even deeper into the stories behind this mural, pick the Picturing Places of Colonial Singapore tour by Culture Curious.

Navigate Joo Chiat
Navigate Joo Chiat
  • Heritage
  • Instagram-worthy

When legendary popiah (fresh spring rolls with vegetables and assorted fillings) stall Kway Guan Huat renovated their Joo Chiat premises, they made sure to keep things modern, even though they’ve been around since 1938. Enter Jaxton Su and his detailed murals, which depict the laborious way of hand making popiah – a method still practiced by the Kway family. My Heart Beads For Peranakan: A Joo Chiat Experience by 8th Wave promises a little bit of everything, from popiah mural hunting to popiah food sampling.

Zip around Kampong Glam
Zip around Kampong Glam
  • Heritage

Did you know that this is where it all kind of started for the local street art scene? The artist behind this mural in Haji Lane is Colombian-born Didier Jaba Mathieu, who’s been living in Singapore for over 10 years. Many believe his Haji Lane works kickstarted the mural movement in Singapore. Admire this trendsetter’s paintings via a vintage Vespa tour of Kampong Glam and the Civic District by Singapore Sidecars.  

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