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Where Art Meets Neighbourhood: My Amazing Expedition In The Everyday Museum Public Art Trails

Take a look around the strange, yet fascinating installations that have popped up recently in Tanjong Pagar as I bring you through my experience in one of SAM’s Everyday Museum Public Art Trails.

Last April, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) unveiled two new public art trails as part of their initiative to fuse art into our neighbourhoods and everyday lives.

These trails, namely “Port/raits of Tanjong Pagar: Encounters with Art in the Neighbourhood” and “Singapore Deviation: Wander with Art through the Rail Corridor”, were first brought to my attention through my “For You” page on TikTok.

I was amazed by the mini-sized HDB flats and condominiums for chickens!

Credits: shay.mless on TikTok

Fascinated, I decided to take a closer look myself into Port/raits of Tanjong Pagar to know more about what these public art trails have to offer.

This SAM-commissioned neighbourhood trail walks you through from the outskirts of Tanjong Pagar Distripark to Duxton Plain Park before ending in Tanjong Pagar Plaza. It has six exhibitions spread throughout seven different points with a recommended order to travel as part of the trail.

Despite its uncommon trail for a museum, it surprised me with many discoveries and thoughts that I have never explored. Port/raits of Tanjong Pagar is a cultural and philosophical gold mine that lets you look deep into the past, present and future.

Map of Port/raits of Tanjong Pagar. Credits: Singapore Art Musuem.

Attractions in The Everyday Museum Public Art Trails

Prove That You Are Human

Take the starting point for instance, which was Block 39 at the Tanjong Pagar Distripark. This entire building was covered with CAPTCHA, which is used to differentiate human users from automated machines.

Travel along the ground floor of this building and you will see neon lights flickering between QR codes, which can be scanned and take you to Augmented Reality visuals that you can see through your camera.

My first impression of this building was that it was a giant computer with a sleek interior and shiny microprocessors.

CAPTCHA design on every corner of Block 39 at Tanjong Pagar Distripark.

Colourful walls on the ground level of Block 39 filled with QR codes that brings you to an Augmented Reality feature showing models via your phone camera.

The exhibitions and the designs surrounding the building made it feel futuristic despite its rustic appearance; it is as though I just stepped through a time portal.

I completely underestimated the experience one would feel when I approached this building. After all, never judge a book by its cover.

Hen Haven

The next few exhibition sites continue to amaze me just as Block 39 did. The Everfowl Estate (the chicken flats which I saw from TikTok) had buildings as tall as I was, if not even taller.

Mini condominiums (left) with chicken statues and real chickens (right) foraging for insects alongside pigeons.

While I was disappointed that there were only statues of chickens living in these tiny buildings, I was not disappointed by the many groups of chickens I met throughout my trail walk.

There. Were. Chickens. EVERYWHERE.

Even though I have seen the residential flocks of chickens in Singapore Management University (SMU) Campus, Tanjong Pagar boasts an entire neighbourhood of chickens.

That made me wonder: are chickens living in our neighbourhood, or are we living in theirs?

Regardless, these chickens seem to be well-acquainted with their co-habitants as they walk, graze and even fly freely in various spaces such as outdoors exercise areas and even rooftops.

More Than Meets The Eye

Not all exhibitions are just for aesthetics. Some of them had features that invoke thought and emotions through other senses such as touch and hearing.

This was pertinent in the twin exhibitions of Grounding Points: Settled and Settling In. These are located in the Northern and Southern ends of Duxton Plain Park, with each featuring a metallic and acrylic piece that intertwines with each other to form a tree-like structure.

The different textures of the smooth shiny metallic piece and the rough hardened acrylic symbolises the symbiotic connections between synthetic and organic, humans and non-humans.

The exhibition itself implores visitors to touch and feel the statues while observing the surroundings.

Additionally, walking from one statue to the other brings visitors the feeling and experience of moving out, away from their family. As children grow into adults, they venture off into their own journey and eventually leave their parents. However, we can also be vulnerable out there alone and need support.

Thus, the journey walking through Duxton Plain Park from Grounding Points: Settled to Grounding Points: Settling In, reflects this journey of a growing adult as he grows while still looking back, knowing that he has the support of his family and loved ones.

A collage of the twin exhibits, Grounding Points: Settled (Left), and Grounding Points: Settling In (Middle). The right image shows the different textures of Grounding Points: Settling In.

Photogenic Moments

Of course, you cannot have a museum trail without instagram-worthy shots!

The exhibitions {still} life and Little Islands bring new colour to their surroundings (sometimes literally). {still} life (by Space Objekt) features tinted mirrors reflecting in different directions, allowing viewers to view buildings and surrounding environments in different hues similar to the Pop Art style that was pioneered by Andy Warhol.

Similarly, Little Islands (by Isabella Teng) utilises the pillars of our HDB flats to create a coastal theme artwork that resembles tiny islands beside one another.

If you’re on a couple date or with a friend, these places are definitely spots you would want to take a few photos for the memories.

Little Islands (left) by Isabella Teng, {still} life (right) by Space Objekt

Final Thoughts

When I first started this trail, I had expectations of exhibitions that would portray the cultures and life of Singapore that SAM has typically covered in their indoor counterpart.

Not only did this trail exceed my expectations of a museum trail, but it also introduced me to an underrated tourist attraction unlike any other in Singapore.

Unlike a normal museum trail with still and preserved exhibits, Port/raits of Tanjong Pagar breathes new meaning into our everyday lives by infusing thought-provoking art in our community.

It is an innovative trail that brings newer and creative perspectives for its viewers to really stop, look, listen, and to feel their world beyond its boundaries.

After all, the only limit we have is our creativity.


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