It’s not all skyscrapers, museums of modern art and fine dining in the Lion City. If you know where to look, you will find a collection of street art in tucked away alleys that has survived Singapore’s constantly changing urban landscape. It can be an adventure to find, but was an even greater journey for the artists to create. Singapore’s strict laws on street art and graffiti have resulted in the arrests of some artists. The everchanging skyline also means many works have been demolished, along with the buildings they were on.
Street art is surely not new in Singapore. It has grown significantly in popularity throughout the years, that the government took notice and legalised the practice on certain walls and areas. By doing this, they hoped people wouldn’t feel the need to do it illegally anymore, elsewhere.
This makes Singapore’s street art scene peculiar, as there is not only a divide between legal and illegal street art, but there’s discontent within the community over being artistically restricted to certain walls. SADAR, a writer from Toronto who lives in Singapore, told VICE that “while the community remains small and close-knit, painting and re-painting the same walls repeatedly isn’t the most motivating or challenging—neither does it provide the same raw adventurous experience that graffiti is best known for.”
But there are also pros to having areas in which graffiti and street art are legal. Whether in a skate park or in local alleyways, the country has a variety of spots for legal artwork. In a way, citizens are incentivised and given an opportunity to contribute to the painting of their local streets and urban areas, by making the practice accessible. It’s legality, albeit limited, means artists don’t need to sneak around, even allowing everyday people to try it out and leave a mark on their city’s walls.
Here are some photos of the hundreds of street art that exist throughout the city-state: