Casting new eyes on known routes
A family of five enjoys a cloudy day out at the old Esplanade Waterfront. Makan Angin by Lim Soo Ngee. (Photo: Eleni Sardi)

Casting new eyes on known routes

Does this sound familiar? On many early mornings getting to work on the MRT, I’ll be rushing a bit because I’m late or walking distracted because emails are coming through. Maybe I’ll notice some of the advertising around me, maybe a new restaurant opening up or maybe a building is going to catch my eye as the light falls on it in a specific way. But other points will remain fixed, blind spots that I, and most of us, miss on our routine routes because we’ve cast eyes on them so many times before.

If you, just like me, have been safely tucked at home for the past three months, you may be looking forward to retracing your steps back to the daily routes that have been out of your reach for a while. While spending time to pause and reflect at home, I’ve tried to look for meaning in the mundane and the close by – paying more attention to my neighbours’ intricate gates, the wildflowers on overgrown hedges, the geckos chilling on my plants. I’ve started noticing things that were there before but maybe I hadn’t paid that much attention to. And I’m looking forward to taking this newfound curiosity further afield now that the borders of our littles worlds have opened up again.

I thought I’d start with some outdoors exploration first, to keep away from crowds and find something new in the routes I’m used to taking around the Civic District. If unprompted, I’m not sure I would have recalled all the public artworks I get to see on my way to work, on a run around Promenade, or on the way to an exhibition at National Gallery. So I decided to do a combination of the Public Art Walking Trails, the Must-See Public Art Downtown and the Made in Singapore one – and gave myself the task of paying more attention this time and considering something new about the different artworks.

Three of them caught my eye the most:

All the Essentially Essential by Tan Wee Lit, located outside Raffles Place MRT (Exit C)


Slow work morning at Raffles MRT with ‘All the Essentially Essential’ as a backdrop.

How many times have I walked by this piece and I didn’t even consider its title! With all the conversations around what and who is essential these days, this work by Tan Wee Lit takes a whole different meaning. I hadn’t even realized that the toy kit has an empty slot for the viewer to complete it. Mask, hand sanitizer and antibacterial gel anyone?

Seeds by Han Sai Por, located at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Waterfront


Lone runner and Seeds.

Yet another piece I totally missed before and how apt again to reconsider as we look to find meaning in everything that’s changed around us over the past 6 months. Maybe in our new routines, the things we’ve had to do differently, we will find the seeds to grow new and better ways of living and stay as resilient as the granite sculptures of Han Sai Por.

24 hours in Singapore by Baet Yeok Kuan, located at Front Lawn, Asian Civilisations Museum

24 hours

Social distancing 24 hours in Singapore.

Possibly taking reflection a little too literally but how wonderful it was to revisit this artwork with groups of people around it. Children were checking their reflections and playing hide and seek with their parents, masked and at a safe distance from others. The work was intended to serve as a remembrance of the daily lives in Singapore circa 2015 but there’s no reason why we can’t project on these mirror spheres moments of our daily lives as they stand now – and take a moment to reflect about the future.

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