Moving Memories, 2017
Presented by the National Museum of Singapore
Moving Memories presents seven of Yip Yew Chong’s life-sized murals which seek to express the romance of “places and moments… that blend sights, sounds, smell and tastes”.
An accountant by day, Yew Chong sees painting as a way to express himself. His murals interweave his personal memories with that of residents in Singapore, and have captured the imagination of many.
Savour these moments of our tangible and intangible heritage, such as barbers in back lanes, traditional kopi-making and roadside communal satay eating, as they come alive through animation, soundscape and projection.
The murals featured in this installation are:
- Barber, September 2015
- Coffee Story, December 2016
- Pasar, April 2016
- Provision Shop, December 2015
- Kampung, November 2015
- Satay Club and the Kampung Scene from Thian Hock Keng mural, July 2016 and April 2017
Location: 39 Everton Road
Created in September 2015
Street barbers were once commonly found in Singapore’s back alleys, offering haircuts that cost between $3 and $8 in the 21st century. They operated from their stalls, a simple set-up comprising a shelter made of tarpaulin sheet, a chair for their customers, and tools of their trade laid out on a counter.
In this mural, an elderly barber is cutting his young customer’s hair. On the shelf is a red jar of Brylcreem (a hair styling product), to be applied to the boy’s hair after the haircut to give it a smooth and shiny appearance.
This mural was one of Yew Chong’s first works based on his memories of growing up in Chinatown.
Location: 29 Sultan Gate
Created in December 2015
The kopi (coffee) uncle busies himself over the stove and counter, preparing breakfasts and afternoon teas for his customers. He brews his coffee and tea using the coffee sock, and roasts coffee beans in an old drum which has darkened with black soot over time.
A whistling sound is heard as the water in the kettle comes to a boil. Slices of bread are toasted, before they are slathered with kaya (coconut jam) and butter. A hot drink, soft-boiled eggs and a plate of kaya butter toast make up a sumptuous breakfast or tea-time snack for any customer.
Location: Eng Watt Street Block 73
Created in April 2016
The Pasar (“market” in Malay) refers to Tiong Bahru market. Before it was set up, hawkers plied their trades on the streets; a hawker here sells putu mayam off his bicycle. These hawkers moved into a fenced area – such as this hawker selling curry noodles and laksa from his makeshift stall – which became the market over time.
This mural holds fond memories for Yew Chong, who grew up in Chinatown and made Tiong Bahru his childhood playground. Putu mayam – an Indian
snack dish made of flour, water and coconut milk and served with orange-coloured sugar – is his daughter’s and late father’s favourite dish, while laksa is Yew Chong’s favourite breakfast food.
Location: 8 Spottiswoode Park Road
Created in December 2015
Provision Shop presents about 30 years of history: the sale of ice that was common in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as biscuit tins and machines used to grate coconut which were common in provision shops in the 1970s and 1980s.
Prior to the proliferation of supermarkets, provision shops catered to the people’s needs, selling a variety of goods such as dried foodstuff, sundries and kitchenware, freshly-grated coconut and ice blocks.
“Hui An” (惠安) on the shop’s signboard refers to a county in Fujian province in China, where many of the early Chinese immigrants journeyed from in the 19th century to Singapore, which is represented as “Sin Chew” (新洲) on the bamboo blind of the provision shop.
Location: Bungalow wall next to 450 Upper Changi Road
Created in November 2015
Within a coconut grove lives a Malay and a Chinese family side by side. The idyllic village life is captured in this mural: animals roamed freely and residents could enjoy fruits – such as durians, jackfruit and rambutans – harvested from nearby trees. The Encik enjoys a view of the kampung (“village” in Malay) with his grandson. The Chinese neighbour savours durians outside his home.
The kampung was a community space where children played together, and where residents helped and shared with each other. Such neighbourly friendliness has been captured in this mural – where the pair of women exchange fruits over pleasantries.
Visit the Growing Up gallery on level 2 of the National Museum of Singapore to learn more about life in the kampung in the 1950s and 1960s.
Location: 11 Jalan Pinang (Hotel Nuve) and Thian Hock Keng rear wall along Amoy Street
Created in July 2016 and April 2017
The first Satay Club, which began in the 1940s, stood on Hoi How Road, a short road opposite the Raffles Hotel which led to the sea. Around sunset, Satay Club would come alive as stalls opened for business. Customers parked themselves around the low wooden tables that surrounded the stalls, savouring freshly-grilled satay over conversation and dipping the satay into communal pots of gravy. The satay seller would fan the fire to grill the meat, while taking orders from customers.
In the background is an idyllic kampung, with attap-roofed houses flanking a stream. This scene is reminiscent of the many kampungs that dotted the landscape around Kampung Gelam near the Kallang Basin.