Vibing with Ripple Root – and history – at Malay Heritage Centre
Singapore’s most happening public art team took over the lawn of the Malay Heritage Centre in November as part of the sixth edition of Art Encounters, celebrating Kampong Glam’s (or Kampong Gelam’s) history as a flourishing port in the 19th century. Their vibrant murals can be seen until 16 Dec to coincide with a special exhibition, Cerita (Stories), which opens on 11 Dec.
Inspired by the Heritage Centre’s rich collection and artefacts featured in Cerita, the artists behind Ripple Root – Liquan Liew and Estella Ng – have layered their colourful visual language over archival images and reimagined historical objects so that we see them with fresh eyes.
If you like the work of Henri Matisse, you will vibe with the Ripple Root style, as it is similarly based on vibrant colour and painterly qualities rather than line and representational perspective. Where Land Meets Sea explores the visual culture of the Malay communities who settled around the banks of nearby Rochor River – and of the sailors and traders who made their livelihood from the sea and surrounding islands.
Art Encounters’ mission is to reveal more of the artistic process to the public, so Ripple Root spent two weekends in November live painting inside special containers, giving visitors a rare insight into their unusual process. Liew and Ng paint murals in a tag-team manner, with each adding seamlessly onto the other’s interpretation. It’s a method of co-creation that requires an almost telepathic level of mutual understanding. Visitors can see the results and, unusually for an art exhibition, are encouraged to take photos and videos.
You may have seen their art around town: at 21 Tanjong Pagar, Cuppage Terrace, Market Street (surrounding the CapitaSpring building site – hard to miss this one if you are in the area, as the mural is 10 metres high and 20 metres across!) and the alley between 1 and 3 Keong Saik Road. The Keong Saik mural is one of the most Instagrammed pieces of art in Singapore.
There are inherent physical challenges in working outdoors and on such a large scale. Ripple Root often have to work perched on scissor-lifts three storeys high and then, of course, there is the humidity, blazing heat, and heavy rain of Singapore’s weather to contend with.
Ripple Root has attracted international attention, with solo shows in London, Seoul, Melbourne and Sydney, as well corporate commissions from the likes of Cathay Pacific, Raffles Hotel and Google. So take the opportunity to see their latest creations at the Malay Heritage Centre. Find out more about Where Land Meets Sea here.