When she noticed me spending a long time looking at the Singapore MRT map, she asked where I was heading. Orchard Road was the answer she wanted to hear for her next spiel. “Take blue line, alight at Newton. Transfer to red line heading to Marina South Pier.” I thanked her kindness and I immediately hopped on the waiting train. It was my first time to meet an interchange, excluding the one from Changi Airport, and it was a funny experience.
It was a Thursday and rapid transits were still full with employees heading to work. After I got out of the train, I searched for signs that would lead me to the other line. Taking some turns and joining the crowd, I made an exit and tapped my single-journey MRT pass. It was already late when I remembered that I shouldn’t exit the station because I still needed to transfer on the other line. Again, with my wish to trust my navigation skills, I walked from Newton Station to Regent Hotel Singapore to start my Singapore Art Trail.
Dragon-Riding Bodhisattava and Sense Surround #1-4.
ORCHARD ROAD ART TRAIL
Regent Singapore was my first stop on that early morning walk. Near the five-star hotel’s entrance is the Harmony Fountain, a sculpture by Stephanie Scuris. The installation features steel bars interchanging one another and forming nice waves surrounded by a fountain.
Just on the next block is St. Regis Singapore, on 29 Tanglin Road, with three artworks. First is the Dragon-Riding Bodhisattava, a Buddha that stands firmly on a dragon an art piece by Li Chen. Sense Surround #1, #2, #3, and #4, by Anthony Poon, join some ornamental plants at the hotel’s sidewalks along Orchard Road. Last is the Reclining Woman by Fernando Botero that presents a sculpture of a naked female figure that shows the sensuality, beauty, and fertility of a woman.
Still on Tanglin Road, in front of Orchard Parade Hotel, is Cultural Medallion holder Ng Eng Teng’s Mother and Child. First thing you’ll notice on the sculpture’s personas is the emphasis put on their eyes and foreheads. From a steel plate just below the sculpture, the artist explained that Mother and Child is a very prominent theme in his works because humanity (life) was his main inspiration and it begins in the family with the parents and children’s relationships.
Wei Chi Jing De and Qin Shu Bao by Aw Eng Kwang.
Hilton Singapore was next on my list to marvel on the hotel’s frontage covered by Gerard D’Alton Henderson’s Eulogy to Singapore. Along the walkway are two other sculptures by Aw Eng Kwang; Wei Chi Jing De and Qin Shu Bao. The two are generals, during the Tang Dynasty, with special powers and called to protect the Emperor Tang Tai Zong from the Dragon King who swore vengeance on the emperor during a conflict. You can also drop by Four Seasons Hotel, located just at the back of Hilton Singapore. The hotel has another sculpture entitled Vitality by Sun Yu-li. The piece is a sensuous bronze sculpture standing around four meters high and is only one of the more than 1,500 original artworks displayed throughout the hotel.
Eulogy to Singapore and Vitality.
I continued my Orchard Road art trail by crossing the underpass from Wheelock Place via the Paterson Road that led me to ION Orchard. Luxury brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, Calvin Klein, dominate the building. But I wasn’t there to shop but to check some art pieces installed at the building’s quad.
Nutmeg and Mace, by award-winning artist Kumari Nahappan, serves as a reminder of Singapore’s agricultural roots as the area was once a nutmeg plantation. Few meters away is Doggy 240 a multi-colored bulldog made of painted bronze by Julien Marinetti. Near the main entrance of ION Orchard are six larger than life colorful figures. The Urban People installation, with its vivid colors, attracts passerby’s attention that will make you stop and have a photo.
Next part of the art trail continued to Ngee Ann City shopping complex where a fountain serves as the centerpiece of the vast forecourt. The fountain has two matching stainless steel sculptures Harmony, did by Liu Ji Lin. On the other side of Orchard Road is Paragon Shopping Center where one can find several ancient-inspired creations of Sun Yu-li. Celebrations, Endearment, Courtship, Development, Friendship & Relaxation, the title of the piece, apart from having the figures, there’s also a stone-balancing sculpture with some engravings.
Dark clouds were clear during my walk from Paragon to Somerset MRT Station. Well manicured grass and low-lying trees convert the entire block into a tranquil spot in the midst of towering skyscrapers. Midway to Winsland House, the drizzle started to pour. I hurriedly rush to the building to save myself from being drenched. I reach Winsland House before rain totally poured on the dry streets of Singapore. Since it was already lunch time, my mind, while waiting for the rain to stop, figures out where to eat in Singapore.
Scenes near Somerset MRT Station.
Last destination on that art trail was luckily the Winsland House. The rain, which lasted for about thirty minutes, trapped me in the area while scrutinizing the works present in the commercial building. Last items I ticked off my list were LOVE and the bronze sculpture Dancer by Sun-Yuli.
Dance and Love in Winsland House.
With my aim not to spend that much on my first international trip, instead of visiting Singapore’s theme-parks and paying bucks for the entrance fees, having some walking tours, like this Orchard Road art trail, dominated my itinerary. Others may consider walking and dropping by one hotel or shopping center to another as a lackluster activity, but it was a significant time for me to get to know Singapore through its arts that are very available to the public for free. I only spent SGD1.7, for the MRT ride to Newton, for this tour.