Graffiti and street art showcased in a different light in largest Chingay community art installation

SINGAPORE – Graffiti, more typically associated with acts of vandalism, stands to draw a different public response at next year’s Chingay Parade, with 520 Singaporeans using spray paint and street art to express themselves on the event’s largest community art installation.

Standing 18m tall and 60m wide, the installation comprises 28 shipping containers uniquely designed by the community to celebrate the country’s different cultures coming together. 

Mr Austin “Skratch” Poh, 42, one of eight local artists who assisted in the graffiti artwork, said the installation is an opportunity for the community to view graffiti in a different light.

“Many people relate the art of spray-painting to vandalism and the ‘O$P$’ sign, when in fact it is a respected art form,” he said, referring to a loan shark message representing “owe money, pay money”. 

“Graffiti involves techniques like shading, painting, blending and outlining, and not just the irresponsible spraying of paint to feature large words and bright images,” he added.

The installation shows the public that with proper discipline and control, spray-painting can be an amazing way for someone to express himself, he said. 

The main focus of the artwork depicts a performer surrounded by different iconic Chingay elements, including cultural motifs, costumes and props.

The same artwork also features a web of hands, symbolising Singapore’s many cultures and communities coming together.

Conceptualised by Chingay art director Sam Lo, the installation will act as the backdrop during the parade performance, complementing the audience’s visual experience. 

Following the theme Embracing Tomorrow, the conceptualisation follows his own work as a street artist, said the 36-year-old.

He led the eight artists in teaching and guiding members of the public at spray-painting workshops over four weekends from November to December.

“As an artist who does work in the public space, and having started from street art myself, all this feels like it has come full circle for me because now it’s the public’s turn to project their own voices onto these containers,” he said.

Ms Ada Soh, 42, and her family were among the participants who worked on the installation. The mother of three took the opportunity to bond with her family and understand her children better, while learning more about spray-painting. “The pandemic has made me realise that spending time and watching my children growing up is important,” she said.

Attending the workshop and spending the afternoon together with her family has been a highlight for her in 2022.


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