I love how Singapore street art is venturing out from the more commercial and touristy districts to the suburban heartland areas where people live like Jurong East to Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah is another new addition to residential neighbourhoods in Singapore that have a collection of cool new murals to check out. For my urban explorer readers and street art lovers, here is my guide to street art in Bukit Merah and some recommendations on places to check out in the neighbourhood while you’re there.
Many of the street art works in Bukit Merah are due to Brilliant Corners Bukit Merah Diaries (the first edition took place in Katong and Joo Chiat) in late 2021 as a part of Arts in Your Neighbourhood. Local artists and musicians came together to create 7 murals and several pieces of music inspired by the Bukit Merah neighbourhood. One thing the murals have in common is that they all seem to be inspired by childhood games to some extent.
Blk 2 Jalan Bukit Merah, lift shaft facing main road
ANTZ‘s monkeys are a familiar character in his work, and here is one of them all ready to play one of those machines I used to love as a kid – insert a coin, turn the handle and see what surprises drop out. Those little capsules house a mix of retro toys and games. The name of this work ‘Tong kia’ is Hokkien – ‘tong’ (insert) and ‘kia’ (kid)
Blk 2 & 3 Jalan Bukit Merah, wall along carpark entrance road facing ABC Brickworks Hawker Centre
The entrance of ABC Brickworks Hawker Centre is home to 3 works that also hail from the Brilliant Corners Bukit Merah Art Trail. Ros Lee is the designer behind lifestyle brand Polkaros who usually does more pottery, textiles and home decor, but has created a mural here with two of her signature characters Yuki and Pierrot playing Chapteh (have to say, thought it was badminton sans rackets at first…).
Right next to Polkaros are some lovely colourful fighting fish, definitely reminiscent for a lot of Singaporeans around my age who either kept fighting fish for their beautiful tails, or caught guppies in the nearby drain. The yellow straws puzzled me at first,t hen I realised they were the ones you used to blow those old school sticky bubbles from tubes. This work is by Kristal Melson who does really evocative illustrations bursting with colour.
Facing those 2 works is a piece that’s easy to overlook because it’s smaller than the other murals – visual artist Sadiq Mansor debuted his first public mural with this piece showing a woman playing the childhood game Five stones in the centre. Take a closer look at the work and fun things start to emerge, like the fancy gem biscuits, hornbills and the playground dragon. Apparently the red brick is a reference to the neighbourhood’s architecture, and the trees are gambier which were crops grown here too back in the day.
Blk 12 Jalan Bukit Merah, wall along Blk 3
Take a walk across the carpark to Blk 12 and find Belgian-born visual artist Delphine Rama‘s YOYO expert at play. Her work tends to be more abstract and found in the contemporary art galleries instead of on walls, but fun fact: she’s married to street artist Jaba, that same guy whose works are quite famous in Haji Lane and lots of other parts of Singapore.
Blk 28 Jalan Bukit Merah, wall facing carpark
Has J is a street artist and photographer’s mural here shows someone (Yung Nadim I presume) playing marbles or goli in a kampung setting.
Blk 28 Jalan Bukit Merah, wall facing Hoy Fatt Road
A little further round the corner of Blk 28 near the blue mosaic bench is this piece by BAKED who also goes by Boon and has a bunch of other works around Singapore. This particular piece is inspired by a photograph of an old playground in Bukit Merah that has plastic ducks and horses in it, and the idea that they came to life because of a magic lamp post.
- ABC Brickworks Hawker Centre is one of the more famous hawker centres in Singapore, with some famous stalls including Yi Sheng Hokkien Mee, Wow Wow west western food and Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient Ah Er Soup just to name a few
- There’s a cute gelato cafe called Geometry at Blk 2 (en route to Antz’s work) that servers up pretty good ice cream
- You’re right next to IKEA’s Alexandra outlet to satisfy your meatball and hot dog cravings
The rows of industrial buildings along Jalan Kilang are broken up by the dark towers of The Mill, an oddly Gothic looking building home to a collection of design collectives and businesses. The Mill invited Singaporean artist Ceno2 to do up their open carpark space on level 1. While Ceno is usually pretty well-known for his distinct portraits of faces (you can see examples in Kampong Gelam and Little India), the black and white style of Roman statues is quite a departure for him but no less cool.
5 Jalan Kilang, Level 1 Carpark
These cute works in Lengkok Bahru are part of a larger initiative called Seeing the Obvious, a joint community project between social enterprise 3Pumpkins and students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Design to brighten up the Lengkok Bahru neighbourhood and create an identity for the area in early 2020. They held a series of arts projects and workshops then, but what’s left is mainly these murals around the estate.
Blk 49 Lengkok Bahru, wall facing Blk 51
Blk 55 Lengkok Bahru, wall facing carpark
What’s nearby: Redhill Market is an old school hawker centre with some Michelin Bib Gourmand stores and other queue-worth food, but for something a little more hip, check out Abundance at Blk 63A for some great Taiwanese food and craft beer (more in my Taiwanese food in Singapore post)
Ernest Zacharevic first visited Singapore in late 2013 and put up works in Joo Chiat and Victoria Street, but he made another visit to Singapore in 2015 to create 3 murals in the Enabling Village that were inspired by some of the talented young artists from the Artist Development Programme of Pathlight School, an autism-focused school. These murals can be found inside the Enabling Village compound which is open to the public and designed to be an open, inclusive space for all.
Blk 20 Lengkok Bahru, side wall of The Art Faculty building
Wall of Playground Block, facing carpark
Pillar behind Outdoor Terrace
What’s nearby: Definitely check out The Art Faculty, a social enterprise which showcases and sells very cool and beautiful stuff by artists on the autism spectrum – the stuff you buy here helps support the artists who make them! Definitely a great spot for Christmas shopping, and also you might spot works from the artists that inspired the murals created here. Alternatively, head to Professor Brawn Cafe for a bite.
Celebrated street art duo Inkten and Clogtwo, also known as Ink and Clog Studio were commissioned by creative art space Gateway Theatre to create murals on the exterior of their new space in Bukit Merah. There are actually 4 murals here – the graffiti artist and breakdancer are quite clear, as is Shakespeare.
3615 Jalan Bukit Merah, facing Bukit Merah Central
What’s Nearby: Gateway Theatre is located in the Bukit Merah Central area and… . You could also walk a little further down the road to Sprout Hub run by City Sprouts which supports urban farming and sustainable living initiatives and has quite a cool space with small farm plots, and even a small food court in its midst.
Did I miss any other street art in Bukit Merah? Let me know in the comments below. Looking for more street art in Singapore? Check out some of these cool locations here: