Art in Transit
Art in Transit is a programme for the seamless integration of artworks within the environs of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations. Approved by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 1997, it was first unveiled to the public in 2003.
The Art in Transit programme comprises various works of art by accomplished artists, including Cultural Medallion recipients, as well as younger practitioners of various arts disciplines. Their works are sited within stations on the North East Line (NEL), Circle Line (CCL) and Downtown Line (DTL), with the stations on the CCL and DTL featuring somewhat younger artists than those on the NEL. Stretching across a large area of Singapore, Art in Transit has been described as Singapore's largest and most geographically extensive public art project.
History of Development
North East Line (NEL)
In December 1997, the LTA issued a public invitation for expressions of interest in the Art in Transit programme on the NEL, to which there were 83 respondents. Of the 83 submissions, 19 were eventually selected by the Art Review Panel chaired by Ho Kah Leong, the principal of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. To ensure good working relationships, meetings were held between the individual stations' architectural teams and the artists to discuss the art concepts and approaches, as well as to determine the allocation of artists to specific stations.
Circle Line (CCL)
In contrast with the NEL, the artworks for the CCL Art in Transit programme were selected through a mix of competitions and commissions. The original plan was to have ten stations with works selected by a series of competitions, and 18 stations with works commissioned by the LTA as proposed by the Art Review Panel chaired by Kwok Kian Chow, Director of the Singapore Art Museum. The commissioned artists were recommended to the Art Review Panel by the programme's curator, Assistant Director (Curatorial) Karen Lim of the National University of Singapore Museum.
The competitions were very popular, attracting almost twice the number of entrants to the NEL’s public invitation for expressions of interest. This was possibly due to the prize money of S$50,000, which significantly exceeded the S$30,000 prize offered by the prestigious UOB Painting of the Year competition. Despite the large number of submissions, the Art Review Panel could not find any suitable work from the competition submissions for four of the stations, thus necessitating further commissions.
The completed phase of the CCL also includes the Art Seats, which are found at the interchange stations on the CCL. The Art Seats were selected through the International Art Seats Design Competition, which was organised by the LTA and launched at the 10th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition in 2006. The jury of the competition included prominent international designers Dick Powell and Toshiyuki Kita, as well as local representatives consisting of art educator Milenko Prvacki, real estate developer Daniel Teo and architect Mok Wei Wei.
The winning entries for the Arts Seats competition were Matrix and Rain, both submitted by Singaporean duo Lui Honfay and Yasmin Chan, who were architectural students at the National University of Singapore at the time of the competition. Matrix, which clinched the top prize, consists of a series of benches that have the name of the station they are placed at engraved on the seat surface in a dot-matrix style. These benches are found at all six interchange stations on the CCL, namely: Harbour Front, Serangoon, Buona Vista, Paya Lebar, Bishan and Dhoby Ghaut. The second-prize entry, Rain, features a series of steel benches shaped like water puddles that are found in the Bishan, Paya Lebar and Buona Vista interchange stations.
Downtown Line (DTL)
The DTL Art in Transit programme was launched by LTA with the objective of featuring artworks in all 34 planned stations on the line. Similar to the CCL Art in Transit programme, the artworks were to be selected through a combination of competions and commissions The Art Review Panel was once again appointed to provide guidance during the selection process. The first DTL Art in Transit artworks were unveiled in late 2013 with the opening of the stations on DTL 1, the first phase of the new line
Art in Transit is significant in that it endows each MRT station with a distinct identity and character, often derived from the cultural and historical life of the immediate neighbourhood. Methods employed include direct engagement with local residents, which may be seen in the handprints of 3,000 people featured in Seck Yok Ying's Hands Up for Hougang. Coupled with the placement of art in the spaces frequented by the public, Art in Transit encourages the appreciation of art by the general public, adding vitality and character to the experience of travelling by public transport.
As a whole, Art in Transit may be differentiated from earlier inclusions of art in MRT stations on the North South and East West lines, where, if present, artwork typically comprised paintings or freestanding sculptures; almost as afterthoughts to the overall station plans, which emphasised utility over aesthetic concerns. Art in Transit, on the other hand, was formulated through a joint effort on the part of the Art Review Panel, Architectural Design Review Panel, individual artists and the community at large, and coordinated by the Art Coordinator and Programme Curator, to produce relevant and engaging artwork, integrated seamlessly into the architectural finishes of the stations.
List of Artworks
North East Line (NEL): 18 artworks
NE1 HarbourFront: Enigmatic Appearances by Ian Woo
NE3 Outram Park: Memories by Wang Lu Sheng and The Commuters by Teo Eng Seng
NE4 Chinatown: The Phoenix's-Eye Domain by Tan Swie Hian
NE5 Clarke Quay: The Reflections by Chua Ek Kay
NE6 Dhoby Ghaut: Universal Language by Sun Yu-Li and Interchange by Milenko and Delia Prvacki
NE7 Little India: Memoirs of the Past by S. Chandrasekaran
NE8 Farrer Park: Rhythmic Exuberance by Poh Siew Wah
NE9 Boon Keng: Metamorphosis by Lim Poh Teck
NE10 Potong Pasir: Point of View by Matthew Ngui
NE11 Woodleigh: Slow Motion by April Ng Kiaw Ngor
NE12 Serangoon: Memories of Childhood by Eng Joo Heng
NE13 Kovan: The Trade-Off by Eng Tow
NE14 Hougang: Hands Up for Hougang by Seck Yok Ying
NE15 Buangkok: Water, Nature and the Contemporary by Vincent Leow
NE16 Sengkang: T.R.A.N.S.I.T.I.O.N.S. by Koh Bee Liang
NE17 Punggol: Water, Landscape and Future by Goh Beng Kwan
Circle Line (CCL): 30 artworks
CC1 Dhoby Ghaut: Man and Environment by Baet Yeok Kuan
CC2 Bras Basah: The Amazing Neverending Underwater Adventures! by Tan Kai Syng
CC3 Esplanade: A Piece of Ice-Clear Heart by Lim Mu Hue@Lim Aik Lee
CC4 Promenade: Dreams in Social Cosmic Odyssey by :phunk studio
CC5 Nicoll Highway: Re-Claiming the Peripherals by Khiew Huey Chian
CC6 Stadium: The Perfect Moment by Roy Zhang
CC7 Mountbatten: Lord Mountbatten Thinks of Pink by Jason Wee
CC8 Dakota: Little Things, Little Stories by A Dose of Light
CC9 Paya Lebar: The Signs of Times by Salleh Japar
CC10 MacPherson: Virtuous Cycle by Kay Kok Chung Oi
CC11 Tai Seng: Equilibrium by Francis Ng
CC12 Bartley: The Coin Mat by Jane Lee
CC13 Serangoon: View of Life by Sarkasi Said
CC14 Lorong Chuan: Through the Looking Glass by Yoma Studio and A Dose of Light
CC15 Bishan: Move! by Soh Ee Shaun
CC16 Marymount: Superstring by Joshua Yang
CC17 Caldecott: The Cartography of Memories by Hazel Lim
CC19 Botanic Gardens: Aquatic Fauna No. 1 by Lam Hoi Lit and Chua Chye Teck
CC20 Farrer Road: Art Lineage by Erzan Bin Adam
CC21 Holland Village: Holland Beat by Jeremy Sharma
CC22 Buona Vista: The Tree of Life by Gilles Massot
CC23 one-north: A Visual Narrative of Pandemonic Rhythmic Movement by Yek Wong
CC24 Kent Ridge: Poetry Mix-Up by Mixed Reality Lab
CC25 Haw Par Villa: Eroclamation by Tan Wee Lit
CC26 Pasir Panjang: Lieutenant Adnan by Ho Tzu Nyen
CC27 Labrador Park: Without Which/Would Have Been/Impossible by Heman Chong
CC28 Telok Blangah: Notes Towards a Museum of Cooking Pot Bay by Michael Lee
CC29 HarbourFront: Commuting Waves by Jason Ong
CE1 Bayfront: When the Ship Comes In by Lee Wen
CE2 Marin Bay: Train Rides on Rainy Days by Nah Yong En
Circle Line Art Seats
CC1 Dhoby Ghaut, CC9 Paya Lebar, CC13 Serangoon, CC15 Bishan, CC22 Buona Vista, CC29 HarbourFront: Matrix by Lui Honfay and Yasmine Chan Hoi Yin
CC9 Paya Lebar, CC15 Bishan, CC22 Buona Vista: Rain by Lui Honfay and Yasmine Chan Hoi Yin
Downtown Line (DTL) 1: 6 artworks
DT14 Bugis: Untitled by Patrick Chia
DT15 Promenade: Earthcake by Ana Prvacki
DT16 Bayfront: When the Ship Comes In by Lee Wen
DT17 Downtown: Leaves by Jason Lim
DT18 Telok Ayer: Bulbous Abode by Lim Shing Ee
DT19 Chinatown: Flying Colours by Cheo Chai Hiang
Bruce Quek and Jamie Han
Chia, A. (2008, August 21). Draw the Line. The Straits Times, Life!, pp. 1–3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Land Transport Authority. (2012, February). Art in Transit Programme. Retrieved from http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/PublicTransport/files/W0002%20-%20201202%20Art%20in%20Transit.pdf
Land Transport Authority. (2013, September). Downtown Line 1: Art-In-Transit. Connect, 8–9. Retrieved from http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/PublicationsResearch/files/ReportNewsletter/Connect/Connect_2013_Sep.pdf
Tan, S. Y. (2003). Art in Transit. Singapore: Land Transport Authority.
(Call no.: RSING q747.8531 TAN)
Zhuang, J. (2013). Art in Transit: Circle Line MRT – Singapore. Singapore: Land Transport Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 747.8531 ZHU)
The information in this article is valid as at 13 November 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.