Art and Community: Artworks inspired by Singapore Literature



Project LAVA (Literary Arts - Visual Arts) opens up avenues for Singapore artists to creatively re-interpret literary works by Singapore writers and to present their writings in novel and intriguing ways. The project calls for visual artists to propose public art installations that are inspired by or respond to Singapore literature.


In collaboration with the project curator Vertical Submarine, Kebun Baru and Kaki Bukit Community Centres, Project LAVA in the Community Centres 2014-16 is part of National Arts Council’s ongoing efforts to profile Singapore literary writing and writers through visual means and community participation in the creation process.


Engage with different artworks created by Singapore artists and the community, inspired by Singapore English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil literature!  The details of the works and exhibition schedule are as follows:



Artwork and Literary Sources

Artists & Writers

Exhibition Dates



“To go to Kebun Baru” by Fish Jaafar, adapted from Alvin Pang’s poem, "To Go to S’pore (After Zagajewski’s ‘To Go to Lvóv’)


A black and white mural illustration of Singapore’s daily life interpreted by the residents of Kebun Baru. The artwork makes a point about the transference of expression and attempts to visually interpret the poem. Residents traced their sketch over the projected lines of their ideas, imprinting their recollection onto the walls of their neighborhood.


Fish Jaafar is an artist, taxidermist, former slave trader and a representative of the Red Herring Postal Service. He enjoys exploring things related to the theme of excess, especially driving desires, material wealth, economic complexity and hope.


Alvin Pang is a poet, writer, editor, anthologist and translator. He received 2005 National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award, the Singapore Youth Award for Arts and Culture in 2007 and the JCCI Foundation Education Award in 2008. His poems have been translated into over fifteen languages, and he has appeared in major festivals and publications worldwide. He is among only a handful of poets from Singapore to be listed in the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English (2nd Edition, 2013). He holds a First Class Honours degree in English literature from the University of York and an Honorary Fellowship in Writing from the University of Iowa's International Writing Program (2002).  His first volume of poems, TESTING THE SILENCE (Ethos Books, 1997) was listed as one of the Top Ten Books of 1997 by The Straits Times and was short listed for the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) Book Award in 1998/9. CITY OF RAIN (Ethos Books, 2003), his second volume of poetry, was the only Singaporean book to be named to the Straits Times Top Ten List for 2003. His most recent volumes of poetry, all published in 2012, are: OTHER THINGS AND OTHER POEMS (Brutal:Croatia), Teorija strun ["String Theory"] (JKSD:Slovenia) and WHEN THE BARBARIANS ARRIVE (Arc publications, UK).


7 March 2015 – 31 December 2015

Mayflower Market and Food Centre – Wall next to ATM (Blk 162 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4)



“Disini Warga Singapura (Here lives Singaporeans)” by Syamil Dasuki, adapted from Rafaat Hamzah’s poem, "Sajak Luka"


If life is a stage, then there must be a “backstage”. The artwork is a collage of photographs by residents exploring the “backstage” of the neighbourhood. “Sajak Luka” is a poem about the antithesis to all ideal. A self-vivisection of what lies beneath a living poem, and in doing so, reveals humanity itself.

Syamil Dasuki is a sculptor whose interest lies in examining relationships between people, and our relationship with objects. Since 2008, he has executed guerrilla‐style public projects under Mission: Singapore (M:SG) as Director of the group. In 2013, he held his first solo exhibition under M:SG. Syamil Dasuki received his training in sculpture at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and graduated with distinction in 2014. Syamil interest expands beyond sculpture, he has conducted several projects relating art and community.


Rafaat Hamzah is known for his distinctive style of writing and performance. A three-time award winning actor, he is a household name in both the television and theatre scenes in Singapore as an acclaimed playwright and TV Scriptwriter with awards and nominations for his works. He graduated from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Fine Arts). His poems found space in Singapore Malay newspapers and radio since late 1980s. Far from the flowery and romantic, Rafaat’s poems are bold, succinct and echo issues close to the heart of his people, Rafaat’s first compilation – Yang Bilang – was launched in December 2007.


2 January  – 30 August 2016

Mayflower Market and Food Centre – Wall next to ATM (Blk 162 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4)



Close All the Windows, Tell me what you see” by Ben Yap, inspired by Cyril Wong’s poem, "Close All the Windows"


This collage explores the relationship between the internal and external space, with the physical window as a mediator between the two tension points – viewing the world through an older parent’s eyes while reconciling with the rapidly evolving landscape and technology around us.

Ben Yap is a graduate from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, majoring in Photography. He has participated in several group shows, which includes “Abusement Park” (SAM Night Festival 2010), “Playground” (Urban Sensation! Festival 2012), and Art Apart Fair 2013. In 2013, he was selected for the Noise Singapore apprenticeship program organized by National Arts Council, and had a month long exhibition at 8Q SAM. He is currently working at Objectifs, and oversees the photography and youth outreach programmes.


Cyril Wong is the author of poetry collections such as Unmarked Treasure (2012), Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light (2012), The Dictator’s Eyebrow (2013) and After You (2013). A recipient of the 2005 National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award and the 2006 Singapore Literature Prize, he completed his doctoral degree in English Literature at the National University of Singapore in 2012. Wong served as a creative-writing instructor for the Singapore Association for Mental Health and the Ministry of Education’s Creative Arts Programme, an arts manager at The Substation, as well as a book and performing arts reviewer for The Straits Times. Besides poetry, he also published a novel and two collections of short stories. 



2 January – 30 August 2016

Kaki Bukit Community Centre –

Wall next to basketball court

(Bedok North Street 3, Singapore 469627)


“My Dad doesn’tby Li Yu inspired by Toh Hsien Min’s poem, “Printing Money” 


An installation of a mock-up ATM at the community centre which dispenses printed artwork instead of money. The work makes a commentary on middle class and lower income woes in Singapore’s urban society, where even affording basic necessities is in question. The artwork is a wish-fulfilment of being someone’s rich dad empowered to print and dispense “money” literally.


Li Yu attended art classes when he was young, painted signs, practiced mass hypnosis, attempted comedy while peddling surgical instruments. He currently holds a day job that keeps him up at night. He loves BBQ, computer games, crisp linen, and all things beautiful and delicious.


Toh Hsien Min read English at Keble College, Oxford, where he took first-class honours and presided over the Oxford University Poetry Society. His published work includes Iambus (1994), The Enclosure of Love (2001) and Means To An End (2008), but also numerous appearances in international periodicals such as Acumen, London Review of Books, Poetry Salzburg Review and anthologies such as Carcanet’s Oxford Poets 2013 and W.W. Norton’s Language for a New Century. In 2010, he received the Young Artist Award from the National Arts Council, and Means to an End was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize.

14 December 2015 – 30 August 2016

Kaki Bukit Community Centre –

Main Lobby

(Bedok North Street 3, Singapore 469627)