Art Trail at Changi Airport was not on my list of Things to do in Singapore. However as I walked through the three terminals of Changi airport, I saw a lot of modern art sprinkled across. So I asked the friendly people at Changi Airport and they told me about this art trail and the curated art pieces. I made them take me through this trail.
While discovering the art trail at Changi I met many artists who inhabited the airport through their works. They came from China, Mexico, India, Malaysia and of course Singapore. All their works somehow spoke about travel.
It is all about man’s desire to see the distant lands and to come back home wiser.
Art Trail at Changi Airport, Singapore
Floral Inspirations by Han Sai Por
These huge works in white marble at T3 of Changi Airport are bound to catch your attention. These art installations are big and made of solid white marble. There are thread-like formations on the surface. They represent the floral world, a representation of life in earth. They also represent the garden city image of Singapore that continuously sprouts and flourishes. When the Singapore Airport team took me around this Art trail at Changi I told them this is the same stone Taj Mahal was made of and they all smiled. However, the stone here came from China and is closer to White Jade in its formation.
To me, these huge pods of floral buds looked like a spot of serenity in an otherwise buzzing airport where everyone is moving all the time. Their pristine white color also represented a kind of stability in the middle of mobility. Their solid state stood against the fragile glass and steel structure.
Han Sai Por is a Singapore-based award winning sculptor.
Location: Terminal 3 Departure Hall
Birds of Flight by Baet Yeok Kuan
The Birds of flight is a sculpture made of small stainless steel birds that come together to give the impression of a larger bird. Artist Baet Yeok Kuan took inspiration from the flight of seabird Arctic Tern. This is a bird that is known for its migration skills and every year traverses vast distances spanning across the globe. Does it carry the messages across the world, does it connect the opposite pole with an invisible thread following its flight?
What are people using the airports but birds? Are they not taking long flights going around the globe riding the giant steel birds? Are they not joining the widely dispersed cultures and communities? Can you say Travelers are not like migratory birds? They spend some time here and sometimes there, they go wherever the environmental conditions are best suited for survival or may be flourishing. The ‘Birds in Flight’ sculpture at Changi Airport is dynamic, it shows the bird and birds in motion – like a microcosm of the world itself. We are all moving all the time and with our motion, the whole humanity is moving. Hopefully in the same direction and not against each other. I think this is the most beautiful aspect of this sculpture – motion, or movement that is so much a part of our very existence.
Baet Yeok Kuan is a Singapore-based artist who explores various aspects of transformation in nature and human beings.
Location: Terminal 3 Departure Transit North
Saga Seed by Kumari Nahappan
Saga Seed is better known as the red lucky seed. Its scientific name is Adenanthera pavonina. Traditionally in China, it was considered a symbol of love and why not? what else can the red color denote? I have personally never seen this seed but the art installation team at Changi Airport told me stories about this seed. It is toxic when raw but can be eaten after it is well cooked. It is used to make jewelry. I am sure you can do a lot of creative things with these. In fact, the word ‘Saga’ comes from goldsmith. From the plaque describing the art installation, I also learned that each of these seeds weighs the same and in ancient India, they have been used to measure gold – 4 seeds for a gram.
I later googled for saga seed jewelry and now it is on my list of souvenirs to pick in Singapore, next time. Apparently, Singapore has more than 2000 Saga Trees.
Malay Artist Kumari Nahappan specializes in portraying rituals in her works. This giant red seed standing in front of the gardens shines and shimmers asking you to look at it and admire it smooth round basket-like shape. Made in bronze with red finish this art installation depicts the favorite collection of the children of the region -Saga Seeds
Location: Terminal 3 Arrival Hall
Going Home by Han Mei Lin
This colossal 7.5 meter, 900 kg art installation welcomes you in the arrival hall of Terminal 3. It is difficult to miss this work depicting a small family – a man, a woman, and a child. All three of them are carved in three different metals – steel for father, bronze for mother and gold for a child. I wonder if there is any symbolism in choosing these metals – I assume there is. Han Mei Lin was also the designer of Beijing Olympics Mascot – Fu Wa.
I was told that this ‘Going Home’ installation at the arrival hall is a symbol of returning home. A homecoming with the family or may be a reuniting with the family after travel. Incidentally, this sculptor also has birds inbuilt in it, somewhere connecting with the earlier theme of birds of flight. Birds also come back home eventually. The family part depicts the family-oriented society of the region.
Location: Terminal 3 Arrival Hall South
Pygmies by Pors and Rao Studio
Pygmies is a sound sensitive installation by the Bangalore-based studio Pors and Rao. I found it a very interesting installation. There are small pygmies like metallic pieces that peacefully sit around square pieces, but they hide behind these pieces as soon as you make some noise. Try clapping around this art installation. You would see all of them hide away and slowly they would start coming out when they sense silence again. If you observe intently, you would see that they first come out a bit slightly as if checking out if everything is safe enough. Slowly, confident enough, they come out observing the people in the airport.
Technically speaking this is a mechanical animation of the life-like a response to the audience and immediate environment. They are even sensitive to the intensity of sound. A soft sound send only a few of them behind the covers while a loud sound makes all of them hide away. I did not observe it but I am told that each of these mechanical Pygmies has an own character and they respond accordingly. They are not replicas of each other. Having said that collectively they are interconnected and impact each other’s behavior. Again a metaphor for the human psyche, we are our own selves but we can be impacted by and we impact everything and everyone around us.
The art installation plaque says that 0100 to 0500 us the resting time for Pygmies. So check them out outside of these hours.
Location: Terminal 3 Departure Hall South
Wings of Mexico by Jorge Marín
Well-known Mexican Artist Jorge Marin with installations across major cities of the world made this sculpture in his trademark Bronze, as part of his ‘Eight Cities, Eight Cultures’ project. This art installation was gifted to Changi airport by the embassy of Mexico.
It obviously represents getting wings to fly, fly wherever you want to go. Quite representative of the space it stands at – where everyone comes to temporarily acquire wings to fly to a distant land.
Location: Terminal 3 Departure Hall South
Mother & Child Sculpture by Han Mei Lin
This a set of sculptures that depicts mother and child relationships in metal. Somewhere it reminded me of our Dokra work that also depicts human figures in a similar way. The figures were slander with unusual body proportions. I was told that the idea behind this series is to depict the body language between a mother and a child – the way they communicate through their bodies. The child comes out of a mother and they can communicate as two parts of the same being. I found these sculptures very photogenic.
Location: Terminal 3 Departure Hall
This is my favorite sculpture at Changi Airport. Kinetic rain is a dynamic installation where many little copper colored droplets. You can simply get mesmerized looking at them as they move smoothly individually but together they create different patterns. While you are still absorbing the first formation, they move on to create a new one – surprising you with every move. If you can take off your eyes from these sensuous drops, you would see most people watching it with a certain awe.
It is also a beautiful depiction of simple scientific principles to create formations that transform with every motion.
Location: Terminal 1
And finally on Art Trail at Changi
My favorite form of art – Folk art. This simple art completes my art trail at Changi.
Next time if you are flying via Singapore, you may want to spend time exploring the Art Trail at Changi rather than shopping mindlessly.
Recommend you to read following Things to do in Singapore.