Some months ago, the Partnership Focus Group, under the CapitaLand Singapore (Commercial) Strategic Work Plan, came up with a wonderful proposal: to collaborate with students in the local art schools to install works of art in some of CapitaCommercial Trust’s (CCT) properties. For a start, we approached the famed Lasalle College of The Arts. We met its Senior Fellow Milenko Prvacki, himself a well-known artist and a recipient of the prestigious Cultural Medallion, to explore the possibility of such collaborations. It turned out to be good discussion, which ultimately led to a pilot project supported by CCT’s top management: a festive installation that adorned the interior of CCT’s Wilkie Edge property.
A New Lease of Life
The brief was simple: to create a set of decorations using whatever material that is deemed suitable, within a certain budget and a certain time frame. The atrium of the property was the mutually agreed location as it was most prominent.
A team of three students, under the artistic direction of Prvacki, came to us with a refreshing initial proposal: tying recycled plastic bottles together to make geometrical “globes” with each encasing a light bulb, so that they become individual lights. The idea was to veer off the traditional and loud festive lighting to create an eco-friendly installation that sends a meaningful message.
A Composition of Colourful Complexity
The form, though simple, is rather complex and varied. There are three different designs for the lights: the flat ends of the bottles facing outward; the pointed ends with the caps facing outward; or a combination of the two. Besides the mixed designs, the colour of the bottles – be it green or transparent - as well as the different sizes of bottles all add to the installation’s variety and variation.
The CCT team liked the proposal and the students went ahead to develop it further. Along the way they worked out how the installation was to be mounted below the sky light of the atrium: by a grid of ordinary PVC conduits, both for suspending the globes and for running electrical wires. I like the idea that this supporting frame is also of “found objects”. They further suggested that the recycled bottles could come from the tenants, a suggestion which CCT took up gladly.
Responding to the comment that the work should be more cheerful, the students switched from adopting the natural colours of the bottles, to using only the transparent ones which they painted. They selected luminous paint because it allows light to pass through.
Colourful Collaboration for all Seasons
When the 35 globes – each of them assembled by hand from 200 plastic bottles collected from six CCT properties through its tenant engagement effort – were installed, the effect was simply impressive. The soft glow of the globes in red, magenta, blue, green, orange and yellow is attractive, much like the many different colours of the Anemone - the title that the students gave their work. The variation in their sizes and shapes also add to the richness of the composition. The installation is reflected off the various glass surfaces of the building, and so the flowers multiply in an unexpected way. The result is so attractive that CCT decided to extend the display period from Christmas all the way to Lunar New Year.
Leader of the team, Tinu Verghis, a third year student from the Faculty of Fine Arts, said of her experience, “This project gave us an opportunity to understand how to materialise a simple idea into a full fledge installation. It is very interactive in that we constantly sought feedback and input from the client and they were invaluable. This is a project we enjoyed every bit of as it opened our eyes to the possibility and challenges of recycling and public art.”
Imagine a mineral water bottle in the hands of a tenant. He or she could have just thrown it away after consuming the water. But by the tenants responding to CCT’s call to give it a new lease of life, and through the creative hands of the Lasalle team, it became a petal of one of the blossoms in the beautiful sea of Anemone presented to the tenants and visitors of Wilkie Edge during the festive season.
An excellent collaboration among the community, an art school and CapitaLand! May there be more of such projects to come, including some that are permanent in nature, so that in years to come, perhaps a renowned artist might look at one of them fondly and say, “Hey, that’s my student project!”
This article is contributed by CapitaLand Chief of Art Management, Francis Wong Hooe Wai