If you’ve ever chanced upon a vibrant and colourful street mural while strolling through one of Singapore’s heritage districts or popular downtown streets, there’s a pretty solid chance it was put there by Ripple Root. Made up of Singaporeans Estella Ng (Ripple) and Liquan Liew (Root), the pair first met as colleagues at a design firm and were making paintings on the side just for fun. Soon, they had enough pieces for a show, and after that first exhibition was a sold-out success, they decided to pursue Ripple Root full-time.
Characterised by a bright and bold palette in a riot of colours, jaunty brushstrokes and plenty of intrinsic movement within each painting, Ripple Root’s murals evoke a sense of freedom, whimsy and playfulness that immediately draws the eye. Their creations deal primarily with the themes of nature and wildlife, while their technique borrows from Southeast Asian ornamentation traditions – such as textiles and arabesque tiles.
As part of a campaign titled A Singapore State of Mind by Ink (sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board) centred on the theme of Resilience, the duo takes us on a personalised tour of Singapore that you can watch here. From the beautiful and hardy greenery found throughout the city-state to the captivating street art that brightens many corners, the video spotlights these defining aspects of Singapore’s identity that have stood resilient throughout – and perhaps in spite of – its rapid development and urbanisation.
For an art-filled day in Singapore, which includes stops along the way to view some of Ripple Root’s creations, read on for the pair’s exclusive itinerary.
Begin your day bright and early with breakfast at Gather at Raffles Hotel Arcade, a well-designed, light-flooded and minimalist space brought to you by the folks behind the popular café Punch. Order a coffee – they offer both black and white varieties – and try one of their sweet crepes or savoury galettes. We recommend the delicious Fig & Camembert, which comes with fig jam, camembert and a generous lashing of honey.
For a crafty activity, head to Mud Rock for a private pottery class, which can be arranged in advance via their website. Located in the Jalan Besar area, Mud Rock is a handmade ceramics studio that offers workshops, specially commissioned pieces and a range of beautiful homewares that can be purchased at their studio or via their online store. A beginner’s class will allow you to become comfortable working with clay and covers the five basic techniques in ceramics – coiling, slab-building, throwing, trimming and glazing.
Once you’re gotten your hands dirty, continue your art-filled day by making your way over to Ann Siang Hill and Keong Saik Road to check out some street art. The areas around the Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar and Outram Park MRT stations are filled with plenty of beautiful murals painted along the many alleys or adorning the shophouses. You’ll find a mural depicting the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac by Armenian-born street artist Didier Jaba Mathieu at Ann Siang Hill; as well as our very own piece along an alley at the start of Keong Saik Road that offers a colourful welcome to the neighbourhood.
After perusing street art and meandering through the historic district, stroll to Bar Cicheti along Jiak Chuan Road to grab a spot of lunch. The restaurant offers a rotating menu of delicious handmade pastas, which are presented akin to works of art on a plate. Current dishes include tagliatelle with crustacean broth, kombu butter, prawns and fried kale; and agnolotti with ten-hour-braised grass-fed beef cheek. Spot our giant pasta painting hanging on the wall!
Stave off the afternoon food coma by getting on your feet and checking out some art galleries. Cab over to Gillman Barracks, where you’ll find Sullivan+Strumpf, an art gallery housed in a conserved colonial barrack. Established in 2005, it presents works by various emerging and established contemporary artists. Other exciting art galleries here include FOST Gallery, Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Mizuma Gallery.
One of our favourite stores to shop for products by local designers is nana & bird in the charming Tiong Bahru district, so that’s where you’ll make your way to now. The quaint multi-label boutique along Yong Siak Street stocks a range of made-in-Singapore brands, including skincare brand Oasis, fashion labels Aijek and Rye and their eponymous in-house label. It’s a great neighbourhood to explore, too!
For dinner, take a quick bus ride to Potato Head Folk, a multi-storey concept housed in an iconic heritage building with an indoor drinking den, restaurant and rooftop bar. Be sure to check out Australian artist David Bromley’s works, which decorate the space in the form of murals, framed art, sculptures and even furniture. Enjoy a local-inspired cocktail along with your burger of choice, and be sure to get a side of Naughty Fries (thick fries topped with spiced Béarnaise, hot beef chilli, cheese and Asian garnishes such as bawang goreng (crispy fried shallots)).
To end the evening, make your way to Wine Connection at Cuppage Terrace for a nightcap. The area is always buzzing with activity, and you can opt for either indoor seating or take up a spot at their expansive al fresco area. Choose from a wide selection of global wines and order a cheese plate while you’re at it. We recently painted the façade of Cuppage Terrace, so be sure to snap a photo with it as a backdrop on your way in.
Some of these images were shot before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting. Do also remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.