Melvin Lim

When Art Meets Sports

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Peace, unity and the environment are the themes captured in two specially commissioned sculptures for the Singapore Youth Olympic Games.

When Art Meets Sports
CN PHOTO: Michael Chan

In a collaborative effort among the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, the YOG committee and private property developer City Developments Limited, two pieces of Olympic-themed sculptures have been selected to commemorate the nation’s hosting of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. Entitled “Breathe” and “A World United” by Edwin Cheong, 36, and Huang Yi Fan, 22, respectively, the sculptures were unveiled on Aug. 5 at the Marina Bay Promenade. The art pieces were selected from over 90 entries submitted for the fourth CDL Singapore Sculpture Award competition.

“A World United,” to the casual observer, looks like a massive red circle with a hole pierced through the middle. However, upon a closer look, it is actually a vivid pictorial description of various sportsmen, each engaged in the 26 sports of the YOG. Huang shared that the circular shape symbolized peace and unity, derived from the fact that sports affords people the opportunity to learn from each other.

Huang, who graduated from the LASALLE College of the Arts in 2008 with a diploma in sculpturing, has been participating in the CDL Singapore Sculpture Award competition ever since he enrolled into the school. He is currently serving his National Service and has plans to further his studies in order to fulfill his dreams of becoming a full-time artist.

Located about 10 meters away, near the exit of a connecting underpass to Raffles Place MRT stands “Breathe.” Not any ordinary piece of installation art, the tree-shaped structure has special LED lights placed in each olive leaf-shaped cup to catch wind like a windmill, generating energy in an internal battery to light up the LED lights. Cheong explains that the structure is a visual representation of the self-sustaining nature of the environment without human interference. The number of cups on the sculpture itself is also of significance—the 192 cups each represent a nation of the world, according to the United Nations. It brings about the message that conserving the environment is an effort in which each individual nation should be an active partaker.

When asked about the design concept of “Breathe,” Cheong revealed that he based it on the theme given to him by the YOG committee, which was “Environment.” After doing some research, he found that the most common object related to the environment was actually the tree. It also had a similar design language of the bronchi of a lung. Thus, “Breathe” not only reflects how the earth breathes through its trees and forests, but how an Olympian maintains his endurance simply by breathing. The dark-colored finishing of the sculpture represents the critical state that the environment is in right now.

A full-time design lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts specializing in 3D design (also known as environmental design), Cheong counts sculpturing as his passion. He feels that with the plans to redevelop Marina Bay Promenade as a livelier public space, it is an opportune time for artists such as himself to display their talents and contribute to the nation’s artistic landscape.

The sculptures, which are lined along the promenade, are just the early shoots of the URA’s plans to enrich Marina Bay as an artistic public space. Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer of the URA, remarked that Marina Bay has the potential to not just be another venue for events but to bring another dimension of leisure into the lives of the community.

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, who was the Guest of Honor for the event, personally congratulated both artists for their impressive works. He applauded them for being able to capture the timelessness of the Olympic spirit in their sculptures. He hopes that the sculptures would become symbols and legacies of the inaugural YOG here in Singapore. He concluded by saying that sports plays a vital role in society because it is a symbol of peace,  hope and unity—values that should remain constant and embedded in every Singaporean amid a fast-changing world.

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