If you’ve passed by the Singapore River over the weekend and noticed that Sir Stamford Raffles is looking a little different, fret not — your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.
The iconic statue, which has been perched next to the Singapore River (and Timbre Arts House) for as long as we can remember, hasn’t been looking quite itself for the past week. Instead of its usual gleaming white exterior, Raffles has been fading into the background, quite literally. The statue’s been given a new coat of stripes, forming an optical illusion of our founding father fading into the OCBC Centre skyscraper behind. Now, who has the gall to do this to dear ol’ Raffles?
As it turns out, this was not a work of mischief, but an endeavor by the Singapore Bicentennial folks to commemorate the Singapore Bicentennial, which kicks off on Jan 28 (that coincidentally marks 200 years since the arrival of the British in 1819). According to the Singapore Bicentennial Office’s press statement, “the optical illusion on the Sir Stamford Raffles statue is thus an opportunity to engage Singaporeans in an open dialogue on the arrival of the British, and the contributions of those who came before and after.”
The man behind the masterpiece is local artist Teng Kai Wei, who specialises in conceptual public sculptures and is best known for his movement-tracking interactive light installation, Leap of Faith (pictured), at the last Singapore Night Festival. The optical illusion was painted on the statue, but rest assured that there will not be any damage to the OG Raffles — we're told that the artist applied liquid masking, which forms a protective layer in order for the paint can be removed without any damage to the statue's surface. 'Disappearing Raffles' will remain this way for one to two more days, so schlep over soon for those photo opps.