23 November 2013

Progress Report: Stamford Students + Jalan Besar = Community Mural

Last week began our second season of CCA's for the school year (out of 3). CCA stands for co-curricular activity. The students are allowed one CCA per season with their yearly tuition, but can take up to as many as they like for a nominal fee. Each teacher is required to teach one CCA per season, but can teach up to as many as their schedule allows.

This season finds me teaching 4 CCA's, with one being a two-hour mural painting workshop. My friend and co-teacher Sarah and I are running this particular CCA after meeting with the lovely folks over at PAssionArts. We had been interested in doing a collaboration with them for some time now--having met with them towards the end of the last school year. At the beginning of this year, when Sarah contacted them, they told her that they had some walls available: how gracious! We decided to rally together some students, rent a bus, and make things happen.

The first wall we are tackling is huge (see the very first image in this post). It wraps around a playground and fitness park. So, the first order of business was to send out a prospectus to the Bendemeer community and to our Stamford students asking for mural submissions. It was important to both Sarah and I that everyone have a voice in the final design. And not wanting this to be a contest, but hoping that we would get enough varied and unusual submissions that we could collage together the finished mural design: a truly community created patchwork mural. We decided that the submissions should reflect one of the following 5 words: heritage, Singapore, environment, community, and innovation.

Once we finished collaging the mural design together, Sarah drew it out so that we could see the lines clearly in black and white. We had our fabulous intern, Sam, color it in and made several color copies of that. This would be our template, mapping out our design for us. 

Our first day of CCA's found us running a bit late . . . The bus we had scheduled got caught up in the mass exodus of buses leaving Stamford at the end of the day. So we ended up getting to our mural site about 30 minutes late. But we made amazing progress! The students were ready to work and they did so efficiently and with lots of enthusiasm. It was so much fun to watch! 

One and a half hours of sanding and priming . . . We were using an oil-based primer, which was not ideal. But it was recommended for the climate we live in. I made everyone put on masks because the smell was pretty intense. But we got the first section of the wall primed! We were on schedule, even with running a bit late. Yay!

Georgia joined us and provided great assistance to all of the students--it was so nice to have another adult artist on board!

The following Saturday (today) found Sarah and me drawing out the mural on the primed wall. Sarah invited her friend Jo (a talented graphic designer) to join us. Together, we drew out the entire first section. It took us about 3.5 hours. On the Thursday following Thanksgiving break, we will have students outline everything in black paint and begin painting in the colors while the facilitators (Sarah, Georgia, and myself) continue priming the additional sections of this massive wall . . . We want the students and community members to be painting the fun parts--not having to do the grunt work (sanding and priming).


As we were drawing out the design, we had a chance to meet with and talk to community members: kids, adults, and seniors. They were interested in what was happening. I tried my very best to remember to tell them about the community event that we are hosting on January 25th. This will be a big BBQ party where community members can mingle with Stamford students, all while painting and eating. There will be a drum circle there, as well (which I am totally excited about). We have also invited community members to help out on Thursday afternoons--so we'll see if we get any takers . . . 

Stay tuned for more progress reports on this fabulous project! Can't wait to see what happens next!


  1. Looks amazing! Great job on getting so far. I'm going to have to rethink what I wear as I STILL have paint all over my feet!