The Hidden Gems of BBB
When you think of the arts and heritage in Singapore, some of Bras Basah.Bugis’s (BBB) many bona fide arts institutions and commercial offerings instinctively come to mind. Why not avoid the crowds, and explore the culture nodes that may have slipped under your radar?
Here’s a guide to three hidden cultural gems within the BBB precinct that you should definitely check out:
If you’re worried about large crowds amid the Covid-19 period, check out Art Trove, a less well-known private gallery specialising in European Art from the 19th and 20th centuries. This quiet and quaint 2,400 square foot space resides in the former Catholic High School at 51 Waterloo Street, deep in the heart of BBB.
While it is often outshone by the Singapore Art Museum next door, Art Trove offers visitors a treasure trove of painstakingly restored and rediscovered art pieces. In line with their belief that works of historical significance should be preserved as a whole, Art Trove’s assembles core collections of European artists' most significant works and commissions research relating to their lives.
Take a peaceful stroll within Art Trove’s walls and take in the strong, evocative artwork of one of their most beloved resident artist’s, Strawalde Jurgen Bottcher.
Renowned for his exhibitions of tenacity in the face of adversity, the German painter was blacklisted and thrown off of the German Association for Visual Artists in 1961 because of ideological differences. Nonetheless, he quietly pursued his passion in the arts even as they were heavily censored. Today, his provocative yet poignant pieces are proudly displayed in the Art Trove and are a must-see for any art fan.
Art Trove also features an eclectic range of artwork and exhibitions from other artists, including Picasso and Dali. Another crowd favourite is their local collection of striking photographs of balancing rocks that seek to understand the equipoise of power.
Battlebox Fort Canning
The Battlebox is a former WWII British underground command operation bunker. Built in 1936, it was used during the Battle of Singapore, and was the exact location where the British made the decision to surrender the city-state to the invading Japanese on 15 February 1942.
Located nine metres underground at Fort Canning Hill, this emergency, bomb-proof command centre is now a museum and tourist attraction. Explore the labyrinth of rooms and corridors, and unveil the true causes behind what has been termed ‘the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history’.
Rated the top museum in Singapore on TripAdvisor, the Battlebox brings you on an epic adventure and promises an unforgettable journey. Tickets are priced at $15 for adults and $8 for children. Numerous safety measures are in place, including limiting each group to a maximum of five visitors, while guided tours have also unfortunately been cancelled for now during this period.
If you’re looking for a place to admire some seriously cool pictures, or pick up photography as a hobby, check out DECK, a cosy contemporary photography gallery. DECK not only offers a variety of educational events - such as lessons on how to shoot and develop film negatives, as well as courses on darkroom printing - but also features stunning photography exhibitions from local artists.
The passionate team behind DECK offers an array of workshops spanning across analogue and digital photography, editing, and crafting photo zines. Amid the current pandemic, DECK workshops will be carried out in small, socially-distanced group sessions. If you’re interested in taking your interest in photography further, or would like to arrange customised workshops, you can find out more here.
Don’t worry if you’re unable to head down to Prinsep Street, where DECK is located - the gallery regularly hosts Facebook Live sessions with local authors, artists, and architects to pick their brains on all things photography!
Should DECK pique your interest, make it a point to visit this charming gallery in the coming months. Come March 2021, DECK will be closing temporarily to redevelop for a permanent building. A complete revamp of their gallery will also be in the works.