I recently popped by the opening of Gilman Barracks in mid-Sep, Singapore’s latest art and lifestyle enclave housed in refurbished buildings set amongst tropical greenery that were formerly British military barracks dating back to the 1930s and most recently Gilman Village, a F&B cluster popular for its tranquil ambience and colonial feel.
The S$10 million 6.4 hectre development is envisioned as a one-stop destination for quality contemporary art from across Asia, and will provide about 4,200 sqm for art galleries when completed, along with another 4,800 sqm of space dedicated to arts-related activities such as artist studios, an art research center (Centre for Contemporary Art led by Nanyang Technological University) which will focus on artist residencies, research and exhibitions in addition to dining establishments. Gillman Barracks is jointly developed by Singapore government agencies in a bid to enhance Singapore’s standing as an Asian contemporary arts hub.
The art galleries pulled out all the stops for their opening shows, and among the luminaries who were at the opening night were Japanese pop artists Yoshitomo Nara and Hiroshi Sugito, Chinese painter Zhang Enli, Filipino installation artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan flown in by their representing galleries. Among the most expensive pieces seen were Painter & Model by Pablo Picasso priced at 4.2 million euros (S$6.7million) at Partners & Mucciaccia gallery; Miss Highland by cult artist Yoshitomo Nara (price undisclosed) at Tomio Koyama Gallery; and paintings and sculptures by Yayoi Kusama priced between US$285,000 and US$345,000 (S$348,000 and S$421,000) at Ota Fine Arts.
The location is definitely beautiful, but my friends and I felt that the galleries were a bit too spread out, so one may lose the feel of art shopping after a while. A useful tip when visiting – wear comfortable shoes (I brought home two blisters as souvenirs). It’s a nice, tranquil place to chill out though, that you may lose sense of being in Singapore. I can imagine coming here with my date or simply chilling over drinks with my girlfriends.
With Art Stage, Affordable Art Fair and now, Gilman Barracks established, it would be interesting to see how the art world responds to Singapore as Asia’s contemporary arts hub. It’s great to see how the government is beginning to take a serious stance towards the arts and livening up the Singapore arts scene with many art-related events such as the Night Festival, Children’s Season, Museum Open House, etc. as well as interesting public art. So even if you are not an art buyer, there’s always an arty-farty in all of us who will enjoy the (free) art around.
9 Lock Rd
Mon & Public Holidays: Closed
Tues to Sat: 11:00AM to 8:00PM
Sun: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
How to get there
Nearest Train: Labrador Park
Nearest Bus Stop: Opposite Alexandra Point (Buses 51, 57, 61, 93, 97, 97e, 100, 166, 175, 408, 963 or 963e)
By car: Turn in via Malan Road