Sculpture Square

Sculpture Square (39)

Few buildings have had as many uses as the one in front of you. Over the years, Sculpture Square has been transformed again and again.

It was built in 1870 by the English Presbyterian Charles Phillips and served as a Christian Institute as well as a meeting place used by young people for religious or leisure activities. At the time the building was known as the Middle Road Church.

Starting in 1855, the same Charles Philips opened the doors to the Methodists. And along with Sophia Blackmore, the first female Methodist missionary, and the Rev. William Shellbar, he created the Women's Methodist School with an original enrolment of only 9 small Hindu girls.

In 1890 the church became known as Malay Church, due to the presence of a large Baba Malay community in its congregation. The church was formally transferred to the Methodists in 1892. It officially opened on 25 January 1894 as the Baba Malay Methodist Church, becoming the first Methodist church in Singapore.

The space was used by the church until 1927, when they built a larger building and moved to Cuff Road, into what is now known as Kampong Kapor Church.

Surprisingly, during Japan’s World War II occupation, this space was converted into a Chinese restaurant, the May Blossom. As if that weren’t strange enough, when the war ended the restaurant closed and was replaced by a mechanics and a parking lot.  

Abandoned and deteriorating, it wasn’t until 1995 that the building was rediscovered by the architect and sculptor Sun Yu-Li, who saw the artistic potential of this space.

With the help of his friend Edmund Chen, vice president of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, he came up with the idea of turning the old church into a place entirely dedicated to showcasing and promoting art. More specifically, three-dimensional art. Together they began to turn the project into a reality by persuading both the public and private sectors to invest in it. Finally, several art loving businessmen had enough faith in the project to help move it forward.

Thanks to all these contributions, in May 1999 Sun Yu-Li and Edmund Cheng succeeded in converting the old church and the adjacent building into a place entirely dedicated to art.  On 22 October, Sculpture Square was officially opened to the public with a somewhat audacious inaugural exhibition, entitled "Provocative things, a three-dimensional experience in Singapore."  

Now you too can enjoy this wonderful space made up of the chapel and the adjacent building, once a hotel. In this new art space you will find several exhibition halls, classrooms, a library, workshops for artists, an outdoor exhibition area and a restaurant. This centre has done an excellent job recognizing, training and promoting young talent. It is an independent non-profit arts organization bursting with activity, involved with different forms of artistic expression and with a particular emphasis on the three dimensional.

The Chapel Gallery is a very large open space on one level.  As it is free of columns and has spectacular 9 meter high ceilings, it is ideal for displaying large 3D sculptures, projections and art works.

The chapel, perfectly restored, has many of its original features.  These include the façade, the vents and the rounded arched windows.  It can accommodate approximately 150 people and, in addition to exhibitions, the space is rented for events such as product launches, small seminars and even weddings.

Spirituality, art, Chinese food ...  This building has served many different purposes.  Today it gives you the opportunity to know what's happening in the Singapore art world, while at the same time visiting one of the city’s few buildings with Gothic elements still standing today.  

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