A couple of years back when PlayGroundology was still in its infancy, my imagination was sparked by a chance encounter with a set of commemorative stamps from Singapore. Of all things wild and wonderful that stamps can and do depict, this set of six put playgrounds in a starring role (see Going Philatelic in Singapore).
Right away I knew I wanted to share this find with PlayGroundology’s readers. The mosaic playgrounds that featured designs with local cultural references were of most interest – dragons, pelicans, elephants, tortoises and more. I started following a number of google trails and it wasn’t long before Justin Zhang’s name percolated to the top. Justin had published a couple of articles on Singapore’s public play spaces that passionately documented an indigenous playground vibe. They were invaluable references for Playgroundology’s first Asian story.
Thankfully for all of us interested in playgroundabilia Justin has maintained his interest in the ‘old’ playgrounds of his childhood and recently published a 43-page e-book commissioned by the Singapore Memory Project – Mosaic Memories: Remembering the Playgrounds Singapore Grew Up In. Through the eyes of four players, readers get a composite view of a homegrown playground story that developed in tandem with Singapore’s housing estates in the 1970s and 80s.
Meet Khor Ean Ghee the interior designer cum iconic playground creator whose playful designs have provided fun and memories for generations of Singaporean kids. Photographer, artist, and entrepreneur Antoinette Wong has mounted a photo exhibit of the old playgrounds during Singapore’s Fringe Festival and created wearable art depicting the playgrounds that are available from her little dröm store.
Fong Qi Wei paints the light fantastic. The Pelican Playground was the set for his first foray into painting with light. He even re-created the two swings that had gone missing since he had played there as a child. For Fong each of the seven playgrounds he has lit up is a three dimensional canvas that comes alive at night.
Playgrounds are a family affair for Lim Chee Peng. He loves excursions with his wife and two daughters to play outdoors far from the madding noise and crowds. The old playgrounds are a link back to his childhood a place to breathe, stretch and have fun.
Four perspectives on Singapore’s old playgrounds. Will there be a swell of popular sentiment to preserve some of the 20 remaining playgrounds to ensure that the mosaic animals don’t become extinct?
These are lovely grassroots stories that situate playgrounds within a broader social and cultural context. Pop in for a read of Justin’s e-book…
Drop a line if you know of other culturally specific public play spaces.