Clifford Pier has a long history in Singapore.
The Story of Clifford Pier
It was built between 1927 and 1933, when Singapore was part of the British Colony.
Located on Collyer Quay at the mouth of the Singapore River, it was the key landing and departure point for travellers coming to Singapore by sea. And of course most travellers came to Singapore by sea during that time.
The ships were anchored at the harbour and small boats will ferry the passengers to the pier. The pier was the customs checkpoint, and it was where immigrants first landed in Singapore.
As Singapore slowly developed, the role of the pier changed. Port activities were moved elsewhere and most travellers arrived in Singapore by air.
The pier then became the place where Singaporeans board boats to visit neighbouring islands, such as Kusu island.
In 2004, as part of the redevelopment plans for the Marina Bay area, the Marina Barrage was built, creating a dam and turning the waters in front of the pier into a reservoir.
Clifford Pier could no longer operate as a pier and it was replaced by the Marina South Pier in 2006.
The pier was gazetted for conservation in 2007 and it is now part of the Fullerton Heritage precinct. It is currently occupied by a restaurant that is part of the Fullerton Bay Hotel, aptly named, The Clifford Pier.
The Story of the Painting
In this 2013 painting, Singapore second generation Nanyang artist Low Hai Hong painted the Clifford Pier from across the Marina Bay.
It was an interesting view for him, as he would not have this view of the pier in the past, unless he was on a boat.
The pier he remembered was the one bustling with activities, where older Singaporeans like him fondly called Ang Teng Beh Aau 红灯码头. Ang Teng Beh Tau means red lamp harbour in Teochew, so named due to the red beacon atop of the building.
The pier he painted here is not his ang teng beh tau. It is the Clifford Pier that is part of Marina Bay, retired from its days of glory, moving on to a new phase.
What about you? What is your Clifford Pier?
Title: Clifford Pier
Artist: Low Hai Hong
Medium: Oil on Chinese Rice Paper
Dimensions (with frame): 60cm x 70cm
Rent: $42 per week
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Learn more about the painting.
This painting has been exhibited in public only once, in:
"A Tale of Two Rivers - a solo art exhibition by Low Hai Hong" was held at The Fullerton Heritage Gallery, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore from 30 May to 30 July 2014.
The exhibition showcased Low Hai Hong's 18 oil on Chinese rice paper paintings that captured the scenes along the two rivers that he painted most in his artistic journey, the Singapore River in Singapore and the River Seine in Paris, France.
In an interview with the Business Times for the exhibition, he explained why he wanted to paint oil on Chinese rice paper, when rice paper is usually used for Chinese ink paintings and oil is a western tradition mostly painted on canvas:
"But I decided that I could use oil on rice paper, and be one of the first local artists to do it consistently and seriously. For me, it was a way to mix Eastern and Western painting traditions."
While the Singapore River has the historic Clifford Pier, the River Seine in Paris has its Pont Royal.
Without art, our life would be poor, dull and unemotional, and it could bring about erosion of the human soul - Valentin Okorokov