The Art of Collaboration

CapitaLand teamed up with Singaporean artist Baet Yeok Kuan to create a bespoke art installation for residential development, Sky Vue.

Issue: Apr 2017

Soaring Songs (2016) is a plasma-cut stainless steel sculpture with a powder-coated paint finish that stands 2.4-metres tall at the entrance of Sky Vue, a residential development in Bishan.
Soaring Songs (2016) is a plasma-cut stainless steel sculpture with a powder-coated paint finish that stands 2.4-metres tall at the entrance of Sky Vue, a residential development in Bishan.

CapitaLand is a global company with employees spread over many countries and across several business sectors. In that sense, it is unsurprising that collaboration is second nature for the Group — its people often find strength in unity, not unlike seabirds that gain faster flying speeds and better energy efficiency when they embark on migratory journeys together.

This brings to mind an art sculpture titled Soaring Songs, installed at the residential development Sky Vue. Most sculptures built within CapitaLand properties are accompanied by a helpful information plate that states the name of the artist and often, a short description of the artwork. The information plate of Soaring Songs reads:

"Baet Yeok Kuan’s sculpture is inspired by the migration trajectory of the Arctic tern - a seabird that annually travels the longest migratory distances known to man; from Arctic to Antarctica and back. The flock of coloured stainless steel birds in dynamic motion symbolises freedom, hope, exploration, and infinite quest."

At Sky Vue, the information plate is erected by the side, allowing Soaring Songs to take centrestage.
At Sky Vue, the information plate is erected by the side, allowing Soaring Songs to take centrestage.

A collaborative creation

From the onset, Soaring Songs was set to be a collaborative piece. It started during the design planning for Sky Vue, when the project team decided to introduce nature-themed artworks to complement the development’s design themes of the sky and views. When they started sourcing for a light and contemporary sculptural installation for the entrance, they came across Baet Yeok Kuan and his work.

Born in Singapore in 1961, Baet graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art (Painting) from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and received his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Central England, Birmingham. He was also the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council Singapore (1995), the Grand Prize at the UOB Painting of the Year Competition (1987), as well as Area Prize and Judge Prize in the Third Tokyo Urbanart Competition (1994). In addition, Baet already has many public sculpture installations to his name.

Convinced that he would be a good fit for this project, the Sky Vue team got in touch and a collaboration was born!

The partnership began simply with the decision to adapt Baet’s familiar bird form into a floor-mounted sculpture. Baet sent in samples, constructed to size, for the project team's review and colour selection.

Of the two samples that Baet provided, the orange option was selected to complement Sky Vue's logo.
Of the two samples that Baet provided, the orange option was selected to complement Sky Vue's logo.

The next step in the development process was the production of the maquette (a small-scale model of the sculpture). Since the artwork was to be installed in a landscape feature, the landscape architects were roped in to determine the location of the various elements before Baet submitted a draft maquette. The then-untitled sculpture took the form of seven clusters of birds in dynamic motion.

To produce the draft maquette, Baet worked closely with the Sky Vue project and landscape teams.
To produce the draft maquette, Baet worked closely with the Sky Vue project and landscape teams.

Once all parties were in agreement, it was time to fabricate the sculpture. This involved a metal foundry in Xiamen, China, that Baet regularly works with. The foundry was also where Baet and a design manager from CapitaLand Singapore made the final adjustments to each cluster of birds.

By this time, all that was needed was a layer of powder coat to go, and the sculpture was ready for delivery and installation!

A home to call its own

Baet (right) makes the final adjustments to the sculpture at the metal foundry in China.
Baet (right) makes the final adjustments to the sculpture at the metal foundry in China.

A few months later, the powder-coated sculpture arrived safely at Sky Vue. Each cluster of birds was created as a standalone piece, giving the team more flexibility in determining their precise placement. Baet and his logistics contractors, in collaboration with CapitaLand’s design managers and Art Management Unit, worked together on the final positioning of each cluster. With the last bolt tightened, Soaring Songs found a home in Sky Vue! The sculpture, which was inspired by the migration of seabirds, is now perched magnificently at the entrance of Sky Vue, greeting residents as they go about their daily journeys.

This article was contributed by Richard Lim of CapitaLand’s Art Management Unit.

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