Sculpture at Yew Tee to be restored

Sculpture at Yew Tee to be restored
Singapore artist Ben Puah with his sculpture, Tree Of Life, outside Yew Tee MRT station.

A work of community art in Yew Tee, whose fate was in limbo after it fell into disrepair, will see brighter days.

The sculpture, Tree Of Life by Singapore artist Ben Puah, has stood in the public square outside Yew Tee MRT Station since 2010. Over time, however, the work has endured wear and tear, including fading paintwork and deposits of rubbish in nooks in the artwork.

The sculpture, commissioned by the South West Community Development Council, faced the possibility of being removed last month due to a lack of funds for repairs. Its uncertain fate was reported in Life! earlier this month.

The council has since found a corporate sponsor, who chose to remain anonymous, and volunteers to help spruce up the work.

In a reply to queries from Life!, the council says the sculpture will be restored today with the help of more than 10 youth volunteers from the Yew Tee Community Club Youth Executive Committee. They will help the artist repaint the 2.5m-tall fibreglass sculpture and add new decorative features to rejuvenate the work.

A plaque stating the title of the sculpture and the artist's name will also be installed.

To preserve the new paintwork, Puah, 37, a fine arts graduate from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, will add a protective coat over the sculpture that it did not have previously.

On the long-term maintenance of the sculpture, the council says the volunteers will "adopt the sculpture and help to keep an eye on it".

It added that the sponsor will support subsequent maintenance of the sculpture, which involves "light cleaning". Puah says a simple wash-and- wipe every month will suffice.

The sculpture was commissioned by the council to promote arts in the heartland. It was unveiled in 2010 as part of the South West District Arts Festival. Puah was inspired by the theme of racial harmony when he made the sculpture.

When he was approached by the council last December to touch up the sculpture, he had given a quote of $6,600. He later revised the amount to $4,000 after the council suggested making the restoration a community project and roping in resident volunteers.

Last month, however, the council asked him if he could "do it for free" because it did not have the funds to restore the work. He was told the work would have to be removed if it was not conserved.

He was approached by the council last week to restore the sculpture and was given $6,400 to cover manpower and material costs, including paints and brushes.

He says: "I am happy with this ending. It is what I had proposed at the start and what should have happened in the first place."

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