Student behind 'gold HDB staircase' now turning books to gold

Fine Arts student Priyageetha Dia, 25, took around five hours to decorate the staircase of her block in gold foil​.
PHOTO: Facebook/The Substation

Remember Priyageetha Dia? The student artist was the one who created the memorable gold foil staircase on the 20th floor of a HDB staircase in Block 103, Jalan Rajah.

While her work earned praise from netizens, it was called an “unauthorised” deed by the town council.

It was eventually removed on March 12, but as a reminder of her work, she left a small square of gold foil on the bottom step.

Dia's small memento at the right side of the bottom step of the staircase.Photo: The Straits Times

Now, a published book will reveal a glimpse into the creation of the gold foil staircase, the ensuing response by both the public and authorities, and what these reveal about the nature of public art and public space in Singapore.

Titled A Public Square, 50 limited edition gold-foiled copies of the book will be distributed across different locations in the city by The Substation, Singapore's first independent contemporary arts centre founded in 1990 by the late Kuo Pao Kun.

Photo: Facebook/The Substation

According to Substation's events page, A Public Square will be the first in a series of six publication launched in conjunction with The Substation's Discipline the City programming for 2017. 

The book is authored by Adeline Chia, Associate Editor of Art Review Asia, and former writer from ST Life.

Adeline Chia.Photo: The Straits Times

These limited edition copies of the book have been wrapped in gold foil by Dia herself, including a sticker of a gold square - a reference to the final reminder of her gold foil staircase.

Photo: Facebook/The Substation

In a statement found on the page, they wrote that "It's our hope that the placing of these golden packages in mundane and unassuming locations can serve as a reminder of the possibility of beauty in amplifying everyday life. 

"Just like the ephemereal gold foil staircase."

Photo: Facebook/The Substation

The schedule and locations of the book distribution will be revealed before June 21, 2017. 

Artist dresses up HDB staircase in gold: Yay or nay?

  • A student's decision to add some shine to her HDB block by covering a flight of stairs with gold foil has won praise online, with many netizens offering their support and encouragement. But to the authorities, all that glitters may not be gold.
  • Soon, it emerged that it was the work of Ms Priyageetha Dia, an art student at Laselle College of the Arts.
  • In a Facebook post, she wrote that while she was apprehensive of the consequences, the process of covering the stairs had been invigorating.
  • "At the end of the five-hour long hushed deed, the intervention of the gold finally reverberated against the ever lifeless and grey architecture on the 20th floor of my block."
  • She added that she considered her work as art, and not vandalism, as her intention was to enhance the space and her surroundings.
  • "My work does not seek to obliterate a public space; vandalism in all sense has no respect for another individual," Ms Priyageetha wrote.
  • Many online professed to liking the blinged-up stairs.
  • Former Nominated MP Janice Koh also weighed in with her support.
  • Not everyone was as enamoured, however.
  • Some netizens were worried that the stairs would be slippery with the covering.
  • The Jalan Besar Town Council told Today that while it appreciated Ms Priyageetha's desire to enhance the space, her act "constitutes an unauthorised act and is thus not permissible".
  • However, a spokesman did extend an olive branch, saying that the council wants to "explore ways in which we may be able to work together".
  • Photos of the golden staircase at the HDB block in Jalan Rajah first emerged on Reddit two days ago, while citizen journalism website Stomp also caught wind of the matter.

akosasi@sph.com.sg

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