tobyato Unveils His Latest Mural on Duxton HillByIsabella Damrongkul
Singaporean artist Toby Tan, better known as tobyato makes a statement with his largest vertical mural to date in the bustling neighbourhood of Tanjong Pagar.
Inspired by the history of Tanjong Pagar as a fishing village, the mural pays homage to a Singapore Malay tale of the battle between local villagers and swordfish led by a heroic young boy, Hang Nadim. By using stems from banana trees, Hang Nadim combated charging swordfish and protected the villagers from the attack.
Emblazoned on the building are two swordfish swimming in a pool of abstract waves. One of them has its snout pierced into a banana stem, a direct reference to how the villagers defeated the attack of the swordfish.
In collaboration with 8M Real Estate, this bold and eye-catching mural adds more life and character to an already full-spirited area, serving as a reminder of the city’s rich history to its dwellers.
The Artling speaks more with Toby on his mural and plans for the future.
How would you describe your journey in becoming an artist?
My journey towards becoming an artist actually started quite late. Having studied Science all the way up till Junior College, I only made the decision to pursue Art in my 20’s, in University. This is a considerably late start as compared to my peers that may have started their art education earlier on. This later start however, has pushed me to work even harder to make up for lost ground, and I believe that it’s that drive that pushed me to get where I am today and hopefully will continue to push me to where I want to be in the future.
Are you often inspired by Singapore history/folklore when designing a mural?
Yes! Very much so. Being a country in such close proximity to our SEA neighbours, we share so much in common in terms of heritage, food and culture. But our country’s history and folklore are one of the few things we can truly and proudly call our own. Nasi lemak, chicken rice both exist in other countries, but the story of Hang Nadim, swordfishes and Redhill? That’s undoubtedly Singaporean.
Image courtesy of enVisuals Media
How was your experience working on the Tanjong Pagar mural? What was the painting process like for such a large-scale wall?
The entire experience was really exciting, but also equally tiring. Having painted several large horizontal floor surfaces before, I had a plan of attack and knew what steps to take. But the scale of the wall was definitely still daunting in its own right. My team and I took our time to get the foundation sketch locked in. We checked, double checked and even triple checked the composition as we went along. We slowly started to get into the rhythm of things and towards the end, it was more of a battle with the unpredictable weather to complete the mural.
Image courtesy of 8M Real Estate
What do you hope the impact of the Tanjong Pagar mural will be on the neighbourhood?
In an ideal world, I hope the mural will encourage people to look deeper into Singapore’s folklore and history. And hopefully, by extension, foster a stronger sense of pride with these stories we call our own. But more realistically, I hope that the mural can in its own way get people to appreciate and see more value in art in this pragmatic country of Singapore.
Are there any upcoming projects you are excited about and can share anything about?
As a lover of sneakers and street culture, I do have something really exciting lined up this year. Friends that have been following my work since 2019 might be able to guess what it might be, but that’s all I’ll reveal for now!
Image courtesy of enVisuals Media
Watch Toby Tan and his team work on the incredible mural!
The Artling’s consulting service provides professional suggestions for small or large scale murals, assisting you and your business in creating a unique art-filled space, serving as an unforgettable experience for anyone who walks by. With our extensive network of creatives and experience, The Artling is able to bring your proposed project to fruition.
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Follow Toby on Instagram @tobyato
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