How we painted the Toa Payoh mural in 3 days

In collaboration with the S.E.A. Aquarium and PAssionArts, 15 secondary 1, 2 and 3 Art Elective Programme students from CHIJ Secondary volunteered to paint the S.E.A. Aquarium Society community mural designed by Dan Wong of A Good Citizen 好公民. The mural is located at Blk 192 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 (near Courts), and took 3 days to complete –  one full day and two afternoons.

Prior to this, none of them had used walls as their canvas. Students Ji Xinyi (Secondary 3/4) and Faith Yoong (Secondary 2/1) share their experience.


Day One – 25 May 2017

We left school at 9am and walked to Block 192, unsure of what to expect. When we reached the venue, the entire design had already been sketched on with oil pastel by Dan. After a quick briefing on what needed to be done and breaking us up into trios and a duo, we got started on the various elements of the mural. We began to paint the base colours and silhouettes of the mural, which depicted the ocean as well as marine life.

Dan briefing us on what to do

The sun shone on us mercilessly. The longer we painted, the more unbearable the heat. Though the strong sun meant that progress made on the mural would not be hindered by wet weather, the heat threatened to derail our morale. Despite that, we persevered well into the afternoon. Fortunately, the midday sun died down soon after, and it became easier to continue painting.

Hence, concluding the first day, our work went smoothly and our productivity led us to cover more than what we had initially expected to.

Day Two – 26 May 2017

Most of us arrived at 12 noon, an hour earlier than scheduled, to get a head start on the day’s work. We were aiming to start detailing most aspects of the mural which already had base colours.

Unfortunately, it started to drizzle shortly after we began painting. We were still able to get some work done before the drizzle gave way to a downpour. Paint that did not dry in time caused significant damage to the mural the next day.

Day Three – 27 May 2017

Some of us went to the venue earlier to fix the damage. Some of the beige paint had streaked onto the fishes. With encouragement and help from our teachers, the volunteers and artists, we quickly got to work, adding details, touching up, and finishing the remaining parts. In order to paint the upper section, we climbed up and down the staircase, and adapted to painting upside down, which we had never done before.

Eventually, by the time our session was over, all that was left was just a tiny section on the wall that would bear our school crest, as well as the S.E.A. Aquarium and PAssionArts logos.

Through sheer hard work and perseverance, we overcame the odds and made our very first mural a success. Judging by the reactions of the locals living nearby who came to view it, it was a hit with them. Not only did the mural painting bring us new experiences, we were also able to work on our painting skills, learn how to manage our time and work, and improve our techniques in art, whilst enjoying the experience very much.

Here’s a timelapse video of us painting the mural:

Despite initial doubts of completing the painting on time, we managed to persevere and meet the deadline. We also learnt how to coordinate and work with strangers, which allowed us to get to know one another better.

We think we speak for the other students when we say that this mural painting was a rich and wonderful experience, and we hope to do it again someday.

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