Under-the-Radar Singapore Art Secrets

One of my favourite pieces in the Ritz-Carlton Singapore art collection: Frank Stella's Moby Dick.
One of my favourite pieces in the Ritz-Carlton Singapore art collection: Frank Stella’s Moby Dick.





Looking for something different to do next time you visit Singapore?  Check out the self-guided tour of the Ritz-Carlton Singapore art collection.

It’s free.  It’s fun.  It’s filled with famous names.  Valued at $5M, there are 4200 pieces in the collection.  (Although they’re not all on display at one time.)

Puttin on the Ritz for Singapore art

Take the Circle Line MRT to the Promenade exit.  As I mentioned in my earlier post it’s easy to get around on the MRT.  

Check out the spectacular Roy Lichtenstein Sculptures Plaza in the Millenia Walk shopping mall.  It’s on your way to the link bridge which takes you to the Ritz-Carlton. 


 Lichtenstein's Brush Strokes. More fabulous Singapore art.
Lichtenstein’s Brush Strokes. More fabulous Singapore art.

When you get to the hotel head for Guest Relations.   When I visited there was an exquisite set of Henry Moore etchings on the wall behind the Guest Relations desk. 

The staff will swap your passport for one of those itty bitty postage stamp size iPods.  (What do they think you are going to do?  Run off with the device?  Steal one of those sublime Henry Moores?  Come to think of it, they would look good in Yana de Lys’s salon, next to my etching of Captain Cook.)   

The tour starts at the hotel entrance where Zhu Wei’s Mao Figures lean forward to welcome visitors.  A pop art take on China’s famous terracotta warriors.
Moving inside you can’t help noticing the magnificent lobby stairs.  A work of art.  Or is that technically architecture?

Art and architecture collide when you explore the Ritz-Carlton Singapore's art tour.
Art and architecture collide when you explore the Ritz-Carlton Singapore’s art tour.

 Moby Dick is near the pool

One of my favourite works in the collection is Frank Stella’s Moby Dick.  

The wall sculptures are apparently inspired by movies of beluga whales. I don’t get the connection, but maybe I haven’t watched enough movies about beluga whales.  I certainly haven’t seen any when I’ve been sailing.

You can make up your own mind when you see the two pieces from the series in the lower lobby leading to the swimming pool.

While I was examining details of the finish up close, looking for evidence of whales, I reflected on how art seems so much more alive when it’s not in a museum.
Some guests were relaxing in the lounge chairs, discussing their love life.  Not wanting to eavesdrop I moved on.
Through Dale Chihuly’s  magnificent Anemone Wall in the Chihuly Lounge and a wealth of treasures.  Including a rare Andy Warhol Poppy serigraph.

Me and Andy Warhol Puttin on the Ritz
Me and Andy Warhol Puttin on the Ritz

David Hockney is waiting for you in gym

I was grateful when the receptionist at the gym handed me a bottle of water. I was parched.   

The David Hockney in the gym lobby is not one of his famous swimming pool pieces.  That would be too obvious wouldn’t it? It’s a crayon lithograph from the Celia portraits series.

Do you have any Singapore art secrets to share?  Let me know your comments. Maybe I’ll check out your ideas on my next visit to Singapore.



5 reasons I like visiting Singapore

Visiting Singapore is easy for me because it's so close. Sembawang Port is part of my backyard.
Visiting Singapore is easy for me because it’s so close. Sembawang Port is part of my backyard.

I like visiting Singapore because it is so totally different to Johor Bahru, which is where I’ve bee staying on my boat Yana de Lys.

Singapore is just 0.8 nautical miles away from our berth in the Senibong Cove Marina.

Here are five reasons I appreciate having Singapore in my backyard.

1. Visiting Singapore is easy

Visiting Singapore is easy for me.  Getting there from Senibong Cove Marina is quick, cheap and simple.  

I take the Yarley, my 125 cc Yamaha moto (scooter) into town.  Park just under the stairs to the Customs and Immigration Building.  Take the bus from Johor Bahru in Malaysia to Woodlands, Singapore.  A border crossing bargain at $1.70. I get a ninety day visa for free.  

If there are no traffic jams on the causeway l can be there in less than an hour.

2.  It’s easy to get around

On my last visit to Singapore a, taxi driver told me “A blind man could make his way around Singapore on the MRT”.  (He also told me Singapore has no crime.)

Hmm.  Well the MRT is easy to navigate.  And I haven’t been the victim of any crimes in Singapore either.

3.  Art and culture

When I’m visiting Singapore I always try to get an art fix by visiting a gallery or two.

I found the feast of galleries in the Old Hill Street Police Station.   One of my favourite exhibits was an Andy Warhol style treatment of  Lee Kuan Yew by local artist Sukeshi Sondhi.

Visiting Singapore, I find Singapore's art embraces its history, modernity and multiracial culture
Singapore’s art embraces its history, modernity and multiracial culture

4. Shopping

I’m not talking about the designer brands in Orchard Road.  High heels and haute couture are irrelevant on a cruising yacht.  I’m talking about a genuine chandlers.

I once made the trip just to buy some teak cleaner and an anode.

5. Food Glorious Food

Yeah yeah I know.  It’s always about the food.

A couple of my favourite eating experiences are:

  • Free flow Verve Cliquot and as much five star local, regional and international dishes as you can eat at the Pan Pacific Hotel’s Edge Sunday brunch.  What’s not to love?
  • A chapatti set with mango lassi in Little India.  A satisfying and delicious feast for $4.50.

Visiting Singapore, I love having lunch in Little India
Lunch in Little India
I’m interested hearing why you like (or don’t like) visiting Singapore.  Feel free to leave your comments below.


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Victim of a Crime in Johor Bahru Malaysia

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Victim of a Crime in Johor Bahru Malaysia

This is the spot where I was a victim of crime
The scene of the crime

My bag was snatched.  It happened in an instant. I was a victim of crime.

How I became a victim of crime

The other captain and I were riding our motorbike on Jalan Harimau, not far from KSL. 

I was the passenger. 

We were about to park and I had taken my backpack off to check the time on my phone.  I was holding the bag in my lap.

There were two people on the crime bike too.  One was the snatcher, the other the getaway driver. 

We followed them for a while in the hope of getting their number plate, but they were too fast and there was too much traffic.  And it had started raining.

We had just given up the pursuit when we realised we were in front of a police guard station.  One of the cops immediately said “follow me” to the central police station in town.  At 100 kmph in the pouring rain.  But we didn’t lose him.


At the Polis Diraja Malaysia ( Royal Malaysia Police ) in Johor Bahru city, my report was taken by a kind young cop.  It seemed to take forever as his English skills were only slightly better than my uber basic Malay.   And his hunt and peck typing skills were even more rudimentary than his English.

Fortunately my cheap phone, limited cash and Aussie driver’s license were the only items of value.  And more importantly at least we weren’t hurt! 

No crime in Singapore

Apparently it’s a totally different story over the causeway.

There is a lot of talk about the prevalence of crime in Johor Bahru Especially in Singapore! 

On my last visit, a taxi driver told me proudly told me Singapore is the safest city in the world. Then proceeded to go through a litany of recent JB crime:

  • Victim of crime #1. An Iraqi guy had $US3000 stolen from his hotel room safe. “Obviously an inside job. A staff syndicate.”
  • Victim of crime #2. A group of ten of his friends were playing golf when they were held up at gunpoint for all their cash. “Mostly they had credit cards on them though.”
  • Victim of crime #3. A couple of his family were shopping in JB when they had their bags snatched at knifepoint. “They were so frightened they didn’t go shopping in JB again.”

My taxi driver could probably have continued all day if we hadn’t arrived at my destination.

 When I visited an art gallery, and the attendant there told me “Malaysia is like America’s south to us.”

Police procedure

After a couple of weeks one of the inspectors from the JB central police station called me.  He reported they had set up a police block for a kilometer  around the scene of the crime. 

But they hadn’t caught the perps or found my bag. No surprises there but I was truly grateful to feel they cared enough to get back to me.

I am interested in hearing about your experience of crime in Johor Bahru in Malaysia and Singapore.  Is Singapore as crime free as the locals tell me?  Is Johor Bahru as dangerous as some people claim?


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