Dainty and decorative, heritage tiles in Singapore can be found on shophouses and properties originally owned by chiefly Peranakan owners. Although Bukit Brown Cemetery and certain areas around town are famous for these lovely surface coverings, the Peranakan Tiles Gallery is a welcome one-stop shop open rain or shine! Take a trip to this unique boutique to experience an extensive range decorative tiles. Friendly owner and long-time collector Victor Lim will happily show you around his unique shop.
Located in the heritage Telok Ayer area, the shop is within the grounds of one of Thian Hock Keng, which is one of Singapore's oldest Hokkien temples. There you can see antique and replica tiles popular with affluent Peranakans and others in Singapore during the late 20th and early 21st century. According to Victor, most tiles found locally were imported from Japan with earlier types brought in from countries including the UK and Belgium.
Victor's passion for these tiles is evident in the beautiful presentation of over 800 restored tiles collected from demolished shophouses in the late 70’s. Victor also conducts tours as a volunteer guide at Bukit Brown Cemetery, where many graves are adorned with rare tiles from this era.
Over the past two years, I’ve discovered similar tiles on graves of my Peranakan relatives at Bukit Brown Cemetery, on a shop-house formerly owned by my Hokkien great-grandfather and at my ancestral clan temple on Cantonment Road. Due to this personal connection, I've been trying to learn more about the history, manufacturing and trade route of these tiles.
I’m particularly keen to learn more about the production of tiles in Japan and explore the link between one of my favourite countries and my ancestors in Singapore! I found the INAX Tile Museum, which is dedicated to the general history of tiles and situated in Tokoname City near Nagoya. Tokoname has a long tradition of ceramics dating back to the 8th century.
Victor has always been a supporter of mine and recently invited me to exhibit my new collection of artwork. The Singapore Heritage Collection is is a visual exploration of my ancestral ties to local shophouses, temples and historic sites. Enjoy a snack or lunch at the Chong Weng Ge Cafe next to Victor's shop and take a look at my modern interpretation of heritage tiles!
And if you're keen on creating some Peranakan tile inspired art of your own, join my boutique art workshops!