Vintage Tile Tidy Up
I recently reached out to my circle to see if anyone was available at two days notice to help me clean up graves! I couldn’t believe the response to my unusual request with over 9 people pledging to give up their precious Saturday morning in almost 80% humidity. Dozens of other people emailed me to say that they loved the idea and could they join next time?!
Why, Why, Why?
Cleaning up a number of tile tombs is a necessary part of preparations for a book I am currently writing, tentatively called Singapore Heritage Tiles: A Decorative Legacy of Love. I’m keen to showcase a selection of vintage tiles from spaces connected to me personally in order to better understand their designs, varieties and origins. To me, decorative tiles are also symbol of love and life. Get exclusive updates and videos on this project
A now or never project
Since I launched this project in April 2019, I’ve visited Bukit Brown Cemetery over 10 times as part of my research activities. With four members of my family still buried there, my project is urgent with some speculating that the cemetery may be completely removed to make way for development in the near future. With the help of history enthusiasts and cemetery caretakers, I’ve narrowed down my focus to some 200 types of vintage tiles I believe to be rare and special.
a crazy-rich-in-culture project
It’s a bit of a crazy project since there are a reported 100,000 graves at Bukit Brown Cemetery, which is only one of four cemeteries in the area. However, I feel that tiled graves make up only 10 percent of all tombs, and date back mainly to the 1920’s and 1930’s. Some shophouses in Chinese Peranakan enclaves carry similar tiles, and can still be found in pockets around Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. However, such tiles are in danger of being overlooked and undervalued without dedicated research into their styles, motifs - and international origins! Get exclusive updates and videos on this project
Connecting everyone to a beautiful past
This passion project isn’t something that I’ve taken up lightly - so I do truly thank those who are supporting me in this journey. It’s a privilege to share my findings with those who are keen to enjoy a timeless beauty that is an important part of Singapore’s architectural history. I hope that my research sparks a way for others to connect to this glorious past, and means for the next generation to understand and appreciate their heritage.