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Singapore Heritage Tile Project

An international story of beauty, heritage and life

At my great grandfather’s clan house on Cantonment Road, Singapore.

At my great grandfather’s clan house on Cantonment Road, Singapore.

Learn about the project

As an Australian of Singaporean heritage, I began researching my family tree after moving to Singapore in 2012. My journey into my father’s past has marked by the strong presence of decorative tiles on shophouses, temples and commemorative spaces linked to my ancestors. With my background in architecture, fine art and languages, I have been fascinated by the cross-cultural ties and diverse designs behind these ceramic artefacts. Learn more in exclusive project updates

At my Peranakan great-grandparents grave at Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore.

At my Peranakan great-grandparents grave at Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore.

see beyond the shophouse

The beautiful patterned tiles seen on traditional shophouses in Singapore has deeply influenced my own artwork and art workshops over the years. However in early 2019, I started examining these ceramic surfaces in more depth after discovering new and unusual types. I was surprised to uncover an array of amazingly rich and ornate tiles far different from those commonly found on traditional shophouses.

Enjoy a patterned past

I’ll be sharing my findings in a full-colour book aimed at showcasing the social, cultural and historical value of these exquisite artefacts. A specially curated selection of over 200 export tiles will include transfer, relief and majolica types. Readers will delight in subject matter as diverse as dragons, farmyard animals, flowers and fairies in designs over a century old. Publication is set for late 2020. Receive exclusive project updates!

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get exclusive insights

Enjoy exclusive project updates with insights and discoveries about heritage tiles in Singapore and beyond. My weekly newsletters will bring you closer to my explorations without the sweat!


visit the project on Instagram

Visit the project on Facebook


be part of the project

Hard-working volunteers giving up their time to help tidy up tiles before a photoshoot.

Hard-working volunteers giving up their time to help tidy up tiles before a photoshoot.

Experience first-hand some of Singapore’s best decorative tiles through our community events! Reach out and touch these ceramic beauties in ‘tile tidy-up’ and ‘field research’ sessions. With an estimated 200,000 tile spots to check at Greater Bukit Brown alone, I really appreciate the kind support I have been receiving. See upcoming events

Some comments from recent project participants:

Bringing back these beautiful tiles to life is simply fantastic!
— Anne
It was a very fascinating & rewarding experience for me. I was raised thinking cemeteries are eerie & scary. Then I chanced upon Bukit Brown with a friend during a hike and been very intrigued by this place, so rich in history & heritage. And cleaning the tiles with you all was really a very good experience.
— Clare
It was a privilege and pleasure to be part of your tile tidy up-such unexpected hidden treasures emerging from the vegetation. Thank you.
— Helen
Even though I may not know the person and the stories behind the lovely tombstones and tiles,  I find it a real joy to be able to help out together with Jennifer. My heart is filled with gladness to see the tombstones and tiles tidied up ready to once again to meet and welcome the world.
— Nicole
Creating a sanctuary and restoring dignity to ancestors whilst admiring the glorious artwork of the tiles and the wonder of nature .... a fantastic way to spend an early morning making friends. Thank you!
— Louisa
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blogs

A selection of blogs about my favourite things in Singapore, including articles about Peranakan culture. See my blog


Project locations: Bukit Brown cemetery

Learn more about Singapore’s history and heritage at Bukit Brown Cemetery - also a wonderful place for tile-spotting!

The Brownies: A volunteer community group hosting tours on a monthly basis when possible. See for details

Jane’s Tours: Singapore based and award-winning tour and travel company. See for details

Photo courtesy of Bianca Polak

Photo courtesy of Bianca Polak


get regular updates

Get exclusive updates about my exploration of Singapore’s decorative past.


Messages From project supporters

Hi Jennifer - good on you for embarking on this new project of yours. You are giving back to your family and to SG in such a beautiful and loving way.
— E.W
Thanks for your email, updating information on the Peranakan tiles. Interesting to know that you belong a well-known Peranakan family tree! Blessings be upon you, Jennifer, as you “unearth” more Peranakan culture and more history notes!
— Mary Elizabeth
Thank you for the information about the Peranakan People and tile history. I so enjoy learning something new every day.
— Georgia