Tracings I (2018)
Exhibited at Alliance Française, Singapore (2019), Objectifs, Singapore (2019)
Finalist for the 9th France + Singapore Photographic Arts Award
Constructed in 1880, the mansion on Northam Road belonged to Cheah Tek Soon. In 1908, Tye Kee Yoon converted the building to the Chinese Consulate, before it was repurposed into a series of hotels - Norman Hotel, Bellevue Hotel, and Raffles by the Sea Hotel. In 1915, Leong Eng Kean rented the top floor of the building for P’i Joo Girls School. The British used the property for the Government English School in 1920, and the school was taken over by Shih Chung Primary in 1938. The Japanese usurped the building for their Headquarters in 1941. From 1950, Shih Chung Branch School returned to the building. The building has been abandoned since 1994.
Heritage is passed down from one generation to the next — the passing down of cultures, traditions, and histories. These heritage buildings bear witness to the different communities that pass through its doors, and the stories that unfold within its rooms. Buildings are like shells — as one owner leaves the shell, another will enter and make the shell their home. These communities leave behind their legacies, with one story weaving into the next, conflating history into a single entity.
Special thanks to Suan Choo Yeoh for the archival images.
Keywords: forgotten, heritage, history, in situ, memory, places, ruins.