Home » Things To Do » Art & Culture » Singapore artists: We chat to two expat artists who take inspiration from Singapore’s surrounds
Art & Culture

Singapore artists: We chat to two expat artists who take inspiration from Singapore’s surrounds


Name: Christy Sverre

Nationality: Canadian

Time in Singapore: 5 years


Last year, I focused on the lines found in local ponds, particularly the undergrowth. They burst with energy: the lilies and lotus flowers come from the murky bottom and erupt in delightful celebration. Sometimes I concentrate on the pond’s surface and see so many compositions that I have enough material for weeks.

The message of my art is that there is beauty in chaos and chaos in beauty.

In terms of materials, I like acrylic as it is quick and versatile. Sometimes I use mixed media on a textured support. I am always on the lookout for odd things to make marks with. My favourite is a feather, but I have also used tree bark, sea kelp and driftwood.



I paint every day, both physically and mentally. I can’t get enough of it. I see ideas and compositions everywhere.

I work in layers. First I might take a photo of my subject, then do an under-painting. It’s often the case that the work starts to take off and change direction with me hanging on as loosely as I can. Beautiful things can happen if you let go. Sometimes weeks go by before I know where it wants to go. It’s a very personal relationship with each painting.


I think they are all special, but among my favourite works is one I painted on 11 November 2011. I call it “Eleven Eleven Eleven” or “Definitive Moment”. It is about the stalks and stems of the flowers deep down in the pond and their reach to the sky: a metaphor for spirit. It was a turning point for my art and is now in a private collection in Singapore.

Christy debuted her work in Singapore at the Affordable Art Fair in 2010. She has been selling privately ever since.




Name: Marcel Heijnen

Nationality: Dutch

Time in Singapore: 17 years


I work with photography, but my results lie somewhere between photography and painting. I developed a special but really simple technique a few years ago that utilises just a camera and a clear glass panel but allows me to create fairly “otherworldly” images as I capture the reflections of buildings and weathered walls. It’s an intervention that takes the realism and objectivity out of photography, making way for highly subjective and emotive aspects in the works.

My message is about impermanence; I aim to reveal that everything is a continuous process and that even the most consistent and seemingly permanent elements in our lives (buildings, for example) will eventually change or disappear.



As I don’t paint and my themes are related to urbanisation, my work takes place on the street; the city is my studio. The ideal time of the day is the last half-hour of daylight; this is a really short window of actual shooting, but of course there’s much “recce-ing” involved, too.

Most of my recent work has been shot in four cities: Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Fuzhou. When I travel to a place specifically to create, I will try to make the most of my time there and end up shooting every day, for about a week. Here in Singapore, I shoot whenever the conditions (light, weather) are just right and when I’ve spotted a new interesting location.


“Earthbound” (pictured) is something I recently shot here in Singapore. It’s significant for me as it marks a return to creating in Singapore after concentrating on other Asian cities for over two years. It was shot in a drain canal in Tampines and feels very organic and warm to me.