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Heffrence Teow

Hai-png (Heffrence) Teow is an architect-trained visual artist based in Singapore. Combining his interest in worldmaking and passion for narrative art, he sought to create hyper-detailed artworks that celebrate the richness of the surroundings and imagination, capturing the relationship between us and our living environment through every stroke. In 2019, he started a series of drawings called “ALTERNA-TITY” which aims to bring the audience to different places around the world and to explore their innate characters as well as struggles, aspirations or possibilities, and ultimately, their “alternate identity”. The drawings construct themselves around a narrative that combines humour and wild imagination around a real-world issue. More than just an image, it attempts to transcend the visual experience into a storytelling device that empowers discussion. It debates and comments, whilst oscillating between reality and fiction. “Guardian by the Bay” and “Verti-can City” are from the “ALTERNA-TITY” series.

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Guardian by the Bay

Edition: 1/20

Pigment ink printed on acid-free, archival paper

100 x 100 cm


“Guardian by the Bay” is a romanticised reimagining of Singapore’s symbol, the Merlion. Constructed on top of a waste-energy and water desalination plant, it overlooks the city and is covered in greenery and photovoltaic trees.

The Merlion symbolises a mountain and resembles the statue of Christ the Redeemer located in Rio de Janeiro, the Merlion is a tourist magnet, attracting people up for a climb. It offers more than just a perfect photo shooting spot but also an exciting pilgrimage through the working gears behind Singapore's resiliency as a nation. 

Constructed over the iconic Gardens by the Bay, it aligns with the nation's vision of “City in a Garden” in which the Merlion is the Guardian that protects the country (symbolically and literally with the plants underneath). – It is a place that combines the mechanical with nature, with an aspiring mascot sitting on top of a green future.

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Edition: 1/20

Pigment ink printed on acid-free, archival paper

100 cm x 100 cm


“Verti-can City” Is a speculative future of Vatican City – the smallest country in the world and a city of historical significance. Teow imagines how it would deal with the increasing world population, opening of their borders, and acceptance of more citizenship.

Due to limited landmass, it resorted to growing vertically around the iconic St. Peter Square, embracing its landmark potential and emphasising its civic gesture. Colonnades flanking the two sides of the Square would become towers of living spaces with shaded terraces and sky gardens. The Square is turned into a community-shared courtyard for the residents to mingle and hold events organised by the City. The centre of the work shows St. Peter Basilica framed by the silhouette of the towers, highlighting it as a symbol of the country. As densification swept the Vatican City, it inevitably changed its horizontal classical scale and turned into a “vertical city”.

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