NParks collaborates with artists to transform trees into park furniture

Janice Tai, The Straits Times AsiaOne 7 Jul 16;

A 150-year-old Hopea sangal tree, which stood 35m tall in Halton Road in Changi, was chopped down by property management company DTZ Debenham Tie Leung in 2002.

The tree, thought to have been the last of its kind in Singapore, is believed to have given the Changi area its name because it was commonly referred to as Chengal pasir or Chengal mata kuching.

A group of nature lovers started a hunt for the trunk, and traced it to a sawmill.

Later, the National Parks Board (NParks) and other stakeholders decided that its wood would be turned into nine pieces of sculpture and housed at the zoo.

That was one of the earliest incidents when wood from felled trees was used to make art.

Since then, NParks has been collecting logs from felled trees to make objects such as sculptures and benches. These trees were taken down due to safety reasons or because they were diseased.

"The logs are mostly collected from trees in Fort Canning Park, as well as other parks located in the central district like Marina Promenade and Duxton Plain Park," said Ms Kalthom Latiff, director of Arts & Heritage Parks at NParks.

NParks works closely with artists and organisations, such as the Sculpture Society Singapore and Singapore Furniture Industries Council, to transform the logs into works of art or park furniture.

The finished pieces are donated back to NParks and displayed in its parks for the public to enjoy.

Recently, NParks provided timber from a Senegal mahogany tree in Marina Promenade to craftsman Adam Chan, who used it to create an electric guitar to promote conservation.

"We felt that Mr Chan's conservation message behind the project was meaningful, hence we collaborated with him," said Ms Kalthom.

"We continue to look for more opportunities to partner the community in such projects, and at the same time give our felled trees a new lease of life."

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