#81_keep calm and love penguins

This blog post is part of the Random Sampling Singapore project. The Project aims to sample 100 places on the island of Singapore over a one year period in order to gain an unbiased and holistic view of the city state.

It’s National Day! Happy 56th Birthday Singapore! 🇸🇬

On the 9th August Jane Bi and I went out hunting for coordinate #81. Jane is a Data Scienctist and I am very excited to collect data with her. The coordinate is located near Tuas Cresent on the seaside. On Google Maps the red marker was sitting on a boat or yacht.

We walked from the MRT Station along the road which was decorated with flags and blessings for the young and rising city state. When we entered the Tuas Basin Link we found a street full of ship manufacturing companies.

How classic a shipyard felt on that day. Singapore is a very important hub on the Maritime Silkroad. Since ancient times when Arabian dhow cargos were crossing , filled with ceramics, spices and other culture filled goods, Singapore was ‘the trading hub’. Here the sailors could easily sail with the monsoon wind and were leaving after the wind turned.

Our coordinate was located at a vessel on the waterfront of Penguin International Limited. That day we couldn’t enter the penguin shipyard, as it was a public holiday and the on-site security personnel informed us that prior permission was required. So we did what the gigantic slogan on the company’s wall said: KEEP CALM and LOVE PENGUIN

From the street side we could see how modern ships are made today. Aerodynamic shapes and metals are dominating the high tech vessels. Pictures of the evolution of ships were passing through my inner eye. From the primeval logboats over the elegant sailboats to these sophisticated machines. Ships today not only bring you from harbor A to destination B, they constantly scan their surroundings and communicate with other vessels. The computers and sensors on board are constantly processing data to help the sailors to navigate through the waters.

First we tried to walk around the right side to get a glimpse of the vessel on the waterfront. Around the corner several well fed street dogs were lingering around. We met two friendly workers from the neighbor company, which we asked how we can approach the waterfront. Mohamed, one of the worker, who was busy driving his lift truck with a 4 tons load told us that the waterfront is not accessible from this side.

After our chat with Mohamed we walked back the street and turned into the canal to get a sneak peek from the other side. We reached the water front but couldn’t view the coordinate, as it was blocked by trees.

The trail next to the canal was paved with building waste. Scrubs were growing out of every corner. That day, it was the closest we could get to the coordinate, so we investigated this area.

I asked Jane to sample whatever comes to her attention. In the meanwhile I took panorama pictures and sound samples.

Jane examined with a magnifying loop and UV light a cleft in the wall next to the canal. On the mural there was paint, dirt and mossy soil. Under the UV light the moss appeared red and she carefully took some samples with a pair of tweezers.

On the way back I found a copper wire that was dazzling on the ground. It was coiled up on a black item which was broken into half. This was the sample I took.

Back on the street we made a halt on a hawker centre and got some “Teh-C bing”. During enjoying our drinks, we saw red dragonflies which we interpreted as auspicious sign on Singapore’s birthday.

A few days later I emailed the Penguin shipyard company to tell them about my project and that one of the coordinates, 81, is on a vessel 🚢 on the waterfront. I had a very nice exchange with Suan, which is already working since 16 years at the company and knows everything about it. I learned that all their ships are made of Aluminium metal, which made them super light and extremely flexible. That’s why they named their series of vessels FLEX. The ship parked on the coordinate 81 is a WindFlex – 27, a catamaran wind farm supporting vessel.

A WindFlex-27 vessel, Photo from Penguin website Corporate Video

81 is an auspicious number in Chinese numerology. I hope this brings the ship and the wind park lots of luck and good fortune.


The interesting day with Jane and the nice contact with Suan from the penguin company made this coordinate special to me. I have lots of ideas to implement all this data collected and the infos I got from the wind flex ship into artworks. For these I will take some extra time and will keep you updated.


The day on this unique waterfront in Tuas inspired me. A waterfront is the border between land and the interconnecting oceans. From a homogeneous and structured city landscape the waterfront builds a passage to the sea with it’s buildings, ships and land reclamation’s.

Waterfront, 2021, acrylic and glass beads on canvas