70 x 50
Long before Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819, a long history of foreign trade was already established. Ming Dynasty blue and white porcelain from the 16th to 17th century were found in the Kallang River, indicating the presence of foreign trade.
In return for precious Chinese porcelain, Singapore, then known as Temasek, would supply Chinese traders with rare hornbill casques and high quality lakawood.
Some of the traded porcelain may have been known as Swatow ware - a style of Ming Dynasty ware intended for the Southeast Asian market. The style was vibrant and spontaneous, where birds, animals, trees, flowers, water and landscapes were painted freehand. Some of these artworks also depicted trading ships.
The 1818 Collection employs this vibrant and spontaneous style to illustrate scenery depicting local legends from Sang Nila Utama, the Dragon’s Teeth Gate and the Legend of Red Hill, set amongst local flora and fauna, some of which can still be found thriving in Singapore today.
Hidden within the scenes, one may also find icons from contemporary Singapore, creating a subtle sense of wonder in relation to time, history and culture.