Toa Payoh Food Market

The month end urban sketching trip brought us to Toa Payoh. The starting points began on each North and South end of the estate and ended on the west end at Lorong 1. I was late (not always) and started my sketching near the ending point in Lorong 1, at the food center, where most people would congregate at for food and shopping for groceries.

We were greeted with so much hustle and bustle. While there were so many people around the vicinity, we were fortunately enough to find a empty bench from which we could see the food center and the HDB flat across it. We were like in the heart of an urban valley, the building shielded us from the sun too. The colourful fruits and vegetables on the left caught my attention but I also wanted to show the towering building of the food center in my sketch in contrast to the people below, at the same time making a representation drawing of the location indicating a sense of activities.

I left the ink drawing uncoloured until I reached home and based the colours from my memory of the light. What's so special about this scene? It's how the people adapt to the state housings and the concrete environment. The blue stripped PVC canopy is one great example. At the back of my mind, I was wondering whether this is allowed, as it was tied by long strings and secured on the opposite building and you could clearly see some ropes stretching across the street. When the government has done her best to conceal all forms of cables and wires underground, a different kind of "chaos" emerged subtly, unnoticed by the government agencies. But it is this chaos that bring life to a seemingly dull and boring concrete landscape like this. It is also the makeshift tables, the wooden carts, the bamboo baskets that separate the food market from the squiggly clean malls and supermarkets. What makes the estates unique.

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