Chua Chye Teck
Botany, Nature, Urban Ecology
Chua Chye Teck

Chua Chye Teck, Paradise, 2006 - 2014. Courtesy the artist.



Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Livelihoods

Botany, Nature, Urban Ecology

Chua Chye Teck



2006 - 2014

Chua Chye Teck, Paradise, 2006 - 2014. Courtesy the artist.

Chua Chye Teck, Paradise, 2006 - 2014. Courtesy the artist.


Whilst returning to an area I used to spend time in as a teenager, it took me a moment to recollect my memory of the place as it had changed drastically.

Punggol used to be a well developed rural district where poultry, animal, fish and vegetable farming thrived. It has been taken over by property business and is now being developed into a town similar to the Western idea of a stereotypical 'Satellite' Town.

The place was cleared and left empty for a while before development started, more land got claimed and beaches lost. You can no longer swim across narrow channels of sea to Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon) or untouched forests for exploration. Land has been entirely cleared waiting for further development.

This is a common experience people have whenever revisiting a place in Singapore. It is a country where constant change to the urban landscape takes place. Where the old is seldom valued or retained unless it makes monetary sense. The state’s ultimate control of land and its sale is the reason why property remains one of the most important factors contributing to the country’s wealth. With the help of foreign workers, changes are made quickly by our government and places change drastically over short spans of time in order to suit the respective needs of the population.

During a visit to Punggol in 2006, I discovered the presence of small make-shift shelters; each structure marked of individuality and temporal existence, which I have been photographing since.

These shelters do not belong to the homeless. They are made by people who spend time in the area (fishing hobbyists, natural wanderers exploring off the beaten track, those seeking a moment of quiet reflection with nature...); not only offering them shelter from the sun, but also refuge to enjoy a moment away from crowds and the concrete jungle.

Over time I believe these structures will gradually disappear within our cultural and geographical landscape that is signed by the pursuit of uniformity, urbanization and commercialization. Paradise pays tribute to these last remaining structures of individualism. A glimpse of quiet moments in a passing space of time."

Written by the artist, Chua Chye Teck

Beyond Wilderness


Chua Chye Teck, Beyond Wilderness, 2014 -2016. Courtesy the artist.

Chua Chye Teck, Beyond Wilderness, 2014 -2016. Courtesy the artist.

Chua Chye Teck in conversation with Silke Schmickl

Read the full interview here

"SS: Beyond Wilderness captures a disappearing natural wilderness in Singapore. When and how did you come up with the idea?
CCT: I had the idea for this series after my return from a residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin in 2010. I was inspired back then by Daidō Moriyama’s street photography and thought that I might transpose a similar approach to the forests of Singapore, an idea that I discarded later. The subject matter relates to my previous series and my constant interest in supposedly unimportant and unwanted objects. The tracing of a disappearing past has been a recurrent theme in my work for the past 15 years. In Wonderland (2008), I focused on unwanted personal objects; in Paradise (2006-2014), on ephemeral personal structures in public spaces; in Memories (2015), I explore memory through found pieces of wire; and in Nature (ongoing from 2014), fragments of concrete which are re-interpreted with fi crafted wooden bases. In Beyond Wilderness, I focus on the forests that will be lost as speculative construction projects spring out like mushrooms all over Singapore. The subject matter and artistic approach may vary from one series to another, yet my interest in what is left behind is perceptible in all of them.[1]"

[1] Chua Chye Teck, “Chua Chye Teck,”, accessed April 1, 2024,


Chua Chye Teck

A keen observer of nature and of the relationship between humans and the environment within Singapore’s fast-changing landscape, during the residency Chua Chye Teck will expand his lingering fascination for the overlooked by concentrating on weeds. Against the developmental emphasis on order, cleanliness, and control, weeds are often singled out as plants that grow in the wrong place where they can flourish in spite of being unwanted. In their resistance against human impulses to control and manicure nature, weeds are regarded by the artist as a manifestation of the beauty and resilience of wilderness and chaos. By observing both the physiology and formal qualities of weeds, Chua plans to experiment with a variety of light-sensitive and other photographic techniques to capture their intricate beauty and frame their value for nature and society.
(Source: NTU CCA Digital Archive)


Chua Chye Teck. Courtesy the artist.

Selected Exhibitions

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015 Memories, Esplanade Tunnel, Singapore
2010 City Landscape (Berlin), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
2008 New Castle, The Substation, Singapore

Selected Group Exhibitions

2024 ShanShui: Echoes and Signals, M+Museum, Hong Kong
2023 [im]print, STORAGE Bangkok, Thailand
Living Pictures: Photography in Southeast Asia, National Gallery, Singapore
2022 Inside the Wild Cube, Gillman Barracks, Singapore
2021 Something Similar, Starch, Singapore
Fistful of Colours: Moments of Chinese Cosmopolitanism, Lee Kong Chian Gallery, NUS Museum, Singapore
Wikicliki: Collecting Habits on an Earth Filled with Smartphones, Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery, National Gallery, Singapore
2020 Progressive Disintegrations, Objectifs - Centre for Photography & Film, Singapore

Selected Residencies

2009 Artist-in-Residence, Künstlerhaus Berthanien, Berlin, Germany
2007 Artist-in-Residence, International Photographers & Researchers Network, Newcastle, United Kingdom

Selected Awards

2014 Singapore National Arts Council Creation Grant