Published on 01 Jan 2021

Paying tribute to our everyday heroes

NTU alumna Audrey Ng’s art installation at the North Spine highlights the everyday heroes we often take for granted.

Audrey Ng with Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Ms Grace Fu, NTU President Prof Subra Suresh, and Senior Minister of State Dr Amy KhorFrom left: Audrey Ng with Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Ms Grace Fu, NTU President Prof Subra Suresh, and Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor


Hands of the Invisible (above) is a sculptural installation resembling a massive heap of food trays and cutlery typically used at hawker centres and food courts in Singapore. It was commissioned by Mediacorp for current affairs programme Talking Point.

“I wanted to raise awareness of the sheer volume of tableware handled by the workers who clean the tables and return our trays, and also to express gratitude for their contributions.”
“I am so honoured that Ministers Grace Fu and Amy Khor took the time to visit my sculpture in NTU. They were impressed by the uniqueness of each plaster-casted hand.”

 

Scars, wrinkles, veins and other features that make each person’s hands unique are captured within the plaster casts. One of the hands actually has a missing finger joint.

“It was challenging to get the hands of elderly cleaners casted in plaster. Their fingers aren’t as flexible, so it wasn’t easy for them.”

 

“When people see my artwork, I hope they’ll think: Look at that pile of crockery we used in one hour! Slow down and take time to honour the voiceless, unsung heroes who worked hard for this. You can tell they’ve been through much in life.”
“After speaking to the cleaners, I also realised that their work doesn’t actually include collecting empty food trays left behind by diners. Their job is to clean the trays at the tray station and sort the dirty cutlery.”


Arti-Facts

  • 300 trays, the average number of trays found unreturned at each of Singapore’s five hawker centres
  • Cable ties hold the trays together; epoxy putty is used to adhere the cutlery to the trays
  • Created over 30 days, from concept to completion
  • Two hours to set up in NTU

 

This story was published in the Jan-Mar 2021 issue of HEY!. To read it and other stories from this issue in print, click here.