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© Michael Jassen/
© Michael Jassen/
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A Guide To Gillman Barracks - What To See, Eat And Do

Picture of Prianka Ghosh
Updated: 20 August 2016
The Gillman Barracks were first built in 1936 for the expanding British infantry stationed in Singapore before World War II. After several years of redevelopment by government agencies the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the National Arts Council (NAC), in 2012 the 6.4 hectare conserved colonial barracks launched as Singapore’s premier destination for contemporary art and is now home to art museums, over two dozen commercial galleries, shops and cafés.

Located in a lush tropical setting, Gillman Barracks is the perfect place to take in an afternoon of art and culture. The galleries host an impressive collection of contemporary art by a range of artists from internationally famous to up-and-comers from around Asia, including Chinese political activist Ai Weiwei, Indonesian duo indieguerillas and many more.

The Writers Waves (2015)

A photo posted by indieguerillas (@indieguerillas) on

Gillman Barracks is not just for art lovers, but has exciting food and drink on offer as well. Experience meticulously prepared, high-end seafood at The Naked Finn, or go casual and dig in on some pub grub and craft beer at the Red Baron. At night, make the switch from contemporary art to live music at Timbre, a hipster enclave and showcase for local bands.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Gillman Barracks. In 2015, five of the 17 commercial galleries elected not to renew their leases due to slow sales and low visitor numbers. In an attempt to increase the number of people passing through the grounds, they have added some exciting events to their calendar. The Gillman Barracks Farmers’ Market is a monthly market featuring an eclectic range of local food vendors – like the Sea Farmers of Ubin, that sells freshly-farmed, shucked-while-you-wait oysters – art sellers and activities like woodworking and silkscreen painting.

Another event hoping to raise the profile of the arts collective and contemporary art in general, is the twice-monthly Art After Dark. On Friday nights, Gillman Barracks hopes to attract the young, professional crowd with this event. Featuring food pop-ups (the Singaporean version of food trucks) from around the island, performance art pieces and local musicians, Gillman Barracks wants to be seen as an exciting location for locals to hang out. Although the future is uncertain for Gillman Barracks, they are working hard to maintain a much-needed space for contemporary art in Singapore.

Gillman Barracks is also a stage for the Singapore Biennale, an immense contemporary art festival that takes place every few years. The fifth Singapore Biennale will be running from October 27th, 2016 until February 26th, 2017. Over the course of the festival, the event will feature contemporary works from over 60 artists with a significant focus on Asia. The title of this year’s festival, An Atlas of Mirrors, looks to explore the shared histories of the region with artists considering different perspectives on how to see the world. Visit the Singapore Biennale online to learn more about their programming as the event gets closer.