Jalan Rajah 'golden staircase' will eventually go: Artist

Jalan Rajah 'golden staircase' will eventually go: Artist

Jalan Besar Town Council, which manages the block, has made clear that what Priyageetha Dia did was "unauthorised" and "not permissible" under its by-laws.

gold foil staircase
The staircase covered in gold foil, located at Block 103 Jalan Rajah. (Photo: Priyageetha Dia/Facebook)

SINGAPORE: The art student who was behind the gold foil-covered staircase at Block 103 Jalan Rajah eventually plans to remove it, she told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday (Mar 9).

Priyageetha Dia nonetheless asserted that the act of papering a single flight of stairs at her HDB block with foil was art and not vandalism. "I wanted to invigorate the space I was living in," the Lasalle College of the Arts student said. "I wanted to provoke the banal with a material and thus, I decided to gold-foil a flight of stairs."

Jalan Besar Town Council, which manages the block, has since made clear that what Ms Priya did was "unauthorised" and "not permissible" under its by-laws.

"I wouldn't deny I was afraid," Ms Priya told Channel NewsAsia. "But if I held back myself, what's art all about then?

All the same, the town council said it "recognises her passion for the arts and desire to enhance her surrounding space".

"As such, in today's scheduled monthly washing of the block, we held off washing the stairs temporarily so as not to damage the work," a spokesperson said on Wednesday, in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.

"Our staff earlier checked to ensure that the foil does not make the stairs slippery."

It was something Ms Priya had checked as well. "No, the stairs aren't slippery," she said. "The foil used is very delicate and thin so it is pretty much ingrained with the texture of the cement. It only looks slippery because of its reflective finish."

All the same, she acknowledged that the gold foil will eventually have to go. "I haven't decided on when I'll be removing yet, though it will eventually happen," she said.


Claiming responsibility for the work, Ms Priya wrote in an earlier Facebook post: "My work does not seek to obliterate a public space; vandalism in all sense has no respect for another individual.

"This work provokes. Provokes in all sense we are used to living the standard way of life, and all of a sudden something as glaring as gold negotiates the space.

"I didn’t intend to please the public with my work but it was definitely a sense of satisfaction for me," she wrote. "After practising the arts in the academy for almost three years, I needed to break away from that zone. What better way to make art and have it on display beyond the white cube?"

Jalan Besar Town Council said it is "supportive" of efforts by the community to enhance their living environment, adding that over the years, various organisations and individuals have utilised public spaces for their art projects.

"For example, we have allowed community organisations to display murals on the facade of our residential blocks and schools to paint murals at the hawker centres. We have also permitted a photographic exhibition at Rochor Centre," its spokesperson said.

"If Ms Priya had approached our town council before embarking on her project, we might have been able to explore an alternative site that is more suitable."

The town council added that it has not been able to reach Ms Priya. "(We) would appreciate it if she could contact us so that she could share with us her ideas on how to beautify other areas of our estate."

Source: CNA/dl