February 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, an event so tumultuous that Winston Churchill spoke of it as the “worst disaster and largest capitulation of British history”.
Some of the most ferocious fighting during the Battle of Singapore took place amidst the well-manicured lawns of a quiet suburb in Bukit Timah. At Adam Park, the Cambridgeshires – a novice British infantry battalion – was thrown into the thick of fighting in the epic conflict. Miraculously, for four grueling days the Cambridgeshires held their ground and stood firm against the elite Japanese 41st Regiment’s onslaught, fighting until finally ordered by the High Command to lay down their arms.
'Four Days In February: Adam Park the Last Battle' is the story of the Cambridgeshires’ valiant defence during the final days leading to the surrender.
The exhibition was designed around the findings from the archaeological investigations at Adam Park and inspired by the infantry defense trenches and topography of the estate.
This formal abstraction juxtaposes between a prominent hill as an attack objective, and a defensive network of trenches and foxholes. Driven by the theme of history 'alive and buried' in topography - on approach, the visitor is presented with a sculpted yet impersonal landmass, and the researched content is revealed upon entering the excavated trenches, explicit along the scraped walls.
Storytelling occurs at four linear chronological scales: the macro world at war in 1942, Britain's defense and Japanese offense island-wide across Singapore leading up to the surrender, daily accounts from 12th to 15th February 1942 surrounding Adam Park, and an hourly blow-by-blow soldier's account.
The strong use of vivid illustrations and graphics recreate uniforms and insignias, weapons, battle scenes and tactics, is blended with the visceral display of artifacts found on the Adam Park site. Completing the retelling of this incredible battle are two walls of remembrance listing the names of British and Japanese soldiers who lost their lives in the struggle for Adam Park.
Loan of Images & Artifacts
Keith Bettany, Lim Shao Bin, Imperial War Museum, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation
Client Singapore Heritage Society & National Heritage Board
In collaboration with National Library Singapore
Duration Design, Fabrication & Installation - 2.5 months.
Completed February 2012. Exhibition duration 5 months, from February to June 2012.
Project Leaders - Lim Chen Sian and Cheah Fang Leah
Curatorship - Lim Chen Sian, Jon Cooper, Kevin Tan and Cheah Fang Leah
Exhibition Design - Cheah Fang Leah, Rafael Sampaio Rocha and Lim Chen Sian
Graphic Design - Jos Tan
Illustration - Aaron Kao
Artifact Conservation - Lawrence Chin, Claire Lim, Chiam Zhi Quan, Mariana Almeida D’Eça, Leong Chao Yang, Yong Taisi
Photography - Ung Ruey Loon, Cheah Fang Leah
Contractor & Fabrication - Kingsmen International