Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

How Publicis Singapore Turned Negative Spaces into Positive Ones through Art

Advertising Agency
Singapore, Singapore
LBB’s Zoe Antonov spoke to Adrian Yeap, executive creative director at Publicis Singapore, to find out more about the exhibition that turned social distancing spaces into showcases for young emerging artists

Earlier this month, Publicis Singapore launched ‘The 1M Exhibition’, an exhibition that takes place in the very spaces created to separate people at Raffles Place, the centre of Singapore’s financial district.

 Emerging as another project that highlights a silver lining of the pandemic, the collaboration between the Raffles Place Alliance, Publicis and LASALLE College of the arts encompasses a total of 177 artworks by 105 design graduates at the college. Reaching up to 180,000 people a day, the initiative aimed to bridge the gap between the next generation of artists and potential employers.

Each artwork measures exactly 1 metre across — the distance encouraged for staying safe in public spaces, transforming empty negative spaces on benches into positive spaces for art and inspiration. Interested parties can scan the QR code on each artwork to contact the artist for job opportunities.
With the pandemic forcing galleries to close and in-person graduation shows to be cancelled, The 1M Exhibition bridges this gap and connects the public with the local arts scene. The exhibition runs for three months from April 5th onwards. 

LBB’s Zoe Antonov spoke to Adrian Yeap, executive creative director at Publicis Singapore, to find out more about the creation of the project and its significance for young emerging artists. 

LBB> What was the initial idea behind this project and the conversations surrounding it?

Adrian> Literally, the brief was ‘let’s turn the pandemic around and make this a celebration of the human spirit’. We knew we couldn’t afford to let the pandemic win. We had a job to do.


LBB> Why did the team decide that student art would be the best to occupy these spaces?

Adrian> A survey by the national newspaper during the pandemic found artists to be the top-ranked non-essential job. It really underplays the role of art and entertainment in people’s lives. We wanted to bring the pride back to art students and give them a platform to be seen and be hired by the industry’s professionals.


LBB> What was it like to work with the students and LASALLE College of the Arts?

Adrian> For most of the students, this would be their first exhibition. Moreover, they were showcasing their work in a place so public. So naturally, there was plenty of excitement before the exhibition, and immense pride when it was launched. 


LBB> Do you believe that the pandemic in its own way has pushed creatives out of their comfort zones, in order to give space to projects like this one? Is this sort of project the silver lining the pandemic has for the creative community?

Adrian> The creative community I know has resilience and resourcefulness in abundance. And it is in times like this, where there have been so many challenges, that opportunities present themselves. You only have to look closely.


LBB> How did the selection process go for the different art pieces and how did you ensure there is diversity in both the art pieces and their creators?

Adrian> It was important to us and LASALLE to represent all faculties, including design communication, product design and fashion. From there on, our job was simple. We selected a mix of the most visually arresting and engaging pieces of work. You’ll see fashion design, textile design, graphics, interiors and product design. We tried to showcase the full scope of students’ talents and the breadth of LASALLE’s arts curriculum. And so far, the response has been amazing.


LBB> What were the most challenging and equally the most fun parts of this project?

Adrian> Without a doubt, finding a media partner that was not only supportive but also offered an area large enough to house the exhibition, was the biggest challenge. We are extremely grateful for Raffles Place Alliance for being our media partner for the exhibition. At the risk of sounding cliché, the fun part was the entire process. I would go as far as to say that everyone involved learnt a lot on this journey.


LBB> How long will the pieces stay for and what will happen to them after the end of the project?

Adrian> The artwork will run for three months from April 5th. There are a few options on the table to refresh The 1M Exhibition. It could be new artwork from more LASALLE students or opening it up to the wider art community.


LBB> Any final thoughts?

Adrian> It is always uplifting to see the human spirit triumph over adversity. I’d love to see the creative industry give people more reasons to be positive.

Work from Publicis Singapore
Publicis Play
Mana Partners
Publicis Play
Mana Partners
The Brewery
Tiger Beer