Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

My Photo
Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Sep 25, 2014

Murals of Compassion at Changi Chapel

This religious mural was painted by a former Japanese prisoner-of-war in 1942, using paint and billiard chalk on the wall of Changi Prison's St. Luke's Chapel in Singapore.

Artist Stanley Warren was learnt of his artistic talents from the chaplain and asked if he would like to paint the walls of the chapel with religious murals.  That was how the murals (photo above) on the chapel came about, one of them of a crucifixion scene with the words, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

Painting at the hospital next door to the chapel, he had always found comfort in the lilting voices of the choir singing.

Mr Warren was a 25-year-old bombardier in 1942.  When he was taken prisoner by the Japanese and sent to Changi Prison in Singapore.

He was recovering from a serious kidney disorder at the prison's hospital as a prisoner-of-war (POW).

In a small room which functional as a chapel, Mr Warren painted five murals, each with a religious theme.

The Japanese later converted the chapel into a store room, repainted the walls and knocked a hole in one of Mr Warrem's panels to make a doorway.

The murals remained forgotten until they were discovered by accident about 40 years later.

Who could ever have guessed that a religious mural, painted 40 years ago, could have survived the ravages of time and war?  Yet, by accident one day, Stanley Warren made an amazing discovery that seems filled with the magic of Christmas.

He pulled up his sleeves, arranged his utensils and started what he thought was to be a re-drawing of his Nativity mural done 40 years ago.

The flakes of paint fell gently to the floor as he scrubbed and brushed off the decades of fading colours on the church wall. Scenes from those days of old must have flashed across his mind, thoughts of the prisoner-of-war who had fought on this little island so far removed from the home in England, and of the sounds of the church choir drifting ever so gently and comforting a dying man.

But then, something happened in that haze of a second.

That seems to be the outline of something familiar, he thought.  A few more hurried movements with the brush and there, unmistakably, yet almost miraculously, in front of him was the sketch as part of the design on his first mural at Changi Prison's St. Luke's Chapel in 1942.

The amazing discovery could not have taken place at a more opportune time and occasion when Stanley Warren finally made it after a lapse of more than 40 years to the island he had fought for and almost died on.

He had flown all the way from London with the intention of cleaning and restoring yet again the murals that had brought so much hope and life to his days as a prisoner-of-war in Changi.

Stanley Warren in 1982

His first trip back to Singapore after the Japanese Occupation was in 1963, when he returned to remove the few murals he had painted (almost from his death bed after a serious illness that was complicated by six stone in the kidney.

He died at his home in Dorset, England, on 20 February, 1992.  He was 75.

Sir Harold Wilson Visit the Changi Murals

At the invitation as personal guests of Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson on a 5-day visit to Singapore by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Sir Harold Wilson visited the Changi Murals.

Outram Prison for Prisoners-of-War

Mr C A Barton, an English farmer, visits Outram Park Complex, where Outram Prison once stood. He was looking at a blown-up photograph of a grim, forbidding building surrounded by high walls. The picture showed Outram Prison where he was a prisoner-of-war during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore in the forties. This was his first visit with his wife to Singapore on 6 October, 1976 since he left here after the war.

Note:A series of these archived photos and descriptions are curated on the nostalgic blogs to share with our heritage friends. These personal blogs to express for non-commercial and not for profit purposes; and credit with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore. Appreciate to share Singapore collective memories of the 5-day visit of Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson to Singapore from January 9 to January 13, 1978 at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Thank you.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home