Sowing Seeds of Beauty

Published on 28 October 2014

Profile: Kumari Nahappan

 (Photo Ken Cheong)

While her iconic sculptures that grace public spaces in Singapore are of giant seeds and pods, artist Kumari Nahappan is harvesting the fruit of her creative labour.  

BY pamela ho

It’s hard to miss the giant nutmeg located outside ION Orchard. Simply entitled Nutmeg (2009), the bronze sculpture is a reminder that such a plantation existed there once upon a time.

Kumari Nahappan’s public artworks have a very distinctive flavour. You recognise them almost instantly: The giant bronze chilli pepper, Pedas Pedas (2006), outside the National Museum of Singapore; the enormous saga seed, Saga (2007), at Changi Airport Terminal 3, just to name a few.

“They were created in a celebratory mood! Seeds and pods signify immense energy, endless possibilities and propensities for growth,” explains Nahappan, 61, a Malaysian-born, Singapore-based concept artist who specialises in sculptures, paintings and installations.

“I find installations most challenging, but I love the idea of making decisions intuitively,” reveals Nahappan, who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. “I am comfortable working with any medium – permanent or impermanent – depending on what the site and space demands.”

Before becoming a full-time artist, Nahappan worked as an interior designer, architect and teacher. Being named Shell Discovery Art’s Promising Artist in 1992 kick-started a career that has spanned over two decades and won her numerous awards and commendations around the world. Her works have been exhibited in Asia, Europe and the United States.

In 2004, Nahappan became the first woman to be conferred the Ksatria Seni Award by Museum Kudana in Ubud, Bali. And in 2011, her 6.6-metre sculpture Tango (two chillis, intertwined in a tango pose) was awarded ‘Sculpture of the Year’ at the 15th Shanghai Art Fair. It currently stands at the Zhongshan Park Entrance in Shanghai, China.

To capture her meditation on art and its creation, she recently released a book entitled, Kumari Nahappan: FLUXION – Art & Thoughts, written by T.K. Sabapathy (EDM Books).

For more information on Nahappan and her works, visit

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