Mural Commission for Ji Xiang Confectionery in Singapore!

Mural Commission for Ji Xiang Confectionery in Singapore!

At the end of 2021, I received an opportunity to install a mural in a shop in Singapore — Ji Xiang Ang Ku Kueh!

Ji Xiang Confectionery is a family-run business that specialises in making and selling ang ku kueh.

Ang ku kueh, also known as Red Tortoise cake, is a Chinese pastry with soft, sticky, glutinous rice flour skin wrapped around a filling. It’s molded to resemble a tortoise shell, and rests on a piece of banana leaf. 

(Find out more about ang ku kueh on Wikipedia.)

Here’s a photo of the six common ang ku kueh flavours available at Ji Xiang Confectionery, which I mention later on in this blog post.

Photo by Ji Xiang Confectionery.

Ji Xiang Ang Ku Kueh is a family-run business in Singapore, which started by making and selling ang ku kueh from their home. They opened their first shop at Everton Park in 1988, and had just opened their second outlet at Bugis Village in February 2021.

Storefront of Ji Xiang Confectionery at Bugis Village, photo by Ji Xiang Confectionery.

Kelvin, the boss of this store, wanted to commission a mural which incorporates a door that’s affixed to the wall, as well as the internet routers, fuse box, and light switches.

This door was previously the back door of this shophouse, which Kelvin thought would be a waste to throw away, hence he decided to use it as a decorative piece on the blank white wall.

He also wanted the mural to draw attention away from the unsightly routers and switches on the wall.

This is how the store looks now with the completed mural:

The Mural Design Idea

During our initial meeting, he said he didn’t have any specific ideas in mind.  I had read up on the company before our meeting, so I asked him more about their history and story, and their values and mission.

He also asked if I could paint other animals besides penguins. I found out his favourite animal are turtles, which I later made the link that the ang ku kueh is molded to resemble a turtle shell.

With our conversation and his requirements (to incorporate the door and switches) in mind, I awaited inspiration for a few days.

Then the first idea that came to me was of a door or gate opening and leading into a paradise world or garden, where there’s a Dream Tree symbolic of the business.

Like my other Dream Tree murals, I thought about including landmarks of the area where both shop outlets are located, as well as scenes of turtles making ang ku kueh together, and engaged in other ang ku kueh activities, such as celebrations and workshops.

I also prepared sketches of the turtle characters, whose shells resemble the shape and patterns on the kueh, and in five colours that represent the six flavours commonly sold in this shop.

Clockwise from top left: peanut (red), yam (purple), salty bean (grey), sweet bean (red), coconut (green), sweet corn (yellow).

Photo by Ji Xiang Confectionery.

I arranged another meeting with Kelvin and his business partner to show them what I had come up with.

Interestingly, right before I started pitching my idea, Kelvin shared that he used to enjoy drawing trees in his high school years, and asked about the trees in my mural portfolio.

I then shared briefly about my mural project “100 Dream Trees”, and the symbolism of the Dream Tree, which then presented a lovely segue into my design proposal for his mural — an open gateway leading into a Ji Xiang world or paradise.

What is a Dream Tree?

In my work as an artist, one of my series is called “Dream Trees”. 

A Dream Tree is a structure that connects the ground to the clouds.

The ground represents the practical aspects of life — what we gotta do to survive in this reality.

The clouds represent our dreams and aspirations — what we truly desire if anything were possible.

I believe that in order for us to live our best lives, one cannot exist without the other.

Thus the Dream Tree is a bridge between our practical reality and our dreams, a symbol of the ideal life, and the balance where dream and reality fuel and source one another continuously, so the Tree grows more abundant and vibrant over time.

Here’s one of the Dream Tree murals I’ve painted as part of my ongoing quest to install 100 Dream Tree murals around the world:

Project: 100 Dream Trees No. 6: “The Sofia Dream Tree” (2019)

(At the time of writing this blog, there are nine Dream Tree murals in seven countries. Check out pictures of the rest of them here.)

The Dream Tree is also symbolic of growth and abundance, and for this mural commission, it was also my intention and wish that they prosper and expand in years to come.

Painting the Mural

It took about six weeks to complete this mural, where I worked mostly overnight (generally from 8pm to 6am), around three or four nights a week.

In total, I spent about 200 hours painting, and roughly another 12 hours or so on preparation work, like making reference sketches, buying paint, and planning my to-do list for painting.

This is the tallest mural I’ve painted so far, and also the largest in surface area.

To see 200 hours of work compressed into 8 minutes, check out this YouTube video:


A Closer Look

Turtle Deity

One of the first areas I completed was this scene on the top left side of the Cloud, featuring a turtle deity and his three devotees.

Ang ku kueh is commonly used as an offering for chinese gods, so I painted this turtle deity based on Tua Pek Kong, the God of Prosperity.

Dream of Ang Ku Kueh

In the middle of the cloud, I’ve painted a crescent moon and five stars. A crescent moon is another symbolic motif in my work, and in this case together with the five stars, they kind of hint at Singapore’s flag.

There is also a sleeping turtle dreaming of ang ku kueh, in particular the six flavours commonly sold in this shop.


This rainbow was inspired from Ji Xiang’s rainbow ang ku kueh, the filling of which is either peanut or sweet bean.

The rainbow and the turtles running on it is symbolic of growth and going off into a bright, colourful and magical future.

Here’s a picture of Ji Xiang’s rainbow ang ku kueh, beside one of their specialty flavours:

Photo by Ji Xiang Confectionery.

Ang Ku Kueh Workshops

At this Bugis Village outlet, they conduct workshops for participants to try their hand at moulding ang ku kueh, and to get a tour of the various equipment used to produce thousands of ang ku kueh each day.

(In case you didn’t get the reference, 101 is a typical number given to introductory courses in American colleges, e.g. Psychology 101.)

Ang Ku Kueh Party

Ang ku kueh is commonly prepared for important chinese cultural occasions, such as a newborn baby’s first month or the elderly’s birthdays. 

Eating ang ku kueh during these times represents blessings for the child, and longevity for the elderly.

Another custom takes place when a baby turns one year old, during which they step on a pair of large ang ku kuehs, called “ka ta kueh”, and then put on a pair of new shoes. This symoblises that everything will be smooth sailing as the baby grows up.

Also… did you spot the Ninja Turtles?

Here’s another view of the upper levels of the mural:

Below the Ang Ku Kueh Party, on the ground level with the Tree, I’ve depicted the two buildings that house both store locations of Ji Xiang Confectionery, and scenes of turtles making ang ku kueh.

Bugis Village

This orange building is home to the store where this mural is located. (It was kinda meta to be painting this building on a wall in this building LOL). 

I’ve also painted Ji Xiang’s logo onto the upcycled door, which is attached to the wall.

Pictures of Bugis Village at the end of 2021:

View from across the street.
The shop has two entrances, one of which is “behind” the blue taxi.

I’ve also depicted other stores in this scene. If you’re in Singapore, you may be able to figure out which stores they represent 🙂

Ang Ku Kueh Production

In front of the Bugis Village building, I’ve painted a scene of turtles making ang ku kueh in a space inspired by the shop here.

These are the giant steamers they use for steaming the ang ku kueh:


And here’s a picture of one of their workers wrapping the filling into the ang ku kueh dough, with the help of a mold.

Photo by Ji Xiang Confectionery.

Path to the Tree

In the photo above, you may also have noticed the tile path leading into the doorway of the Tree.

Here’s a picture of the storefront at Bugis Village, and on the floor you’ll see the actual tile “path” leading from the entrance into the store:

Thus this path was the inspiration for the one in the mural:

Family Kitchen

On the other side of the tile path is a home kitchen scene with three tables.

At the table closest to the path, you’ll see a family of five turtles enjoying homemade ang ku kueh together. The two “adult” turtles represent Kelvin’s parents, who had started the company from their kitchen, while the three “child” turtles represent Kelvin and his siblings.

At the other two tables are more turtles making ang ku kueh.

Across the entire foreground scene of the mural, there are four tables in total, which is symbolic of Ji Xiang’s beginnings of Kelvin’s parents making ang ku kueh over four tables in their living room.

Everton Park

In 1988, as their business outgrew their flat, they opened their first store at 1 Everton Park.

I took these two photos of the building when the shop had already closed for the day, but you can see it on the ground floor with large yellow signs under the arches.

And did you notice the two characters in the pavilion enjoying ang ku kueh?

They are Splinter from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and Master Roshi from “Dragon Ball Z”!

Tile Wall

On the side of the wall where the routers and switches are, I’ve painted a tile wall which emulates the decorative tiled walls in the shop itself.

It took me 2 nights to complete painting this tiled wall, even though it looks deceptively simple LOL.

Because of the size of the mural wall and the way the counter is built in the shop, I wasn’t able to get the entire mural into a single photo, so here’s a second one to show the bottom part:

Evolution of the Species

At the bottom of the tiled wall are five turtles representing the five colours of Ji Xiang’s six common flavours of ang ku kueh (remember that red is for both peanut and sweet bean flavours).

I decided to make it look like they were coming in from the entrance of the shop — and from walking on all fours, they’d end up standing upright like humans before entering this Ji Xiang paradise world.

Entrance Turtle

And just outside the entrance is the final turtle of the mural, just about to enter the shop. This one is different from the rest in that it has the chinese characters “Ji Xiang” written on its shell.

Here’s a work-in-progress video from where I painted the entrance turtle and the five others “entering” the store.

Evolution Turtles WIP

Artist’s Signature

And finally, at the top part of the “tiled wall” beside the door, I painted a penguin artist eating ang ku kueh, to represent myself.

Yes, I ate A LOT of peanut ang ku kueh (my fave flavour!) during these 6 weeks of painting this mural, and probably gained about 2kg. Also from drinking a lot of bubble tea while working LOL.

A Final Look

We’ve come to the end of this blog sharing.

Once again here’s a look at the wall before I even knew this place existed LOL:


And here’s how it looks after I worked some penguin painterly magic on it:


See 200 hours of work in 8 minutes

Once again here’s the timelapse video of me bringing this painting to life:


Let’s make a Dream Tree together

If you have enjoyed reading this, and like the idea of having a Dream Tree mural or painting (on canvas) created specially to represent your home, family, workplace, shop, school, company etc…

Chat with me at and let’s bring your Dream Tree to life!