Inaugural Exhibition “Sampan Girl Smiles” Opens in Singapore from 13 December 2018

13 December 2018

The Singapore Maritime Gallery will host its inaugural exhibition “Sampan Girl Smiles”, a showcase jointly curated by the Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) and the Institute of Ancient Chinese Ships (Ninghai Maritime Museum).

2    “Sampan Girl Smiles” explores the maritime world in the 1930s through a series of black and white photographs by David Waters, a Royal Navy officer who made several trips to Asia during that period. Waters’ collection features traditional sailing junks and historical ports in Southeast Asia, including Singapore. 

3    The Singapore Maritime Gallery will be presenting 100 selected photographs from the collection that will provide a glimpse into the folk customs relating to fishing, boat repair, vessel launch ceremonies, prayers and other unique local maritime traditions during that era.

4    “Sampan Girl Smiles” first opened at RMG in London, United Kingdom, and travelled to Ningbo and Guangzhou, China, before making its way to Singapore for the first time. The exhibition documents a significant part of Singapore’s maritime heritage, and is a fitting prelude to the host of commemorative events lined up for the Singapore Bicentennial celebrations in 2019.

5    The “Sampan Girl Smiles” exhibition runs from 13 December 2018 to 10 February 2019 at the Singapore Maritime Gallery. The Gallery opens from 9am to 6pm, every Tuesday to Sunday including public holidays. Admission is free. The Gallery is located next to Marina South Pier MRT station. For more information about the Gallery, please visit

sampan girl smiles

Sampan Girl Smiles Photo Exhibition

david waters

Mr David Waters

oculi cargo carrying boat trader junk

A port bow view, taken from fine off the bow, of an oculi cargo-carrying boat trader junk anchored in the Singapore River. The vessel is three-masted and her lug sails are stowed fore and aft. She has oculi on either side of the bow. An awning is rigged aft and a sampan is alongside. The port number 3098 is painted on her bulwark. The General Post Office building is in the left background.

twaqo junk

A starboard broadside view of a Twaqo type junk under sail in Singapore. Her single lug sail is set and the swim headed bow has an oculi. She is laden and the hull is decoratively painted.