Boat Yard presents a less common scene of Singapore, although boats have traditionally been an important part of the island’s trade. The composition comprises several boats huddled tightly together in the dock, seen from the shade of a makeshift canopy. The grey-pink clouds suggest the ending of the day, and a single worker is seen at a workbench.
Tan has often used a favourite composition of huddling his subjects together, defying the rules of perspective so that the buildings, or boats, present a cacophony of lines and colours. In this impressionistic quick-drawing style, windows, masts and columns are out of alignment, suggesting the imperfections of older buildings and the dazzle of excess light. Tan often paints scenes of vanishing Singapore, giving value to the lives and places inhabited by the migrant communities who came and made Singapore home.
Another painting by Tan Choh Tee in the Singtel collection is Nankin Street (1992).