(By Jared Heng)
Countries worldwide have embraced bull sculptures as symbols of strength, potency, and determination, which are desirable trade characteristics. And behind many bull sculptures are stories that enlighten all who wonder about the motivations behind the gargantuan efforts put into these works of art.
When Shanghai’s Bund Bull sculpture was unveiled in May, it looked set to rival its counterpart on Wall Street, the Charging Bull. Sitting on Shanghai’s famous Bund riverfront and attract- ing crowds of tourists, the Bund Bull is of the same size as the one on Wall Street, with a height of 2.5 metres and length of 3.3 metres. Yet, the Bund Bull weighs nearly twice as much at a hefty six tonnes, according to Arturo di Modica, an Italian- American sculptor who made both bulls.
Shanghai houses China’s biggest stock market and is the regional base of many multinational companies. Symbolising China’s economic strength amid current US and European financial woes, the Bund Bull was unveiled at the right place and at the right time. The sculpture also underscores the fact that China’s economic growth has remained strong despite the significant financial upheavals of recent years.
While created by the same person, both bulls also appear to represent a ‘clash of the titans’ type of trade rivalry between China and the US. Such rivalry is further highlighted by China’s determination to limit the rate of the yuan’s appreciation against other currencies, particularly the US dollar, which has strained economic ties with Washington.
At Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham, UK, another bull sculpture stands at 2.2 metres high and weighs six tonnes, commissioned in 2003 to herald Birmingham’s regeneration and represent the city’s history. Local residents have also adopted the bull as the city’s mascot.
Outside Calgary’s stock exchange tower, Canada, a larger- than-life bull statue pays tribute to a legendary bull from the Calgary Stampede rodeo. Outlaw, a 995-kilogram, red and white speckled bull that died several years ago was only ever ridden once in 71 tries. In 2004, Outlaw rang the closing bell to mark the closing of the New York Stock Exchange. Now immor- talised, Outlaw reflects Calgary’s western heritage, as well as the entrepreneurialism and determination symbolic of capital markets.
Feeling ‘Bullish’ in Singapore
With its highly developed economy, Singapore is recognised as one of the four “Asian Tigers”, alongside Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. As such, one might wonder whether local organisations have commissioned bull sculptures with similar motivations as those behind Shanghai’s Bund Bull.
Currently, a bull and bear artwork can be spotted at Singapore Exchange Limited’s office. At M Hotel Singapore, a stylish bull sculpture made of fibreglass and painted bronze greets visitors as they enter the lobby.
Measuring 2.4 metres long and 1.2 metres high, the “M Bull”, as M Hotel calls it, has a special place in the hotel. “M Hotel is one of Singapore’s premier and stylish business hotels strategically located in the heart of the financial district and close to the iconic landmarks of Marina Bay Financial Centre and the two Integrated Resorts,” said Mr Benedict Ng, General Manager of M Hotel. “The bull is a symbol of growth in the financial market and an embodiment of strength and power. Hence, the M Bull resides aptly at M Hotel.”
Ng said that the M Bull’s horns, which point upward, signify “positive equity and upward business trends – a bull market which is especially significant in the dynamic central business district amidst a myriad of financial and commercial activities.” He added that M Hotel “means business” as it endeavours to uphold its commitment to provide all guests with personalised and dedicated attention and services.
When asked whether M Hotel had plans to replace the M Bull with a bigger one to match the scale of Shanghai’s Bund Bull, Ng said that the M Bull would remain. “At this moment, we will not be replacing the M Bull. Our M Bull carries a staunch posture that is significant in reflecting fortitude and power, not its size,” he explained. Furthermore, it is “an icon of good luck and prosperity” as M Hotel won an Excellence award at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards 2004-2005 (Singapore) shortly after the M Bull arrived at the hotel, Ng said.
With all that they stand for, bull sculptures worldwide will continue to inspire many and remain lasting symbols of market strength, confidence and determination.