Master of puppets
PHUKET: Artist Apinan Sarochwong sits in his studio in the front of his small suburban house located off busy Chao Fa East Road, just south of Phuket Town.
Monday 30 April 2012, 03:39PM
He is framed by a large golden artpiece that he painted from a photo of himself located behind a screen, dancing leather shadow puppets in a theatre show.
He gets up and begins to carefully unpack, from a big woven rattan folder, a stack of his friends, the precious shadow-puppet figures, each standing about a metre tall.
Each one comes alive in his hands, as he speaks in three or four different voices to the convincing mouth movement of each puppet.
Intricate in their details, the figures are beautifully-made by cutting cured skin of water buffalo and cattle by craftspeople in the southern provinces.
The puppets are coloured by food dyes that allow light projected from behind to show through the thin leather membrane. So the village puppet shows are in fact in colour.
This ancient art form is based in Phattalung province. But puppeteer Apinan puts on his shows, lasting some five hours, mostly in Surat Thani at temple fairs or for merit-making in private houses, with him as sole puppeteer, and backed by a small ensemble playing traditional instruments.
He writes all the traditional poetry and words of his plays himself, speaking and singing the show only in the Southern dialect, as required by tradition.
He can perform a shorter version of the puppet show, on a smaller screen to recorded traditional music, at your event or school.
Apinan’s new self-built, at the Phuket Art Village in Rawai, is just about ready for him and his family to move into.
One side of the house is a fact a big custom-made screen, ready to be strung with white cloth for an inaugrual shadow puppet show.
For a taste of a truly special talent, don’t miss his opening show later in the year.
To book him for a special performance, see the contact details for Tawan Ook Art Gallery in the listings.