For the fourth edition of the annual course, the school welcomed two renowned, professional artists – Elsie Evans from Scotland and Thaworn “Yai” Merurut, a native of southern Thailand – to provide intimate coaching, guidance and instruction to students on campus, as well as elsewhere on the island.
BISP’s Art Coordinator Claire Lester explained that the purpose of the programme is to expose students to practising artists, giving them space and time to work without the pressures of everyday school life.
“Artist residencies are important because they provide opportunities for students to spend time in a new atmosphere and environment. They support cultural and artistic exchange, nurture experimentation and new ideas, and support research and the development of new work,” she explained.
Claire pointed out that there are so many talented artists in Thailand and the programme has proved to be an effective vehicle of exposure for all students – those who already have an acknowledged passion as well as those who may be undecided or unaware of their liking for art.
In one phase of the programme, Elsie, a Scottish painter who has lived and worked in Bangkok for 20 years where she runs Attic Studios, worked with Year 10 and 12 students on a three-day residential trip to the culturally colourful Phuket Town, where she and the students stayed at The Memory at On On hotel.
Aside from visiting the Trick Eye Museum, students toured and observed many of the famous and ordinary Old Town scenes, from the perspective of an artist whose aim was to emulate and depict such scenes with nothing more than a pad, pencil and paintbrush.
In the second part of the programme, local artist Yai – a watercolour, acrylic and oil painter originally from Nakhon Sri Thammarat and based in Phuket for the last two decades – worked with the Year 5, 9, 10 and 12 students, teaching foundational and advanced courses in water colours.
“These kids are lucky to get in depth exposure to watercolours at a younger age. Most Thai artists usually don’t get to learn this much until they’re in university,” he said.
Yai, 44, who runs the Art Room Studio in Phuket Town, told The Phuket News that he was excited to return to BISP to join in this programme for the second time.
“International students are so much fun to work with... They have confidence, are more daring and not as afraid to make mistakes [as students in Thai schools]. This is reflected in their artwork, which three times out of four will turn out to be a good result.”
Prior to opening his studio, Yai used to make ends meet as an aspiring “artist for hire” mostly doing design and painting jobs for hotels, but says business has improved dramatically since opening his gallery in early 2005.
Indeed, a greater appreciation for art is growing in Phuket, and programmes like BISP’s Artist In Residence will ensure that promising talent and passion is not left untapped – instead rightfully fostered and developed for a colourful future.