As your latest Life Editor, and like any new and unacquainted relationship, it may prove better trying to get all the surprises out of the way on the first date. Hopefully we’ll connect.
I certainly got more than a few eye wideners on my opening foray into the thriving art scene in Phuket town. Rich in quality, diversity of style and artistic technique.
Across the pieces I recently viewed it struck me that whilst the artists were using modern form and mixed media materials, there were strong themes and a focus on cultural identity and traditions which informed much of the work.
First port of call was the Phuket Art Club exhibition currently showing at the Novotel Phuket Phokeethra hotel. The Phuket Art Club are a collective of professional artists who collaborate and exhibit together to raise awareness of art across the island. The exhibition showcases a diverse and compelling collection from the club’s local artists, presenting skilled works across their different techniques and styles. The show delights across their craft from sophisticated abstract pieces, painstakingly intricate wood cut prints to beautiful landscape canvases.
I asked the artists from the exhibition about the importance of Thai culture and traditional within their work.
“It’s in our DNA. From our family upbringing to our friendships, art and life are together. It is a subconscious characteristic of my work”, Monthian Yangthong confirmed.
Atipa Ungsulert added, “When we create art we push out from our heart, and it’s inherent. You can always see Thai culture coming through.”
It turns out that not only is there an ingrained display of culture in the Thai artistic approach, but works can be identified to specific regions by the use of line, colour, paints, dyes and materials. As a southern province, Phuket has historically benefited from a rich variety of both natural resources and disposition.
“The southern style is strong and confident. We have a brave attitude and outgoing people. We also benefit from great light and contrast within our environment”, claimed Aree Kongpol.
The infusion of Thailand’s culture and art is clearly recognised and evident at an academic level too. Chanathinat Chaiyapoo and Chutima Changpum, both lecturers in the Product Design Department at Phuket Rajabhat University, have collaborated to design and produce products using traditional symbols and patterns. Through their research in cultural design within the Faculty of Science and Technology, they are also preparing for publication a book collection of design patterns inspired by iconic references in traditional folk tales and poetry.
“Our culture is like a big tree. It’s familial. As a child we form strong roots with our culture and this impression is a fundamental element in the art we produce,” said Ms Chiyapoo.
Ms Changpum explained further, “From attending Thai festivals, music, performance and art have all mixed together in our memories. Creativity comes from what we collect in our lives.”
The pair have recently launched Chucha Design, producing high quality, printed head scarves with intricate designs based on these traditional icons. In choosing head wear, Chucha Design are also reflecting the respect and reverence for their culture.
So, like Picasso, after an inspiring afternoon exploring the works from our local talent, did I feel a deep connection with the subject matter? Not half. By the end of it I felt practically related.
The Phuket Art Club Exhibition runs at the Novotel Phuket Phokeethra hotel until July 31 2018. (Click here).
Chucha Design products can be found in store at the Snug Cafe, Phuket Town. (Click here).