On Saturday Morning Srijai Kuntawang sent me some pictures of his ongoing woodcut print project. It was a partially painted woodcut of an eagle. The description behind this piece of artwork states that it will be used in the tribute ceremony for the reverence to national artist Thawan Duchanee who passed away on 3 September 2014.
I seized this opportunity to contact Srijai for an interview at Pankled Art Studio in Mae Tang District. Srijai is an artist and art lecturer who lives in Chiang Mai Province. In the past, I have commented on the progress of Chiang Rai which became a cooperation center of famous northern artists. It is said that Chiang Rai is a city of artists. The construction of Baan Dam (house and studio of Thawan Duchanee) seemed like a pioneering project. It could be said that Chiang Rai is a special province that is full of local and migrated artists who take part in various activities and festivals in Chiang Rai. Eventually they successfully established the association of Chiang Rai artists.
I was informed that the “Kua Silp” (Art Bridge) venue was pioneered by Chalermchai Kositpipat who designed and constructed Wat Rong Khun temple. This establishment was built after the founding of the Artists’ Road project in Chiang Rai was quite successful. Besides being one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand, Chiang Rai is a frontier province in the North of Thailand.
Here is my recent interview with Srijai Kuntawang
JY: Could you tell me more about the upcoming event at the Art Bridge venue this year?
SK: This event will be set up as a tribute to Thawan Duchanee, a revered northern artist who created meaningful masterpieces. Art Bridge was founded by the cooperation of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai Artists including artists who have shares in Art Bridge. Each artist is willing to create his or her own kind of artwork to reflect the life and work of Thawan and many artists will exhibit their works at Art Bridge. I think that Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai artists have a good relationship as well since they usually have exhibitions together. Thawan was beloved by many artists and this is a good chance to commemorate him.
JY: I saw your printed woodcut of eagle. This will be the artwork in the tribute ceremony for Thawan Duchanee at Kua Silp in Chiang Rai Province on 11 December. I would like to know about your preparation.
SK: Art Bridge is a community organization. This year, 2014, is the third time that they host the special art ceremony. This “Tribute ceremony for the reverence to Thawan Duchanee” will be ready for visitors from 11 December 2014 to 30 April 2015. On 11 December the opening ceremony will begin at 6 PM at Art Bridge.
JY: How many woodcut prints will you do for this occasion?
SK: For your interest, these are not prints made from woodcut blocks. What I intend to make here are only the woodcut blocks.
JY: Do you think many artists will submit their works for this event?
SK: I think many artists will send their works as Thawan was beloved and respected by many artists in Thailand and overseas. At this time, photos of submitted artworks are being sent to the Facebook page of Thawan Duchanee. You can see all of them there.
JY: We understand the slight differences of artists and artistic creations between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Both provinces have good trends and are very promising in the future. I see that coordinators have to provide superb cooperation. What is your opinion on this?
SK: Due to better communication technology in Thailand, public relations for the event and help among artists happened a long time ago. We have traditions, cultures and the spirit to help others in our society. After the crisis, several artists turned to help people and society using several means such as fundraising by auction for paintings and sculptures from famous artists. The income from this will be used solely for public interests and this method is easy to do. We can see that educational institutes willingly provide convention halls, art galleries and museums to exhibit many artworks. Furthermore, private art galleries and studios cooperate as well. They all want artworks to be recognized so that artists can collect enough funds for their charitable purposes. This also helps to get more attention for activities in the region.
In the event at Art Bridge, many artists throughout Thailand will definitely be present. Most people who drive to Chiang Mai for their vacation could go to other northern provinces such as Mae Hongsorn, Chiang Rai and Phayao easily. It's only about 300 kilometers from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.
It is also revealing that Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai artists could workshop together and invite other people and children to participate in their activities. For example, traditional and cultural ceremonies in 2014 such as the making merits ceremony for better fortune of Chiang Rai province after the tragic earthquake on 19 July 2014. Chalermchai Kositpipat is the leader of this ceremony and he is also a national artist in fine arts. This is a good example because artists will draw some pictures on the “Tung” (Ceremonial flag in the North of Thailand). There was also the Tung parade which was an interesting event. Here we can see Thai traditional female dancers and bands of percussionists called “Klong Yao”. In this event somebody who donated more than 50,000 Baht got a painting but if that painting was reserved, a ballot was used to determine the owner of that painting.
Back to our topic: the ceremony at Art Bridge will be successful as well because of the cooperation between fellow artists as they present artworks and do the fundraising to support the charitable activities at the venue.
JY: I come here to see you again at Pankled art studio and restaurant. What would you like to tell people who are interested in the art of printing.
SK: Srijai Art studio is my personal venue to show the art of printing which is not so common in Thailand. In my view, printing has more steps and is more complicated than most other forms of painting. The equipment for printing is also expensive and difficult to use. People who come to my restaurant can see my printing artworks and sometimes they can have a printing workshop with me. If you have free time and the eagerness to see printing works, I welcome them and all of your readers to visit us here at Pankled restaurant and the art studio.
There are three branches of Pankled Coffee in Chiang Mai. Srijai Kuntawang and wife run the business. Each restaurant has a delicious bakery and roasted coffee as well as various fusion food. I would like to recommend Pankled Coffee in the Mae Tang district.
The way to Mok Fah waterfall and Pai District, Mae Hongsorn Province is about 50 km from downtown Chiang Mai. It is surrounded by a vineyard, sheep house and tropical garden.
Here are two recipes of Thai famous food from Pankled and anyone can cook them at home.
Please don’t forget to order organic coffee and grapefruit from the vineyard.
Pad Thai with Shrimp. Many people love it because of the simplicity to prepare it at home and the taste of fried noodles. Pankled Coffee has an old recipe of Pad Thai that retains a memorable flavor. The Pad Thai sauce is made from tamarind juice, palm sugar and fish sauce. The main ingredients are Pad Thai noodles, pickled turnip, shrimp, bean curd, bean sprouts, Chinese leek, ground peanuts, ground dried chili, eggs and cooking oil.
Spaghetti Pad Ki Mao (spicy stir fried noodles) with Shrimp. The ingredients are spaghetti, fresh guinea pepper, garlic, red chilli for decoration, fresh shrimp, assorted vegetables, sweet basil, seasoning, soy sauce, oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce), sugar, pepper and cooking oil.