It was my opportunity to interview Professor Jirawat who is currently a Vice President of Naresuan University. I had seen his work and followed his
workshop in Thailand and many countries in Asia such as China, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and especially many times in Krabi Province, Thailand. Teamwork for art education was always strong and looks very happy. It is said to be the outstanding group of art in Thailand that helps the society in the form of an academic roadshow. At the time of the interview, I found that the giving knowledge came from his upbringing and education. “Innovative development of the arts in promoting
tourism with the participation of national parks and forest park in the lower-northern region” and Creative Painting "The nature" according to the Concepts of Modern Art. Both are still in progress but I hope they can help to improve the art education in the context of innovations and creativity in Thailand.
Here is the interview:
JY: Could you tell me about yourself?
JP: Originally, I was born in a small city in Phitsanulok Province. Most people called my area the “outskirts” because it is not in the city and not
in the countryside. The distance from my house to Mueang Phitsanulok District is just around 6 kilometers but back then I felt it was very far. In my childhood, I loved drawing so much. In my house, there were so many paintings which were created by my uncle who graduated from Poh Chang school in Bangkok.
In fact, back then our family was the only household in the subdistrict that many members in our family and relatives that decided to study
arts despite the fact that there was no art school in Phitsanulok Province at that time. Many of our relatives had to travel to Bangkok to pursue their dreams of becoming artists at Poh Chang school. A relative of my mother was a teacher at Poh Chang school. His name was Sujarit Hiranyakul. As one of my relatives, he was a forerunner to help younger teenagers in our family to further art study especially at Poh chang school.
JY: What about your art education?
JP: In my childhood, I was in the primary education at Rojanawit, a private school with great support for arts. There I was the
representative young artist of the school consecutively for many years as well as participated in several school and provincial art competitions. I received certificates and medals from winning but oftentimes I got nothing at all from losing the art competition. It was the beginning for me to learn art as I pleased and I was so happy to draw something.
During my secondary education at Phitsanulok Phittayakom school
from the first to the fourth year, I rarely had a chance to learn and create more arts since I had to focus on my core subjects such as Science, Math, English, Thai and Social Science. All of them were important for me. In my view, my brain on the right side functioned better than that of the left side which rarely improved. It was very difficult for me to memorize all the formulas, numbers and lots of logic. At this time my grades were unsatisfactory but I tried to behave and
keep up with my study.
In the following year I when I was in the fifth year of my secondary education, I asked my mother to transfer me to Prathumkongkha school at Aekamai, Bangkok. I had an anticipation that after I finished my study there, I would definitely continue my art education. My dream seemed to be real when I enrolled to study art at Teacher’s College Chankasem (Now renamed Rajabhat University Chankasem) in an
advanced diploma course in Art Study as my major. My entire focus was only to study art and I received remarkable grades. I completed my study there within 2 years with the GPA of 3.72. Then I went to finish my Bachelor’s degree at Srinakharinwirot University Bangsaen (Now renamed Burapha University)
I chose to study at night-time courses here but during the day I went to work at the Institute of Marine Science as an artisan to accumulate
experiences to create many kinds of art. For about two years until I graduated, my works were to paint some scene props, sculpt some model characters, design and organize the exhibitions.
I planned to become an artist since my childhood and I only knew that I had to be artist. I had regularly seen teachers who continued to work on art in the studio such as Associate Professor Thepsakdi Thongnopkoon, Professor Suchat Taothong and many art lecturers. Teachers at that time also did some art works while they were also teaching. It was an exciting atmosphere with the majority of students graduated from
Chang Sin College, Poh Chang school, Saowapa College, and vocational schools. Students from teacher’s college were the minority with s smaller chance to continue their study.
After completing art study at Srinakharinwirot University Bangsaen, I wanted to do something for my parents. They wanted me to be a civil officer like them. Hence, I went to sit an exam to be a teacher in a
secondary school in Kamphaengphet Province. The school I got was Khlong Khlung Radrangsan School. During my teaching period I went to learn more English for 2 years at AUA Language Center Phitsanulok because I had to prepare for the master's degree examination. I already knew that the exam for the graduate level was in English entirely. Moreover, I diligently practiced my drawing skill alone in the school where I taught.
I was able to pass an exam to study a master’s degree course at Srinakharinwirot University Prasanmit. I studied with several lecturers such as Professor (Special) Aree Sutthiphan, Professr Dr. Wirun
Tangcharoen, Assistant Professor Amnat Yensabai and many others who taught me really well about contemporary arts, the artistic process, thinking and research on arts. In addition, the university's location was in the heart of Bangkok. I went to see all the art galleries in Bangkok to see works of many senior artists as well as masterpieces of famous artists. I also had more opportunities to exhibit my works which gave me invaluable experience in art and art study over time.
After graduating with a master's degree, I returned to be an art teacher at a secondary school for 2 years and then I moved to Naresuan University which had a name change from Srinakharinwirot University Phitsanulok a year ago. Coming back to my hometown, I continued to work on arts and started to build my own art studio at home. I also became the manager of the art museum in Naresuan University. I
invited some artists from the north and other regions to exhibit their work here. I also made friends with several artists and I went to exhibit my own works along with them. I also obtained my doctorate degree from Naresuan University.
JY: Please tell me about your project to set up an International Art Workshop in Thailand.
JP: The person who made me change my outlook was Wattanachot Tungateja. I casually called him Phee Paeng. He came to visit Naresuan University Art Museum and saw my works and knew that I was an underclassman who graduated from Srinakharinwirot University
Bangsaen like him. He used to be a lecturer at Naresuan University a long time ago when it was called Srinakharinwirot University Phitsanulok. He invited me to join his exhibition. Without thinking too much, I accepted his invitation immediately.
I had many chances to join group art exhibitions with Wattanachot Tungatejaas well as artists from the lower North of Thailand and an art
teacher’s group. I also participated in several national art workshops. This helped me to accumulate experience and skills from time to time until I thought I was ready to organize international art for the first time at Naresuan University. Then I planned to organize the big event for Thailand and knew that I had to make preparation for a long time. I had a talk withDr. Kamol Tassananchalee that I wanted to set up an Art
Workshop International at Naresuan University and regarding this he occasionally gave me advice.
Another turning point in my life was when the Art Association from South Korea invited two national artists Dr. Kamol Tassananchalee and Thawan Duchanee to an International Art Workshop to be held in South Korea. Both artists had the same idea to support new generations of artists and then invited Wattanachot Tungateja and me as I was
planning to set up Art Workshop International in Thailand.This was the first time that I attended an International Art Workshop in a foreign country. During my time in South Korea, I learned a great deal including suitable venue, essential equipment system, food and accommodation management. I also invited my artist friends.
In the following year, I organized an International Art Workshop at
Naresuan University. This was the point that I had intended to build the Naresuan University Art Museum. Concurrently, I worked as a lecturer and an artist who managed an art museum. For my personal artwork, I built an art studio to create and exhibit works of art in various locations within Thailand and abroad. The International Art Workshop was held two-three times a year. Moreover, I also built my own art museum and studio at my home with an area of 4 Rai (1,600
sqm). This was built to keep and exhibit great artworks from artists throughout the world as another learning center.
JY: Anything else?
JP: I had the opportunity to get to know and learn with fellow artists around the world. This encouraged me to make more art and gave me an idea that the rapid change of the world in this globalization trend had brought a drastic change to the way of life, concepts, values of people in society because art is born from people. When people change, art will also change. Globalization therefore has a direct impact on the way of
thinking, techniques, and the creative process of all branches of art.. It will act like a casting mold to shape people in the society like an endless cycle. If art could be a tool to promote the benevolence of the society to survive, the attempt to be truly self-reliant probably is the final answer to be the transcendent existence of all branches of art.
As I had duties and obligations to be a university lecturer, I had to do research and teaching at the same time. I was interested in photography which is a branch of art. I went to study this with a national artist, Woranan Chatchawanthipakorn. Now I have different
kinds of work as lecturer, researcher, university vice president who can be an artist and a photographer. Additionally, I will do anything that relates to art in the university including attending art exhibitions in Thailand and abroad. I feel that I need to work every day and it becomes my habit to wake up and work on art. I still practice my skill continuously. I think it will be good for me to work like this all my life.