July 2005  | This Issue

 Thai Creations with

Click Here for This Article in Thai
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

atricia Chessman Naenna is a remarkable Englishwoman now living in Chiangmai, Thailand and before that in Laos for a number of years. She has made an in-depth study of historic and contemporary textiles of Thailand and Laos, and is an avid collector and documenter. She also helps to preserve traditional weaving forms and skills through inspiration and marketing. She established a weaver's co-operative and works with this community of weavers, supporting its members through the sale of their products in her gallery.

Patricia Chessman Naenna  Scene4 MagazineShe genuinely loves the textiles she works with and is a much repeated and published authority. She displays a special love for natural dyed fabric.

She has a comprehensive collection of representative antique textiles and works with weavers in about twenty villages to reproduce, recombine or recompose some of the old designs and textiles. She does some of the natural dyeing of yarns, particularly indigo, herself, then distributes them to weavers in her women's co-operative, "Weavers for the Environment". The weavers take into consideration her suggestions and preferences, their own inclinations and traditions and then return the finished pieces to her for sale at her showroom/workshop.

The beneficial effect of the marginal tinkering she does with color schemes, composition, design and motif selection is immediately apparent when you leave her textile gallery and go to the local markets. Here the senses can easily be saturated with the amount of raw color and the sheer volume of surface decoration in pieces offered for sale. Some pre-selection and supervision seems a very good service in this case. All of her pieces, both antique and new, are beautifully designed, well finished and very affordable. She continues to go out on collecting trips and has also recently taken textile tour groups out into the more remote villages.



Studio Neanna uses only natural fibers, not just because these fibers are the most comfortable to wear and use in home, but also because they are energy efficient to produce, where as synthetics are not. In addition to this, the unbleached yarns save the environment. To handle some chemical usage, a waste water treatment system is installed at the Studio Naenna dye shop with assistance from IDRC. Studio Naenna is also a pilot project for training other small weaving groups in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in environmental issue. Friendly dyeing method assistance has been received from the grand circle foundation for training in silk weaving for sustainable livelihoods. Research on safe dyes and waste disposal ensure only top quality eco-textiles are produced by the Weavers for the Environment group

Studio Naenna  Scene4 Magazine

I went to visit her one afternoon in her studio and asked her to talk about herself and her work..

"I'm 53 years old now. I was born in Singapore and brought up in North Borneo where my father was working for the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank. My mother was born in China, I studied ceramics and painting in England, My parents used to visit Thailand. We lived in Asia for a long time, I was in love with Asia

I went to work with the UN in ceramics development in Laos between 1973-1981. My knowledge of weaving came from people who sold shoulder cloths in the market − the cloths were valuable and sacred

Before moving to Chiangmai Thailand permanently, I lived in Sydney, Australia where I worked with Lao refugees and the Aboriginal Arts Board to establish my own ceramics studio, workshop and training centre. I settled in Thailand in 1985 with my three children and continued my research of Southeast Asian textiles, teaching in the faculty of Fine Arts at Chiangmai University.

The first Neanna Studio was opened in Nimmanhaemin Rd, soi 11 in, of all places, a garage!

The primary goals of the Weavers for the Environment group are:

    Train and offer satisfying work to young women in the village area of Chomthong South of Chiangmai, focused on bringing self esteem and an alternative to migrating to the city to find work.

    An emphasis on silk rather than cotton.

    Research and document women's indigenous knowledge of natural dye plants, weaving methods and cultural aspects of costume and textiles to benefit the weavers and their families.
    Develop designs that are suitable for export while maintaining the original knowledge of traditional designs,

    Cultivate natural dye plants to create a resource for the future generations. We have 40 women who came to do the work shop with us for "Ikat", the technique of weaving from Laos. I asked Khun Viroy, our teacher from Issan, Thailand, to come to teach from our dictionary of textiles: 100 Ancient forms and 30 applied forms from Thai art

We employ the principles of fair trade managed profits to help the group of women who are weaving for their hopes and dreams. Our clients must understand the way and culture of weaving here, so it still takes time with the orders.

We also welcome artists from all over the world to workshop with us in Chiangmai, and to access our database of the history of the Thai-Lao weaving,

As I said this year, I may go return to my new approach with Arts and Sculpture. I won't tell you right now but in 2-3 more years I may come back again with my new book, ceramics and textiles,  all together…"

She paused the long sentence then.
I saw velvet in her eyes…


Studio Naenna Textiles Studio  Scene4 Magazine

Patricia Chessman Neanna's Studio and Gallery:
Studio Naenna Textiles Gallery
138/8 Soi Changkhian , Huay Keow Road Chiangmai 50300 Thailand
22Soi1 Nimmanhaemin Road Chiangmai 50300 Thailand


©2005 Janine Yasovant
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazinel

Scene4 Renate Stendhal

Janine Yasovant is a lecturer and writer. Bsc. in Psychology MPA. in Public Administration. And the director of  ICECA (Initiative for Cultural Exchange and computer Art) in Thailand. For her quiet mind all things are possible

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คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย



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