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  • Rawai Art Village

    A Group of Artists in Rawai Beach - Phuket

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    A quiet, laid-back area at the south end of the island, Rawai has a reputation as the most relaxed place in Phuket.

    Over the past few years, it has also gained a name as an art community, with a growing group of artists getting together and staging collective exhibitions under the name Rawai Artists.

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  • The Village Chief

    Somrak Maneemai, head of the Rawai Art Village and owner of the Red Gallery Art Studio (see below), says, “It’s mostly coincidence that so many painters, musicians, songwriters, actors and puppeteers have ended up living in this area. But one of the many reasons that brought us all to Rawai has to be the cost of living. Living in this part of Phuket is cheaper than in other areas.” The artists got to know one another over the years and in 2006 decided to present themselves as a group.

    Not all make their living from art, Khun Somrak says. The members include, for example, a pediatrician and a nurse. They get together often to play music, discuss art or just hang out and have a good time. There are also more serious agendas. For example, they plan to work more closely with local communities such as the Sea Gypsies to help preserve local culture and to raise the standard and status of art on the island.

    The Villagers

    Love Arts Studio

    Love Arts is on a piece of land almost a rai in area, which is also home to three other art studios. Khun Kitipong, a talented young artist, has already had many exhibitions in Thailand, as well as in Croatia, Portugal, Vietnam and Korea.

    Most of his works are oils expressing his feelings at the time. Whether it’s sadness, joy, anger or fear, the emotion goes into his work. “I do only original work – no copying,” he stresses.

    • Opening Hours: 10 am – 10 pm
    • Location: Pass Don's Mall to the Saiyuan junction, turn right to go to Patong beach direction, the studio is just a minute after the turn on your left
    • Remarks: Owned by Kitipong Ngosiri
    • Address: 88/5 Moo 1, Viset Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 089 471 5653

    Rak Lay Gallery

    Next to Love Arts Studio is that of these two artists, who produce original photography, paintings and sculpture. The photographs of Thailand are a mixture, some in black and white, some in colour and some in a combination of both.

    They are currently working to open a gallery. Kerrily explains, “At the moment, Joy and I are still working out the details but at this point we aim to have it open from 2 pm on weekdays and all day at weekends.”

    • Remarks: Owned by Chaianan “Joy” Bamrungchoo and Kerrily Jennings
    • Address: 88/5 Moo 1, Viset Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 08 49462171

    Tawan Ook Art Gallery Original Art and Café

    Like many artists, Khun Apinan – the third artist in this enclave – worked in his native Surat Thani for other people for many years until he got to the point where he decided it was time to go it alone. He started his first studio in Khao Lak and moved to Rawai in late 2004.

    He works in acrylics but also in a variety of other media – wood and other recyclable products – to produce art showing traditional Thai life. “I want to record the Thai way of life in acrylics before it’s gone,” he says. “Most local folk don’t appreciate their way of life until they move away from home. Then, when they look back, most seem to understand and appreciate the simple way of life they had. This is unlike foreigners, many of whom come here and immediately see the value in the Thai way of life.”

    He offers to provide space in his studio for any artist wanting to display work, as a way of helping newcomers on the art scene and and also as a way to share experience and ideas.

    • Opening Hours: 9 am – 10 pm
    • Remarks: Owned by Apinan Sarochwong
    • Address: 88/5 Moo 1, Viset Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 081 956 5872

    Come Peng Studio

    In the fourth studio, Khun Samart works mainly in acrylics. A native of Nakhon Sri Thammarat, he is also a puppeteer, performing shadow puppet shows, an art that originated in southern Thailand. The puppets also appear as characters in his paintings.

    “There is a live puppet and music show on the first Saturday of each month, from 5.30 to 11 pm,” says Khun Samart. “To make it fun we make a party of it. Anyone is welcome to come and join us.”

    • Remarks: Owned by Samart Ratanarat
    • Address: 88/5 Moo 1, Viset Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 083 596 6066

    Baan Batik

    Like many of the artists who have gravitated to Rawai, Khun Apinan is originally not from Phuket. He’s from Bangkok but has absolutely no plans to go back there. He originally moved to the island many years ago to teach in a local college and only later set up Baan Batik, selling to both the retail and wholesale markets.

    “Every batik here is designed by our team, so our work is more original than you’ll see in any batik shop in the market,” says Khun Apinan. 

    • Opening Hours: 9 am – 6 pm, Closed on Sundays
    • Location: About 2 km from the Chalong circle, next to Bangjak gas station
    • Remarks: Owned by Apinan Tovankasame
    • Address: 10/15 Moo 4, Viset Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 076 384 061

    @ART at B Zenter

    @Art is in the Bzenter business center. Inside are all kinds of art, mainly produced by Rawai-based artists and including hand-made artifacts using recycled wood, and stone animals.

    Khun Somkid says that the gallery also exhibits similar art from Chiang Mai artists. In addition, the shop has art-design shirts and shopping bags, batik and jewellery from Bangkok designers.

    • Opening Hours: Low season 3 pm - 10 pm, high season noon - 9.30 pm. Closed on Wednesdays
    • Remarks: Owned by Somkid Huangthanapan
    • Address: 28/43, Moo 1, Rawai
    • Tel: 089 793 6366

    Red Gallery Art Studio

    Though Khun Somrak’s Red Gallery Art Studio has been open only slightly more than a year, it is already full of paintings. As a painter, he likes to try many techniques. “You have to see the works to know what my style is,” he explains.

    He has a master’s degree from Silpakorn University, one of Thailand’s top art schools, and teaches art part time to any interested party, young or old, Thai or foreign.

    • Remarks: Owned by Somrak Maneemai
    • Address: 28/40 Saiyuan Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 087 890 3722

    Wood Art and Gallery

    Wood Art was also founded by people from outside Phuket. “We are not from here,” says Khun Prapai. “I come from Kalasin and my husband, Supod, is from Nakhon Sri Thammarat. Our studio opened about two years ago. It’s a family effort – my husband, his younger brother and I.”

    The team work in two media: woodwork, including framing and wood carving; and oil paintings, particularly landscapes.

    “I like Rawai because the local people still have a very strong culture. For example, they still dance the ‘rong ngeng’ which you can’t see anywhere else. Also, the artists here support one another; it’s not all about business and competition. The community here is great – both the local villagers and the expats, many of whom support us by buying our work. It is like living in one big family,” Khun Prapai says.

    • Opening Hours: 9 am - 10 pm
    • Remarks: Owned by Prapai Wongwasana
    • Address: 28/41 Saiyuan Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 083 102 0736

    Waan-D Art 2 Rest

    Khun Sinn-a-roon is a recent addition to the group. He is a musician and songwriter but whenever he has spare time he works on his hobby, woodwork, which has become a passion.

    “I collect driftwood and make useful things from it,” he explains “I make furniture – chairs or reading lamps, for example. Sometime I combine the wood with other recyclable materials.”

    He keeps the wood as he finds it, never adding colour of any kind; he likes the natural color to do the work, he explains. He recently had an exhibition in Phuket City. He was happy with the result, he says, since it has brought him more made-to-order work.  

    • Opening Hours: 10 am - 5 pm
    • Remarks: Owned by Sinn-a-roon Rasmeenopsawej
    • Address: 4/6 Moo 1, Viset Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 086 941 7113

    Ramadon’s Art Studio

    There is a large number of original works in this studio. Khun Ramadon explains, “My paintings are basically semi-abstract oils. But if you ask me what I like best, I can tell you it’s performance art.”

    Walking along a street, or in a shopping mall or at Phromthep Cape, you may come across a white statue. On closer inspection you’ll find it’s a man painted entirely – clothes and all – in white, standing completely still for hours at a time. This is Khun Ramadon. Sometime he paints himself in other colors – black perhaps, or red. It’s the kind of thing, he says, that he simply enjoys a great deal.

    • Opening Hours: The studio is never locked. (Khun Ramadon believes no real art lover would never steal art.)
    • Remarks: Owned by Ramadon Kohanae
    • Address: 63/6 Saiyuan Rd, Rawai
    • Tel: 087 276 9507

    Ka-mon House Original Art Painting

    Khun Kamon completed art school in Bangkok 12 years ago and has been painting ever since. He moved to Phuket eight years ago and joined the Rawai Art Village recently, when he started building his new studio opposite The Mangosteen resort.

    He has yet to mount an exhibition of his modern art paintings, mainly in oils and acrylics, in Phuket, but he has exhibitions every year in France, Switzerland and Germany. “I work with an art dealer who organizes for me to go and do exhibitions overseas, though I didn’t go this year because I’ve been busy setting up this studio,” says Khun Kamon.

    “I feel warm being near other artists who are the members of Rawai group. If, when I’m working late at night, I run out of paint, I can just go and knock on their door to borrow some,” he says. “And when I feel stress from work, I have people to talk to who understand me.”

    • Opening Hours: 10 am - 9 pm
    • Location: Soi Mangosteen, Saiyuan Rd, Rawai
    • Remarks: Owned by Kamon Chukom
    • Tel: 087 332 5708

    Vichen Gallery at B Zenter

    Vichen Gallery opened towards the end of 2006 with the aim of providing a place for people to relax while surrounded by art, as well as a place where artists and art lovers can exchange knowledge and opinions on art.

    Since it opened, the gallery has become one of the island’s most active art showcases, with no fewer than four exhibitions so far, by various artists, both Thai and foreign.

    In March this year the first show was called “8 Eggs”, featuring works by eight artists. This was followed in May by the exhibition “Neighbor”, with work by four artists. In July the works of three artists was showcased in “Rattanakosin Spiritual Poetry”, while in October the gallery mounted “Absolutely Abstract, Do Not Think, Just Feel” by three artists.

    • Opening Hours: 3 pm - 9.30 pm. Closed on Wednesdays
    • Remarks: Owned by Somnuk Huangthanapan
    • Address: 28/43, Moo 1, Rawai
    • Tel: 076 288 999

    Tips

    To visit any of the galleries or studios in the Rawai Art Village, it’s best to make an appointment. Most of the artists work and live at their studios and welcome guests anytime, but it’s always best to call first to check whether they are out buying fresh paint or searching for driftwood.

    Please note that the ground of Rawai Art Village covers is quite large – you’ll need a vehicle to get around all the galleries.

    By Rungtip Hongjakpet Izmen

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