In this blog, I introduce Pattani, one of the three Southern provinces of Thailand. I do this through photos and some descriptions. In addition, I will add a few sentences telling about the travel and the arts scene there at the end of the blog.
After being with us on the first day, Prach, our host also came with us to Pattani. Our first place to visit is the Prince of Songkla University (PSU). We visited a gallery located inside a building named Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Cultural Studies. The gallery has a huge capacity for exhibition for students and artists both local and international.
The next place is Benjametha Nature and Peace. When we arrived there we saw a Star tree which there were so many fruits. Arun picked some of them. I tried a bite. It was really effective that it suddenly made me alert from sleepiness after a nice lunch where we met a young guys who is writing about the King Sihamoni.
The owner of the Benjamentha Ceramic introduced himself as Phi Em (Phi is older brother and Em is short for his name). We were sitting on a wooden table and long chairs listening to him sharing about his work while enjoying a delicious tea.
According to him, it is important to find the ‘voice’ deep inside our heart so that we know what we really love to do and achieve. Also, the lesson from there tells about how the artist’s work can contribute to the community, job, value of local culture. Also, it is importance that the new creation is made by using existing local materials etc.
The tea that we were served was a delicious one that I kept pouring it into my little cutie cup!!!
We went to Anis’s place in the afternoon. Sitting in a comfortable little charming cafe, Ani Nagasevi, a young artist and a native Pattani Malay explained us about his various artivisms and wisdom behind his Cafe The R.I.P. According to him, the R.I.P means Rest in Pattani to defy with the stereotype of the image of Pattani as a violence place. The lesson we got from Anis is that artwork shall be created to benefit mankind.
Artist Anis Nakasawi, at his arts space and Cafe. On this lap is a pillow case printed Pattani LANDLORD where recycled colorful straws, donated by Pattani residents, are put inside.
A little charming place that has a lot of stories to tell…
On our third day in Pattani, we were hosted by Ajan Hsin Hsiang Pang, a lecture at the Prince of Songkla University and an arts supporter. He took us to a boat making community. We met a master boat painter who is very famous. He has always busy. He has been travelling around to paint boats. We were so lucky to meet him and listen to his experience and wisdom in life. When ask when did he realise he loves to paint, he said he didn’t really know. He was growing up in a seaside village where people make and paint boat for a living. Then he started to learn and draw the boat patterns in his school books or whatever materials he could find. Sometimes, when he forgot the pattern, he would come through the night to see the painted pattern on a boat even though it was dark.
The man in the white T-shirt is a master of boat painting.
When asked if he has written down the skills in a book, he said no. That’s sad because he told us that his children are not interested in this job and there isn’t any students who want to continue his arts skills. He worries that the skills would get lost forever. We were amused when he responded to our question about whether he has written down, he showed us his shoes (please see the photos below) that are carved beautifully and elegantly.
I believe that all of us fell in love with its innocent and simple beauty of the seductive rice field on the east and north of the Pattani Artspace. The arts space is founded by artist Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh. When we were there he was in Singapore for an exhibition. He is the first batch of students from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, PSU, Pattani campus where we also visited. According to Hsieng, the artist has developed his interest in contemporary visual arts from his father who is a well-known traditional boat painter. Firstly, he only paints women in veils but later reflects those women and veils with guns and bombs to picture the situation affecting his native province.
Another artworks at the rice field represents local Southeast Asian culture. It also means chasing bad luck from their community. The artist is a woman, very shy, very humble despite her talent.
Hsiang’s Arts Space is a ground floor of his residence in Pattani. There is a photograph exhibition about the life of the stateless Rohingya and some artworks of a selected artists. Most of the artworks are about daily life of Malay Thai and the violence they face.
Buku Books and More is our next stop. Besides, books, the place is a workshop where people can learn about gender and motivation. The owner has opened a Café to make income and jobs for young women. She makes up gender class where she discusses various issues related to the gender, sex education, theatre, and more. I enjoyed listening to the exchange conversation while I was drinking a cup of hot lemon tea which effectively eased my tense digestion after two bowls of noodle soup at the Ming Number One restaurant, a restaurant you don’t want to miss at all while in Pattani.
After Buku Book Shop and More, we left for the Melayu Living. Melayu Living is a community arts space volunteered by a group of artists from different background. From the conversation, I feel that there are many things have been happening and will there be many projects like architecture tour, exhibitions, exchanges, talks plus+. The team told us that they are more than welcome to have received artists from Cambodia. Also, the artists who came do not need to have big projects but to come down there to study and explore. While I was listening, I kept thinking of whom should be coming there and do some exchanges. A few names came to mind.
Living Arts Fellows and the Melayu Team at the backyard where is an exhibition behind. In the photo above, we missed the girl (a graphic designer) who took us this photo.
Pattani Garden Arts Space is an open gallery. There are several installments of various artists portraitist many stories from Pattani. The space was founded by an artist and arts professor named Ajan Pichet Piaklin who teaches at the PSU. There was a heavy rain when we arrived. There was a young boy came with half a dozen umbrellas for us.
Pattani in general through pictures…
The Central Mosque is one of the biggest and most beautiful in Thailand. Its structure looks similar to Taj Mahal of India. When we arrived, there was a wedding shot, a school trip of many young pupils, and perhaps an always gathering places for many others.
All the places that we went people are extremely friendly and helpful. Later, I heard that we are the first ever Cambodian artists that had put our feet there. I am pleased to hear that!!!
After all, everyone is happy that we made out trip there! It was truly an eye opening experience to witness a living culture, inspirational stories, healing and resilience, high commitment and passion of all artists involved to make Pattani and the other two Southern provinces a better place.
The culture and arts scene is a growing, powerful, and interesting. Almost every artist we met has a strong desire in telling stories from these places in a transformative, resiliency, reconciliation, and peaceful ways.
We miss Pattani and Narathiwat already!