The newly opened Living Art Gallery at Blue Tree — spanning 500 sq.m of gallery space in Phuket — brings together art and high-end design from across different regions in Thailand.
On Saturday August 29, 2020, The Living Art Gallery at Blue Tree Phuket opened its doors to the public. The art currently on display showcases the work of almost two dozen individual Thai artists, ranging from contemporary pottery and furniture, to paintings, ink drawings, jewellery, weavings, and exquisite fashion and fashion accessory designs (the pearl creations of Dutchan Jaritngam and the handbags by Radha Rathke were particularly entrancing).
The Living Art Gallery is the latest addition to Blue Tree, a spectacular 55-acre water park – the largest in Phuket – which itself only just launched in September of 2019. The recent opening of the gallery served as a pre-launch event for the upcoming Living Art Festival, which is set to take place from November 26-29 and will hopefully become an annual event. The aim of this upcoming festival will be to educate visitors about Thai art and craftsmanship, but it will also encompass other forms of artistry and artistic endeavour, including gastronomy, music, and so forth. By supporting local communities within Thailand, and working to generate income within the country, The Living Art gallery is helping to provide a platform for sustainable tourism.
The afternoon inauguration ceremony, which was attended by multiple VIPs and dignitaries as well as select members of the media, outlined the genesis and aims of this ambitious new project. Sornchat “Aom” Krainara, the festival owner and CEO at The Living Art Co. Ltd, remarked that, “Phuket is a tourist destination because of its local attractions. It is incredibly rich in culture and by bringing art into Phuket I’m hoping it will enhance the art and cultural reputation of the destination.”
Along with congratulatory speeches from Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, and Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, President of the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Jay Leshark, the Schools and Membership Manager of Blue Tree, had this to say: “I was privileged to go to The Living Art Gallery last weekend, for a pre-opening VIP tour, and I took my 8-year-old daughter with me. The first thing she said after we finished the tour was ‘Daddy can we go back tomorrow?’. That just shows you what an inspiration the place is going to be, for children and adults as well.”
After the opening speeches, assembled guests were invited to finally take a tour of the gallery. Inside, Felix Littschwager-Wallner, General Manager of The Living Arts Co. Ltd, explained how their mission is two-fold. “Firstly, we work to promote lesser-known local artists to a national and international audience of art lovers, and hopefully, art buyers. Secondly, we aim to create a tourism alternative for Phuket, that promotes local Thai arts, craftmanship, culinary offerings and unique lifestyle – something other than just the beaches and Bangla Road. Further stages to come will include an online virtual reality art gallery, with interactive virtual meeting spaces and a community art space that offers space for workshops, artist residency, and the creative exchange between cultures.”
Along with the art of display, guests at the gallery opening were treated to live “performance art” displays by Dojo Sareena and Aor Nopawan, as well as a mini-fashion show by acclaimed designer Buncha Chooduang, who presented his collection of purses and costumes made in cooperation with the prisoners of “Dann 3”-penetentiary and their embroidered artwork from Chiang Rai.
The gallery’s interior is divided into four “sections”: the Peranakan culture (Baba-Yaya) zone; the Phuket forest zone; the underwater-themed Andaman Ocean zone; and a Performing Art zone. In addition, the gallery’s theme-matched furniture was created by Bangkok-based furniture design-house Deesawat, as well as Chiang Mai’s Moonler design. However, one of the most popular attraction seemed to be the high-tech augmented reality (AR) set-up at which visitors posed for elaborately enhanced “art selfies”.
“Our AR (augmented reality filters) were made by Florian Sabatier from Holowisp, a young AR team based in Bangkok,” points out Sommai Yocapajorn, Director of Marketing and Communications for The Living Arts Co. Ltd. “The filters were created in collaboration with the artists, to create a shareable and interactive experience for the visitors. Filters can be accessed through the Instagram page (@thelivingartthailand).”
The new gallery, which has been two years in the planning, is supported by both the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and TCEB, as well as Blue Tree Phuket and leading brands such as True Digital, VietJet Airlines, Love Andaman, Villa Enjoy Phuket, and Baan Ar-Jor, just to name a few. It’s open every day from 3pm till 10pm, and admission is free. If you can’t make it to Phuket, the gallery has a VR tour and online shop – created by VRTwinS, a Bangkok based team of VR and game designers – which can be visited at thelivingart.vrtwinshop.com.