Phuket Art Village is a creative community tucked away down a small lane in Nai Harn at the southern end of Phuket. Home to a diverse and growing collection of home studios and galleries, the village was built from the ground up by the artists themselves.
The village is set on a small plot of land on Soi Naya 2 off Saiyuan Road, not far from DaVinci restaurant about two kilometres from Nai Harn beach. A large banyan tree shades a central courtyard, while the artists’ studios are set around the perimeter. The galleries are all open all day and visitors are welcome. There are usually at least one or two artists around to greet you, though you may need to wander around for a bit before you find them. Overall, the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming.
The village artists, currently all Thai, work in a range of mediums, mostly contemporary works of art. There’s plenty of whimsy among the dozens of paintings on display, especially at the Red Room gallery by artist Somrak Maneemai, with his two-headed dogs and palm-tree adorned zombie-eyed cats.
Founder Pui Ngowsiri, who lives and works in the Love Art Studio, says the village started up three years ago and has constantly evolved. Various artists drift in and out, and currently there are four active studios and a new gallery under construction in the centre of the village. Khun Pui’s studio was created from recycled wooden planks that took years to gather. Art infuses all aspects of life in the village: like the other studios here the walls of Love Art Studio tell as much of a story as the art that hangs on them.
Next door is the studio of artist and puppeteer Apinan Sarochwong, whose place has a gallery showcasing his paintings on the ground floor, plus an open loft space upstairs where he performs his Thai shadow puppet shows behind a large screen that’s draped across the exterior.
Once the new gallery is complete, Khun Pui said there will be more exhibitions, starting with an Art Asean Workshop on June 8 and 9, 2013 with artists from around Southeast Asia and Korea set to join in.
Up until recently the Phuket Art Village was hosting monthly parties that brought out a big bohemian crowd enjoying the drum circles, kid’s art sessions, live local folk music, fire shows and shadow puppet theatre. There are plans to start these up again soon, which will be announced on the art village’s Facebook page. Some of the artists also run classes and workshops on request.
Even if you’re not planning to buy an original work of art, it’s worth stopping by the village for a peek into an alternative way of life, where creativity is given free rein to thrive. On an island that’s seeing more globally-branded blandness arriving to its shores, the Phuket Art Village serves as a refreshing and colourful antidote.
Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand began on a university exchange programme in Bangkok, then she returned to Phuket on the auspicious date of 9-9-1999 and never left.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Phuket