22 Sep 2022
The newly constructed Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre has been the focus of attention as it prepares to host APEC 2022. The venue with Its modern design, incorporating elements of contemporary Thai motifs, replaces the original convention centre that hosted over 20,000 events during its 30-year history, that started with the World Bank conference in 1989. This new convention centre offers five times the floor space of its predecessor, and is a truly modern architectural wonder with emphasis on sustainability.
Taking the spotlight in the foyer of the LG floor are two massive art installations by Thai textile artist Ploenchan “Mook” Vinyaratn. Each piece soars high at 24m x 6.5m, and she says it is her “biggest and most challenging project to date”. Ploenchan noted that to produce each piece of such a magnitude should normally take at least a year, but she somehow managed to complete both in 58 days, including installation. This was accomplished despite several setbacks including weavers catching Covid and her atelier flooding during the rainy season.
The contemporary textile art works were commissioned by NCC Management and Development Co Ltd which operates the convention centre. For the record, Mook was previously commissioned to create the 16m ceiling artwork for the Louis Vuitton boutique at ICONSIAM amongst others.
Ploenchan looked to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother—the namesake of the convention centre—for inspiration. The Queen Mother has been a strong promoter of Thai handicrafts and indigenous textiles, and also helped revive the traditional Khon masked dance. The two textile installations are therefore based on these two themes.
The piece on the left as you enter, “Woven Symphony” is an appliqué work created by Ploenchan in conjunction with a team of artists, designers and craftsmen from around the country including the textile departments of Thammasat, Chiang Mai, Ubol Rachathani and Songkhla Universities, with Ploenchan as the “conductor”. For this piece, Ploenchan used green as the vertical background yarns reminiscent of shimmering blades of grass blowing in the wind.
The piece on the right, “Adam’s Bridge”, draws upon the Ramakien epic of Khon masked dance with reference to the stone causeway created by Rama’s simian army to allow him to reach Lanka to save his abducted wife, Sida. Adam’s Bridge, also known as Ram Setu, is an actual natural chain of limestone shoals between the south of India and the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. For this piece, Ploenchan used blue vertical yarns to represent the warp yarns of a weaver’s loom, and metaphorically the waves of the ocean around the bridge.
In Ploenchan’s signature style, the art piece uses mixed media based on waste material such as leftover industrial yarns as well as recycled strips of aluminium cans in an attempt to inspire the viewer about the environment and the need for waste recycling.
She was supported by Preecha Ratchakhun and his team at De To Great, who rose to the challenge of installing this massive and complicated piece, finishing one day ahead of schedule.
The beauty of contemporary art is that it is only limited by the viewer’s imagination and interpretation, or as Mook explains, “like the pareidolia we feel with clouds and caves.” She acknowledges the inspiration from the centre art piece between her works, a carved wooden panel 22.80m x 6.35m, depicting the coronation of Indra, forming a triptych of gigantic masterpieces combining traditional and contemporary art.