The Old-World Charm of Khlong Bang Luang Artist House
Once a part of the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom ruled by King Thaksin the Great, west Bangkok still retains much of its old-world charm – something that many areas of the more developed east side have slowly lost.
While Thonburi has fewer iconic sites and is therefore less popular with tourists, visitors that do venture beyond the river and explore its quiet streets and beautiful canals can discover some fascinating architecture and village communities.
One such place is Khlong Bang Luang Artist House, or Baan Sinlapin, as it is called in Thai. While it’s possible to take a taxi to this beautiful old two-story wooden house, the best way to travel there is by long-tail boat along Thonburi’s network of picturesque canals.
Once the house of a prominent local family, it was sold to Mr Chumphon, who decided to renovate the building and turn it into an art gallery for the community. Standing on stilts on the edge of Bangkok Yai Canal, the teak L-shaped building’s top floor is an open gallery where local artists can display their paintings, photography and other works.
Downstairs the house has a workshop area and there is also a little restaurant where people can chat and meet with fellow art enthusiasts. All sorts of activities can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, including printing, drawing, masking painting and even sculpture – making Artist House an important learning and networking center for students and art enthusiasts.
With a courtyard that includes a stupa – touted to be more than 300 years old – Artist House also holds a daily puppet show with traditional Thai puppets. Representing characters from Thai mythology, the puppets are skilfully brought to life and often interact with the delighted audience.
If you are an avid supporter of community initiatives, then you will find Artist House a true inspiration – not to mention a great place to relax and enjoy an unspoiled view of local canal life.
Even if you’re not artistically inclined, you will enjoy walking through the community and perusing the various handicrafts, beautiful postcards and art souvenirs at Artist House, and at the little shops in the neighbourhood. There is also a beautiful temple dating from the Ayutthaya period that is well worth a visit.
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