Bangkok Post - Feature Profile, June 03, 2011
"Most of my works reflect both Thai and Australian cultures which have greatly inspired me. I find it very hard to tell which is which now, since both cultures seem to merge nicely in me. The boundary [between both cultures] is sort of blurred and blend together.
"A good example of this," he said, "is in the Indigo Kingdom series [a 2009 solo exhibition at Anna Pappas Gallery, in Melbourne].
"In this series, I reinterpreted a Thai temple's plan to build an imaginative kingdom that also featured the contemporary human impacts on the Great Barrier Reef."
Over the years, Vipoo has impressed art aficionados from both countries with his series of alternating solo and group exhibitions. "I enjoy holding exhibitions in both countries. My Thai and Australian counterparts always give me a warm welcome and amazing support. In Australia, there is more support for art, with a number of organisations in both government and private sectors working to help make the art scene better. Besides, there is more funding available for artists there ... more galleries and museums, more exhibitions, and more variety of art forms.
"Having said that, I have found that mainstream media in Thailand pays greater attention to art _ more than their colleagues in Australia. It is a lot cheaper to make art in Thailand as well," he said.
A graduate of Rangsit University, the artist furthered his studies in Australia, where he received a postgraduate diploma (ceramics) at Monash University in 1997, and earned his master's degree in Fine Art and Design (ceramics) from the University of Tasmania, Hobart, the following year. Eventually, the artist met his future partner and later decided to settle "Down Under" in Australia.
"I now call Australia home after 15 years," he smiled.
The 42-year-old artist, however, conceded that he was not attracted to ceramic art from the beginning. "My first experience with ceramics was at the College of Fine Art in Bangkok. It wasn't love at first sight ... I slowly grew to love ceramics more and more later on. Making ceramic objects allows me to have fun and there's the excitement of working with clay. I like the idea of turning a humble piece of clay into something fabulous! Besides, working with clay makes me feel like I'm a kid again. It's always fun to play with clay."
During his time at the College of Fine Art in Bangkok, Vipoo said he used to make fashion accessories, such as necklaces and earrings using air-dry clay. "It was very successful. In fact, it was what led me to choose ceramics as my major subject for my master's degree."
Since 2005, the Thai-Australian artist has been best known for his two distinct styles of work: the blue and white designs, and the fancy colourful ceramic designs. Vipoo said he likes both styles equally.
"With these two styles, I am never bored with having just one repetitive idea. I once tried to combine the two styles, but the results were less than satisfactory," he explained.
In addition, Vipoo said he likes to create series of works, each exploring a chosen theme.
"In choosing the theme, I simply go by what my interest is at the time of creating the series. Many of the themes I use draw on my bicultural experiences and reference my place between the two worlds. Right now I am interested in environmental issues, especially to do with coral reefs."
Vipoo has lived in several different cities in Australia, but admitted that he likes Melbourne the most.
"Apart from the great support for artists, the Melbourne lifestyle is very enjoyable ... a relaxing and very creative environment with good food, great art and generous people," he said. But he also praised artists in Thailand because they seemed to be very good at forming groups and organising activities together, even though there is little support.
"I recently found out that a group of 40 Thai artists got together, rented a very big warehouse near Bangkok and tried to turn it into an art district similar to the 798 Art District in Beijing, China. I don't see this happening in Australia any time soon."
He explained that he liked the city of Melbourne so much that he decided to work on a city guidebook for a Thai publisher. "I want to share with and introduce others to all the wonderful experiences of living in Melbourne. I plan to merge two of my biggest loves _ my love for Melbourne, and my love for art _ all into one. The concept of the guidebook is based on the artist studio visit, where visitors can explore the area around the many art studios, drop by the shopping areas, or explore other fun activities in their free time."
Though he is thousands of kilometres away, Vipoo is far from being cut off from his home country. Last month, Vipoo initiated a charity art auction to raise funds for flood victims in the South, known as the "Soothe the South" (STS) project; it was his second art charity. The first was an online ceramic art auction held in Australia, which raised $20,000 to help Queensland flood victims. The STS project has also raised more than 410,000 baht for the Friends in Need (of Pa) Volunteers Foundation, the Thai Red Cross Society.
"To continue to provide relief to flood victims in the South we plan to sell 200 STS T-shirts at 400 baht each. All of the money collected from sales will go to the Chaipattana Foundation. The production costs for making the shirts is being sponsored by myself and a few of my friends," he said.
Those wishing to know more about the charity or when and where the T-shirts can visit www.facebook.com/ststhai, he added.
As for his Thai fans, they will have to wait a bit longer to see his next exhibition. "I have been invited to hold an exhibition at the Art Centre at Chulalongkorn University next year. But before that time comes, you can see my works at Vipoo.com."