11 July 2024

Now in his 60s, Chainarong Na Nakorn is determined to give visitors the opportunity to learn more about Phang Nga while also encouraging the new generation to appreciate their roots and the history of their hometown. He’s chosen to do that through art with the “Mystery of a Beautiful Town in the Valley” exhibition.

Running from May 8 to 14, 2022 at Bo Saen Villa in Phang Nga province, this art exhibition will feature 50 watercolor paintings showcasing well-known and important places, culture, history, and way of life of this small province.

When Thais think about Phang Nga, the first things that tend to come to mind are Khao Tapu, the islet that was featured in a James Bond movie, the white beaches of Khao Lak, and the Samed Nang Chi viewpoint. But not many of them know that this province has a long history, generated huge revenues for the country when tin mining was the major activity and that the ancient paintings discovered in a cave are clear evidence of ancient settlements in this area.

Governor House by Soonthorn

“I want young people to know and appreciate their hometown more,” said Chainarong. “I talked to my cousin who teaches at Chulalongkorn University and discussed the best ways to connect people. We agreed that art has the power to catch attention and bring different people together.”

They approached many artists and told them about Chainarong’s idea to let people discover more about Phang Nga through paintings. The response was good, with national artists  Preecha Thaothong, Inson Wongsam, Somsak Chowtadapong, Pichai Nirand and Ithipol Thangchalok each sending one painting and senior artists, among them Vinai Prabripu, Somphop Butrat, and Somwong Tapparat, contributing two watercolors apiece.

New generation artists from Phuket Art Club and local artists in Phang Nga also contributed their paintings, which add different points of view of this small province.

Tham Sam Cave by Pranuan Thoongprue.

Chainarong met with the artists and told them stories about his hometown, history, culture, interesting places, lifestyle, and folklore, and these tales inspired them in creating their works.

While many paintings at this exhibition feature beautiful places well-known to tourists like Samed Nang Chi, Koh Pan Yi, and Phang Nga Bay, others have little mysteries hidden inside.

“I am amazed by the little details about history and culture these artists added into their works,” he said.

painitng by Winai Prabripu.

For example, in a painting of Koh Pan Yi, the artist painted little flags because Pan Yi means flag. In another painting, the artist painted a human face similar to that portrayed in the ancient painting found in Tham Sam Cave. In the picture of Khao Lang Bat, viewers can spot a royal umbrella, which signifies that King Rama V once came to visit this little town. In another contemporary work, the artist uses modern techniques to highlight the mountainous scenery of the province.

The paintings exhibited at this art exhibition are also for sale. Proceeds from the sales of the paintings will go to the construction of the Three Phraya Monument of three governors of Phang Nga, one of them an ancestor of Chainarong.

“This art exhibition is just the first step to attract people to learn more about my hometown. In the long run, I want to build something that lasts longer for Phang Nga, something that the younger generations will be proud of,” he told TPBS World.

By Veena Thoopkrajae