6 June 2024

‘Mitr Bamrung Mueang’, or ‘The Bamrung Mueang Ally Art Exhibition’, is one of the main exhibitions, held along Bamrung Mueang Road, of Bangkok Design Week 2023.

The exhibition is organised by the ‘Urban Ally’, or ASEAN Connection Centre for Urban Design and Creativity, founded by the Faculty of Architecture at Silpakorn University. They saw that the Phra Nakhon neighbourhood has a lot of cultural richness, with all day activities for tourists. There is, however, a large number of residents moving out of this neighbourhood, leaving the old city, which was once bustling, stagnant and dilapidated.

Bamrung Mueang Road is a vital route in the Phra Nakhon neighbourhood which runs right through the middle of the district. To rehabilitate the city, Bamrung Mueang Road is the perfect venue for people to come to interact with the old city.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Singhanat Sangsehanat, Director of Urban Ally at Silpakorn University, said that “The city needs a ‘third place’ which is not our office or our home. We need a place to hang out, meet people, work out or anything we want to do. We see that the old city is now lacking a third place and we want to make it better”

Visitors can explore more than 25 installations in more than 13 locations along the road and in neighbouring communities, over more than 2 kilometres.

The 3 main venues for the exhibition are at the Hall of Sculpture at Silpakorn University, as a ‘drawing room’, Lan Khon Mueang Town Square, as a ‘playing room’, and Maen Si Metropolitan Waterworks Authority, as a ‘living room’.

The Hall of Sculpture, a museum located near Sanam Luang, contains a lot of sculptures by famous Thai artists, including Professor Silpa Bhirasri, an Italian called Corrado Ferrucci, who came to Thailand in 1923 to work for King Rama 6 as a sculptor at the Fine Arts Department. He became the pioneer of contemporary Thai art education.

The Hall of Sculpture is normally open to the general public during the day but, during Bangkok Design Week 2023, visitors will have a rare chance to explore the museum at night, under the theme of ‘drawing room’, with gorgeous lighting installations while listening to Professor Silpa’s favourite song ‘Santa Lucia’.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Singhanat said the highlight is that every sculpture by Professor Silpa Bhirasri will be bathed harmoniously in light. Besides lighting installations, visitors will be entertained by many activities, such as a sculpting workshop by the lecturers from the Faculty of Arts.

The second main venue for the exhibition is the Lan Khon Mueang Town Square, located in front of Bangkok City Hall.

This area used to be very crowded and lively, as it was once the Sao Chingcha Market. Today, the place is not as active. That’s why Urban Ally is organising many activities and live performances here under the theme of ‘playing room.’ The highlight of the venue is the ‘People Pavilion’, an extraordinary tent designed with everyone in mind.

The third main venue is at the old Maen Si Metropolitan Waterworks. The building was constructed in 1914 and was used as the first headquarters of the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority. It is now considered a historic building in Bangkok.

Under the theme of ‘Living Room’, visitors will be thrilled by the lighting art and projection mapping, which will be displayed on the 2 giant water tanks. Many works of art are also exhibited inside the historic building.

“This place becomes a ‘living room’ because, even though it was deserted for more than 20 years, the place has the potential for many uses. It has a big courtyard with two beautiful water tanks, built in the reign of King Rama 5. We want to show that the place can be used as the city’s “living room”, said Asst. Prof. Dr. Singhanat.

There are also many side-exhibitions in Mitr Bamrung Mueang. One of them is set-up at an old printing house, the Bamrung Nukunkit Building, reflecting its neighbourhood’s combination of Buddhism and gold making.

Visitors can see the art works in fabrics, which are normally seen in alms shops, and see the production process of a gold ring using real tools.

If you take a good look at the logo font of the Mitr Bamrung Mueang Art Exhibition, you might feel that each and every letter looks quite familiar. That’s because each of them comes from the signs of many places along the Bamrung Mueang Road.

Visitors can learn more about the Phra Nakhon district through the Mitr Bamrung Mueang Art Exhibition until February 12th, 2023, and become friends with Bamrung Mueang Road.

By Kitipat Chuensukjit