|  February 25, 2010

When I was at school here in Chiang Mai, I always received appalling grades in art class for my inability to colour within the lines. So it came as a startling surprise when I went to international school to find that I was top of the class in art, I was told, for my ability to think outside the lines.

Odd thing, this art.

To some, a portrait of His Majesty the King, a family portrait and a Mekong girlie calendar constitutes the height of art. To others art comes with a price tag, the more zeros the more value. To artists, it is a drive, a necessity, like life, art just is. And to myself and I imagine a few of you, it is simply something one creates or admires in our daily life that helps to make it all more bearable, interesting and beautiful.

I recently took up art classes, spending two and a half hours every week playing around with oil on canvas. It came as no surprise that I am not particularly skilled, let alone talented, but it was a revelation to discover that those two and a half hours were the two and a half hours I most looked forward to each week. Just sitting there, with a handful of other students not thinking about anything else but the mixing of colour, the choosing of paint brush and the application on canvas, there is nothing like it.

When I travel abroad, I also try my best to visit art galleries: it is invigorating to feel inspired. Which brings me to yet another of my pet peeves – long time readers will have discovered a catalogue of them! While I have enjoyed many exhibitions at Chiang Mai University’s Art Museum, I wish it were indeed more museum and less gallery space. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for Chiang Mai to have a permanent collection of art for public viewing? The curator should be wooing collectors to leave their works to the museum in their wills, or sidling up to the numerous Thai and international artists who make Chiang Mai their home for a donation. Perhaps a reader in a philanthropic mood may wish to donate the space? Hint…hint?

In the meanwhile Citylife has only tapped the surface of Chiang Mai’s art world in our art issue this month, but I hope that it will serve as an impetus for you to go and explore your creative side and curiosity.

Citylife this month:

Citylife welcomes back Cindy Tilney who has returned to us as deputy managing editor after a year and a half in South Africa. We have a colourful palette of articles about Chiang Mai’s art scene for you this month. Off-topic, an issue which we are hearing about louder and louder from many residents, is that of noise pollution; William Parham has written an interesting piece on how Bangkok is tackling its cacophonous demons. And James Austin Farrell braves winding mountainous roads with David Unkovich to discover the hidden gem of Thoed Thai village.

A special thanks to graffiti artist Kobby1, who spent a couple of days painting a wall of Citylife’s office for this month’s front cover.