Varisa ‘Gift’ Passakornnatee is a bright 24 year old graduate in theatre design from St Martin’s School of Arts in London. She is also the daughter of the founder of the Oishi empire: hundreds of Japanese buffet restaurants throughout Thailand, frozen foods, water, green tea and a host of other products and services. Gift returned to Bangkok six months ago and begged her father to find her a space where she can perhaps open up an art museum. Her father’s gift to her was the purchase of five rai of land on the corner of Nimmanhaemin and Huay Kaew Roads where she has created Think Park. Incidentally, and while he was about it, he also purchased land on the other side of the Huay Kaew Road where a community mall will be built in conjunction with SF Cinema group.
“I can not believe the generosity of my father,” Gift gushed. “He has given me this valuable property to create my dream project, a community space in the heart of Chiang Mai’s art scene, Nimmanhaemin. I wish to create a space where local artists can come to exhibit, where international artists will visit and where families can spend a day out together enjoying art, crafts, and unique small businesses which fit into our concept.” Gift is still running various branches of her family business in Bangkok working on designs for boutique hotels and a restaurant. However, she wishes to start small – not wanting to take much more from her father, and grow organically and sustainable. She aims to organise art-based events every three months or so.
“Nimmanhaemin Road is full of artists and artisans,” continued Gift. “We simply wish to be a part of the community and help to encourage and create art. I have spent much of my time asking advice from artists and people with knowledge in the field and most of them tell me not to be over ambitious, even though my vision is of a humble version of the Tate Modern. I will listen to, and try to understand Chiang Mai and its people before I do anything too big. I am very excited and fortunate.”