The long-awaited Bangkok Art and Culture Centre opens with an exhibition of photos by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

SAMILA WENIN

Most of us are aware that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, not many truly understand one of the most important messages an image carries - the way a person, the photographer, sees the world.
To open the long-awaited Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (Bacc), the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, the Royal Photographic Society under Royal Patronage and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre join together to stage an exhibition of photos by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn - "Always Roaming with a Hungry Heart".
Arranged chronologically, the exhibition will take viewers on different journeys and state visits, as well as everyday events seen through the eyes of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The 230 images have been taken over the last five years, across 20 countries.
"You'd feel as if you were following the princess during her trips. The collection of photos also reflects a lot about HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. You can see her as artist, as cultural ambassador and most of all, you can see the way she sees the world," said Prof Dr Apinan Poshyananda, director of the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, who also chairs the Bacc's administrative committee.
The way HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn sees the world, according to Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, acting president of the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of HM the King, is reflected in the title of the exhibition, "Cheevit Tee Moon Pai Mai Yud Yang" (Always Roaming with a Hungry Heart).
"The title of the exhibition reflects the idea and the way the princess sees the world. She sees with a curiosity and thirst for knowledge," he said.
As an avid reader and writer, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn initially embraced photography for informative purposes. She uses a simple digital camera to capture what she sees during her numerous travels and state visits to record what she experiences and to use the photos as models for her painting, without ever thinking of putting up an exhibition.
The idea for an exhibition, however, was first proposed two years ago by a Chinese journalist and photographer.
"The princess was asked whether she could graciously offer some of her photos of China to be used in an exhibition, hence the first exhibition of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn's photos," said photographer Nitikorn Kraivichien, who has been following the princess on various journeys.
"Later on, the show travelled across China. This first show was soon followed by exhibitions in Bangkok, India, Chiang Mai. This is the princess's fifth exhibition, and we believe that it's a kind of blessing for this new Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to start with an exhibition by the princess."
The 230 photos, though taken in various countries from China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, the UAE, the US, Uzbekistan, Venezuela to, of course, Thailand, cover all types of images from landscape to portraiture, wildlife to abstract. Viewers can just admire the breath-taking sky-scape of French Polynesia, or laugh at images of a boy falling asleep while having a haircut or a tail of a dog coiled in a spiral shape.
"HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn doesn't have much time at places she visits, so her photos are more like snapshots. That these photos can reflect stories with such vitality is due to the princess's keen eye as an artist, her wit and her humour that enable her to find an interesting aspect in what many people often overlook," said Nitikorn.
The exhibited photos will be accompanied by a screening of a film of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn's discussing each image. To be filmed during the opening ceremony on July 27, the video will guide viewers through behind-the-scenes anecdotes and will enlighten them on various aspects of the places and people (or animals) captured.
"Thai people have long been familiar with images of the princess with a camera and we all know she always return from her journeys with records and memories, which we have read in several of her books," said Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin, who also chairs the committee of the Art Foundation, the non-profit body that governs the Bacc.
"This exhibition enables us to follow her journeys more closely. It reflects not only her talent as artist but also ways of life of people all over the world seen through the princess's personal perspective."
"Always Roaming with a Hungry Heart: The Royal Photo Exhibition by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand" will be open to the public viewing on July 29, on the 9th floor of the new Bacc, Patumwan intersection. The exhibition will run until August 24. The Bacc is open every day except Monday from 10am to 9pm.
A special auction for 20 photographs from the exhibition will take place on August 3, from 2 to 4pm, at the auditorium of the Bacc.
The book Always Roaming with a Hungry Heart will be available from next week at bookstores nationwide at the price of 900 baht. Revenue from both the auctions and sales of the books will be donated to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for her charity purposes.
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