Arts Centre Melbourne Presents KNOWLEDGE IN MY HANDS, EYES AND MIND

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Arts Centre Melbourne Presents KNOWLEDGE IN MY HANDS, EYES AND MIND

In an Australian premiere, Thai-Australian artist Phaptawan Suwannakudt's multi-sensory, site-specific installation Knowledge in your hands, eyes and mind is coming to Arts Centre Melbourne as part of Asia TOPA from 8 Feb - 22 March in the Smorgon Family Plaza.

First presented at the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018, this work explores the history and physicality of the Wat Pho temple Suwannakudt has known since her childhood. It shows the temple's history as a site of public education in Bangkok since the 1830s, and interrogate time and conventional narrative.

Widely educated in Thai poetry, beginning with her two years of tutorship by Chang Sae-tang when she was 17-years-old, Suwannakudt overlays the mural with a soundscape of readings taken from the very poems incised on Wat Pho's walls. Read by students and their professional music teacher from Angthong (Thailand), the work is complemented by a fragrant sensorium of Thai herbs used in bowls by the masseurs trained at Wat Pho.

For its second iteration, Suwannakudt has drawn inspiration from the history of the Arts Centre Melbourne site, particularly the history of performing arts, which predates the current buildings. The work invites visitors to enter the installation and engage with the work through sight, scent and sound.

Suwannakudt's interest in art was encouraged by her father Paiboon Suwannakudt, also known as Tan Kudt, a famous mural painter. She trained as an apprentice in his workshop for 12 years. After leading the Tan Kudt Group - her late father's group of mural painters - to work on large mural projects for temples and hotels in Thailand for over a decade, Suwannakudt decided to move to Australia in 1996.

She has since exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and internationally including the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012 and the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018. Her work is held in both private and public collections including the National Gallery of Thailand, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Art Bank Sydney.

Image credit: Phaptawan Suwannakudt, Knowledge in your hands, eyes and mind, acrylic on canvas, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist. Photographer: Aroon Peampoonsopon.

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