When I think of artists, I think of The Beatles, Guns-N-Roses, The Who, Chopin, Beethoven or Bedrich Smetena. I think of Picasso, DiVinci, Rembrandt and Michelangelo and on rare occasions, Andy Warhol. Naming photographers is a bit trickier and my list is pages long: Fan Ho, Don McCullin, Daido Moriyama, W. Eugene Smith, Joseph Koudelka and William Eggleston, to name a scant few. My list of writers is equally lengthy: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Alexander Dumas, Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Conrad, Paul Theroux and Charles Bukowski...artists in every sense of the word.
When asked what I do, I always refer to myself as a writer and photographer. I am also what I consider a hack video-maker, but nevertheless, I am an artist. Perhaps attributing a word or words to what someone does is a mistake, however I like to think of my books, magazines articles and photographs as artistic endeavors. Why is being an artist important to me? I write, I take photos, I produce videos and therefore I am. I wish I could explain more thoroughly, but I am incapable of providing a better answer.
Prior to her last trip to Bangkok, my mother mentioned she would like to visit Baan Bat, or the Monk Bowl Village.
"Never heard of it," I said, somewhat apathetically.
Chinatown is one of my favorite areas in Bangkok, both to walk and to photograph, and yet I had never heard of, or visited the Baan Bat community. In the morning, my mother, sister, her two children, my sons, my wife and I went to the Amita Cooking Class to learn how to cook a few meals. My sister wanted to hit a gold shop, so off to Chinatown we went. a half an hour later, she bought a necklace, and we headed to Baan Bat. Okay, sounds good to me.
Baan Bat is the sort of place you can visit for an hour or two. The community is only comprised of a few house, so the majority of time spent there is watching how the bowls are made. The metal is heated, bent, soldered, pounded, polished, boxed, then sent out or put on sale at the entrance. It is interesting, for an hour or two, and the sort of place that once needs to see at least once. You walk around Chinatown, buy a few trinkets, have a hearty Chinese lunch at Shangri-La, check out Baan Bat, and then head over to Pahurat to go change cultures and move from Chinese to Indian.
I do recommend a visit to Baan Bat. Visit the place and watch the bowls being made, because who knows, in a few years or a few decades, Baan Bat might be gone. Just go, just once...it's worth the time spent. If you are lazy and don't have a mother to prod you into visiting the Monk Bowl Village like I did, then at least watch my video.