This blog is going to be a little different. I want to talk about something that happened to me and the photography the events led to.
I think it's important for artists to remember that all of our lives are filled with opportunities to be inspired. And one of the best ways to make art is to open yourself up to the experiences available to you.
When we stop trying to create with a preconceived idea in mind and instead try to capture what is real and important to us, we end up transforming the personal into the universal. It’s strong alchemy. By being incredibly specific, we can end up telling stories with our art that everyone can understand, appreciate and learn from.
That is only one of the many mysteries of creating art, but I think it is one of the most important. Many artists struggle to find themes or ideas that will resonate with people. But maybe that’s because they are trying. If instead, they listened to themselves, and look their experiences as important, they would find more opportunities to make art that connects with others.
The following is a particular story of creating experimental photography, but it speaks to this large lesson that we all could be reminded of.
Arriving at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok
It all began on December 12th, 2020. I was invited by the Advance Australian Council to join the AUSSIE Christmas BBQ at the Australian Embassy here in Bangkok.
I was thrilled at the invitation. As many readers will know, I spent almost two decades in Australia, and I still regard Sydney as a second home. These two countries -- Australia and Thailand -- have defined my life. And the event would give me an opportunity to meet Australians living and working in Thailand. To make things even better, I would finally have an excuse to go inside the embassy.
While I was there, the Australian Ambassador Allan McKinnon graciously gave us a tour of the building. I’d seen the handsome exterior, but you gain a deeper appreciation after touring the halls and learning the backstory.
Of course, I was taking pictures the entire time! And when I got home and started developing these shots, one caught my eye. It was a photograph of an indoor walkway in the embassy’s office building. The architecture created immense anticipation while walking through it. I could not wait to see what it would open to. And I felt the photograph translated this well.
As a creator of experimental photography, I played around with analogue and digital manipulation techniques. I introduced a red and blue palette -- symbolic of the bond between Thailand and Australia. Eventually, I landed on the right composition. I stood back from the image and took it in.
Looking at the work, I realised that what I created didn’t belong to me. Yes, I created it, but it was for something bigger than myself. It encapsulates the connection between two countries, two peoples. And the composition, thanks to the design of the walkway, is moving onward, just as these two nations are moving to the future. And it is also a response to a building created to bring these two nations closer together.
So, in March of this year, I sent a letter to the embassy offering to donate it, so that it could be hung on their walls to be shared and appreciated by others who visit and work there. I was humbling when the Australian Embassy graciously accepted the offer.
Friendship Path, BRYCE Watanasoponwong, 2021 | An indoor walkway in Bangkok's Australian embassy office building appears in a blue and red palette formed by experimental photography - symbolic of the bond between Thailand and Australia.
I asked Bloom Pro Lab to print the piece on ILFORD GALERIE Canvas Natural and shadow framed it with teak wood. The presentation was perfect for the image, as you can see in the photos below. I registered the artwork with the ILFORD Imaging International, complete with a hologram ID number.
It is a joy and honour that this photograph will live at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. And here at the end of this arc of events, it gives me a renewed appreciation for the art of abstract photography, as well as my love for the two countries that have shaped me into the man I am today.
We are always surrounded by and living through stories. And art allows us to capture those stores, tell them to the world. And when we keep our eyes open and our cameras ready, we can tell these stories, What’s great still, people will listen to them.
Photographer and visual storyteller based in Bangkok
BRYCE Watanasoponwong is a Thai-Australian photographer and visual storyteller. He is interested in producing a narrative series that evoke emotion and make a personal impact. Becoming more involved in how is photography is... read on