Studio visit - interview with Vipoo Srivilasa
The execution of Srivilasa’s ceramic pieces demonstrate an informed passion for historical ceramic production.
His recent works are concerned with social, political and ethical issues, as well as exploring the dichotomy of living between two residences, Australia and Thailand. Extremely prolific, Srivilasa has exhibited widely nationally and internationally and represented Australia at prominent curated international exhibitions.
As part of this video, Srivilasa discusses the inspirations underpinning his work, surface applications, working methods and the process of collecting and being collected.
VIPOO SRIVILLASA: I wanted to be a painter. I went to painting class to learn and to get me started, and somehow I ended up painting on ceramics. I just couldn't get away from ceramics. The flat surface is sort of like standing in front of a cliff and you're just about to jump off it, and you never know if you're going to die or if you're going to survive. It's really scary, I just don't know where to start. But with the 3D pieces, I just turned it around and immediately I know what to do.
The blue and white came in 2005 when I exhibited in Bangkok for the first time. I just wanted to make something that relates to Thai people or allow Thai people to relate to my work. So blue and white is one thing where we have laicram, which means blue and white in Thailand. I decided to make two series of work. One blue and white, the other is five-colour porcelain. They are both traditional ceramics. But then I started the blue and white and I really enjoyed it and couldn't stop. So I forget about the five-colour porcelain and stuck with the blue and white colour. It's been so good so far.
The meaning is different from one series to the other. Sometimes the same rabbit, but they might say different things depending on which series of works you are looking at. Because I work in series, so each series is about what concerns me at the time of making. But right now I am working on a series of rabbits and lantana flowers to say that something really cute or really beautiful are not as they seem. The rabbit causes the most damage to Australian economy and landscape and scenery, and for the native animals too. Same as the Lantana flowers. They spread everywhere, so are really bad. But at the same time, in Thailand, the Lantana flower is used especially to pay respect for teachers. So it's like two things that different are very different in two different cultures. One is weed, the other one is a really well respected flower.
The community projects I did because I work alone most of the time. So I want the connections. Basically I want attention. So working with other people give me a boost and all this energy. I draw energy from other people and it does help me make better work. Also talking to other people give me a lot more ideas and inspiration. When you get into a collection it kind of proves you are doing something right, something that people appreciate enough to want to keep it for a long long time.
When I make my work I don't think about if it's going to go to the museum or if it's going to last forever. But what I'm thinking of when I make work is does it make me happy or not. Thats the only thing that keeps me working because its happiness. I feel really happy when I make my pieces and I think that I think about when I'm making work. So when people like my pieces, I think they can feel the happiness that I put into my pieces.
You know I'm just happy for what I've got. Of course I could do it much better if I could repeat this piece like three more times. it would get so much better. But that is not my intention. I just want to make the piece I like and I'm happy from the beginning when I start making, in the middle while I'm making and I'm happy when it's finished. So the whole process.
I collect ceramic spoons at home. I got so many of them. But it has to be blue and white Chinese antique spoons as well. It's not easy to find, but it's not as hard as other things to find. You can still find them and it doesn't cost a lot of money so I can buy without feeling guilty. Another thing I collect are little ceramic houses. Before I bought my house I collected these little houses because I want to have my own house. And now I have my own house, I'm still buying them, I don't know why. Because maybe I want the investment house. So I like little things.
I like to keep the spoons out of my sight because when I want to see it I bring it out, unwrap it, it gives me so much excitement and I can't remember what it is and then I open it, oh my god I got this piece! I love this one! And then I wrap it back up and put it away again. So I think that is my way of trying to find a simple happiness in my life.