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Inspiration from Shan State, Chiang Rai

For Thailand Biennale, I created a new body of work, titled “Inspiration from Shan State, Chiang Rai”. During a visit to my mother’s birth place, Tangyan, a small township in northern Shan State, neighboring Yunnan province in China and a primary migration haven for Yunnanese refugee in the 1950s, I came across a stunning opium poppy flower field in a nearby Palaung village. From the Thailand Biennale curator-led research tour at the House of Opium Museum in Chiang Saen, I had learned the Lua and Akha hill tribe’s enchanting tales about the origin of the opium plant where opium poppies sprouted out of the dead female bodies from their burial sites. 


Taking inspiration from the magic realism in the opium poppy’s origin tale, I reflect on my ancestral origin, migration history and the concept of birth and rebirth by using ceramic and glass as material to convey a sense of life, flow, otherness and fluid boundaries. The birthing serpentine woman comprised of both transparent and opaque body parts, is part ghost and part corporeal, occupying both the realms of living and death. Plant, human and serpent are converged together to form the hybridized female body alluding to my own in-between multilingual cultural existence. 


In contrast to the blackness of Thai Legendary artist, Thawan Duchanee's Black House, which conveys death, absence of light, finality and eternity, the woman’s body is open, becoming a passage for the life that she nurtures inside her, and a transitional space for the generative/regenerative life to pass into the “new” world".

Regarding the serpent motif, I wrote about my fascination with the symbol and the evolution of my work on a blog published by the British Museum.


Images taken from research trip at the sites of inspiration in Shan State and Chiang Rai.


Creating at Doy Din Dang Studio, Chiang Rai

Title: Inspiration from Shan State, Chiang Rai

Year: 2023 

On birth, rebirth, transformation and fluid boundaries 

Material: Fired and glazed stoneware, sand casted and sculpted glass, wire.

Project supported by Thailand Biennale and BGC Glass Studio.

Glass parts created in collaboration with BGC Glass Studio team led by Kabet Chattakan Vongsiri.

Artwork installed by Supernormal Studio.

Courtesy of Wanchai Phutthawarin

Image courtesy of Wanchai Phutthawarin and the artist.

Human Hair Rosary

Material: Burmese Hair (Human Hair from Myanmar), blown glass

Year: 2023


In this piece, I investigate the place of female bodies within the Buddhist religion. I am also interested in the themes of the sacrificial female, the female labor and the booming Burmese hair trade where woman’s hair become a lucrative commodity exported to the global market. 

Process and Inspiration