A few years after graduating from art university, similar to 90% of the ex-students, it was very hard to keep myself busy in art while struggling to find my dream job.
I applied to several art calls including art residency programs aboard and got rejected. This made me question – why couldn’t I create an opportunity here in my hometown? So the effort of establishing the first independent artist residency program was initiated.
I didn’t have much money and couldn’t get any funds. So I sold a farm land of my father. I used the money to buy the land outside the city and built houses by myself from the earth I dug from the land. Most of the days, I worked with a small local tribal community to build the houses and installed facilities. On Sundays and my spare time, I worked online, building a website and other admin tasks. The project became not just an alternative art project that didn’t rely on outside funding, but also a self-sustainable way of living as an artist in Thailand.
After almost a year, we built 2 earthen houses, a communal bathroom, and bamboo shelters for our land keepers and builders. Then the first artist arrived. The residency program began.
And it became the largest, longest, and most impactful project of my life over the course of running and sustaining it for more than a decade.
ComPeung is a micro community, combining a few main members. We received some in-kind and material support from our small community village and resident artists. The fees from the artists help maintain the program, pay our bills, food, medical expenses, fixing things, and occasionally organizing community-based programs with international and local artists.
We offered our home to artists, provided them 3 meals, supported them in their everyday life and their art practice. We ask for no rigid outcome in return. We hoped the artists would discover new ideas, ways of creating their art, and also themselves working in natural environment with us and small Thai communities.
We hosted over a hundred artists from all continents, disciplines, genders, and varieties of ages. These artists stayed from a week to a few months. Some of them had come back several times to create or continue their art projects.