Summer in Siam
4 years ago, my friends got married in Thailand. In Bangkok we went to The Grand Palace, and saw incredible murals in Wat Phra Kaew, known as the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Ramayana story of Hindu legend. Near floor-to-ceiling height, it stretches over 1km along the inside walls of the temple, in 178 scenes of intricately painted detail, all on a Command&Conquer style 30-degree perspective; and is one of the most amazing pieces of art I’ve ever seen.
Having said that, I’ve no idea what the story is about, but it features a lot of monkeys, with swords, some of whom seem to be able to change size at will to become giant monkeys. Additionally, there’s people and creatures with a large number of arms and heads, and quite a lot of battle scenes. Much of this is painted lavishly in gold, which without a doubt seems to be Thailand’s favourite colour. When I got back, I decided to do my own version as a wedding present for my friends; a large scale poster telling the story of their wedding/holiday in Thailand, using almost entirely the imagery and characters from the murals themselves.
I chose some of my favourite scenes – Hanuman fighting giant mosquitoes, weird fish with stones in their mouths, a warrior elephant with a sword held in its trunk, someone who looked like a Thundercat character, and many more. Unfortunately, with starting an MA soon after, I put the painting aside, and over the next 3 years only returned to it sporadically to do little bits here and there. My friends currently live in Malaysia, so not seeing them removed the impetus to finish it, but, finally, knowing they’d be back this July, I sat down and used my time off work to complete it – 4 years after I first pencilled it out!
It was done with fineliners, gold ink, and watercolour.