Here is an excerpt of the audio recording I made with Woralak Sooksawasdi na Ayutthaya, for my second video that will be shown at the Maison d’Art Bernard Anthonioz, Nogent-sur-Marne, France :
« My name is Woralak Sooksawasdi Na Ayutthaya. […]
My grandfather started his little business making Khon masks in around 1943.
My father and I have both inhabited that world ever since we were born.
As I grew up, I saw my grandfather and then my father crafting these objects.
It’s a small family business where we each play a particular role in the creative process.
My grandfather had the main role, he was the decorator and assembler, and controlled the whole production process.
My father was a moulder.
My mother and my grandmother made the papier-mâché, inlaid the stones and prepared the Lak sap.
I was able to pick up all these skills.
My grandfather had a passion for drawing and painting, even if his uncle, who was also his godfather, did not encourage his ambitions.
One day when there was a festival at the Phu Khao Thong temple, my grandfather saw some Khon masks – originals and copies.
That day, he swore that he too would make them and he came back with a copy representing a demon.
To achieve his ambition, he sought to increase his knowledge of this art.
Back in Ayutthaya, he attended traditional Khon dance and mask shows. With the help of his mother, he was able to join a theatre troupe.
Consequently, he was able both to act the characters and have access to the masks in the room where they are all kept.
He performed in Khon plays as an actor, then he repaired the masks.
When certain parts were damaged he repaired them and was reimbursed for his outlay. By working there he was able to absorb that universe and acquire the know-how he needed to make his own masks.
I have always looked up to my grandfather.
He is my hero.
And yet, as a child, I never saw myself becoming an artisan and making Khon masks.
Because I am a woman. »