The music of Frank Sinatra resounds from the record player inside the hall, where the monotone furniture and retro style decoration – a brown leather sofa, white wooden balcony, modern ceiling lamps, bare brick walls and a "Spring Street" sign from a New York subway station.
"I renovated the second floor to make it a residence for artists who would like to spend time absorbing the old town vibes of Songkhla during their exhibitions or when they are creating work," Pakorn Rujiravilai explained about the use of the second floor of "a.e.y. space", which he owns. He thinks of it as an art space for everyone.
The a.e.y. space is a Sino-European style wooden house located on Nang Ngam Road, thought to have been built during the reign of King Rama VI. Many years ago, the building housed a bar and a shop selling sweet red pork with rice.
Pakorn was informed that the owner wanted to sell, so he decided to buy it and cancel the contracts with the shop and bar. He stripped everything out, leaving only the original structure, and left the ground floor empty to be a space for Noppadol Khaosamang. This famous photographer acted as Pakorn’s advisor, and was the first artist to put on an exhibition at the space: a display of documentary film photography about the people of Songkhla.
"In the past, I never thought that Songkhla's old town would be so valuable," Pakorn recalled. But after having the opportunity to study graphic design in New York, he heard people talking about the streets of the old town. He then found out that there are plenty of interesting stories to be told because the buildings in this area have been there for more than a hundred years. Older Chinese and European styles rub shoulders with Art Deco buildings from the Second World War period, each reflecting successive cultures and ideas.
"a.e.y. space is located on Nang Ngam Road, which still embodies traditional Songkhla life. I realized that the local way of life is the charm of the old town, so I want Songkhla people to participate and have a space to show their work. They can even use it as a place to hold workshops. Art is an intermediary to attract non-locals to come, look at and appreciate this city. "
There are exhibitions throughout the year: photo exhibitions - both contemporary and old photos - as well as exhibitions of local painters. He accepts any style of art but also wants them to be related to Songkhla. “It needn’t be 100% about Songkhla, though. These days we also use the space to screen old movies, short films from new-wave directors, independent films, and for musical performances."
The a.e.y. space is a not for profit space open to everyone. Because Pakorn has other businesses he has to tend to, opening and closing dates are uncertain, depending on whether or not there are shows. "I don't have to worry about making a profit from this space anymore because I already own the house. Now, I am doing it because I am happy to do so."
- a.e.y. space Nang Ngam Road, Mueang District, Songkhla Province
- Open when there are shows or activities. Follow the news on www.facebook.com/Aeyspace
How to get here
- Thai Smile Airways flies from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Hat Yai International Airport (Songkhla Province) www.thaismileair.com
- From the airport into Hat Yai, you can take an airport taxi for 250 baht or get on a minibus in front of the airport. If you wish to travel directly from Hat Yai Airport to Songkhla City, a taxi from the airport costs around 500 baht.