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Quirky exhibition features old and new​

Star Wars figures perch on antique Chinese shelves at 1961 Coworking and Art Space’s new exhibition Old Retold, which opens tomorrow and runs until the end of September.

Mixing the old with the new, the collection of “antiques, heritage pieces and heirlooms re-imagined in a contemporary setting” showcases the “objects of yesterday that shape tomorrow.”

Exhibition curator Jef Carnay
Exhibition curator Jef Carnay. LOVEN RAMOS

The launch will also mark the official opening of new-look 1961.

“For the first time we’re combining heritage pieces with contemporary art and installation, and seeing how it works,” says 1961 owner and artist Loven Ramos. “Recently I saw photos of Karl Lagerfeld’s studio in Milan and it’s filled with graffiti art alongside seventeenth-century classical furniture, and it was so beautifully put together. That was one of the inspirations for this.”

Curated by contemporary artist Jef Carnay, the exhibition is based around a collection belonging to Taiwanese art enthusiast Anna Hsieh. Having amassed various pieces from China, Japan, Tibet and Taiwan over 20 years, Hsieh moved to Cambodia where she enlarged her collection with Khmer artworks.

“Recently she’s fallen in love with Buddhist collections, and she’s running out of space,” says Ramos. “So she’s letting go of some pieces.

“We’re looking at Asian art, Oriental art and trying to blend it in with contemporary art. What we’re trying to do is blend the old with the new, and make it much more accessible and relevant to today’s generation.”

Paris Regulator​​ Westminster pendulum wall clock, rosewood
This exhibition features this exquisite ODO Paris Regulator​​ Westminster pendulum wall clock, rosewood. Origin: France, 1910s - 1930s. LOVEN RAMOS

The exhibition will juxtapose graphic art posters with Oriental antiques, retro memorabilia with traditional wood carvings.

“You can totally take it out of context,” says Ramos. “Like we were planning to have a really nice antique Chinese lacquered shelf, and we want to put Star Wars figurines on it. Turning it into a showpiece of things that you like, no matter what it is. We have a $100,000 wooden panel and we’re going to put disco balls right next to it.”

“It’s a very quirky mix, a good mix of curiosities, acquisitions, of the peculiarities and quirkiness of the collector and us as well, so I think it’ll be a very fun exhibition.”

Following the ArtDeli’s ethos of ‘affordable art’ there will be something for everyone, with the cheapest item costing $1 while the most expensive costs a cool $100,000.

This is a six-piece wooden panel with really intricate carvings, and the detailing is peculiar because it features bats, which in Chinese ideology represent wealth. “Some other really nice pieces are Cambodian bull horns with amazing carvings, a clock collection, and we have nice panels with mother-of-pearl inlay from the late 1800s,” Ramos says.

Blue and white ceramic vase, China
Blue and white ceramic vase, China, date unknown. LOVEN RAMOS

The contemporary art will be provided by Battambang artist Phok Sopheap, American Tim Robertson and Ramos himself, who will be exhibiting some new works.

This is a busy month for 1961 – on July 12 it hosts a fashion show by NGO jewellery-maker Senhoa, and on July 18 it hosts the YS-HUB Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

“We’re really excited about Senhoa,” says Ramos. “They’re transferring everything to us – their design team, office, because they’re finally going to open an outlet store in Siem Reap at 1961.”

Senhoa, which supports survivors of human trafficking, has become the darling of the US fashion world, with supermodel Coco Rocha and celebrity stylist Julie Ragolia designing collections for them, plus features in Vogue and Elle magazine. Despite this, however, they have remained relatively low key in Temple Town, something which Ramos hopes will now change.

“They concentrated on selling abroad, because that was their niche market,” says Ramos. “But this is the first time they’re bringing it back to where it’s actually done, where the project started. It’s one of those things that was experimental, just to give jobs to disadvantaged women, then suddenly it became huge.”

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