Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Finding artistic inspiration in stilted homes




Finding artistic inspiration in stilted homes

A painting from Channa Chhum’s exhibition The Stilted Houses of Kampong Phluk.
A painting from Channa Chhum’s exhibition The Stilted Houses of Kampong Phluk. Photo supplied

Finding artistic inspiration in stilted homes

In 2003, when Channa Chhum was an art student at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, he went to Prek Toal – a remote floating village on the Tonle Sap – to work on a painting project about Cambodia’s wildlife. But the stilted wooden houses, and not the area’s renowned birdlife, caught his eye.

“I found them exceptionally beautiful,” the 31-year-old painter and Battambang native said. “The hand-built houses on the water, combined with the wildlife and trees around them, create a spectacular view.”
What especially captivates him is the shifting reflection of the houses and their surroundings on “the natural mirror” of the lake.

He also found “a great sense of relaxation” in the life of people living in the stilt houses because of their connection with natural surroundings – on the water and in the wetlands that extend for miles around Prek Toal.

In 2008, Chhum wanted to display paintings of floating and stilt houses for his first solo exhibition at Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture, but he decided to put it on hold because of time constraints, instead turning to more accessible Khmer traditional wooden housing structures instead.

Over the next nine years, work at his painting shop got in the way of finishing the project, but the idea stuck in his mind.

When his friend Serey Siv, a freelance documentary and street photographer, asked Chhum to come with him to Kampong Phluk, a village in Siem Reap province built on stilts on the Tonle Sap, he realised the time had come.

Over nine months, Chhum painted nine paintings, which are hyper-realist depictions of the area’s homes and their residents. They are now on display at The Little Red Fox Espresso in Siem Reap and will be for the next month.

“I hope more people will visit the community after seeing my paintings,” he said. “More tourists means more income to those who live at Kampong Phluk, and that’s the least I can do for them as an artist.”

Channa Chhum’s The Stilted Houses of Kampong Phluk exhibition is on display at The Little Red Fox Espresso on Hap Guan Street in Siem Reap. It is open to the public for free until January 17.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,