For almost a decade, Theam’s House art gallery has promoted the beauty of Khmer art and handicrafts, lacquerware and silk to visitors from around the world.
Theam’s House is owned by former Artisans d’Angkor art director Lim Muoy Theam and offers an exploration of Khmer art history as he travels the country searching for unique cultural artwork to buy from different communities to display in the gallery.
He also has apprentices producing Khmer traditional artwork at his home that he uses as a gallery cum workshop.
Theam, who was born in Cambodia but fled to France as a young boy during the Khmer Rouge era – where he studied interior design and art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris – told The Post he does so not for money but to “keep Khmer art alive”.
Theam added that the market in Cambodia sculptures and crafts was very weak until about ten years ago, but with rising income and tourism, the many apprentices he employs to produce replica artwork are now constantly busy.
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“I have sculptures, paintings, lacquerware, and handicrafts, some of which are made by my more than 30 apprentices and some are bought from various communities nationwide."
“At first I didn’t want to make replica objects and only stick to authentic Khmer artwork. But in order to allow tourists to take home a souvenir and promote Khmer culture, I decided to hire apprentices to make replicas. Of course we stay true to the original designs, which are beautiful,” he says.
Theam’s House also offers an intimate tour of the 5,000 square metre gallery featuring the collection of work Theam has been amassing since 1998. Sok Lok, an English guide at the gallery, told The Post that the tour takes between 20 and 40 minutes, with numbers on the tour kept intentionally low to preserve the space.
“We aren’t so concerned about tourist high or low seasons as we can only accept a small amount of people in our gallery at one time. I work only with a small group of tourists between two to four people at a time,” Theam said.
Theam’s House is located in Siem Reap’s Veal village, Road 30. It is open from 8am to 6pm daily.