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Art in Laos is thriving. From traditional art in the temples to the intricate art woven into Lao skirts, and the more modern styles and venues, now is a great time to explore what Vientiane has to offer for those interested in art.

There are several art galleries around the city, with i:cat Gallery near Si Muang, and T’shop Lai Gallery in the town centre being well worth a visit, but one of the more interesting is the Vientiane Museum of Contemporary Arts which is a few kilometres from the city centre. The sculpture is a craft that has been passed down through generations in Laos, and this unusual museum displays hundreds of wooden art pieces carved by artisans from Laos, China and Vietnam. ΩMany of these carvings and paintings show stories from the folklore of these places, and around the world. They also tell tales from history and religion. Intricate carvings that took years to create are shown alongside medicinal wood that has been carved by the elements.

You can learn about daily life on Bolaven Plateau from one painting whilst the next tells the story of one of the Gods protecting his people.

For a complete change of pace, arrange a visit with the Clay House Studio by Souliya. His family home, where he has the studio is near the Mekong and surrounded by a garden which has fruit trees growing beside the ruins of an old Khmer temple. It is in this setting that Souliya creates the animation that has been shown around the world, with exhibitions in Brisbane and Korea, as well as closer to home. Visiting his studio gives you the unique opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look into how Souliya and his team create the videos as well as the chance to meet some of the ‘stars’

Of course, the most traditional form of art in this region is found in the temples, from the Buddhist statues and carvings to the wall paintings showing the Jataka tales of the Buddha’s previous lives, and the intricate carvings around the doors, there is a wealth of art to explore here. If the temples whet your appetite for the religious symbolism, or you want a more hands-on approach to art, MDO Art Studio runs a range of interesting and unusual courses, including one which uses vegetal lacquer and gold leaf to show you how to create the wall paintings – dok tjo – found mostly in temples in Luang Prabang.

The art studio also o­ers courses ranging from lacquerware to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending cracks with lacquer dusted with gold to show strength and beauty in imperfection. Laos is well known for its weaving and skills are passed down through the generations. To explore some of the amazing designs that are woven into textiles here, it is worth visiting Lao Textiles by Carol Cassidy. Here, in a colonial-era house designed by Prince Souvanna Phuma, women have been weaving textiles for over 30 years. These have featured in exhibitions around the world as well as the decors of designers such as Louis Vuitton and Georgio Armani. A short, walk away is Dee Traditional Antique Textile Lao where you can find materials woven by many of the different ethnic groups within Laos, and see how their styles differ. If you wish to find out more, or learn to weave, visit the Lao Textile Museum and see how many of the di­fferent patterns are created.

After a day of delving into the art world of Vientiane, you might want to round it o­ with a glass of wine in an art environment. At The Secret Art and Wine Bar, you can check out their latest featured artists whilst choosing from their wide range of high-quality wines. What better way could there be to end the day.


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