Speedy Grandma, Soy Sauce Factory and the Jam Factory

1 01 2015

The area around Charoen Krung, where it reaches the lower reaches of Chinatown, is quietly shaping up as the hottest new art hangout in the city. The worn Chinese shophouses have long had character. Now they have – well at least a few of them – scenester appeal too. It started with Speedy Grandma, a ramshackle but exuberant street-art gallery in a side street on a super-local block, next to shophouses piled high with coconuts and people doing their laundry in the street and kids riding around on tricycles. Its this very juxtoposition of hip art and local street life which gives the gallery its charm. I arrived the morning after a show had just closed – to find the artist pulling down his exhibits – but he sweetly invited me to take a look around while he did.

Japan-based Ishida Shinya had constructed elaborate collages of Bangkok “found objects” as part of his worldwide recycle-art project, “Wonderful trash”. On the last day of the exhibition, and the morning after, he gave some of his collection away.

Just around the corner, in a former soy sauce factory converted by the same owners as Speedy Grandma’s into a more chic space, there was another interesting exhibition on. Chinese art star Ren Hang was showing his beautiful and erotic pictures – a perfect fit for free swinging Bangkok, I thought. The space itself, which which will soon also open a bar, is interesting too. On my visit it was dim and cool in the heat of the afternoon and struck me as having a vaguely 1920 vibes. The venue is known as the “Soy Sauce Factory.”

A quick hop across the river from the nearby shuttle-ferry stop at River City took me to another former-factory-now-gallery. The Jam Factory is a sprawling and spacious complex centred around a lawn and the gnarled spreading branches of an ancient-looking banyan tree. Whereas Speedy Grandma is rough around the edges and up for a party, and the Soy Sauce Factory mysterious, the Jam Factory is more refined. Its surprisingly large cafe was packed with Thais working on their MacBooks, gazing out in thought over the lawn or reading books from the small attached artsy bookstore, Candide. There is also a gallery space, a designer homewares store and a restaurant called “The never ending summer” devoted to less common Thai dishes like rice served in cold jasmine water.

The whole complex is located off an alley (of course) branching away from the local market which starts as soon as the ferry docks, in the shadow of the Star Trek-esque Millenium Hilton – which itself struck me again as another very Bangkokian juxtoposition.



3 responses

20 05 2015
Lusophone film festival in Bangkok | ilbonito blog 2007

[…] is interesting. Everybody’s favourite Charon Krueng art-speakeasy, Speedy Grandma, is hosting a festival of Portuguese language films in the Thai capital, including offerings from […]

15 12 2015
The hot, hot heat: Bangkok gets hip(per) | ilbonito blog 2007

[…] bars/gallery spaces/ speakeasies of Chinatown and Charoen Krung ( Cho Why, Tep, Teens of Thailand, Soy Sauce Factory, Speedy Grandma) the city is now gearing up to host two cool […]

6 05 2017
Cultural centre: Bangkok to Sao Paulo | ilbonito blog 2007

[…] a cultural rennaissance of one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods, already home to galleries Speedy Mama and Soy Sauce factory and some interesting street art, and to be joined later this month by a massive new warehouse […]

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