Thursday, 8 February 2018

Nick McGrath | Chinese Opera Bangkok

Photo © Nick McGrath | All Rights Reserved
As followers of this blog may know, I've been deeply interested in Chinese Opera for a while, and I'm in the midst of a long term work-in-progress project to publish a photo book on the Chinese Opera in the Diaspora.

So it was with great pleasure and interest that I discovered the work of photographer Nick McGrath in his lovely gallery Chinese Opera Bangkok, and from which I chose the above image of a performer's compelling portrait to accompany this post.

Bangkok’s Chinese opera has long been a vibrant staple of Bangkok's Chinatown life. The Teochew Chinese, who immigrated to Thailand a couple of centuries ago, brought it with them as part of their cultural traditions, and to this day, during the Chinese festivals, there are regular performances at venues along Yaowarat Road.

In common with others regions that have received the influx of a Chinese diaspora, the art form is in decline. Partly caused by a younger generation who are interested in other more modern entertainments, Chinese opera has been relegated to that of a sideshow, now found in Bangkok's back streets and alleyways only during Chinese holidays and festivals, with its performances enjoyed by dwindling and elderly audiences.

Nowadays, the future of Chinese opera in the diaspora seems dismal if not for the valiant efforts of dedicated and passionate artists, individuals and organizations which are trying to keep this venerable art form alive.

Nick McGrath is a editorial and documentary photographer (as well as a videographer) based in Bangkok. He graduated from the Photography Studies College in Melbourne and was awarded the JR Haynes Award for High Achievement in the Advance Diploma of Photography major in Photojournalism. His work focuses on Southeast Asia's culture and sub-cultures, looking specifically at how people live within these contexts.

Here's more of his video work on Bangkok's Chinese Opera.