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That's a mighty big picture

Smirnoff brings the world's largest 3D painting to Bangkok - and Guinness certifies it

SMIRNOFF HAS done it again! After bringing David Lachapelle's midnight circus to town last year, the fun and innovative vodka is now wowing Bangkokians with the world's longest anamorphic painting, titled "Dive into the World of Melon", that spreads 164 metres across Siam Center.

Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the longest artwork of its kind, "Dive" was created by one of the world's most renowned 3D street painters, Melanie Stimmell Van Latum. After eight years working on the animated TV series "South Park", she embarked on a different path, hitting the asphalt with chalk and a truckload of imagination.

We had a little chat with her about the work.



HOW DID THE STREET PAINTING START?

During a summer hiatus from "South Park" I began street painting for fun and instantly fell in love. The asphalt became my home each summer, until I made the decision to leave "South Park" to work full-time as a street painter and fine artist.



WHAT IS IT ABOUT 3D ART THAT AMAZES YOU THE MOST?

When I knew I wanted to be an artist, I knew I wanted to create work. Most artists work in a solitary environment - they're working by themselves. But when I did my first street painting, it was so amazing for me because it was the first time I'd ever created something in front of people.

People were able to ask me questions and I was interacting and it was something that was so different and so unusual for me, since I was an introvert. It made me become more of an extrovert. The fact that people can come and interact with the artist and ask questions is something I like most. And it's also great that the public is able to see the different stages of the work from start to finish.



WHY AREN'T THERE A LOT MORE 3D STREET ARTISTS?

There are only about a dozen and a half. I think this is because it's not an easy art form to create or to understand immediately. It's something that requires you to take viewers through the process.

Sometimes people will walk around the entire painting and they'll think it looks weird or they don't quite know what it is. But then it's just that moment when they step to the right spot and finally see it.

I think that idea is challenging if you're not used to it because you put in so much time and effort into the piece that you want people to understand it right away. People who are able to create the work find it much more rewarding when others do get the idea behind it.



Where does your inspiration come from?

If I'm creating something where I get to choose the theme or the design, then I always go back to what I originally wanted to do for a living, which was create children's books. So I always have a little bit of a whimsical theme or a twist. I also love painting people, figures and animals. Last year I did pigs because I love pigs. And I always will do something fun using lots of colour and a little more on the "nostalgia" side.



Why is "Dive into the World of Melon" so special for you?

For me personally and for my team, it's something completely different. We've never done anything like this before. The fact that it's a very large painting and it's swirling around this enormous shopping centre and telling a story makes it really special. Also the fact that it's something different, really unique and challenging makes it special to me. I love that I can still do 3D street painting but have it be new and unexpected - for me as well as the people that see it.

When I got asked to do this project I was really excited, not only because I've always wanted to come back to Thailand but because I really loved the concept of it. Being able to inspire Generation Y through my artwork is such an honour, and it's something I hope I can do through all my art. Also, being asked to do something so large-scale and so challenging was something I really wanted to take part in.



WHAT'S THIS PIECE ABOUT?

My inspiration overall was the idea that the water is basically rushing to and from this melon along to the beat of music. So you'll see an "equaliser" effect running through the painting.



WILL YOU BE AROUND TO OBSERVE PEOPLE'S REACTIONS?

Yes, I want to just hang out on one of the couches and just hear what people say. Sometimes it's not always positive, but it's nice to hear the observations.



n See "Dive into the World of Melon" at Siam Center through September 11.




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