In the skilled hands of Penpan Sittitrai, a watermelon was far more than a refreshing treat on a summer day: it was art. In recognition of Penpan’s contributions to Thailand’s visual arts, today’s Doodle draws inspiration from her many books, including “The Art of Thai Vegetable and Fruit Carving”.
Using just a carving knife, the late artist magically transformed melons into graceful swans, mangoes into rabbits, and potatoes into ducklings. Nature was a favourite theme, and she often formed lotus flowers from common foods like yam beans and garlic bulbs. Her intricate sculptures were used as showstopping centrepieces and serving vessels.
Even Thailand’s monarchs tapped Penpan for her talents. She once carved water chestnuts into 500 jasmine flowers for a royal wedding, and turned 250 coconuts into urns for a royal dining event.
On February 24, 2010, at the age of 83, Penpan was awarded the honorary title of National Artist for her outstanding contributions to Thailand’s arts. Instituted in 1985, “National Artist Day” is celebrated in Thailand on February 24.
The acclaimed artist died in 2015.