David from Arthaus Chaloklum

12 Feb 2021

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 David Hayes (previously Ari Doi)
Occupation: Painter / Book monger – Owner at Arthaus Chaloklum.

Before he started travelling properly David wanted to take a bit of time sitting in a hammock on one of the islands. That was about 13 years ago and he is still here! On the evening he arrived he got a bungalow at the end of the beach in Chaloklum and ended up living there for 6 years. David did travel around to Australia, India, Nepal and most of South East Asia, Indonesia etc but always ended up back in this little village that in his words 'smells of squid'.
David was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for Phanganist about his life and work.

What did you do before you came to Phangan?
Immediately before, I had spent a year back in university but prior to that quite a few years in public relations and event management, usually in projects with something to do with music, whether through sponsorships or putting on events, clubs, gigs and so on. 

Why did you decide to open your gallery?
I had spent about 3 years working away in the studio without actually opening the doors. Eventually it made sense to open them and let people have a look. I also wanted to provide a platform for people who work in paint to show what they were doing. I think there are probably quite a few talents on the island who don’t have a place to present their work.

What kind of artwork do you do?
For years it’s been mainly abstract but that was to amuse myself and I was quite happy doing that, but with a view to engaging people passing the shop it made sense to make a foray into more figurative subjects, basically so people can recognise something and identify with it immediately. So, landscapes, still life, portraits etc. I got back into drawing to re-train myself and get my eyes working with my hands and maybe correct some of the mistakes made 20 years ago in art college.

What influences your work?
Anything can influence you. You don’t really have a choice. You are affected by things subconsciously. You may not like Bob Dylan but if you’ve written a song in the last 50 years, you may well be influenced by him. Although I’ve been here for over a decade I realised that I hadn’t really let the island have much reflection in the pictures and a while ago I suppose I made a conscious decision to let that happen. That may have been the result of seeing pictures by Matisse and Gaugain from Morocco or the Polynesian islands and the colours that predominated in those pictures and realising that I’m surrounded here by light and colour that does not exist elsewhere. In terms of artists that have been a recent influence, probably the American Abstract Expressionists like Cy Twombly and Clyfford Still. I saw some great shows when I was home (Dublin) in the Summer by Irish painters like Patrick Harris and Gabhann Dunne. And there are other artists where you just have to admire their process and method such as Gerhard Richter.

What do you feel you can bring to the Phangan scene?
With Arthaus, I guess at the most basic level just adding a bit of life and colour to this little funky street in Chaloklam. There’s great restaurants and bars, I think the shop fits well in the tapestry. On an artistic level, I get to show my stuff off but also can show other artists and give people an idea of the creativity that definitely exists on the island. 

How do you spend free time on the island?
At the moment I don’t have any. I like the seasonal waviness of the island, you don’t have free time sometimes but then you have free months. I like driving around the island with the missus in May or June when the roads are pretty empty and driving up roads we may not have driven up before. For sure the high season months are more social than the rest of the year and sometimes I even leave the village.

What projects are you currently involved with? What are your next projects?
At the moment getting Arthaus up and running and letting it develop its own rhythm and identity. I have a lot of books I’ve gathered together over the years which are available to exchange and hopefully that will draw in people who may not necessarily be interested in buying pictures on their holiday. Mainly it’s a way of opening a dialogue. The books are quite eclectic and if I can get people into a conversation about unusual books, there’s a chance we can get onto the subject of unusual pictures. In the coming weeks, I’m looking at opening things up to other artists and then we can start some kind of rotation maybe showing another artist for a couple of weeks each month.

How did you get to where you are today?
Mainly by aeroplane and lack of ambition.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Not a clue. But probably with a few extra kilos and maybe a beard.

What is your life philosophy?
Love many, trust few, always paddle yer own canoe.

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