Quarterly essay – The colonisation of cute – exploring the work of Vipoo Srivilasa

Alice Pung

10 March 2017

Alice Pung has written poignant memoirs of her life growing up in western Melbourne as the daughter of a Chinese Cambodian refugee family. Unpolished Gem provoked this response from The Australian: “Pung makes everything she writes about shine”. And for the sequel, Her Father’s Daughter, The Monthly wrote, “Pung has an extraordinary story to tell and the finesse to bring it, most movingly to the page.” According to Delia Falconer, Pung is “Happily out of the ordinary”.

In this essay, she trains her literary sights on the Thai-born ceramicist Vipoo Srivilasa. What strikes her particularly about his work is the quality of cuteness, which is readily dismissed in a serious art world. Cuteness is a popular dimension in much Asian art. In this essay Pung explores the phenomenon of cuteness by immersing herself in the world of Vipoo’s ceramics, even trying it herself in one of his workshops.

Her essay is available to Garland subscribers here.

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