Cambodia has a thriving art scene, something that comes as a surprise and a constant joy to foreign visitors. Young Cambodian artists are filled with energy and ideas, and the galleries are filled to overflowing with the most amazing talent and enthusiasm.
One of the people who has been harnessing much of this creativity is expatriate Filipino Loven Ramos.
|Loven Ramos and co-owner Emma|
I had the pleasure of meeting Loven and his wife at their incredible hotel in Siem Reap a few weeks ago. This place, called 1961, is fast becoming the hippest hotel in all of Cambodia, and is already attracting rave reviews from hipsters and artsy types across the globe. My dear friend and teacher Jan Cornall recently conducted a writing workshop there, and the hotel also serves as a gallery space (and a fantastic restaurant, too).
ARTillery is Ramos' first venture in Phnom Penh, and it has all of his quirky hallmarks.
Hidden down a back alley near Wat Botum, it is housed in a gorgeous old residence that has been gutted and recreated in his trademark artist's warehouse style. It has a fantastic cafe serving a unique range of dishes (I'm headed there for lunch today, in fact), a quirky and wonderful gift shop featuring reasonably-priced but totally unique handmade pieces perfect for souvenirs for friends back home. I loved the Cambodia-themed scarves and the screen-printed kramas, and my Cambodian friends wanted the t-shirts featuring obscure SE Asian comic-book characters.