Cambodian artist and designer Lim Muy Theam was only nine years old when the Khmer Rouge regime fell, but in the wake of famine and the repercussions of widespread genocide, he fled to France where he studied art and design. Returning 15 years later, Theam spent ten years as the artistic director of Artisans d’Angkor, who became responsible for the rebirth of traditional arts and crafts in Cambodia.
Setting out to learn more about Khmer art and culture to get in touch with the country’s rich artistic heritage which the Khmer Rouge all but tried to extinguish from Cambodia’s past, Theam eventually started his own project, Theam’s House Gallery & Workshop, where he runs his own studio showcasing his modern take on traditional arts with his lacquerwork designs, paintings and sculptures. He also works with and trains a team of local artisans in his home, which you can wander through, enjoy its cosy atmosphere and witness his apprentices at work.
Q & A with Theam
When did you become interested in art?
I've been interested in art since I was young. I've always loved drawing, painting and carving. Being in France after war was an opportunity for me to really develop and express my artistic talent.
Where did you study?
I studied Interior Design at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, Ecole Boulle in Paris, then I enrolled into Ecole des Beaux-Arts (the famous French Art University) in Paris as a Visual Artist.
Why do you think it is important to record the different arts and crafts of Cambodia?
Cambodia has a long history of arts and crafts. Khmer people were at the summit of their art in the Angkorian time. Due to war, all of this savoir-faire disappeared, and the quality of the arts and crafts hit a decline. This is why it's so important to record the different arts and crafts in Cambodia, to remind people that Khmer people belong to one of the most important civilizations in the world and it cannot be wiped out.