Legend and Lustre: Jim Thomson and Thai Silk

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Denise Heywood

Denise is a lecturer, author, journalist and photographer. She has lived in France, America and, most recently, Cambodia, where she worked as a journalist for three years. She lectures for the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) on their post-graduate Asian Art Course and for Madingley Hall (University of Cambridge). She has lectured all over the world for organisations such as The British Museum, The Art Fund, The Royal Society for Asian Affairs, Asia House, The National Trust, Farnham Castle Centre for International Briefing and universities, museums, colleges, schools, art institutions, literary societies and travel organisations.

She has written books on the Buddhist temples of Laos, Ancient Luang Prabang, and on Cambodian dance, Cambodian Dance Celebration of the Gods, with a foreword by Princess Buppha Devi, daughter of King Sihanouk. She writes for many art, literary and travel publications, appears on BBC radio, leads art tours to Southeast Asia and France and lectures on cruiseships sailing throughout Asia. Denise is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Studies in the United Kingdom, Asia House, the Anglo-Indonesian Society, La Societe des Amis de Champa, the Cambodian Society in the United Kingdom and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


Jim Thompson arrived in Bangkok as a US army officer in 1945, fell in love with it and stayed. Captivated by the beauty of Thai silk, an ancient craft in decline, he resuscitated it and made it famous, creating costumes for films and embellishing his house, which today is a museum.

An aesthete and art collector, he created an exquisite home from six handcarved teakwood houses brought from the
countryside and filled it with Asian art. Here he became a legendary host. This lecture tells the story of his ahievements, showing the intricate process of silk production and its illustrious eritage, including royal robes and temple murals. It touches on films featuring his silks, reveals his house and its art and reflects on a life that ended with his mysterious disappearance.

Denise Heywood has her own website which is available by clicking here.


Below are photos of this lecture