Culture Culture

23/03/2020 - 09:15

Private cultural spaces

In addition to museums and art galleries, in Hue there are many private houses where talks about culture and art are usually organized. Those spaces are like a unique nuance beside the mainstream of art. They are created by those who want to maintain and promote Hue values.

Ben Xuan Garden House Theatre is always crowded with people who come to attend concerts

The traditional Hue garden house at 120 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen St. beside the poetic Perfume river has been so far a very interesting venue. People come to discuss a certain issue about Hue culture or to watch exhibitions organized by Prof. Thai Kim Lan, the owner of the house, every time she comes back from Germany.

The talking and laughter of both the host and guests revived the garden house which had nearly fallen into ruin. It is in this house that people immerse themselves in  invaluable collections of antique objects and old ao dai which she has been collecting for many years.

People were very impressed with her collection of ao dai for men in Khai Dinh’s and Bao Dai’s eras. The exhibition made a difference when ao dai were displayed in a garden house. Her collection of pottery fetched from under the Perfume river in front of her house attracted those who entered her house too.

Not far from it is Ben Xuan Garden House Theatre near Thien Mu Pagoda, owned by Truong Dinh Ngo and his wife Camille Huyen. Their house has been so far a familiar place for writers, artists and those who like to live green. Art programs are regularly organized to raise funds for environmental protection. The special thing about this house is that it was built in harmony with the landscape, Hue monuments and the poetic Perfume river. 

Many artists who came to the place thought they were visiting a “fairyland.” The owners want to make a difference and to satisfy their singing passion. Concerts given at the half-moon-shaped yard always attract lots of people. 

According to Mr. Truong Dinh Ngo, this place was initially built to satisfy his interest in delicate hobbies which used to exist in Hue. But in order to organize such concerts, he needs musicians and the audience. What he aims at is this will become a tourism product in the future.

Also located by the river, the small Song Nhu art gallery, the private house of the painter Dang May Tuu in Alley No. 7, Nguyen Cong Tru St. is also a familiar venue for painters. Innumerable exhibitions and art talks by artists in and out of the country have been organized there.

The most memorable and impressive activity is their playground named “Painting the Animal  of the Year” on the occasion of New Year. It is where artists meet, paint, then display their paintings for the public. Overtime, when talking about Hue, the painter circle never forget to mention this cozy space in the ancient capital which has been existed for more than 10 years now.

Dang Mau Tuu says initially it was just to satisfy his own passion. “I started this just for fun. But it soon became a familiar address for friends in the art circle,” said Mr. Tuu.

Prof. Thai Kim Lan says she is very happy because not only her, many other people maintain their cultural lives in their private estates amidst messes of the modern life. That is also the reason why she revived the house left to her by her ancestry which had nearly fallen into oblivion. 

“I used to think about doing nothing with the house. But then I thought I had to change my view and decided to turn it into a cultural destination because each space in this poetic city is part of Hue culture,” said Dr. Lan.

One by one, collections are displayed and academic talks are organized. Those activities attracted many people. They came with joy and admiration for an ancient Hue, but not archaic. Instead, it is “ancient Hue accessing modernity.”

Before, in Hue there are many other private spaces which “lead an energetic life in the flow of Hue culture.” Ngoc Son Garden House on Nguyen Chi Thanh St. owned by the researcher Phan Thuan An is an example. Visitors to his house are all impressed by his expertise in Hue culture. 

In the Citadel, there is Y Thao Garden House whose owner is the researcher Nguyen Xuan Hoa, well known for his invaluable and curiosity-provoking collections of porcelain and glass paintings, which cannot be found anywhere else. More importantly, it is such researchers as Phan Thuan An, Nguyen Xuan Hoa, etc. who make their private spaces more exciting. 

It is hoped that those spaces will be maintained and continued so that cultural exchange programs and interesting talks can be organized and people have chances to know more about Hue culture and art.

Story and photo: NHAT MINH