Artist to honour fallen Navy Seal

Artist to honour fallen Navy Seal

Renowned national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat says the statue, to be twice life-size, will be put at the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district.  (Photo by Theerawat Khamthita)
Renowned national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat says the statue, to be twice life-size, will be put at the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district. (Photo by Theerawat Khamthita)

Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat will use his own money to commission a statue of the former Navy Seal who died during the Tham Luang cave rescue mission.

Chalermchai, a native of Chiang Rai and the man who designed Wat Rong Khun in Muang district, said his statue will honour Petty Officer 1st class Saman Gunan.

He said he hoped it would be placed inside the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai district where the cave complex is situated.

The artist also plans to create a large painting, about three metres wide and 13m tall, depicting the 12 members of the football team and their coach as well as the rescue efforts of the international group of divers and volunteers.

Chalermchai said he has already begun working on a sketch of the painting and expected it to be finished this weekend. A number of artists will collaborate on the work at the Art Bridge Chiang Rai centre in tambon Ban Doo, Muang district, he added.

The artwork, which will be painted in sepia tones, will be kept at Tham Luang cave in a new exhibition hall. Other paintings and drawings will be placed in the cave area, which will be turned into a museum, the artist said.

"Don't worry about the cost. I'm not a person who likes to show off good deeds. Over 300 fellow artists in Chiang Rai will join me in creating this work. We want to turn Tham Luang cave into a new venue for both tourists and students. The statue of 'Ja Sam' [the nickname of Petty Officer 1st class Saman] will be double life-size," said Chalermchai.

He added that he would first seek permission from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, which oversees the park.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday on his weekly TV show that His Majesty the King wished to convey his thanks to all those involved in the cave rescue mission.

Wuttisak Lapcharoensap, rector of Ramkhamhaeng University, said scholarships would be given to the children of farmers who sacrificed over 1,200 rai of adjacent farmland to absorb floodwater from the cave.

The inspector of the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Tongchai Lertwilairatanapong, said yesterday that the boys and their coach were still being closely monitored but that there was no cause for concern as they were recovering well with no sign of serious infection.

At an event feting the rescue operation in Chiang Rai yesterday Paul Robilliard, the Australian ambassador, gave Narongsak Osottanakorn a polo shirt and cap from the Australian Federal Police in honour of the cooperation between Thai and Australian authorities during the mission.

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