Bangkok Sketchwalk: Church of Santa Cruz (2)

March 17, 2013

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A4 Laloran 120g sketchbook, graphite pencil and W&N watercolours

Compared to the Chinese shrines in the local area, this Portuguese church (known as Kuti Jiin) in Old Portuguese Kaleedjeen district is much larger and grander, with quite a relatively large public square between its own ferry pier and the church building. It’s not as large as two other large Christian churches in Bangkok, but is a very strong presence among the one- and two-storeyed houses and shophouses round about. The perspective is a bit whacky here, but is half-deliberate because I wanted to show how the church dominates its environment.

The only relief in terms of Nature are the potted fir trees round the outside, which look comparatively odd compared to the eccentric-looking manicured topiary characteristic of Buddhist wat and the Chinese shrines. They don’t seem to relieve the vast areas of stucco and masonry. But this is a much more modern building than its peers, built exactly a hundred years ago this year.

Despite being surrounded by dozens of international sketchers, I seemed to tune them out – the public square is hot, exposed and barren, somewhat desolate especially when compared to the busy-commercial sala or public square outside nearby Wat Kalayanamitr, the next stop on our journey towards the Klongsan end of Old Kaleedjeen. The church too is only open on Sundays, whereas the Buddhist wat are pretty much 24/7 busy. As elsewhere in Bangkok, Buddhist yellow flags alternate with the red, white and blue Thai one.

Across the Chao Phraya River is the Assumption Cathedral, emblematic of the French missionary influence during the reign of Rama II (r 1809-1824) and it’s worthwhile comparing Santa Cruz with it.

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