Painting at Po Leung Kuk

IMG_8434I’ve seen Po Leung Kuk all over Hong Kong but didn’t know what they do here. They have a massive building in Causeway Bay that I’ve passed by several times on the bus and was excited to find out that was where I’d be going to help with a Linklaters sponsored painting day. At this location, Po Leung Kuk provides integrated family services, one of which is residential child care.

The artists we worked with were  3-16 years old and we painted on large wood panels and canvases for their dormitory hallways and rooms. The theme they chose was woodlands (underwater for the younger ones). In the morning, a group of the older kids came and helped with priming the front of the boards and lacquering the back. They returned after lunch to start the planning process. Before my group of 3-4 year olds arrived, I spent time with some of the older artists to discuss ideas and draft their boards. We began painting when the Linklaters volunteers arrived. There was a lot going on at once but the space was filled with creative energy. I wasn’t able to stop to get any work in progress photos of the 3-4 yr olds but they enjoyed mixing the background colours to show it was underwater and learned how to make gestures and shapes into the paint. I quite like how their pieces turned out—abstract representations of sea creatures swimming quickly :).

 

We had a chance to stop in the dormitory and have a look at the hallway where the art would be going up. The paintings really brightened up the space.

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Life and Aesthetics

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During my art residency, I had the opportunity to guest lecture for the Life and Aesthetics course at Chiang Mai University. It’s offered by the Faculty of Fine Art but open to anyone at the university so it was a diverse group of students. My question for them was: Where do stories come from and what do we do with them?

I shared with the class my interest in people’s stories and how they can be anchored to objects. Several of my personal projects explore this idea. Experiences and memories come to mind when we see or recognise things from our past. Sometimes they are objects, sometimes words, sometimes a smell, sometimes a feeling. When we take the time to articulate our stories, they frame our viewpoint and how we interact in life. When we take time to listen to other people’s stories we find intersections with our own and make connections.

Looking through their shared memories, I got a peek into what it’s like growing up in Thailand. One thing I noticed that recurred frequently in their drawings/writing was the use of 555. 5 is ห้า (H̄̂ā). I need to take that up!

We closed with Q+A which oftentimes doesn’t work out too well but after class, I was pleased to find students eager to participate in my collecting childhood project and wanting to chat. Thankful for this experience and being able to meet and interact with so many new friends.

cmu cyanotype saturday

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On Saturday Morning, a group of art students from Chiang Mai University came over to Rumpueng for a cyanotype workshop. I showed them some of my previous prints and went through the process of mixing up the chemical solutions and preparing the paper/surface for printing. Found materials from the area were used for printing and we had a few hours to explore and experiment together.

 

papermaking with natsumi

In Year 9 my CDT (craft design and technology) teacher ran an after school environmental club and taught us how to make a mold and deckle for papermaking. We would collect paper scraps from the classrooms to blend into pulp to make new paper. I also did some recycled paper pulp making with my kids back when I was teaching kindergarten but have never made paper from natural plant fibres. I found my mold and deckle cleaning out my classroom in June and knowing I was going to be in Chiang Mai this fall, on my list of to dos during my time here was to learn how to make Saa–mulberry paper.

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Natsumi is a friend of Pitchaya, one of the art residency coordinators. She’s on a one year exchange at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University from Japan and we connected at my cyanotype workshop last weekend. She’s been refining her papermaking with mulberry and exploring other natural fibres like coconut. She offered to show me her work and process and let me have a go at making mulberry paper.

 

She showed me on her laptop some of the other papermaking equipment/machinery she used in Japan that speeds things up. In Chiang Mai she is making everything by hand. It is a long and laborious process but I found it, like printmaking, to be quite calming and therapeutic.

Will have to see what type of papermaking I can get up to back in Hong Kong.

Both her and Pitchaya are creating site specific installations for doi saket_inter which is opening November 5, 2014 at Nong Buow Lake, Doisaket, Chiang Mai. If you’re in the area, go check out the art festival which coincides with Loi Krathong.

highschool workshops

The highschool workshops took place earlier this week. The students are on term break so I really appreciated them taking the time to come out to Rumpueng to spend with me. The original plan was to do a mapping of place through texture and object collections but because of workshop timing, it would be dark out.

We explored our vision of place instead, contrasting how other people like visitors or tourists perceive our city/home and how we would choose to convey it. As a fan of mail and Chiang Mai being a popular holiday destination, the postcard format was used.

What is it that we value and find meaningful in the place we call home?

We looked at typical Chiang Mai and Thailand postcards depicting wats, monks, tuk-tuks, elephants and developed ideas for our own set of cards sharing what we would like other people to see and know. Here are a few of the pieces.

Our second evening was spent exploring different book structures and how the tetra-tetra flexagon could be used. Ideas ranged from depicting changing feelings to a children’s story to the elements earth, wind, fire, water.

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I haven’t learned much Thai yet and English was limited but these two evenings we were still able to share and learn from each other. I’m continually amazed at how people communicate and especially how art can give us a voice in so many ways.

art workshop at rumpueng

I had my first workshop this week with some young artists who were attending art camp. They came to Rumpueng Community Art Space for the workshop with their teachers. I thought they’d be 8-10 yr olds but the kids ranged from 3-10 which proved for exciting times! Very appreciative of their teachers’ assistance and also help with translation when needed. We started off learning more about each other in smaller groups by creating a collective special friend who would represent them.

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On the far left, you can see the little ones had fun tracing Ajarn Tu’s (Professor Supachai) body, colouring in and creating patterns. Some things I found particularly interesting about these new friends is that they are linguistically apt, love to spend time at the Chiang Mai Zoo, and like to eat cheese.

We talked about ideas for our stories and where we could draw inspiration from in our life and experiences. We thought about possible characters, setting and objects to include. One idea from each category was painted onto story stones. These would help us in writing our stories and we could also exchange stones for new story ideas.

After snack time, we learned how to fold and make the “walking pants” book from an A4 sheet of paper and started on our stories.

It was a fabulous afternoon together with the kids and definitely felt like the first day of school for me : ).  After the red bus came to pick them up, two neighbourhood girls stopped by and we did some bookmaking together. We were able to communicate in limited English + actions + drawings. I found out they are on school break for two weeks and got them to teach me some Thai words. We made two different book structures and even managed to put covers on one before they decided they wanted to play with the cats.

Rumpueng Community Art Space

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I’m spending the month of October here as one of two artists in residence. It’s my first time in Chiang Mai and this place is just beautiful. In the 4 days I’ve been here, I’ve gotten a whirlwind tour of the area around Rumpueng: three wats, the Chiang Mai University’s campus and Faculty of Fine Art buildings (they have stone carving class!), museums, cafes, neighbourhood eateries… and met artists from near and far.

This is my work area before I unpacked all my art materials. Getting used to how much space is available and planning on doing some larger scale pieces.

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I was able to sit in on a life drawing class with some second year uni students that took place at Rumpueng. They concluded the session with a class shindig–a Thai bbq. Such a lovely time with them and of course delicious food.

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Am also enjoying

Catch day to day happenings on instagram.