Brush Stroke Dancing at Healing Family

This week at Healing Family, an organization that works with adults with disabilities, we explored the many shades of rhythm and dance. Starting off with a game of "Musical Statues" we got everyone showing off their impressive dance moves. After a winner was chosen, we settled into another form of artistic expression. 

Using Kandinsky's sensorial approach to painting, we splattered and splashed our interpretations of any given song onto paper. The twist: after each song snippet we passed our art work to the person to our right. Musical chairs sans chairs if you will. From Whitney Houston to Bob Marley, everyone swayed and played with colour and form. The final pieces were an assemblage of everybody's emotional reactions to the diverse playlist. And last but definitely not least, the troupe from Healing family treated us to a dance performance which included a fantastic mash up of Elvis and Michael Jackson dance moves. Fun times all around!



Pen Pal Postcards with Wat Pa Pao!

On Friday July 18th we traveled to Wat Pa Pao, a local temple school for our weekly workshop. We have been practicing basic conversations at the start of each weekly lesson, allowing the students a chance to practice speaking English and to get more comfortable and confident. But this week it was a little different as we took those conversation sentences we have been practicing and helped the students to write them on the back of postcards to send to their new pen pals. Another focus of the lesson was to explore more drawing techniques- particularly coloring and shading.

Nash and myself were running the workshop however the lesson is orientated from Nash as she volunteers at a youth center back in Ireland called SWINC. She has confirmed with the director that the children there who are a similar age of the our students at Wat Pa Pao will love to get involved in sending back pen pal postcards. 

We gave the students a series of questions to copy and fill in the blanks depending on their name/ age/ favourite colour/ family... On the other side of the postcard we asked the children to go outside and draw from real life perspective what their school looks like and then using colour pencils they colour in their drawings. And the children back in Ireland will do exactly the same. The children seemed really excited to know that other children will be writing back to them all the way from Ireland.

All the volunteers were partnered up with one child each, and from my experience of working with “Jade” her writing skills and spelling was impressive and her speaking was almost fluent she as she understood most of the word she was reading. Then we it came to the drawing and she really enjoyed herself! All of the students seemed to really like drawing outside, and we gained a lot of attention from the rest of the school! 

Kirsten x

Delicious Japanese Paper Sushi!

Last Thursday we went to Wat Muen Ngen Kong to introduce the students to Japanese culture. As part of the workshop, volunteers showed the students images of cherry blossom, sumo wrestling and the Japanese flag to get familiar with things that are well-known in Japanese culture.

For this week's art project, we decided to make paper sushi! 

Firstly for the seaweed, students were given three strips of white paper, that they coloured black with wax crayons. Wax crayons were used to create texture and a more realistic affect. Each student then rolled their seaweed into circles and glued the sides down.

Next we moved onto the rice filling, where students ripped apart cotton wool pads, to fill out the inner part of the circle. We used glue to cover the inner area of the circle and then pushed in the cotton wool.  

For the cucumber, ginger and fish filling, students were given scrap pieces of paper that they coloured orange, green and red. These pieces of paper were then torn out into tiny pieces and stuck onto the cotton wool.

Presentation is an important part of this workshop and Japanese culture. So, after they had finished the sushi making, each student lined up to get their green banana leaf as a serving dish and green ribbon to tie around their sushi. They then carried these home exceptionally carefully!


Vicky and Yolanda


Bubbles Bursting with Fun!


Five volunteers ventured out this Wednesday morning, bubble makers in hand, to a magical  place that goes by the name of Hope Home; a foster-care home for special needs children.

Using the captivating sensation of bubbles, we explored different soapy shapes and sizes.
By simply looping a piece of string, attaching it to two sticks and dipping into a soap solution large bubbles emerged from this first bubble maker.

We created a second bubble machine out of 

recycled plastic bottles cut in half. Covering the open end with cloth, neatly securing it with an elastic band and blowing into the other end of the bottle a cloud of bubbles was formed.

The kids were popping the bubbles with their hands and feet, enjoying the warm slippery solution and discovering the ephemeral magic of bubbles.

The young explorers were intrigued and at times mesmerized by the look and feel of these simple wonders.
They were spreading the foamy goodness all over themselves!

Smiles, giggles and bubbly fun all around!

Yolanda & Elle

Yolanda in a Nutshell


I'm Yolanda, I am from Montreal, Canada.

Me in a nutshell: I love to laugh, swim, play, create, learn, listen, bake, move, meditate. I greatly enjoy savouring a moment for what it is. If that moment happens to have a cup of tea in it, all the better. I also live in a community house. Our door is always open for jam sessions, gardening, meditation, therapeutic art workshops and weekly community meals. In my not so spare time, I study art and psychology.

I am really excited to be part of the Art Relief International (ARI) team!

I think it is a great organization that believes in the incredible power of art. Simply having access to art can make subtle and substantial changes in all of our lives. We are all creative and have the right to create. But as my grandmother would say, life is not always fair! You have to do the best with what you have. ARI does its best to create artistic opportunities wherever there is need. I am looking forward to exchanging and creating with all the lovely people of the ARI community.

à bientôt




Young Lions Pinwheels

This Tuesday the Young Lions afterschool program stopped by the ARI office to make some pinwheels for their workshop. We had the coloring books and crayons ready while the kids were arriving.

As always, the afternoon began with a vocabulary lesson. For the pinwheel-themed workshop we reviewed the terms wind, pinwheel, spin, fastener, and paper.  Once the kids had pronounced the word correctly, and we had explained how the vocabulary related to today’s workshop got to start the activity!

We decorated our paper squares to start off. The kids colored and drew pictures on both sides of their sheets however they wanted, and did a really nice job of creating their own unique designs. There were ideas inspired from Minecraft, Angry Birds, animals, flowers and more.

Next up was cutting the corners of the paper and taping them to the center of the sheet of paper, which proved tricky at first but was no challenge for the kids once they caught on.

Punching a hole in the middle of the paper squares for the fastener was quickly taken care of by our many volunteers. We then helped the kids to attach the pinwheel to a straw and complete the final steps of assembly. After a few minor adjustments were made to each one, the entire courtyard was filled with the kids’ spinning creations!

And of course the workshop would be incomplete without a round of soccer at the end.
Everybody did a really good job of designing their own shapes and turning simple sheets of paper into a new object to play with. I can’t wait to see what they are able to accomplish next!


Cyprus in Chiang Mai


My Name is Hannah and I am volunteering with ARI for 4 weeks. I am originally from England but have grown up in Cyprus, a tiny Greek island in the Mediterranean. Cyprus is all about the easygoing lifestyle; sun, food and coffee all day long!

I have an obsession with art & design, especially fashion, print and pattern. Having grown up in an island atmosphere, I thoroughly enjoy travel and immersing myself in projects that challenge and inspire my everyday routine and ideas.

Sharing and contributing to ideas is something I have always loved. After studying surface print design in London, I completed an art & design PGCE. I currently work as the head of art & design in an international secondary school in cyprus. In my spare time I enjoy lots of drawing, and creating quirky illustrations to be printed onto clothing.

After researching lots of volunteering programs in South-East Asia, I wanted to find one that challenged my skills and incorporated art therapy, an important direction I would like to learn more about. I then found ARI which ticked all my boxes of an exciting and rewarding work experience with a diversity of culture, religion, upbringing, ability and age.

This is my 5th day in Chiang Mai already, and I have learnt so much about Thai culture, from the wonderful and friendly ARI team and this amazing city. I now cant wait to get started on planning the workshops and meeting all the different organizations.



Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.

"Be bothered" - a quote I try and reflect on my life. I believe you wont get any where in life by being lazy or by not being bothered to do it. I am a strong minded and physically active person.

My name is Kirsten Herpe, I am 20 years of age from England (Kent) and currently at University studying Graphic Design going into my second year. Along side this in my free time I am involved in a Gym Instructor course, I work as a fitness instructor teaching several classes and a party host for children's parties and I previously worked as a dance assistant for children aged 4-10. Because of all these factors of my life I am confident in teaching a large group of people varying between adults and children, so I have strong public speaking skills. 

My previous education consists of studying Graphic design for 2 years at GCSE level, Art and Design and Photography for 2 years at A level and a 1 year Foundation Diploma course in Graphic Design. In my spare time I help my father with his photography business and helping my nan with her card making crafts, which have recently taken on myself to making 5 successful cards for friends and family special occasions. So my background is all over creative and physical through the medium of art, dance and fitness. 

After completing my degree I was thinking of going on to do a teacher training course to become an art teacher, however I have no experience in teaching art and I was extremely interested in gaining this. All these aspects are things which is why I thought I would be suitable to come and volunteer for Cultural Canvas. I found out about CCT from the wonderful world of Google from typing in "Art teacher volunteer" and the description of the job role sounded exactly what I wanted. 

I am looking forward to experiencing how to conduct an exciting and interesting art class, the experience of scheduling a lesson plan, prepping myself to ensure the class runs smoothly and how to communicate to children in the classroom to keep them engaged. One major thing is that I have never worked with disabled children or adults before so to be able to work with them and understand how to interact with particular disabled/ special needs or people with distressing/ traumatizing backgrounds would be extremely interesting for me and useful. 

"Be bothered" 
I don't mind getting a bit dirty...


Hello from Dan!

Hey! my name is Dan.

I’m 34 years old, and I’m from Adelaide, South Australia.

You all know Australia… that big island in the Great Southern Ocean, known for its peculiar wildlife and long hot summers. Adelaide however is famous for its fine wine, its delicious fresh food and produce, its beautiful beaches, and of course its world class arts festivals.

I love macadamia ice cream, the beach, the smell of home cooking (that I didn’t prepare) and midnight dancing at my favourite music festival, WOMADelaide.

I currently work in event management at a local University, but my background (and my true passion) is in dance, movement theatre and community cultural development. Oh, and I teach Yoga!

I’m also a traveller. Well, as often as possible.

I advocate for human rights, social justice and sustainability. I am passionate about sharing stories that encourage learning and understanding, and inspire positive social change. I am inspired by the stories of others.

I stumbled across Art Relief International (ARI) over a year ago and I have since continued to follow ARI's blog whenever I require inspiration, knowing one day I would commit to this next step in my creative journey. 

That time has now arrived.

I sit here writing this initial blog in the courtyard of the ARI office on my second day of this new adventure… a little nervous, but mostly excited and humbled to be here.

On that note, here’s to three months of learning, teaching and sharing in beautiful Chiang Mai. 

I can’t wait!