Guten Tag from Bavaria... Traveling Artists go to Germany!

This week at Wat Muen Ngeng Kong our little Global Travellers ventured to Bavaria, in Germany. We thought this might be a little complicated for them to understand at first, but explained to them that Bavaria is a province of Germany, much like Chiang Mai is a province of Thailand. Interestingly, they found Germany on the map straight away. I guess they have been there before!

Hanna, who is from Germany, and I explained some of the cultural aspects of Bavaria, including their famed folk festivals, food such as pretzels, and slap dancing. We also tried to explain that we would be making traditional Bavarian hats, but the kids were so excitable we just had to demonstrate in our smaller groups. Despite their hyperactivity, they are always keen to learn, participate and enjoy playing with their creation.

We started by showing the students how to fold their newspaper in to a recognisable hat, before taping the ‘cord’, made out of pipe cleaners, to the front of the hat. The kids then coloured their hats any colour they wanted using crayons, before sticking their ‘Edelweiss’ flower on the front, and topping it off with a classy looking feather. Voila!

We had planned to teach them some traditional slap dancing, but there was no way we were going to grab all their attention today, they were too busy playing with their hats. Some interested students watched a video of traditional dancing, and we had a quick listen to some German folk music, but then it was pick-up time and the students streamed out.

I have to take my hat off (pun intended) to the students of this always-fun Temple School… They may be hyperactive, but they always produce some pretty spectacular results, and darn if they aren’t charming doing it.

Auf Wiedersehen!


Overcoming Our Fears

We started of this week of workshops with the Juvenile Detention Centre, a centre for boys, aged between 12-18, awaiting their sentences.
There were also three girls there, from a different detention centre, joining us for the workshop.

I introduced the boys to Banksy, a pseudonymous graffiti artist who uses a distinctive stenciling technique.
The intention of this workshop was to create stencilled spray-painted images onto canvas, inspired by Banksy.  The works were to reflect on what the young boys fear the most, and then getting them to add an element of amusement to the work to make their fear less scary.
Our fears are closely connected to us, they are sometimes part of our identities. We listen to this fear when it tells us to be scared, so by adding a factor of amusement to our fear we see it from a different perspective.
This new perspective allows the feared to gain a greater sense of control over the situation and de-attaches our fears from our identity.

Graffiti art by Banksy

After I explained to them about fears, Banksy, and the workshop they got started by brainstorming their fear and amusing component. They had to get the two factors to interact.
They went into great detail on their drawings and great things were starting to emerge from their creative minds.

When they had finalized their design they had to draw it onto cardboard to create stencils for their spray-painted canvases.
It was a bit confusing for them to grasp their head around the fact they needed to cut away the inside rather than cutting around the shape they had drawn, but they got there!

Each boy received a canvas and spray-painted their stencils on. The work that they created transformed as they added color.

They were very careful and gentle with handling their stencils on the canvas and spray-painting. When everyone was finished spray painting we went around and shared the idea's and themes within their work.

The 2 hour workshop flew by,  we all had such a great time hanging out with the boys and girls.

It's wonderful seeing them having so much fun with each other and getting so involved with the workshop. They're some of the nicest teenage boys I've ever met, when it came to clean up time they all rushed their feet to help and assisted with carrying out all our materials to the door.
I'm really looking forward to going to the Juvenile detention centre next time.

Elle x


Dye... Another Day - Inkodye T-Shirts with BEAM

This week was certainly the week of Inkodye workshops. On Saturday we Inkodyed cloth with Baan Nokkamin using natural objects as templates. On Monday we decorated bags with Wildflower Home. But today we dyed t-shirts using the concept of Tangrams with the great students at BEAM. BEAM is an informal education program for mostly Burmese students attempting their high school certificate so they can then move on to University.

For those of you who haven't heard of Inkodye, it is essentially a type of sunlight sensitive dye that can be painted on to fabric and changes colour when exposed to UV rays. Therefore, if you cover sections of the fabric with objects or cut-out templates, and wash the dye out before exposure, you can create all kinds of patterns and designs. The dye also comes in several colours, allowing for colourful, creative designs.

As I mentioned previously, we had been using natural and found objects with the other workshops, but because BEAM consists of predominantly savvy young adults, we wanted to do something a little more contemporary, and I came up with the idea of using geometric shapes that we could cut out of plastic instead. After some searching, Alexis, who brought the Inkodye concept and materials with her all the way from Montana, came up with the cool idea of using Tangrams. Tangrams are patterns and designs created by joining various geometric shapes together, resulting in various templates of objects, animals or simple abstract images. We tested the idea by making two examples, and they looked VERY cool.

I think it is fair to say the students at BEAM took to the task with much enthusiasm, concentration and creativity. Some were meticulous in their use of the Tangram templates, others ignored them all together and created their own interesting designs. Colours and techniques varied, some enjoying straight lines, others splattering their t-shirts with the dye.

As always, watching the dye turn was the best part, and the sun, which looked a little shy at first, shone bright as we watched the designs emerge. The colours were very deep. The students washed the dye out of the fabric, turned the t-shirts inside out and let them hang to dry whilst we cleaned up, before a big group photo to show off the fabulous final products. If the students at BEAM like their T-shirts anywhere near as much as the ARI Volunteers do, then it was a very successful workshop. 


What is your favourite thing about Shan culture?!

Today was my last workshop with the lovely students at Wat Pa Pao. I have really loved getting to know them during the past few weeks and today we all got to know them a little bit better. We asked them the question, what is your favourite thing about Shan Culture? The students all come from the Shan State, located within Thailand and Myanmar. Their Buddhist temple school serves as the main community center for Shans in Chiang Mai. Using charcoal and one signature colour, they drew us a picture of Shan Culture and Pride. They all took time to reflect upon our question and then got down to drawing. Some drew of the Shan way of life, farming rice and raising animals in the countryside. Others drew Shan dress and dance. They depicted their culture beautifully by focusing on shading and paying attention to detail. 

We started off by learning some new english words, brainstorming and practicing charcoal techniques. 

They really got into shading and smudging...The charcoal had a tendency of ending up in many places beyond the page.

After drawing, adding a signature colour and sealing their drawings with fixatif (to prevent them from smudging), they proudly displayed their works for us to see.

Have a look at some of their final works!

The students became the teachers at the end of the class, sharing with us their knowledge and love of Shan culture. They also got to see what the volunteers drew as their favourite thing about his or her culture (German, Australian, New Zealand, American, Canadian, Scottish).

We wrapped up our workshop all together and I must admit, I was really sad to say goodbye.
Walking into Wat Pat Pao is like entering a magical world. Kids play amongst the temple dwellings and classrooms. Swings and seesaws come to life amongst the Pagodas (Buddhist Relic Monument) and Buddhist statues. This a special place that I will always remember. I can't wait to see what the volunteers and students will create next week! Like you, I will be following them on this blog.

Cheers and my many thanks!!!