Bann Piranan: Shape Art

I started volunteering for Cultural Canvas last Monday with another volunteer Breana we started by planning and running a workshop at Baan Piranan with Nong Mai, Nong Somsak and Nong Wichai.

We decided to focus on introducing different shapes to the children in a series of workshops. We started with circles.
We also wanted the children to gain an understanding of the different senses too so chose objects which were quite visual, tactile and tasty!

We started by introducing a circle. Then we blowed bubbles to show how circles can be created. Wichai and Somsak had a go blowing bubbles but it was a little too hard for Mai but be really enjoyed them landing on his arms and face.

We then blew up balloons and showed them how they can be blown up in to circles and then deflated.

We introduced different painting techniques to them - blowing paint with straws, squeezing paint using a squeezing device and flicking paint on with coloured paper with circles on them.

They produced some beautiful pieces of art which we admired together whilst sharing an orange!

Nong Mai, 24th April 09 Nong Somsak, 24th April 09 Nong Wichai, 24th April 09


The Unwinding of The Unwinding Wall

After eight days of building, an unsightly farmer’s tan, and very exfoliated feet, The Unwinding Wall is officially up and ready to do its work unwinding. Everything worked out better than I could have imagined. Despite the hard work and the exhausting Thailand heat, building this mud bottle wall was quite the experience. In the end, not only did the mothers of Wildflower help, but their children as well and even outside volunteers—tourists and local residents included. It was a great opportunity to create what I hope will be a much used space, whether for relaxing or for the children to play in, to learn and also to teach others how to build ecologically using mud wall techniques, to practice recycling in our suffering natural environment, and in the end, even cultural exchange.

When I began with CCT, I wasn’t absolutely sure what I would be doing other than the fact that it would be related to art. I was hoping for the freedom to work from my own ideas and am so thankful for the support of CCT in allowing me to carry out a long-term project and giving me the responsibility of my own project.

The idea for The Unwinding Wall initially began simply as a space for people to enjoy. I wanted to work with a community, and ideally one with a campus. Wildflower Home served as the perfect place in that its campus was relatively new and still in the process of building (not to mention, Michael, one of the founders of Wildflower Home, was previously an architect and engineer and ironically previously lived ten minutes from my home in Houston). Fully aware that a low budget was a necessity and noticing that Wildflower Home was already working on some mud buildings, I began toying with the idea of doing something with mud. However, I had initially wanted to work with plastic water bottles, which seem to float ubiquitously around Thailand. When I glossed over a site on the net discussing mud bottle walls, it seemed perfect.

The form of the space itself was inspired by the work of Richard Serra, an American sculptor (and personal favorite of mine) who works with Cor-ten steel, creating large experiential spaces. The spiral line that the wall creates was also a personal effort of mine to experiment with lines and the ways in which people respond to them, as my time with CCT was part of a year-long travel fellowship in which I am sculpting various lines—sunken, drawn, or built—into the earth.

Ultimately, the wall will have a bamboo roof attached to the top of the wall to protect the wall as well as shade those inside. Hopefully it will also encourage the glowing effect when the light shines through the glass bottles. A gravel pathway will also wind around the outer perimeter and fill the inner space. Finally, we are looking to provide ambient lighting for the cool evenings (or cooler than the day at least) and mobile mud seating for the mothers to relax in. So in actuality, The Unwinding Wall is still not finished and is an ongoing project.

Before we get to the pictures though, I want to acknowledge all those who made The Unwinding Wall unwind!

Many thanks to Wildflower Home—Michael, Elizabeth, all the mothers and their children, and of course the helpful construction workers who watched us struggle but nevertheless offered their help. Thank you to all the volunteers, to all those who made this project possible—Warm-Up Café, Riverside Café, Amy’s Bar, and the old junkyard, and of course everyone at Cultural Canvas Thailand—Zoe, Wahd, Amp, Sara, and Kiera! Without you all, this project would never have been possible! Kawp khun ka!

**For future CAP volunteers: Lisa—a local Chiang Mai resident, founder of a school for Burmese refugees, and volunteer mud builder—suggested there be a writing workshop done with the mothers in which they could put thoughts into the bottles where they would remain as secret messages. I thought it was a great idea that adds a personal touch to the wall and a whole other dimension. I’d be thrilled if anybody was inspired to carry it out!