On time, like every Wednesday afternoon, the first young lion kids from the area around our office showed up in our yard to discover a new country. Glad to have these nice and adventurous kids here in our workshop, we thought about Brazil being the next country worth to discover. The theme we have chosen was graffiti. First we gave them the chance to experiment with sidewalk chalk to draw their first and big letters. After that it was time to write their own names in graffiti-style. We gave the smaller kids the opportunity to cut the letters of their names out, but the older ones were able to draw their names on their own. So we handed out big sheets of paper and the kids wrote their names on it. The more time we gave them, the bigger their letters became and the more colourful they designed the background. There were some awesome pictures the kids made and they really astonished us!
Now were looking forward to next week, when or big travel through all the different countries of the world ends!

Dance and paint to music at Healing Family Foundation

Let's play the music and dance! That was how we started our workshop at Healing Family Foundation last Thursday. Everybody moved, danced, and laughed until exhaustion. We had to calm down and get new energy for the next part of the workshop. 

I wanted to show them how music has an individual impact on everyone. They can interpret feelings inspired by music with drawing. I played four different kind of music like 'happy', 'angry', 'sad' and 'soft'. It was amazing and kind of magic to see how they concentrated on the music and drew on the paper. 

Finally everyone created four great paintings. Now it was obvious that everybody was influenced by the music in a different way although they heard the same music. Each of them thought of different situations or things, but of course the main-feeling to each kind of music was equal.

At the end they wouldn't let us go until we dance with them again. I can tell you afterwards we needed an ice cream urgently.




Last wednesday the young lions came again storm our yard excited for a new workshop to begin. We decided to make something energetic and different with them during one of their last workshops. The land we have chosen is called New Zealand. Do you know the war dance of the native people living there? I’m sure you do! It’s the one, the New Zealand rugbyplayers are doing before starting their games. So we showed the kids a video with this dance. They were fascinated and some of them showed us their angry and dangerous looking faces too. While watching the native people doing their dance, we took aglance at their painted faces, grabbed brushes and black face colour and did the same. The kids painted at each other faces, arms and hands and also didn’t spare the staff and us volunteers. A great experience for all of us! After that, it was time to use a lot of different colours to create big paintings, just in a different way than usual by using our hands and feet. It was really fun! After some cautious tries the kids got really into it, becoming more courageous and tried new techniques. At the end we were all full of paint on legs, arms, hands and faces but experienced an other great workshop with these kids!

Bye, Nicola


Staying Positive with MPlus+

Hello. My name is Christopher. I joined Art Relief about one month ago now, coming from the USA with the intention of working with Mplus+, our partner organization that works with the gay, lesbian, and transgendered population in Chiang Mai. My background is in photography and film, and I have really been looking for a way to share this love with the people at Mplus+. The first month was a lot of looking around town for cameras – tricky, but a fun way to get to know a city for sure – but finally three Thursdays ago, a small group of us had the opportunity to host our first workshop during the Mplus+ drop-in hours at their office. A kind of get to know you.

This workshop didn't focus on photography, instead taking up the Mplus+ message of safe sex and bringing in a range of crafts made entirely from condoms, provided in bulk by Mplus+ themselves! We made beaded earnings, with condoms at the center, and flowers – roses and lilies in reds purples, and white, that even had green condoms for leaves (an innovation added by the participants, who maybe outdid our volunteers in skill and creativity). By the end of the session, we had en entire bouquet, and enough earrings to outfit the entire staff (as well as a kind of tribal breast plate, for a more extravagant ensemble).
The workshop served its purpose wonderfully, everyone chatting and laughing, despite a prevalent language barrier. Our initial apprehensions about crafting alone in the corner were immediately squashed, and I think everyone was excited for our return. We left with a better understand of what we can give to the space, as well as the people we will be giving it to, which makes it all twice as exciting.

The following thursday, we returned ready to tackle some photography. Starting with still photography, as a build up to the film they will be doing eventually, we met the group with a box full props - flowers, masks, backdrops, and instruments among them. After a short lesson on composition, we asked them to see what they could come up with, and let them run with it. The next hour was full of glamour shoots (for dolls and people), product placement, dramatic scenes, and a human pyramid. All of the photos were wonderful. They had taken the three basic rules of composition I had outlined and hit them, bent them, and broken them in ways that spoke to true creativity. We left this weeks workshop truly impressed, and laughing.

Last Thursday, we returned with the best of their photographs printed on iron transfer paper (intended for quick image printing onto t-shirts). We introduced the day with a discussion about collages and dyptichs, and how rearranging and coupling pictures can be a great tool for playig with the meaning of the image. This was interesting, but we switly moved on to cutting and positioning, ironing the images onto small canvas bags that the participants could then keep. The products ranged from abstract image scapes, to graphic love stories (some involving our own volunteers!).

We are now at a point where we feel as though we have truly gotten to know the participants at MPLus+. We have shown them some of the basic skills of photography, as well as really gotten to take in the true measure of their creativity, and they have been nothing but impressive. At the last session, we decided that everybody was probably ready for us to commence the longer series of workshops working with film. These workshops have been a long time planning, and the build up to them has been extremely exciting. It will be fascinating to see what is created in the coming weeks, and I'm sure it will be valuable for us, as well as the Chiang Mai LGBT community.


Fun with dancing

Last week we went to the Straton ABC Foundation to teach them some new choreography. The kids remembered us from the week before, so they felt more comfortable with us. We started the workshop with funny games and they showed us their dance-styles to their favorite music. 

They really enjoyed to play and dance with us and started to learn the first part of the choreography. It was hard work so they deserved to play more games at the end.
For us it was a fantastic time with the kids, because they were very grateful and it was clear that they really enjoyed the workshop and spending time with us.

We can’t wait to see them again,
Kilian and Annika


Snow White and the seven dwarves

On wednesday it was time again for the Young Lions to discover the world a bit more. After being in so many different countries yet, their next adventure took place in Germany. Happily there are four German speaking volunteers here right now! So we thought about something typical German... maybe garden gnomes? But then we decided to make a workshop about one of the good known fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and prepared a little puppet show. 

First of all the kids, a few from hilltribes and some living in our local area, got their visa stamped. After that they sat down in front of the stage and we did our best playing ‘Snow White And The Seven Dwarves’ with our self made puppets. First in German and than Pbat translated it into Thai, so the kids could understand us. It all went well and after Snow White and the Prince got married we got to the next part of our workshop. The most successful one! The kids could make their own dwarves out of coloured felt, pipe cleaners and little paper heads.  We thought about every kid making one dwarf, but they were so much into their work, that they nearly spent all of our materials doing two to three dwarves per kid. Some of them were also so creative, to design them like little devils or other crazy characters. They nearly forgot about the German sausages waiting for them as a snack.

Bye, Nicola


Making bubbles!

Hi, my name is Nicola. I'm a new volunteer at Cultural Canvas Thailand and I've been staying here in Chiang Mai since last thursday. After I got introduced into the whole art project it was time to do my first workshop! 
After we have prepared everything, we got on our way to Hope Home where three little kids waited for us. They are all living in the neighborhood and go there to the kindergarten. 

First we used finger painting to make a funny smiling frog look more colorful than before. After that, we sang a song with them about 5 little speckled frogs. But both didn't amaze them as much as the soapy water we mixed in a tub to blow some big soapy bubbles. First they just watched Rachel and me sitting in front of the water making bubbles. But after some time they joined us and even if they didn't managed to make as big bubbles as we did, they at least tried and had fun by destroying ours, pour the water from one little bucket into an other or splatter the water on to the other children. All in all a very wet but successful workshop!


Hope Home and cool colors

Hey guys,
Last Wednesday we went again to Hope Home and continued in our colour theme. This time we did paintings in cool colours which means blue, green and violet.

When we got there we first watched a video and warmed up their fingers. Then we gave them ice cubes so that they could explore another sense than only sight. Some of them really liked to touch the cold ice cubes which I didn’t expected.

Then when we finally got to the painting part and gave the kids their painting sheets some of them had such a great smile on their face. It is very nice to see them smiling and with every week they can move their arms a little bit better and they don’t need as much help as before.

I enjoy it very much to come there every week and see them smiling and improving their motions. Everyone has a very good time working with them; singing, painting and watching little videos. It is so much fun!



Weaving in Guatemala with the Young Lions

 Last Wednesday Young Lions were back on their travels – hopping over to Guatemala in South America to learn how to weave. We thought it would be fun for them to have notebooks to take home, and showed them how to weave fabric strips to make the cover. The kids were really excited at being able to choose which colour they wanted to start with (pink won hands down as the favourite) but unfortunately there weren’t enough to go round so after a quick game of rock, paper, scissors we were ready to go!

We started off with fewer kids than usual, but had more turn up throughout the lesson, including a new brother and sister who were eager to join in. The kids were all quick to catch on to the technique until it came to finishing the edges, where everyone and everything was quickly covered in glue!

Chris and Kira sat with some of the early finishers to play a memory card game we had made. It proved very popular and very competitive, and was also a good chance for the kids to learn some English words. A fun afternoon and some really great notebooks J



Thunderstorm at the farm

We went on Friday to Wat Pa Pao with the hope that the Kids between 3 and 5 are going to help us and Farmer Hans. At his farm was a horrible storm which blew all his animals away and also the wings from the chickens and the tails of the horses. Without the help of the Kids they couldn’t find the way back home.

Luckily the cute children were so into this story that they really wanted to help us. So we all started to draw the missing body parts for the horses and the chickens and of course we had to give them some crazy colors.

After we saved these animals we had to help them all to find the way back home to farmer Hans. In groups we worked on a puzzle. The Kids worked really well together so they could finish the picture and at the end saw happy Farmer Hans with his animals. 
Of course we had to celebrate this happy ending with the “Chicken Dance”.
It all worked so well and I can’t wait to think about another workshop for this cute kids. It was so fun to work with them and great to see how good they are at listening, coloring and dancing.
Bye Annika


Lanna International School

For the last four weeks I have met with a group of eight students from the Lanna International School. We are making an 8 weeks workshop to teach them about ARI and how to make a workshop. The Kids are coming from privileged backgrounds and decided by themselves to learn about the work from NGO’s. They are all really nice and into the work. It’s so great to work with them. They had great ideas for their own workshop at the end of our eight weeks. We will go to Thai Freedom House to make the workshop there. In our past lessons we spoke about the question: What is ARI? What are we doing?
We decided which kind of workshop we are going to do with Thai Freedom House, the theme was: How can we tell our stories through art? But I don’t want to tell you how we are going to do this, it’s a surprise!
Then we talked about fundraising and planned two fundraise-evenings and yesterday we started to write the lesson plans. I am so excited to do the workshops and sure that they are going to be so great.
Yesterday evening we had our first fundraising session and all went well. They made music, sold drinks and made a ruffle with great prizes.

I really love to go every week to see them and enjoy it to teach these nice students about our work.
Cheers Annika!


Africa at Thai Freedom House

Hey guys

My name is Kilian and I'm from Switzerland. I'm volunteering with Art Relief for two months. Two weeks have already passed, and I'm glad to be working with this program. It feels alright.

Last week we did a great African workshop at Freedom House. The first day we introduced the kids to the continent and showed them some typical pictures of it. While listening to African music we started with creating potato patterns and drums. The kids were very creative, so they can be very proud of their beautiful drums and bags.

The next day the kids could finish their drums and bags and the younger kids were very excited to play the drums. So we split the kids into two groups. I taught three different rhythms to one group and Annika did a fitting dance with the other group. Afterwards we came together and had a funny time with dancing and playing the drums together. Because the kids couldn't stop dancing we finished an amazing day with the Macarenca dance.

I'm looking forward to going back to Freedom House soon.