Recycled Art

Hi, I’m Niki and I’m a new volunteer on the Art Relief International program! I’m from Scotland and have been here in Chiang Mai for a week so far – a week full of delicious Thai food and many an iced coffee! Our art workshops have had us splattering paint, making collages with fabric, cutting up toilet rolls and even laying grass in the Stratton Playground! It’s been great fun and I’m looking forward to my next 5 weeks here.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
On Thursday afternoon, we ran a workshop with the Young Lions based on recycled art. We introduced the kids the concept of recycling through a poster and PBut explained how recycling can help the environment by reducing waste, pollution and energy use. The kids varied in age so we tried to simplify the idea by using cartoon images to translate!
One fun way to recycle is to make art from items that we might otherwise throw away. We showed the kids photos of recycled art – from sculptures made from plastic bottles, to picture frames and earrings made from bottle tops, to bags made from sweet wrappers – and then led them to the 3 stations we had prepared. At one station was Nicola, who was making animals from toilet rolls. At another station was Linley, who was making pencil boxes from lollipop sticks, and I was at the last station making collages using pieces of recycled fabric. The kids then chose what they wanted to make and the fun began!

Nicola’s table was piled high with toilet rolls, paint pallets and coloured paper which were quickly transformed into bunny rabbits, octopuses and butterflies once the kids got to work. One kid really got the creative juices flowing and made his toilet roll into a woman with long blonde hair!
Linley’s table was home to the lollipop sticks and cardboard boxes. They glued the sticks to the boxes, painted them in all sorts of bright colours, and tied bows around them at the end. The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and were very proud of their work at the end, wanting photos to be taken of them and their finished product.

I have to say that my table was a little lonely at first, but perhaps this was more of a reflection on my explanation of fabric collage in Thai! Even although I am half Thai, I hardly speak any at all (nid noi) but let’s hope I get better as the weeks go on! PBut came to my rescue and the rest is history I guess! The kids really got into their designs – first drawing their images, then cutting out their pieces of fabric, then getting messy with the glue, and then out came the watercolours to finish! We were surrounded by piles of colourful fabric and a few of adults even started to join in.

It was great to see everyone's smiling faces at the end. The Young Lions were lots of fun to work with, so I'm looking forward to next Thursday...now to plan the next lesson! Wish me luck! Bye, Niki


In the early mornings and hot afternoon sun, you will find these children out wandering the streets with strings of sweet smelling jasmine flowers clasped in their grubby hands and hopeful eyes, trying to put food on the table.
       Chiang Mai is home to approximately 120,000 Burmese refugees and migrants in search of freedom from fear and oppression. What they find here in Thailand is far different from what they expect. The family members are utilized for cheap construction labor and not given rights or residency by the Thai government. As a result, they have no choice but to live in construction camp slums and their children are not allowed to attend school.
      Every Thursday, our Art Relief International team and volunteers lay out mats and tables in the CCT yard and gather the local refugee children for fantastic art workshops that our volunteers personally plan and lead. The Young Lions outreach workshops give these children the chance to just be kids for a change and to express themselves creatively as well as the opportunity to meet other children and family and to begin the process of building a strong community. With so much time spent trying to survive, these children have little time left to just be kids.
       For an afternoon, our office yard is filled with the beautiful sound of children's laughter and the pitter-patter of grubby feet and messy hands. During this hour, they are transported to different countries, explore the world through art, and learn new skills.
       The success we've seen with our local children has been profound and from donations to our Indiegogo campaign, we hope to broaden our program's reach to include Burmese refugee children who live further out, in the many construction camp slums surrounding Chiang Mai. 

Please help us make this happen by lending your support and raising awareness! Share this link and the work we do with all your friends and family! 
Only 23 days left! 

A big shout out to all those who have donated to the cause! And a personal thank you to Marie Danner! Your support means more than you can know to both us and the children's lives this program touches! So thank you from the bottom of our heart!


What a sloppy workshop!!!

 We started this workshop with a new game called “ree ree kao sarn” in Thai” but we sang “London Bridge” instead. The rule is easy, two people form the bridge by holding their hands together over their heads. Then we sing a song, the bridge has to catch one player when the song ends. Then that player has to choose between two items, such as train or bicycle, which are chosen by the bridge members. Which item they choose determines whose team they have to join. At the end we have two teams and each team leader has to try to catch the last member of the other team. It was so fun and we laughed a lot with this game.

Then we started our first paper mache workshop. At the beginning, the kids had no idea what paper mache was. We presented them our pre-made piñata which is a paper mache item originated by Mexican people. They were excited with all different images of fancy piñatas such as a batman, a fish, a dog and a frog. However, the most popular characters were Mickey and Minnie mouse.

The kids started making piñata character by adding some cut cardboard shapes on their balloons to make ears and noses. Some of the kids found it was difficult to cut the actual size they wanted but they tried very hard a couple of times. Eventually they got the right shape and size they wanted… with little help from our volunteers. They also ripped some newspaper themselves. We originally thought it would be a boring job, but some kids liked doing it. Once they started using paper mache paste, they mostly said it was so sloppy. Even though, some of them complained, none of them stopped. They also complained about making many layers too. One of the kids, Lhor tee, he kept telling us he wanted to stop but he didn’t. He made me laugh in my head.
Luckily it was not raining this week so we could run around the house easily. Anyway, we had to keep all wet paper mache balls inside our house so the rain couldn’t destroy them if it did come. This paper mache balls will be used for the next week to be decorated as a piñata. Hopefully someone can break it. Why? Well, let me tell you next week…

Bye for now, see you next week.
by Pat

Hooray Hope Home

The last couple weeks at Hope Home have been really great! The kids have come leaps and bounds from when we first started working with them. I usually work with Phil, our little boy with the amazing feet. While Phil still has limited movement with his hands, everyday he learns to do something new with his feet. Last week I was so impressed to see him “wai” in response to “Sawatdee ka” and hold a paintbrush in between his toes. 

For last week’s workshops we focused on mono-printing by painting on aluminum foil and then pressing paper on top of the painted image. We thought it would be fun to try putting the kids in some different positions and letting them paint sitting on the floor rather than in their wheel chairs. We warmed up with a beautiful rendition of “If your happy and you know it…” With the kids helping us clap and stomp as best they could. We then set off to paint; Boonrat and Joy worked with rollers and brushes while Phil made a work of art not only on the paper but on his feet and the surrounding area as well. Sitting on the floor, he was able to better reach the paper and paint trays and also practice both gliding the paint and stomping his feet to make different marks. It was really amazing to see him hold the paintbrush between his toes and even move it back and forth a bit. He was also able to press the paper down on the aluminum foil and pick it up all by himself. We could see in his eyes and his glowing smile that he was really proud of himself and enjoying his new found freedom of movement. 

This morning we introduced the kids to watercolor resist, and again they just blew us away with their strength and enthusiasm. Both Boonrat and Phil were really eager to paint and to hold the brushes and paints on their own and even little Pancake was painting! She hasn't wanted to paint in months! Phil also practiced drawing with a crayon that he held between his toes. He did such a great job, I think he may be writing his name soon! We finished the day with a nice walk around the neighborhood and some wheelchair foot races, which brought more beaming smiles to their faces;big enough to bring the sun back from behind the clouds!

Can't wait to see them again next week!

                                                                                  Can’t wait to see them again next week!


Is it summer??? I wondered.

Last week we had to run from the yard to be covered under the roof. A rain storm in the summer! What an unexpected thing!! Perhaps, it was something about our activity; making wind chimes that made the wind come so strongly.
Anyway, let’s talk about the atmosphere; I can notice that the previous young lions were so comfortable talking to each other as well as playing with their friends. They were totally open to join in our activities so I had to calm myself to manage the class once the lesson started, because most of them didn’t listen to me. They were eager to play with their friends and they questioned me a lot about the activity. Look at the bright side; they were having fun with the atmosphere we provided.
As I’ve mentioned before, the workshop was to make wind chimes which would be assembled as in groups of four. Then we would hang them around our house where they come every week. We did this because we would like to encourage an idea of team work to them. I had to explain to younger kids a lot so they eventually accepted it.

This workshop had no specific theme so we let them paint their clay pots freely. They were excited to paint and started right away once they got their pots. They were not afraid to paint at all. None of them called my name to ask for help. They also spent time to carefully paint on their pots with their efforts, especially the older kids.
Towards the end of our workshop, the wind came so strongly and it started to rain suddenly. We had to ask the kids to run into the house. We were lucky that no one got hurt and our pots were fine. We actually had fun. Our house seemed to be so small when all 16 kids were squeezed inside. I handed out some modeling clay to them and our volunteers taught them how to weave colorful strings. I didn’t know what exactly they called that technique but the older kids were trying hard to figure out how to weave. At the same time, some of them played on our computers, they were patient waiting in a queue. Thanks for the rain that brought us together; I felt we were warm inside the house.


Position:  Assistant Art Director Internship
Reporting to: Art Director
Hours: Full-time (40hrs per week). 10am-5pm Mon-Fri. You may be required to work some evenings and weekends.
Salary: There is an initial three-month probation period; you will receive accommodations and a living stipend of THB 7,000. After completion of probation period, if performance is satisfactory, you will be considered for a raise.
  • Work with foreign ARI volunteers to create workshops for our partnering organizations
  • Assist the Art Director and fill in when he/she is unavailable
  • Management skills: oversee workshop in terms of research for workshop checking lesson plan, checking art supplies.
  • Assist ARI volunteers as needed and help them communicate with participants.
  • Research potential partnering organizations, writing letters and making contacts with organizations both local and international
  • Compose the letters to organize the workshops with the partner organizations, follow up to make appointments.
  • Organize files/photos/lesson plans of each workshop-keep them well organized
  • Organize the workshop budget, document the receipts and work with the accountant.
  • Work as a team and coordinate with admin.
  • Research for grant funding for ARI
  • Bachelor’s degree with background knowledge in art: painting, drama, music, etc. or related fields
  • Good spoken and written in English skills
  • Understanding in both Western and Eastern culture (an asset)
  • Computer literate (Photoshop, Illustration would be an asset)
  • Own laptop (would be an asset)
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Experience working with children
  • Good organizational skills
  • Management skills
  • Photography skills (an asset)
  • Enthusiastic, creative, and eager to learn new things.
  • Willing to dedicate themselves and see this as an opportunity to grow with our organization.

Please e-mail your CV and cover letter to info@culturalcanvas.com ASAP, before the May 31st, 2011. Start date August 2011.

Position : Art Director
Reporting to: Executive Director/Managing Director
Hours: Full-time (40hrs per week). 10am-5pm Mon-Fri. You may be required to work some evenings and weekends.
Salary: There is an initial three-month probation period; you will receive accommodations and a living stipend of THB 16,000. After completion of probation period, if performance is satisfactory, you will be considered for a raise.

Roles and Responsibilities :
• Oversee all Art Relief International projects
1. Ensure an excellent standard for all of our outreach projects.
2. Ensure projects are culturally sensitive and meet the needs of our partner organizations
3. Keep project plans updated and all stakeholders informed of progress.
4. Plan and execute 1-2 exhibitions/performances per year.
5. Brief the Managing and executive Directors/Lead workshop leaders.
6. Buy all art supplies as need for each workshop
7. To be practiced in each method o art being taught prior to workshop date, as well as arrange for the workshop facilitator to teach the staff/volunteers that will be present, at least one day prior to the workshops date.
 • Support and manage volunteers
8. Coordinate and recruit local volunteers when needed.
9. Coordinate and deliver an orientation for all new international volunteers.
10. Reproduce the materials and resources required for orientation
11. Ensure staff/volunteers know when and where they are working.
12. Deal with on-going queries, enquires and crisis.
13. Guide volunteers in planning and implementing their workshops, ensuring that they complete every step in their Project List.
14. Ensure that volunteers are playing an active role in the development of the art program before and during their placement.
15. Ensure that volunteers complete all tasks on the Exiting Checklist before leaving the program.
16. Attend family dinner (staff and volunteers) at the volunteer house weekly.
• Plan and implement arts workshops if there are no volunteers.
17. In the event of no volunteers, you are expected to plan, practice and implement workshops-completing every step on the project checklist.
• Act as a liaison with CCT’s partner organizations.
18. To ensure there is an open dialogue and that CCT’s partner organizations are informed and satisfied.
19. To complete a needs assessment for all new partner organizations.
20. To update the annual partner organization contracts as needed.
• Fundraising and community outreach.
21. With the help of Thai staff, organize any publicity events or activities to raise awareness/funds about CCT/ARI.
22. Make links with referral organizations.
23. Attend any openings/events that have networking opportunities.
24. Organize the sale of art created by participants in the event of an exhibition/fundraiser.
25. Research grants and apply when applicable.
• Undertake on-going administrative tasks.
26. Keep up-to-date accounts of all monetary transactions.
27. Update the ARI website as needed- managing the arts stare/gallery, writing text for each project, photographing all works to be sold.
28. Write press releases as needed.
• Office management.
29. Ensure that the office and storage areas are kept in a clean an orderly manner at all times.
30. Maintain art supplies, keeping hem well organized, clean and inventoried.
31. Maintain and organizing works created by participants.
32. Folders- Build and maintain the Lesson Plan Folder, Workshop Budget and Assessment Folders.
33. Ensure that all lesson plans are stored on an external hard-drive as well as on Google Documents.
34. Ensure that all workshop photos are stored on an external hard-drive as well as on Picasa.
35. Ensure that all works are filed correctly, following CCT’s current systems

1. Thai national
2. Bachelor’s degree with background knowledge in art: painting, drama, music, etc. or related fields.
3. Good spoken and written English skills
4. Adaptability and flexibility
5. Computer literate (Photoshop, Illustration would be an asset)
6. Own laptop
7. Experience working with foreigners
8. An ability to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western culture
9. Experience working with children
10. Good organizational skills
11. Punctual
12. Eager to learn new things and be creative
13. Ability to work under pressure with a deadline
14. Photography skills (would be an asset)
15. Familiarity with administrative work (accounting and management skills)

Please e-mail your CV and cover letter to info@culturalcanvas.com ASAP, before May 31st, 2011. Start date July 1, 2011.


Art journaling with Juvenile Offenders

Friday was my last day with ARI and also my last workshop. We went to the “Juvenile Observation Center” to work with 20 boys between 14 and 18 years old. The Juvenile Observation Center is a residential facility for young offenders in between being arrested and going to court. Many of the youth come from extreme poverty or difficult backgrounds and are at a pivotal point in their lives. Our idea was to give them a small journal and show them some art journal activities. We wanted to give them a chance to express their feelings and thoughts without the pressure to show somebody else or to make something beautiful. I wasn’t sure that this workshop would work how I planned it, because I hadn’t worked with this group before and sometimes “Art Journaling” can be hard if you are doing it for your first time. It is quit personal and creative that means it is sometimes difficult if you are not used to this kind of activities.

When the boys came in the room, we are all surprised at how polite, nice and great they were from the first second on. We played together a name game and then an “Ice breaker” and both went so well and were so much fun for all of us. When we started with the first art journal activity I couldn’t believe how easy it seemed for the boys. They started straight to draw and were really creative. After 15 min some of them were also willing to share their thoughts with us. The following activities were to create pictures based on the thoughts or feelings triggered from selected images, and to draw their homes in the past and their desired home in the future. It was great for me to see how concentrated they worked with all the exercises and that they really enjoyed the relaxing concentrated atmosphere with us.

At the end some of the boys told us that they loved to work with us and that they will keep going to draw or write in their journals. For me this workshop was one of the successful workshops I have made with ARI and wonderful as my last one. I hope ARI will have the chance to work more often with this group of teenagers.

Thank you for the great 6 month in Chiang Mai. I will miss the work. It was a great time, Bye bye Annika



Last Tuesday we went to Wildflower, exited to do another great workshop with the Wildflower kids. And we were not the only ones looking forward to a new exercise! When we arrived, the kids were already waiting for us and helped us setting up all the materials. Like last time we started to show different shapes and patterns to them. We drew hearts, stars and flowers, curvy lines and zigzag.  After that we started with the main activity. The aim of this workshop was to introduce the skills of printing, so they transferred their own design of shapes into foam, pressing them into it by using pens. And they did some really great patterns! Then we handed out some paint and rollers to put the paint onto the foam. They carefully put the foam with the applied paint onto the textile, pressed it down and then lifted it. The kids were really concentrated and anxious to make their prints as nice as possible. And their bags looked really great at the end!