Mary Barron is the Flying Arts Artist taking part in the Sam Rit Residency and Cultural Exchange. Here she talks about how the first workshop went in this rural Thai community.
There were days of preparation making samples in various techniques using a variety of recycled materials. After meetings with On, a local lady who speaks English, it was decided that for the first workshop we would make bangles from food or laundry liquid packaging. I taught On the technique so she could explain it in Thai to the others.
The day of the first workshop arrived. Eight very enthusiastic ladies arrived armed with a good supply of packaging. They are happy people with a great sense of humour – laughing and talking a lot. On’s translations of the things I said were often followed by much laughter.
Wives of the Mayor, Tang Chuchewak, and Assistant Mayor, Anarin Chunouan, were among the workshop participants. Both the Mayor and Assistant Mayor called in at different times throughout the workshop to view the proceedings. Their visits were a great honour.
Max Leach, an artist from the UK, is also in residence at the moment. His medium is film and he very generously filmed the first workshop. He has shown me the first draft and it is looking great.
Following the workshop everyone proudly wore their bangles out to lunch at the restaurant across the road from the residency. Silver belts are traditional in this area, and as most of the ladies had made silver bangles (the inside of many of the food and washing liquid packets are silver) they want to make silver belts at the next workshop.
Excitement is spreading in the village and more participants are expected to attend as the residency progresses.
In January and February 2016, Queensland’s Flying Arts Alliance is undertaking a cultural exchange and artist residency in Sam Rit Region in North Eastern Thailand, supported by the Australia Government through the former Australia-Thailand Institute, now merged into the Australia-ASEAN Council, and part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.