Mary Barron is the Flying Arts Artist taking part in the Sam Rit Residency and Cultural Exchange. Here she talks about how the second workshop went in this rural Thai community.
In a brief conversation it was decided that the second workshop would take place on Friday 22 January and we would make belts to match the bangles made in the first workshop.
The morning of the workshop I started going through a big bag of plastic bags with the view to sort them out to prepare future workshop samples. I soon discovered that they have bio-degradable plastic bags here, as there were tiny flakes of plastic throughout the bag! It made a big mess in the studio, but I quickly got it sorted.
It was just before 10am when the participants started to arrive. I left the plastic bags, quickly washed off the plastic flakes as best I could, set up the furniture and equipment in the studio and went to greet them.
I noticed that they had brought newspapers not the silver backed packets we needed for the workshop. On was not with the ladies; none of the others speak any English and I spoke no Thai. I called Art to come and translate for me. I showed them the paper belt and one I had partially made with silver packets. I explained that newspaper was not suitable to make belts.
Luckily I had just finished a small coiled pot made with sales catalogues and had some strips of paper already cut and scrunched to show them. I suggested that for this workshop we used the newspapers to prepare paper for coiled bowls or pots, and they happily agreed.
Just after 1 pm they suggested lunch and asked if I would join them – all with hand signals to overcome the language barrier. After a very enjoyable lunch we enjoyed ice-blocks together in the residency area. We then headed back into the studio. On had brought some crochet cotton by that time, so we were able to continue and learn coiling from the materials we’d prepared.
They are a talented group and caught on very quickly. We communicated with hand signals and practical demonstrations, which overcome the language barrier well. With eight participants we were able to fit around one table. We also had two others calling in for just a couple of hours in the afternoon. All but the two participants who arrived later had basket forms made by the end of the day. They all took needles, thread and paper home to keep working on them in their own time. I will show them how to finish off and demonstrate some variations in technique next time.
They were all very happy and pleased with what they had achieved in the day. They must have had a good day, as they arrived earlier in the day and only left late into the afternoon! Several others dropped in and stayed a while throughout the workshop, including the Mayor and Assistant Mayor.
I am now busy making samples to show them some of the possible variations on the techniques I showed them before our next workshop together.
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.