A week with the children from Sok Sabay
Posted by Isabelle Desjeux
If you are wondering why there are no workshop this school holiday, why the latest drawings from the drawing classes haven’t been pinned up, why I didn’t give any feedback on last month’s (very exciting) beads’ workshop, and why my very own work doesn’t seem to be progressing very fast, I owe you an explanation. Last week was “Art Exploration with the Children of Sok Sabay”. The premise is that these Cambodian children, who live in a Home in Cambodia, called Sok Sabay, come once a year to Singapore for a holiday and fund-raising week. And, boy, did these children work hard! I have been lucky enough to get invited last year to provide them with the inspiration, material and space to create art, and produce a piece to be sold at a fund-raising auction at the end of the week. The resulting acrylic painting can be viewed here. This year, I was delighted to see some of the same faces again. But the challenge was one step higher. So I enrolled Sophie Fort, as a children’s workshop specialist (She runs Wonder Art) to help channel all this raw energy. The result was as follows (click on the picture above to see the whole album):
27 “children”, 5 – 21 year olds, in the garden, in the studio, at the press. All of the older children and some of the younger ones got to produce their own paper print, and print on the press. Some played games and some did their own drawings, colourings and collages.
8 Teenagers (all girls!) invaded the studio with determined energy and learned the technique behind “Paper Decorating with Paste”. They all produced many colourful pieces.
Skipping their planned outing to the Bird Park, 5 determined teenagers stepped into the studio at 9 am, and left at 5 pm after hours of real art exploration. By this time, the girls understood that they were producing material to be incorporated into a very large collage. The themes of the collage being “Jeu de l’Oie”(a traditional French board game), and Journey, the girls chose images of their country, as well as personal images they liked to make prints from. For the background, they chose strong colours associated with Cambodian dancers (tones of red, orange, purples and gold).
On the final day, Sophie came to help put the piece together. Maïté Garnier, a friend who had helped with the children from Day 1, was also present to help. The children were not present on that day since the collaboration consisted of them producing the raw material, but Sophie and I producing the final Collage. Saturday Night, Auction time! The piece was finished on time Friday night, varnished and ready to be presented to the public on the next day. It was very successfully auctioned off – the children contributed through their hard work and dedication to raising money for buying a house for them all in Cambodia. From the hours the girls spent in the studio, there were also notebooks produced as well as original prints, that were sold on that evening. What a great week!
Finally, a warm thank-you to Judy de Mouillac for allowing us to work with these children, and for naming the final piece “Jeu de Joie”, Sophie Fort for working with me and contributing great ideas to the project, and Maïté Garnier for lending a helping hand and feeding the hordes at the drop of a hat!