I was lucky enough to be invited to be part of the 1st International Fine Arts Exchange Workshop and Exhibition .I had my doubts about the heat but thought I should be ok and I wanted to experience Danang and catch up with some people I had met at previous Thai art workshops.There were 25 artists involved, 6 from Vietnam,Vu Dinh Tuan, Le Huy Tiep,Vu Binh Minh, Vu Bach Lien, Ho Dinh Nam Kha , and Pham Thai Binh, 1 from Mauritius,Said Aniff Hossanee, 1 From america Edam Elesh, 1 from Myanmar Mon Thet, 2 from Thailand, Lampu Kansanoh and Phattaraporn Leanpanit, 2 from Australia,me and Rushdi Anwar, 1 from Indonesia Dodit Artawan, 1 from the Philipines,Pandy Aviado, 1 from Singapore, Rosihan Dahim, 1 from Japan,Keiichiro Kimori, 1 from China,Ji Yotong, 2 from France, Yohann Estevenin and Agathe Ferron, 2 from Germany, Dora Fleiss and Yasmin Yilmaz, 1 from Italy Giuseppe Strano,1 from Korea,Eunah Cho 1 from Russia,Valentina Dusavitskaya.
here is Lampu,Lien, Valentina, Yohann,Tuan and Dodit in the black in the background
Here is my diary and a few photos to describe the experience.
July 24th Wednesday
Fine and cool, start sketch book for workshop, marian, my wife, with kids all morning, drops me off at bus station for gippy shuttle to Mantra hotel near Tulla marine, had tea at the hotel,quiet night walked into the streets for a while but back to bed to watch a bit of tv and read
July 25th Thursday
Up early to go to airport, breakfast, check in and then sketched til plane. had lots of legroom and a window seat so watched the trip across Australia,Indonesia Timor, Borneo and finally to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city. Fantastic scenery and some of the islands calling out to be visited.. probably not in this lifetime. Clouds and their shadows over the top end
Finished book" boy swallows universe" ( very good). Offloaded in Ho Chi Minh city airport. Hottish and humid, This was chaotic with hundreds of people in transit in the same lines as everyone else. Picked up baggage and took it towards domestic terminal but a Vietnam airlines girl said she would see it right. Absolutely enormous numbers getting through customs and lots of things unclear as not a lot of English signage, but seasoned travelers helped and they held the flight to Danang. On flight to Danang with Mon Thet, one of the other artists, not as spacious but only for an hour or so. Met by Duong and staff, met Rosihan, taken to Hotel Bien Vang,my own room on 10th floor at front. Sorted stuff and slept ok.
July 26th Friday.
Fine hot Muggy day. Rushdi Anwar arrived from Chaing Rai Uni in Thailand. He is the other Australian so I have a room mate. I got up early ready to get into the day but no one appeared til 8.00. Breakfast Buffet on 2nd floor with lots of interesting things, Chicken pieces in a sauce, orange cordial, Rices, banana leaf wraps ( Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and luke warm). Not my usual breakfast but always interesting to try variations. I talked to Edam and Rosihan who I had met previously in Thailand, then went with one of the vietnamese sculptors Minh to get metal, Valentina came too.( in a taxi).Valentina and her husband own a sculpture Park and gallery in Russia.
We went to the gallery / museum where our exhibition would be first and I looked at a lovely exhibition of wartime paintings and sketches. We had more coffee ( iced ) with Edam and Yohann and Agathe. We then went to an area where there were lots of metal in small shops and Minh basically had a good idea what to pay and where to go. I ordered 5 lengths of 10mm rod for the leaf piece and they cut them up to 3m each on the footpath. We then went to another shop where they did lots of oxy cutting and they had lots of off cuts and me, Minh and Dinh chose and rummaged for pieces for our individual work. Bags were filled and weighed and they found a man with a rickshaw ( pedalo) who was loaded up with seemingly a ton of metal to take it back to the museum.
We waited at the gallery a bit ( the heat, the heat) then back to the hotel for lunch on the second floor. After lunch we were given our workshop T shirts ( Blue and Pink) and went by bus to the historic old city of Hoi An. It rained on the way but it was very tropical. We had a tour guide and I could not hear lots… lots of tourists but we went through the town,I met and talked to a young lady ( Minh) who is a teaching assistant and the daughter of the accountant for the project. Her family of kids was also coming with us nearly everywhere. She could speak English well . Edam and me went sketching and people stopped to see I did two pages, messy overworked, then we all went to a restaurant where we talked and had lovely food. Back to the hotel for an early night for me.
July 27th Saturday
Up early 5.47 did get a message from Marian, and tried to send one. Fine clear morning hot already, Off to the Ba Na Hills today to visit Sunworld.I did think we were just going out into the bush for nature but no, we were off to this enormous theme park at the top of the mountains. It really is a big deal with an enormous bus parking area then through to a welcome point then to a cable car which is the longest in the world and goes the highest distance.
We climbed in a cable car probably 3 to 4 km across jungle clad valleys and kept rising and rising There are about 80 cable cars on each run and we went up and up over 4 to 8 valleys ( you couldn’t see what was at the top from the bottom) and eventually we came in sight of imitation chateaus, a giant buddha and the bridge held by giant hands. While we were there it just got more and more crowded.
There was something like 5000 other people there.We walked on the bridge of hands and went up in a cable car apparatus that took us higher still.We had a lovely lunch at a very impressive buffet area there. We did a group photo and given free time and I heard meet back for another group photo in an hour.I went off to sketch and a rainstorm rolled in.
It was a real tropical downpour and water was everywhere. Worst was I had heard the instruction wrong and after much going back and forward I couldn’t find anyone else of my group. People were starting to get off the mountain via the cable car and after looking at the car, at the photo place and back again several times and seeing no one, I got on the cable car and went to the bottom... the car was stopping a number of times due to thunder and lightning and amazing rain. Fine and sunny at the bottom and I called the hotel via the information desk to contact our leader to let them know where I was. They had been looking up top so we finally caught up again..... silly old duffer I am. Still the engineering of the cable car is something you wouldn’t believe... fantastic and it coped with enormous numbers of people and this amazing rain.The front of sunworld is like a Chinese city, giant walls and very impressive.
back to the hotel and had a swim at the beach with Edam. Yasmin and Paul Han came with us but went off to see their daughter at another hotel. The swim with Edam was really interesting. It is like a warm bath which makes it not very refreshing, very salty, lots of people but still ok. I had thought I would swim every day but it was not as inviting as the water at home. Back to hotel for tea and then to “pub” next door for social stuff. I didn’t stay long, tiny chairs long table and lots of noise. Restaurant was lovely food but tiny chairs. I stayed a while but left early to go back to the hotel to pack, read and sleep. Others went to the beach
July 28th Sunday
Up early and packed for moving.I did my diary and breakfast ,had an iced coffee from up the road, all picked up by bus and Went to new area to work a few km off to a hotel being built in a new estate by the river.Hotel and its surrounds
It is hot and most people got to work on their canvasses in their rooms or the dining area.The sculptors could work under shade on the “front steps” outside.I was working with Minh and Dinh and Guiseppe a sculptor wood carver.They all worked at ground level but I can’t do that for long. I started on bending the leaves but the combination of bending down to bend the metal in the front gate and the heat didn’t do me any favours. I couldn’t keep going, got red in the face and Minh basically welded the main frame together because I could not. I thought I might have to come home early as I had heat stroke today and I am not as good in this climate as I had hoped.I did find a few ladders/trestles to create a workbench at my height and that worked better for me . It doesn’t seem to worry the Vietnamese to work at ground level but the bending down made me light headed.,probably because of my low blood pressure and heart problems)
The temperature varies amazingly but I worked around it with lots of breaks and drinks. I got the leaf piece done today with the help of Minh ( ming) a Vietnamese artist, and I did most of a small bit ( catch) once it wasn’t proper sun .
I was very worried about how poorly I was coping in the heat but the cost to move my ticket and come home early is the cost of a new ticket. 740 $ I think I will just try to work my way around the heat by not doing a lot of the activities, it cooled a bit this afternoon but this morning I was crap on legs. Had a nice tea with Dorothea, Rosihan, Said and Guiseppe then to room to cool and read til bed.
July 29th Monday
Didn’t get to sleep late, toss and turn,up early ,Warmish started on Fledgeling then did flying boat. Reflection
Stopped for hours but worked at times in the heat .Dac Do arrived at Lunch, so happy to see him, finished flying boat so now 4 pieces done.
Helped Ming a bit then gathered pieces for open wide and moose. 2 heavy rainstorms today, a bit cooler at times but not much change and it is weird to have it bucketing down rain and still be hot. Edam saw a small cobra outside the hotel yesterday and we saw a large frog as well last night. This hotel is in the middle of a new estate with nothing else much built yet so cows goats etc roam on the new blocks and the jungle is trying to come back.
There is no Bed linen on the beds( anywhere) . Finished the Last Kingdom book and started another book by Giles blunt…Had a lovely tea Squid, ginger sauce sweet potato leaf soup and Vietnamese spirits.( Chook chook Kwai) toast! Did some sort of Karaoke with Duong talked to Yohann and Agathe and edam re scarred monkeys, cobras and frogs ,off to bed lovely evening breeze but also Mozzies about
July 30th Tuesday
Up early, during the night the floor tiles near the door tore themselves from the floor and lifted to make the floor hollow feeling and uneven, door hard to open. Did tell the manager ( after I helped him chase one of his prize chooks back into a cage. I did "moose" and" Open wide" ,had a break here and there and started the rooster bar book, packed up and left room had clear pumpkin soup for lunch egg, fish and another group photo.I walked around the block and then we took the bus back to the gallery and dropped off work then to the Bien Vang hotel and also looked at ad for the show on the video billboard near the river. It was basically rosihans video that had been modified to run between the milo commercials.
We had tea at “restaurant next door but it was too hard for me to hear and chairs were tiny. Rushdi off in hospital with a mosquito bite. He came back the next day but he looked terrible first off and had lost tons of energy. Decided book I was reading was rubbish… noticed small brown bugs in the bed
Breakfast with Edam ,Said, Rosihan and Thiep and Lien.. learned Em du Plum ( you are so beautiful) and em oooii which is similar, then to the art gallery for coffee and adding to the group painting.
Thought I had lost my wallet at the museum as I bought souvenirs but it was just on top of the case. We had iced lemon juice and coffee then back to the hotel for lunch after checking labels and positioning of work at the gallery. After lunch we went to the Cham museum to look at Cham sculpture another “lost” culture of Vietnam. I enjoyed it and did sketches and asked questions. It was getting hotter so we walked through the sculptures at APEC park with sculptures representing each nation.
We went back to the gallery and we were going to an art materials shop but it would have been closed by the time we got there. We decided to walk back to the hotel ( Said, Pandy, Rosihan and me) and we found probably the one pedestrian crossing in Danang without 4000 motorbikes going through it so we did the abbey rd photo under Rosihan’s urging)
then stopped off at Viacom mal for icecream, and drink ( at Jollibees, a phillipine chain) and went to a k-mart type shop for t shirts and souvenirs, walked across the roundabout ( think I actually approve of Vietnamese traffic as it seems so random but it just flows easily and there is no real aggression apart from the odd horn tooting) A lie down in the hotel before tea introduced to various bigwigs a free night with some drinking, some at the beach . I stayed in my room and did some paintings from the sketches at the museum.
August 1st Thursday
Up early and breakfast. Did a little sketch out the window.of buildings . Edam, Said and me went by Taxi to the museum to see Edams piece have sanskrit roll taken off. ( anything religious is a bit of a no no)
We then went by taxi to buy souvenirs but were sent to the Toorak type area which we decided was a bit too pricey. We then went to the mall, I bought a sheet and some tiger balm. Back to the hotel and they still had missed the washing( 2 days) so I wore shorts to the opening. Apparently that wasn’t appropriate so after the boss rang the hotel they did the washing there and then and brought me the washed pants
.At the opening they had a group playing well and I stationed myself out side the gate and tried to call people in after a bit I was told they had enough people. There was a big presentation with lots of bigwigs and each had a part of the “ribbon” to cut. We all were given flowers , a certificate and the catalogue and I then went inside with everyone else and talked to people while I sat near my work. Most others didn’t do this but more or less took selfies.
From one of the articals written about the opening.
The event was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism in collaboration with the ministry’s International Cooperation Department, and Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition; along with Da Nang’s Department of Culture and Sports
We then went back to the hotel and to the third floor for tea and singing and dancing ( party) I tried to get balloons to lift a beer can, I danced on stage and drew a door prize for someone. I sang opera with Guiseppe and dorothea and Minh sang beautifully and so did one of the big wigs.
August 2nd Friday
Breakfast was only me as everyone else partied on after I left.I am reading the keeper of lost things and that is a lovely book. After a nap up again and went and bought coffee waited around then with Long, Said Kimico, Edam Ngoc and Eunah and Dorothea. And went to an “open air market” in a building where I bought pens, a set of pears and tried to get a shirt but all just laughed at me for my size was way out of their range. Back to hotel for lunch with bigwigs before they went away A quiet afternoon saying good bye to people who were catching planes Then at 6 by electric open air car to a seafood restaurant Mon Guiseppe, Duong, Long Ngoc Edam, Eunah Dorothea had a lovely meal including mussles and peanuts . we went to a store near there but didn’t buy anything. Back from restaurant by taxis to riverbank passing through miles of nightlife. Everything is lit up and looks great. People everywhere, Icecream had by many of our group but I just sketched. I am now sharing a room with. But he had to go to the beach at night. Still hot
Aug 3rd Saturday
Up at 7, moved out of room ready to go home. I walked up with Said to the mall, sat for a bit as it doesn’t open til 9.30bought some chocolate and said bought a shirt.. or tried to. Back to a coffee house for iced coffee and cold green tea and Jasmine.to museum with Duong.. no one there other than staff, lunch at a nearby hotel, vietnamese mint cabbage pork slices, spring onion wrapped in rice paper, then back to hotel to pick up bags and off to airport. I was a bit early but soon booked in, they shipped my bag through to Melbourne without my fuss, went to Ho Chi Minh, nowhere near as chaotic as last time, booked in had a dodgy roll and waited for the plane. Cramped seating for me very uncomfortable, didn’t sleep at all, watched Battle of the sexes and Alita battle angel, both quite good.
Aug 4th Sunday.
Grey and cool in Melbourne, relatively soon through airport. Marian picked me up and apart from some visa card parking issues soon on our way. Stopped at Preston Red rooster for breakfast then home. Let out chooks went to sleep for a bit, about 10 people visited the gallery including Elise and her family. I now have a tummy bug and it is sort of controllable but no fun.Had soup and cordial for tea. Watched No Offense and Hard Quiz and went to bed.Had a tummy bug for the next week from a dodgy chicken roll at Ho Chi Minh airport.