Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Trees of Ta Prohm, Siem Riep, Cambodia.‎

Enormous pale trunks of silk cotton trees soar skywards under a shadowy green canopy, their long ‎spreading skirts trailing the ground and their endless roots coiling more like reptiles than plants... ‎one is plunged into a surreal world in Ta Prohm... a place perfect for a travelling quilt of dreams...‎

‎‘The Crazy House’ Dalat, Vietnam.‎

Next stop... ‘The Crazy (tree) House’ Dalat, Vietnam! ‎

A monument to Hang Viet Nga’s architectural philosophy of dreams, fantasy, folklore and free-‎form. Crazy House is also her home, still under construction and due to be finished in seven years.‎

The building is a swirl of ferro concrete shaped like a huge tree with tunnels travelling through the ‎trunks. Inside those trunks are small suites each one designed with a different theme for an ‎animal, plant or insect. ‎

Great sweeps of black and yellow concrete, bizarrely shaped glass openings, beautifully peach-‎coloured walkways, spider webbed sculptured rooftops... Between this cacophony of free form is ‎a noisy collection of animals - doves, hens, guinea fowl and colourful singing birds - The piece de ‎resistance is a centrally carved animal statue, denoting that room's theme. So you can choose to ‎sleep with an ant or a kangaroo!‎

The doors are shaped to suit the wall openings, with the weight of the panel synchronised with the ‎shape of a body, just as light fittings and curtain tracks take their position in the twisting spaces as if ‎they grew there. Hang Nga’s intention of eccentrically paralleling nature is abundantly mythical and ‎mesmerising! ‎

‎“We must connect with nature... the trees, animals, and our innermost dreams” said Hang Nga. ‎Hang Nga is the one with deep mascara, she lives in the ‘memory’ room. She loved the concept of ‎‎‘The Traveling Quilt of Dreams’ and so it hung in the main foyer to be shared with the hundreds of ‎people that pass through the Crazy House everyday. The last thing Hang Nga said to me was... ‎

‎“If we don’t dream... we are dead... so keep dreaming...”‎

The Tree of Life Mosaic, Luang Prabang, Laos.‎

The Traveling Quilt of Dreams began is adventure at Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important ‎temples in the country of Laos. The ‘tree of life’ mosaic of coloured glass on dark red clay, crafted ‎in 1960, at the back of the Wat Xieng Thong is one of the best known images in modern Laos art. ‎The quilt was blessed by a monk in saffron coloured robes with incense, lotus buds and candles ‎that where then set adrift down the Mekong River...‎

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the making of the quilt

leaf painting


In July 2009 we, Jeannie Cohen and No Mi Che traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand to work with Cultural Canvas.

Cultural Canvas is a non-profit organization that works with a wide-range of social groups and humanitarian organizations in Chiang Mai. The Canvas Art Program believes in providing a voice for individuals by exploring various creative means, including visual, performance and experimental arts.

One organization we were particularly interested in working with through Cultural Canvas was Mplus. Mplus is an organization of self-identified gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender individuals (see link). They are one of two organizations in Thailand that is working to promote sexual health and sex and gender freedoms; the other is Rainbow Sky in Bangkok.

We wanted to explore the relationships between these individuals' memories and dreams in the form of a quilt. The quilt has an image of a purple tree on both sides; this tree is symbolic of Mplus as a whole. The leaves on these trees represent the individuals. They were each given two canvas leaves on which to paint one memory and one dream. These personal depictions were then sewn back to back on the quilt.

Quilts are a timeless tradition associated with the world of sleeping and the stages of dreaming. The first stage is a conscious contemplation and reflection upon ones day. The second stage is dreaming, a subconscious reflection of our inspiration and ourselves. The third stage is waking, the birth of awareness. The 'Traveling Quilt of Dreams' will bring awareness of the community of Mplus and to the people and places it travels. First stop... Laos!