IT was children’s night last night at the trendy Arts lounge at Hotel de la Paix, usually reserved for a mainly adult crowd.
About 90 kids turned up for operation “I Smile” – a special night just for the little ’uns with the usual kiddie stuff like balloons and Sprite and sugar cane juice on hand, plus music performed by people with disabilities from the Khmer Independent Life Team (KILT), a landmine victims’ support NGO.
But the night was more than just a children’s party – it also marked the launch of an exhibition of paintings created by young people from Aki Ra’s Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Fund centre on the road to Banteay Srei Temple.
This particular project was initiated by Oun Savann, the deputy art curator at the Arts lounge, who has also been a volunteer teacher at the landmine centre over the past two years.
The “I Smile” theme resulted from youngsters talking about their lives; where they lived before they came to the centre, what it is like to live in the centre and what their hopes are for the future.
Purchasing a painting by the children whose works are on display will directly benefit their ongoing education and artistic endeavours. Jewellery made by KILT people will be displayed and sold as well.
Also on display at the exhibition will be the work by two “grups”; grown-ups in the form of Sasha Constable and Oun Savann.
Constable’s contribution is a series of linocuts inspired by scenes she witnessed involving disabled people, as well as the people themselves.
One linocut features a HSTAMID, which stands for a Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System; a dual sensor mine detector. It is a combination of an advanced metal detector and ground-penetrating radar, allowing the user to discriminate between metal clutter and metal that’s not to be messed with.
The image on the linocut comes from a visit Constable made to the Malai district on the border of Thailand in 2008. She said: “It was the first time I saw an HSTAMID being used by a HALO Trust deminer.”
Oun Savann has exhibited his work in Perth, Australia and in Singapore. Past exhibitions in Cambodia include work at the French Cultural Centre in Phnom Penh, Amansara Hotel and The Art House.
He currently has work on exhibition at the Art Deli in Siem Reap.