Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Artist earns big from rubbish

Artist earns big from rubbish

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Mony Silong’s proudest artwork is a giant traditional long-neck guitar made from 6,000 plastic water bottles and 16,000 plastic straws. Photo supplied

Artist earns big from rubbish

Artist Riem Mony Silong dropped out of school in grade-four aged nine. Born into an impoverished family in Siem Reap, they could not afford to send him to public school, let alone provide him with art lessons.

But today, this talented 38-year-old artist uses his self-taught skills to produce pieces made from 100 per cent recycled material. Having struggled for over a decade to perfect his skills turning fish scales, plastic and other rubbish into works of art, today Silong finally earns a good living from what he loves doing.

“I finished grade four in elementary school but I started school until I was 14 years old. My family was very poor and they often moved from one place to another,” he says proudly, having achieved so much in the face of adversity.

Lacking a proper education, Silong initially had to earn a very low wage collecting garbage. It was this hard life experience that taught him about how harmful human waste polluting the environment is and ultimately proved the inspiration for his artwork.

“I started to turn rubbish into art work in 2009. At first nobody was interested in what I was doing, but the past few years this has turned around and people have begun valuing my work. My recycling arts and crafts are now becoming recognised and appreciated,” he said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Mony Silong, who lives with his wife and daughter in Siem Reap, transforms the discarded into the desirable. He’s assembled fish scales into pictures, turned plastic bags into animal sculptures and transformed old car tires into coffee tables.

Though this man from very humble beginnings is overjoyed that his artistic passion is able to provide money to sustain his family, he hopes that one day his pieces will be displayed in a gallery and admired by the public.

His art work is priced from as little as $10, with creations made from recycled car tires priced between $100 and $400. Mony Silong does however produce higher ticket luxury items too.

“In the past, my creations could not support my family. But last year I started to earn money, with pieces selling for up to $3,000. The more expensive creations are usually time consuming and take between one and two months to complete,” he says.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

His proudest piece of work is a giant traditional Cambodian long-neck guitar named Chapei Dong Veng made from 6,000 plastic water bottles and 16,000 plastic straws.

The guitar was displayed in Siem Reap’s Wat Bo temple from November 30 to December 2 to commemorate last year’s Chapei Dong Veng Festival – a Cambodian musical tradition inscribed in 2016 on Unesco’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Mony Silong does not mind when people refer to him as ‘rubbish man’ or the ‘rubbish artist’, saying he owes his living to rubbish and understands its value. His next major ambition, Mony Silong says, is to “own his own gallery to display his artwork”.

You can find Mony Silong’s pieces at Backstreet Bar on the 4th floor of Sorya Center Point in Siem Reap. The artist can also be contacted online via the Facebook pages Silong Original and Selong Vath, while his contact number is 077492198.


  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

    The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told

  • Sar Kheng: Rainsy return not blocked

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng clarified that Cambodia had never blocked Sam Rainsy from returning to the Kingdom. However, he said Cambodia reserved the right to take legal action as allowed by law against activities aimed at destroying the Kingdom. “No one blocked the return