Painted sisters Frankie Sutton (L) and Rachel Bunce paint the town all sorts of colours during a torrid tuk tuk spree. Photograph: Miranda Glasser/Phnom Penh Post
Reapers may have recently spotted the curious sight of two 50-something painted ladies cruising around town in a tuk tuk. Observers could be forgiven for thinking the two were yet another pair of eccentric tourists out on a jolly. In actual fact, they were Rachel Bunce and Frankie Sutton, two sisters from England promoting a new art project.
The project, Colourful Cambodia, comprises cards and posters featuring everything from monks to peacocks, to (my favourite) a lovely, multi-coloured pig with a water buffalo combo.
It is beautifully produced material, and of a very high standard. And it’s all the work of some 8-14 year-olds with a new-found thirst for art.
Rachel, 52, and Frankie, 59, came to Cambodia a month ago “for a holiday, a few fun days doing some volunteering” and much to their surprise ended up “setting up a business and learning how to use a computer.”
Frankie first visited children’s home, Honour Village Cambodia, two years ago, which provides a safe haven and education for vulnerable and homeless children. Last month Frankie returned with her sister, intending to run some activity days.
Frankie says, “Originally we were just going to do a number of fun days of sports, art, sewing, but then we started on the art.”
Rachel adds, “We started just doing drawing because it was very obvious that the children were very good at drawing. We decided to try and introduce colour, which horrified them. They just really did not want to put colour onto their pictures. I think they thought maybe it would blot out the lines because their detail is beautiful.
“So my daughter Harry, who is a textiles student, showed them how to blend colour using water colours, and that it would just enhance the picture. It took them a little while but when they got it, well you can see what happened!”
What happened was an explosion of colour. The sisters were so impressed they decided to laminate the works, frame them and mount them, much to the delight of the young artists. From thereon, things quickly snowballed when somebody said, “How about posters?”
Rosy Guesthouse then stepped in, agreeing to let the posters be displayed under glass tables. And within minutes, the sisters had made their first sale, earning $40 from some passers-by.
Then the sisters were advised to produce a leaflet.
Delaying their return home by a week, the energetic twosome stayed on to supervise leaflet production, the selling of the cards and posters, and handing over the project to another volunteer so that the funds could keep coming in.
Rachel and Frankie even took to the streets covered in body paint to sell their wares at the night market, attracting more than one curious stare in the process.
“We got out of the tuk tuk, stood on the street corner and embarrassed ourselves,” laughs Rachel gleefully.
But showing their true colours worked, and the pair made $80, as well as attracting visitors to Honour Village.
Frankie says, “The nice thing was you meet people that are really interested and you give them the information, and the next day they were out at the children’s village. So it’s not just about selling it, it’s about spreading the word.”
Primary school teacher Rachel adds, “What we are hoping for the future is that it will encourage the children to produce more quality art and we will produce a second collection. Certainly the talent is there at the children’s village for that to happen.”
So far 300 cards have been produced and 50 posters, with all proceeds going directly to Honour Village Cambodia.
The A5 cards can be brought for $2 and the posters $4 at Rosy Guesthouse, Frangipani Hotel, River Garden, La Niche d’Angkor hotel, and Central Boutique Angkor Hotel. To find out more about Honour Village Cambodia please visit: http://www.honourvillagecambodia.org/index.html