Hello from Laura!

Hey! My name is Laura and I am a new volunteer with Art Relief International. Coming from a small town in chilly Northern Ireland it has been quite a culture shock to stay in Chiang Mai with the heat, humidity and friendly hospitality!! 

Thailand has been so welcoming so far and so full of new experiences, colours, textures and people so I can't wait to see what else it has in store over the next three weeks.
Having studied Textiles and art at university I have a real passion for creating new pieces and developing new concepts within my area of study. While I have enjoyed exploring my own artistic practice I also relish in the opportunity to share my knowledge, skills and love of creativity with other people. This has led me to run my own workshops as well as gain employment as an art facilitator at the Ulster Museum where I'm from and an art technician at a local secondary school. I enjoy working with a variety of ages and cultures which became particularly evident when I volunteered at an orphanage at North East India for four months a couple of years ago. It was really great to see the children open up and develop their personalities through art workshops, playtime and basic English lessons. I really enjoyed doing art with the children in particular and felt like I learnt a lot about them when they were explaining their work to me. It was a great way to communicate without language and it let them show their emotions clearly!

When I decided to have another adventure and travel around Australia and South East Asia I thought that volunteering for a few weeks would be great as I think it is one of the best ways to really understand a culture. I researched art organizations on the Internet and came up with Art Relief International. I immediately felt drawn to the ethos and goals of the organization: to provide relief to people who may be struggling, disabled, suffering from mental health problems, single mothers and young offenders to name a few groups that ARI work with. I eagerly applied to come here for three weeks and now I'm here and have already been moved by the people I have met and the things I have learnt about the local community. 

I'm looking forward to working with all the different partner organizations and bringing my own skills to help others less fortunate than me but I'm sure they will probably teach me more than I will teach them!


Trifold Shutter cards with Wildflower Home

After a four week break, it was time for Wildflower Home on Monday afternoon. Wildflower Home is a home near Chiang Mai for single mothers and their children.

The women at Wildflower Home often make greeting cards to sell in nearby markets as a way to start generating their own income while living at Wildflower Home. 
Because the women and the volunteers from Wildflower Home at first struggled a little bit to make sellable cards, they asked us for some inspirations and teaching a new kind of card technique. 

So I decided to show them how to make Trifold Shutter cards, because not everybody sells unique cards like this so maybe they can sell more of them. And for the cards we could use the banana leaf "saa" paper, of which there is plenty at Wildflower Home, so that it's cheap for them to make.

At first I explained and showed the women how to make one, so that it is easier for them I made some templates, so that they don’t have to measure the length or the angle and that they already have the cutting lines.

The difficult thing about Trifold Shutter Cards is the folding part. You have to fold it like an accordion, but the middle part, which we’ve cut in the first step, you have to fold in the opposite direction. But after the troubles with the folding, the women found out how it works.

When they finished their card base, the fun part started – Decoration!!

For the writing I made some templates and I also brought some decoration ideas for them, like weaving a ribbon in the card. But it was very nice to see that the women also came up with some own ideas!

Normally at Wildflower Home it is very quiet, but this week there were some girls because it is school break in time. The girls also participate at the workshop and I liked to see how they enjoyed it and give all to make a nice card.
Some of the finished cards:

We left all the templates there, so that the women can continue their work. I really hope we helped Wildflower Home with their card project and that they will sell many of the cards.


Hanna :)


Get Excited for ARI's Exhibition!

Art Relief International’s Exhibition, “Imagine Your World” opens in ONE WEEK! What to expect? Here is the lowdown:

The opening starts at 7pm at the CMU Arts Centre on Nimman Rd in Chiang Mai. Our gallery space is upstairs in the main building. Take a stroll through the exhibition, viewing the artwork made in collaboration with our partner organizations. Get there early to enjoy free food sponsored by Chiang Mai Bread & MaiPhai, cakes donated by Bay’s CafĂ©, and more sweets from Rasta Mama Bakery- enjoy them while they last! Guests can also purchase ARI’s Signature Cocktail, wave to our viewers around the world watching on our live stream, watch a dance performance by the Thai Freedom House Traditional Shan Dance Troupe, listen to live music provided by North Gate Jazz Band, read postcards sent in from organizations and individuals around the world in the World Postcard Installation, and MEET our artists!

The story behind the artwork:
Imagine Your World will be featuring the artwork of ARI’s partner organizations in Chiang Mai, Thailand. These participants are part of various marginalized or stigmatized groups such as Burmese refugees and migrants, children and adults with disabilities, single mothers, Hill tribe children, incarcerated teens and mothers, among others. Art Relief International believes that all individuals have a human right to use creativity to express themselves. Join us to support these individuals as they bravely share their struggles and stories through art. Hear their voices as they share their vision for our world, their hopes and their dreams. Upon arrival, grab a program to read about each partner organization and how they created their piece in collaboration with ARI.

Partner organizations featured at the exhibition:

Baan Nokkamin, The Young Lions, Urban Light, Thai Freedom House, Hope Home, Healing Family Foundation, Wat Pa Pao School, Wat Muen Ngen Kong School, Wat Prachakasame Hill Tribe School, Wat Sri Supan School, Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Facility, Chiang Mai Boy's Juvenile Detention Center, Wildflower Home, Baan King Kaew Orphanage, and Starfish Home Foundation.

Here are some behind the scenes looks at the preparation that ARI’s volunteers are doing for the exhibition!

Most of the artwork that is displayed in our exhibition is for sale via silent auction, starting at very affordable prices. Support the work of ARI and allow us to continue providing creative and expressive outlets to these individuals in Chiang Mai. 

Months ago, ARI put out a Call for Artists to submit art postcards to us via mail to our worldwide project. On their postcards, we asked the artists, using any artistic method they choose, to visually tell us what they imagine for our world. We received postcards from Colombia, DR Congo, Australia, Turkey, United States, Canada, Cambodia, and more! Using their postcards, ARI is creating an piece to display these beautiful messages of hope and imagination for our world. Guests of our exhibition are encouraged to interact with the installation, turning over postcards to read about the artist and their vision. 

Want more? Step into the world of an ARI workshop as you interact with our Workshop Installation, see in-progress artwork, pick up a paintbrush and add something yourself, and see what its like to let your creativity run wild in a workshop with us! 

ARI volunteer Elle Hendriks has been putting together a collective piece for the exhibition, where she asks individuals to be photographed with a white board describing what they imagine for our world. At our exhibition, you will have the chance to step in front of the camera and write your wish/dream/vision- we will add you to the collection and post your photo on our Facebook! 

For those living far away that want to be involved in the evening (Dan Hales) we ask that you please check back in to our Facebook page, where we will post a link to view the exhibition on a live stream through YouTube. The Live Stream will be hosted by ARI volunteer Anna, who will take viewers on a tour of the artwork and interview our artists and guests!

Guests present at our event, please tag #imagineyourworldartshow and tag us on Facebook and Instagram, we want to see your photos of the event! 

With only 7 days left, ARI is in full swing preparing for this night to make it a memorable and inspiring one. We hope to see you all there! 

Be happy and make a difference,
Sarah Lovett 
ARI Art Director

Hello from Charlee

                                                      Sawatdee ka!

Hello, My name is Charlee, I'm 20 years old and I'm a new member of the ARI volunteer family here in Chiang Mai. I will be here for three weeks. I come from England and live in a small village in the countryside of Bristol surrounded by greenery and farm animals. Whilst the countryside is beautiful and I enjoy quiet walks, I like to spend a lot of my time traveling into the city or the nearest town to see what's up and meet with friends. 

Chiang Mai is totally inspiring, the food is gorgeous! The people are so warm and interesting and the city is a mixture of old and new which is so quirky and fun to be around.

I recently graduated from University where I studied graphic design, I have a real interest in colour theory, research and phycology. The dream is to have a career in Art Therapy so I am extremely excited to start volunteering with ARI. 

Already I am learning so much, including thai etiquette and culture, the language and the social issues which ARI help to raise awareness for. The workshops I have taken part in have touched my heart, everybody is so special and I hope that through the power of art I can encourage their creativity and share some happiness with them! 

I am so humbled to be here and a little nervous! But here goes!


A Party for Phil!

This morning's activity began with a play party to celebrate our friends at Hope Home. Hope Home is a place that provides care for children that have mental or physical disabilities. It is a wonderful environment for those in need of special care. The choice of our workshop's theme was centered around the fact that one of our friends at Hope Home, Phil, is soon moving to another facility that will further benefit their care. It's sad to say our goodbyes but we are so thankful for the amazing times spent together. And so, today we celebrate these beautiful moments in our lives through a small party!

   Before our party began, the volunteers helped create and paint party hats, blew up balloons, strung small flagged streamers, and gave happy hellos to our friends there.

    Alike most every visit to Hope Home, the volunteers and I were all greeted with the biggest smiles and best of energies from the kiddos there. Everyone seems to be doing well and were all so great to be around again. We will miss Phil very much, but trust that the people caring for him in his new home will give him just as much love as he has received at Hope Home over the years. To see a little more about Phil, check out the blog post here when he won ARI's Artist of the Month!

It was a great day spent playing and laughing all together. As always, a workshop at Hope Home left us overwhelmed with joy. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon!

    Take care,
                    Anna Marie

The Explorers of Chiang Mai

Over the past week and a half I was in Laos sorting out my visa, so I was so super excited to come back to Chiang Mai to see all the students again.

The Young Lions are such an energetic crazy bunch. I really cannot begin to describe or explain how happy they make me.

After seeing a lot of wonderful things in Laos I wanted to inspire the Young Lions with my travels and therefore transformed them into explorers.
Who doesn't love a treasure hunt ?! I have so many amazing memories of Easter, searching the garden for chocolate eggs.

Everyone knows that binoculars are essential for every explorer. So we got creative with recycled materials and created some super cool, colourful binoculars out of two toilet rolls.
Attach a piece of wool to either side so you can hang it around your neck and Viola! you're an explorer !

Pre-workshop I had bought candy for the students which we hid high and low in the garden at the office. When everyone had binoculars around their neck the treasure hunt kicked off! They ran off into different directions in search for the candy. Climbing trees, with their arms in the fish pond, under the table. Anywhere and everywhere. When their pockets were full they got to enjoy a delicious treat!

Both the kids and the volunteers left the office that day with a huge smile on their face. Even though I
think the volunteers were kind of guttered they didn't get to partake in the treasure hunt and search for candy....

xo, Elle


Grow Your Garden

    Hello all!

    Today,  I led my first ARI workshop and I am so happy to tell you all about it! The workshop was held at the lovely Thai Freedom House. Thai Freedom House is an arts and language community center that assists individuals of Thailand's minority groups and Burmese refugees. The participants of the workshop were ages that ranged from seven to fifteen years old and all we're excited to begin the activity. Currently, the participants have art journals that they add to weekly during workshops and, as well, fill up on their own time. This week's art journal entry was centered around the word "grow." With such a word as inspiration, the participants were asked to self reflect and create a garden that grew unique plants that represented things of meaning they held in their life. The plants could range from a tree that grew bicycles to a bush that played music. After explaining the concept and steps of the activity, the participants began growing their gardens through the use of their creative minds and watercolor paints. First, the participants drew one's garden space within their journal and the plants on a separate piece of paper.

    Once everyone had finished drawing out their garden spaces and plants, the participants began to watercolor paint.

    After water coloring, everyone began to cut out their plants and pasted them into their gardens.

     What a great experience to watch their amazing works of art come to life. All in all, the workshop was a great success! It was incredible to see everyone be so present and attentive towards what they were creating. All of the participants had filled their gardens with plants they hope to see grow and had smiling faces from the beginning to the end of the workshop. After leading my first ARI workshop, I was affirmed that this was the best program for me to be a part of. I am so humbled that I am working with such a positive and enriching program here in Thailand. This week's workshop has left me grateful and excited for what's next to come with Art Relief International. I'm looking forward to sharing again soon of upcoming workshops. Thanks for reading!

    Take care,

        Anna Marie


Colorful Paper Collages!

Today at Baan King Kaew, an orphanage in Chiang Mai, we designed a workshop where the children made very colorful, beautiful collages out of pre-cut shapes and crepe paper balls.

We started to scrunch a lot of colorful scrap paper into little balls. The children all helped each other by changing colors between them and sharing their scrunched balls. And of course the volunteers were happy to scrunch as well!
Once they had enough to begin, the children used glue to begin collaging onto their shape. All of the pre-cut shapes were different animals or flowers and the children could pick their favorite!

Some of the kids were so passionate with gluing, that they nearly forgot to put some scrap paper on it, before it dries.
But in the end, every child had a very colorful elephant, flower or butterfly, which they showed everyone full of pride!

Hannah :)