Chiang Mai FeMail 
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It’s freezing in the mountains

Textile Arts Group to visit Siripan Kidd

Be careful out there

Opinion

 

It’s freezing in the mountains

The ‘Spirits of the Yellow Leaves’ need our help

CMM Reporters
As the cool season sets in and the temperatures at night, especially in the mountains, fall towards freezing, many minority groups living on the high ground fall sick with colds and flu because they are too poor to be able to afford warm clothing and bedding.
The Mlabri tribe, known as the ‘Spirits of the Yellow Leaves’ (phi tong luang) from their former mainly nomadic existence in which they would build shelters of banana leaves, moving on when the leaves yellowed, are one such group of people. 25 families comprising 150 members, 40 of whom are children, live in Ban Huay Yuak in Nan province’s Wieng Sa district. All are suffering form the cold, without enough warm clothes and blankets, although some blankets were provided by a local government office earlier in the season.
One Mlabri, Phad Suchonsiri, said that his family has only 3 blankets for 7 members, which means that 3 of them have to share one blanket. “Another way to cope with cold weather is to light a fire near the beds, but inhaling smoke all night long also worsens health. Fire is also dangerous – in previous years, some houses were accidentally burnt down,’ Phad adds.
Amphol Santa, a kindergarten worker who is helping to take care of the Mlabri children, said that the Yellow Leaf people desperately need warm clothes, especially children, the women and the old people. Many of them can’t stand the cold weather because the mountainous location of the village means that the community is cold all day long, and even colder at night.
Many Mlabri work on Hmong villagers’ farms in the valleys during the growing season. When the season is over, they must return to the mountains as there is no more work – and no more wages – until the plantings begin again in the warmer weather. Help is needed to ensure that the Mlabri, and especially their children and old people, can cope with the cold. There are many organisations here in Chiang Mai who might be able to suggest a way to help these people. If anyone is reading this who could help, donate, or knows a way to get warm clothes, blankets and dried food to the village, the Chiang Mai Mail would very much like to hear from them. Please email on [email protected], and we will get in touch with you.

 

Textile Arts Group to visit Siripan Kidd

Famous designer and maker of contemporary quilts

Elena Edwards
The Textile Arts Group are looking forward enormously to December 20, on which date they have been invited to visit the home of Siripan Kidd. Siripan is originally from the North-East of Thailand, and is now living in Chiang Mai with her husband, Tony. For 25 years, she lived in the UK, and is famous as a designer and maker of contemporary quilts. She began designing in 1984, and has worked almost exclusively in silk.
In more recent years she has developed a new approach, concentrating on conceptual and installation art, though still quilt and textile related. Her most recent work was shown in York in the UK as part of the opening exhibition of the UK Quilters’ Guild. This was an installation of silk organza and wire blocks, hand- and machine-stitched.
Siripan’s work is also held in private and public collections, namely Milton Keynes General Hospital, the Royal London Insurance Company, the Quilters’ Guild collection and Christchurch Museum, Ipswich.
Residential workshops taught by Siripan have run for two years now here in Chiang Mai, with participants from abroad. Various aspects of patchwork quilts, traditional and contemporary workshops and other workshops are being planned for local residents. For examples of her work and details of workshops, please visit her website at www.siripankidd.com.
If anyone would like to join in the visit, has any questions of would like more information about the Textile Arts Group, please either call Maya on 053-291-692 or email Janet at [email protected] hotmail.com.


Be careful out there

Following on from the article on safety several weeks ago, the following tips may be well worth reading, particularly at this uncertain time, both here in Thailand and worldwide. As financial teeth bite harder, crime tends to increase. Remember, it’s always better to be paranoid than dead!
If you find yourself trapped by a mugger, throw your wallet as far away as you can – he’ll be far more interested in grabbing your cash than assaulting you – then run like hell in the opposite direction! Preferably yelling…
If things get really serious and you’re thrown into the trunk of a car, this is a great tip. Kick the back lights out, stick your arm out of the hole, and wave like crazy. The driver won’t see you – everyone else will, and there are plenty of red traffic lights in this city! Hopefully, someone will help.
When you get into your car after shopping, lunch with friends, etc, don’t just sit there doing your make-up, making a call, writing a list, etc. Lock the door, and get going. That way, a thief who is thinking of getting into the car on the passenger side and doing you or your wallet harm won’t have a chance. If the worst scenario – unlikely here, we must admit – occurs and you find yourself in your car with a guy with a gun or knife, don’t do as you’re told and drive off to a quiet place where he can rob or murder you. Rev your engine and speed into anything – another car, a wall, as fast as you can. Because you’ve put your seat-belt on previously, he’ll be far worse off then you. And think of the fun you’ll have explaining the damage to the insurance company! In Thai, of course…
In a parking lot or garage, look around before you get into your car. And, look in your car – you never know… just be aware. If you’re aware, you’re probably too much trouble for the average thief. If there is an elevator, always take it rather than using the stairs. Stairwells are dodgy places to get trapped it – get your exercise another, less risky way.
In the unlikely event that your predator has a gun – if you can, run, again like hell, in a zig-zag pattern. Even if he does shoot, on average only 4 bullets out of 100 hit a running target. The movies have that one wrong!
Us women are always trying to be sympathetic – stop! It may get you raped or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well-educated man, who always played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked ‘for help’ into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
And, right now, if you don’t want to be misunderstood or worse, don’t wear red or yellow!


Opinion

Elena Edwards
Since working for this newspaper I’ve become aware of the amazing amount of artistic and musical talent which exists here in Chiang Mai—particularly amongst Thai youngsters, although the farang community has its share of highly talented individuals as well! The city is now rich in high quality and varied artistic and musical events , including gallery exhibitions, Payap’s regular instrumental concerts and recitals, jazz evenings, the orchestral concerts at Kad Theatre, plays courtesy of the Gate Theatre Group, the Chiang Mai Choral Society, the EU film festival—and much, much more. In this, we are very fortunate!
I suspect that most of us would consider some form of ‘the arts’ essential in our lives-if we look deeper into human history, this has always been so. Prehistoric man left records of the high points of life on the walls of caves, and music has been an essential part of ritual and celebration since ancient times. Throughout history, painting and sculpture has been used to express our innermost feelings and longings, and played a major part in most religions, right up to modern times. At all stages in their development, humans seem to have experienced, and expressed, a need for beauty, even in everyday objects such as clay pots, enhanced since antiquity with sgraffito engraving or painted designs, thus lifting them out of the everyday into the realm of art.
So—humanity, at all social levels, needs art, in all its forms, and those born with artistic talent are also born with an even greater need to express it. Why, then, in these disturbing modern times, does it seem that art, recognised across the ages as having an essential place in society, often becomes the first priority to be discarded in times of economic hardship and uncertainty? As expressed by a gallery owner friend in an email to me about the recent lack of interest in the drawing and painting classes at ArtSpace on 7, it seems like, ‘caring for physical health with no regard to mental health’. Admittedly, these are depressing times, politically and economically, but the very act of creativity does wonders for depression, and the nurturing of young talent, both by parents and teachers, can ‘lift’ a budding artist or musician and give a purpose in life. Such should not just be the privilege of the wealthy, and talent should always be encouraged.
Last week, I went to another friend’s gallery opening. The Suriya Gallery shows, exclusively, paintings from Burmese artists, working in one of the most repressed and poverty-stricken countries in the world. The paintings were full of life, colour, joy, imagination and inspiration, in spite of, (or maybe because of?) the terrible conditions in Burma. I remember, also, the exuberance and joy of Burmese music at one of the CMU Nargis benefit concerts. Surely this is an illustration of the importance of art and music to the human condition at even the worst of times? In comparison with what is happening just across the Thai border, the problems here seem minor, indeed.
Perhaps viewing paintings and sculptures, and listening to music, allows us to feel emotions which, culturally, we are encouraged, as Westerners, to suppress, but which need some form of expression in order to sustain our emotional health? How much more would we feel if we ourselves were painting, sculpting or playing? I can answer this question from personal experience. My first career was in opera—the emotional release and utter joy of singing genius-created music is the most thrilling and satisfying experience imaginable, and sadly missed. I can only suppose that creating a work of art has the same effect on the artist. Even if we suspect we have no talent, taking art classes must, surely, release something satisfying from our racial memories as we express our feelings in colour and line—not for nothing is art therapy used, particularly with children, in cases of long-term post-traumatic stress disorder. That release must, surely, benefit the artist, whatever their age or level of talent or expertise, not to mention taking the mind off the latest disaster on the world financial markets!