Thursday, 17 July 2014

Piloting Family Trails at Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery is one of the finest small museums in the world. They hold a remarkable art collection, including famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces such as Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, Van gogh's self portrait and Gauguin's nevermore.
 A dear friend of mine was developing their pilot programme Family audience (their primary audience are usually secondary schools or older). With my experience from Museum of Childhood, where I deal with 800+ kids a day, I offered my expertise to creating and evaluating illustrated Family trails! While the whole project happened really fast (I was given the brief on Friday th July and the trail were given out to selected family audience on Sunday the 6th), It was such a priviledge to have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite collections in London. I mean, whats a better way to spend your weekend than drawing Manet's barmaid?!

To experiment with different responses for different levels, we created 3 different trails for the family groups to choose. My favorite one is based on the fact that Anthony Blunt, the gallery's previous director during 1947-1974, was a soviet spy. We created a spy/detective trail which were given in a top secret envelope, with maginfy glasses and make-your-own fake mustache!
Another trail we did was the Animal Safari, where each family got given a scroll with clues to find animals hidden in the galleries. They also got cat masks to wear as they search as well.
At the end of Sunday afternoon, everyone seemed to had a great time, especially the children! Seeing such trail transform the gallery which could be a very intimidating space, into a fun and family friendly experience was really worth all the effort. I hope they will take on the success of this event and develop an ongoing programme for thier Family audience in the future.

Workshops at Chester Beaty Library, Dublin

I was commissioned by the Chester Beaty Library to host a series of workshop based on my work on altered bookart as a part of their Thai week, from 14th - 16th  of June 2013. It was a great deal for me to be invited over as a contemporary Thai artist (They found me through Thai Artist In London network), and I never been to Dublin before so I gladly took the chance!
Not only the library has such an exquisite collection of asian books and scripts (including BEAUTIFUL ancient Thai scrolls and Bai Lan books), they also have an amazing education team who have given me support prior and all through my visit. They have given me a great freedom to plan my own sessions for different groups and so I proposed the following:
1.) Altered Bookart Master class for the adults
2.) Consitina workshop for the creative teen lab (11-16 yrs old) 
3.) Story telling and creating your own mystical crature for their silkworm club (6-11 yrs old)
4.) Public demonstration on Altered bookart 

Overall the whole weekend went splendidly. It was challenging working in a new environment have have to adjust myself to last minute changes (as you do in all workshops). I'm glad I actually came up with tailored workshops for each group as they all were very different and it was nice to see them engaged in each format that were designed for them. Seeing my artworks, driven from own cultural background, inspired people from all walk of life really was the highlight of my trip there. The whole experience was really a dream brief and it was a reminder for myself that this is what I really want to do.
Lastly I was so honoured that the Minister of Royal Thai ambassador in London also came and visit my workshop! It was great to be supported by such institution, gave me lots of courage to continue promoting Thai culture in the UK through my artwork.

Imagining Patricia Milsom

This is a personal project I developed as part of my 2nd MA in Education in Museum. The whole idea came from the debate about the use of technology and virtual experience within the museum space. As an illustrator, I see a potential to enhance the museum experience (especially its intagible narrative) using digital tools. I demonstrate this idea by creating an animation projection for a baby cot, telling the imagined stories beyond the object itself.

This is a cot from the early 20th century that once belonged to a baby named Patricia Milsom, now displayed in the Childhood gallery of the museum. She was a
first child of a British family stationed in Dagshai, India. She was born in 1916 with the
condition spina bifida, and died aged 5 days old. Instead of keeping them for another child,
her parents put all the clothes and the cot in storage and had them shipped back to England.
They were rediscovered in the 1980s and were donated to the museum by another member
of the Milsom family; Emeritus Professor Stroud Francis Charles Milsom. The cot was
donated with several other objects also belonging to baby Patricia, such as baby shawls,
cardigans, sets of boots, cotton shoes and several delicately embroidered white cotton
gowns. From this set, only one night gown is displayed with the cot in the Babies Gallery
of the museum, the other objects are in storage. The cot is shown in a glass case of similar
fashion to the rest of the displays; cluttered with at least 4 other objects, accompanied by
minimal texts (only in English), and assembled under a theme. Patricia’s cot exceptionally
has an additional small text panel, placed way below eyelevel on the floor, explaining the
object’s origin briefly. From this display, I see the opportunity to use an animated narrative
to highlight the object, canvass its memory and engage the viewers’ imagination.

Following the DECHO, guideline for digital exploration of cultural objects (Aliaga et al,
2011) , I approached my interpretation in steps as follow; Firstly, working with the
museum’s collection team, I gained access to the original hand-written catalogue from the
1980s the recorded the 40 objects that came with the cot. From the list, I selected 7 objects
which were brought out from storage to be photographed for my reference. From them, I
then started drawing the animation by hand with colour graphite. I chose this technique
because it gives a personal and fragile feel to the piece, as well as representing the nostalgia
of early animation technique. I studied babies movements from Youtube then created
sequences of a baby wearing the various items. The sequences are short and faded in and
out to represent the fragile nature of the baby Patricia. The delicate pattern of the dresses
became the focus as they are drawn growing organically like a forest around the baby. This
link with nature links to natural reserve that covered majority of land in Dagshai.
Transparent elephant and butterflies were also added to trigger the idea of tropical climate
and the ephemerality of life. While these visual interpretations are subjective, they could
act as visual trigger for the viewers to make meaning of the story in relation of the object.
In addition to the visual elements, I also added sound to heighten the poetic quality of the
piece. The fragment used to accompany the animation came from a World War 1 song
called “Goodbye Good luck God bless you” by Henry Blurr, which was released and
topped the US Billboard chart for 10 weeks in 1916, the year that baby Patricia was born
and died.

Finally the animation was projected on to the cot on an ealry Tuesday morning. The whole installation was surreal. Seeing the ghostly digital image on the actual cot really provoke a sensitive view on the object's story. I hope to expand this into a proper workshop in the future, where each visitor could pick an object and tell their own personal imagined stories.

V&A Museum of Childhood, from volunteer to OPA

Since September 2013 I have been volunteering at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. It has been a massive learning curve for me to get an insight as a museum staff, learning about the museum operation from the inside out.
While being a part of the V&A, the museum itself runs with its very own quirky system. The main audience is family with children under 10 years old, this has a great effect in the way which their education programmes were designed. In addition to the usual volunteer responsibilities (meet and greet visitors, managing the lunch room, observing learning sessions, patrol the gallery, etc), I have had the priviledge to work closely with the previous education manager Carolyn Chin, who was resposible for most of the current education platform within the museum. Carolyn was a great mentor for me and have offered me the opportunity to develop activities for the gallery, allowed me to train new volunteers, and hired me as part of the education team's Occasional Professional Assistant (OPA). Getting a paid job in museums under the current cut is a big deal and I am so grateful for this. I will keep posting about the programmes that I am currently develop for the museum on here, so watch this space!

British Museum Augmented Reality learning device

I am very honored to get my hands on the British Museum's piloting Augmented Reality education tool. BM is one of the busiest museums in the world with very high demand for education sessions, introducing this device will totally change the learner experience in the gallery!
The game will get the students working together in group, completing tasks and learning about the gallery as they go along. I find the overall experience very engaging. Ofcause it save the time(and budget to hire) for an educator, and certainly familirises the young audiences (who presumably are used to the game format) with the museum space....but it very much differs from the traditional "comtemplating" experience in the museum space. This will get the students in and out efficiently, but won't leave them much time to navigate and explore the museum in their own way. Perhaps, with such the demand to cope with such impossible amount of students, this is the way to go for a big museum like BM?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


 On the 31st of May, the V&A museum had an amazing programme "WHITE NIGHTS" with loads of fun activities inspired by Russian folk culture. My very cool illustrator friend, Alex Galea also had a workshop on how to make creative Russian dolls or Ryoshka! since we had such a great time working together on the last workshop, I speedily volunteer and couldnt wait to get my hands dirty! The workshop ran from 5 to 10 but it felt so fast to me, seeing everyone enjoying themselves and really giving it a go. The great thing about the V&A is that they have a super diverse visitors and they all very willing to participate! from very small kids with families, teenage couples, office workers and amazing elders. They started to queue before the workshp open and it was packed all through the evening. So have a look yourself how much fun we had! and let me know which on is your favorite Ryosha?

All photos are from the V&A official flikr, please check it out for more amazing events photos.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Creative Warmup workshop

I was invited as a guest artist among Thailand top class designers (head designer from Ductstore and director of Wallpaper mag, MMFK the street artist, Sixtysix visual photographer, etc) at Pomme Chan's Creative Warmup workshop on 10th of March 2013, sponsered by Absolute Vodka. I gave a talk to selected group of 40 participants, from particing interior designers, graphic designers to fellow illustrators. The session was really interesting, I love hearing everyone different point of views and learn from everyone's experience. At the end I also gave portfolio surgery and it just blew my mind away how talented the new Thai designers really are! Thanks to all who came and looking forward to see you again at the nest workshop! :)