18th August 2016
After a small break in the UK a kind of stress leave in a way, I am back in Cambodia and Phnom Penh. I live 5th floor in BKK1 and this building has a really nice roof terrace. The terrace is huge and spacious, and never used. The wind blows over the roof tops and its cool outside . My little flat like a little Penthouse I like to think. But all around construction building site after building site. The building begins with demolition of original structure. My sons old school has been flattened the swimming pool full of hardcore and sand. A near bye restaurant was demolished with guys on the roof smashing downwards with sledge hammers. Then the construction began. The bulldozer soon hit the water table and the site flooded. People camped lived on the site. With no apparent method they began smashing hollow pipes into the ground metal pipes with the tray of the bulldozer then they filled these with metal rods and liquid cement from a spewing pipe coming from a noisy road side machine. The village of people camped out on the site. A few weeks later 5 men worked with numismatic drills to remove several feet of what must have been a mistake. A severe head ache for all. Then the entire village of workers were kicked off the site and some kind of organised team arrived wearing plastic hard hats and boots. Then the real construction began with hundreds of steel rods wove together by woman and children.
My subject matter is old buildings and Colonial buildings and these are getting harder and harder to find.
In my gallery at framed art cafe we now are selling shutters and old doors. Its a little like Crouch End in the 80’s 36 years ago where I used to get my doors and window framed stripped.
I enclose and old work renamed Kampot style well maybe later
Still working and living in Phnom Penh, and this is my 5th year here. I am finding my base of work is selling well. But despite this I am moving on and trying to develop my style. This is montage based with a Cambodian theme. I did do a piece in Hay on Whye and one of Barcelona. Then I did a nice one of a coffee shop in Hanoi. Most of my original work now is hanging at The Patio urban resort. This work is mounted on board. Photographic cross lamented art on board. I had a great response at first with many sales. This is a good way to represent my art. I have just posted a new picture that I must say I am proud of. This is of central market Phnom Penh. It was very hard to do. I have several versions. I am also thinking of making a completely new one. I have made a banner style picture of central market to hang out side my gallery. Inside my actual gallery or studio. I have my art but many recycled pieces of furniture This is courtesy of Heng Jolie my land lord and inventor of industrial design. He can make just about anything he wants. I am liking the combination of his furniture and my art. I have to say I am bloody lazy about going into my actual studio. I work from home a lot. Its quieter and not so dusty because really my studio is open yo the elements. Yes it has a roof. But it also has an open gallery to the street. Actually in this day and age quite dangerous at night one would think. I mean for break ins to the actual place.
Many cats are not straying though causing havoc. I thought it was just one cat but it is 10 apparently. I would gladly kill a couple.
My printer has moved a long way away I really need to describe just how I get to this place . I have to drive through a reclaimed lake to begin with.
The so called high season is arriving yet it is pouring with rain as I write. But it is pleasant in the capital.
I have completely changed the concept of my studio. Before I had it as a work place where I would paint and try and compose and create. This was not helped by the squatting restaurateurs spilling from their cafe restaurants across the road. Little tables and chairs and local chow. Street food. This attracted scores of motor bikes parking illegally on the already busy pot holed. This noise was a complete distraction.
In the day also it was like listening to a repeating Cambodian soap opera as they prepared the food shouting across the road. Kids imitated adults and screamed and swore. Then dust came into the gallery and mixed with the paint. Dirt just appeared on hanging canvas. I am open to the grime and smog and dust. Charming it sounds.
I only had a small area and I really wanted to use it Some of the area anyway had morphed into a cafe but the cafe downstairs was struggling. It was hard when a cafe customer came up stairs as I became very self conscious painting there.
So I kept 3 tables and added with the help of the land lord some antique looking bric a brac then just placed the viewing couch in the middle. of the room and framed dust free glass covered canvas on the walls.
I moved my table my industrial table to my kitchen and all my cameras and computers and tools. Bingo! A gallery and a studio and in the mornings peace to work.
I have already made a mural I really like and can see there will be many more in the pipe.
Next installment How my printers moved to a bomb sight.
I am off to Laos today
I spent two weeks in Spain with my son as my niece was getting married. It was huge affair in the mountains and then later stayed in an apartment in the old city of Barcelona. I plan a mural of the old city. I also have to get rid of the mental block I have of not producing my mural of Hay On Wye . There is nothing wrong with the mural. More like something wrong with my energy levels. It is true this does not have a Cambodian theme at all. But at this point I am not concerned by this. I am now perched above Framed cafe and there is all sorts of art for sale with all sorts of themes. So I may have a mural of Wales. This is good I think. The colours are different its an inspiration that should see the light of day. Then I will really have a go at my Hanoi coffee shop idea. Again this is not Cambodia. Cambodia? Will there be any more buildings left? Just next door 4 men and entire families wearing flip flops smash another building down. It crumples into cement dust and an inner skeleton of reinforced steel wire. The wire sags in the cement exposed like veins. Families move into the site. I saw a kid with flip flops walk on a narrow ledge of cement. Nobody was caring for him. The four men smash the building down with sledge hammers working in rotation. Its just lovely to wake up to. Or maybe the drill or circular saw on the other green wrapped building sites are a better wake up call. If all the sounds come at once I might just stir.
But talking of energy levels. I work with a computer wiz kid on my murals. When I started he thought I was crazy or skoot as they say here. But when my work became popular he changed his tune. He is a nice guy who spends most of his time touching up Cambodian wedding pictures. So he removes spots and blemishes from the face of the bride and the smirk from the face of the bridegroom. He makes people smile or he places heads on bodies. On top of this he works for army generals who actually change maps and change property boundaries. Its land grabbing. He has a huge printer for these fake maps.
He does any kind of graphic including my crazy ideas. Like once I took a photo of a cock fight taking place in the street near the Russian market . But I cut out most of one bird. So he took the body of the other bird and reversed it and then lifted the birds higher in the air. He also added colour. The trouble is this guy is very overworked and takes micro sleeps every time the computer is saving an image. Really. The computer saves and gives you that little moving graph and he falls asleep at the computer. Then he wakes and works again. The only thing that makes him wake up and also makes him understand what I want is a ten dollar bill stashed underneath some paper work on his desk. But who can blame him ? He is overworked and a loving father and husband and he is being driven to work by a slave driving Chinese Madam. She sits at the front desk taking all the money. And she is so shrewd. So I am happy to give any amount of ten dollar bills to wake him up.
A month has passed and really I should be updating this site more often. Certainly the diary should be more frequent. So it shall be then.
I am based in my little studio in 246 street and at the moment it is very much studio rather than exhibition space. And this really is how it should be. A central work place with my pictures displayed and framed at ‘Framed Art gallery and cafe down stairs. People do not like climbing stairs as I should have realised. They also are shy of walking into what appears to be my Landlords private residence. Despite a huge sign ART GALLERY 246 with pictures of stair cases nobody will come up to the studio. And in this heat few people eat at the cafe. But this does not bother me. I am set up to work from my studio and there is a little passing trade down stairs.
I have started painting as I may have mentioned and have sold 2 paintings with one on commission about to be created and sold. I am working on the white building with acrylic paint. Its really coming together but I must say it really is far more time consuming than photographic murals. But this is a refaced painted reworked photographic mural enhanced. Or an enhanced photographic mural with a face lift of bright happy vibrant paint.
Other news . The FCC is asking about more work and a possible exhibition. I will blog about that tomorrow.
How the months fly by and I lose all track of time in the process.
The hot season is here and passing trade to the gallery certainly slowed down despite the cold beer on tap in Framed Cafe downstairs. Then it picked up again and I grateful for that. At present the studio serves as both a work space and an exhibition space its also has a fair amount of furniture. So its not really working as an exhibition space but more of a work shop. It gets hot noisy and dusty. But I have no complaints about this. Its a great light space with a balcony to the street. It is an inspiring place to work.
I recalled some of my work from various pubs and hotels around the town and they all pile up against the wall. This is canvas already framed and in some cases sun scorched and fading. A friend of mine has been trying to get me to paint on the montages and I have been putting him off for months. But I tried the other day and made a painting of the school house. I placed it on the wall of the studio and 2 weeks later it sold for $500. I left it a bit mainly due to laziness but this week I have been working on a copy of the village. I am very pleased with the result and will be posting it here when it is finished. I will be using found objects like sand and cement from around the sites of my murals. I will pester and mortar and grind up bricks to inter lay on the canvas. I plan to use rust and metal and paint and pipe on my pictures.
If I get enough I will have an exhibition and call it Face Lift, or reconstruction or ART Renovation.
My art is being mixed up with the art from the regular art shops at the Russian Market and there really is a hop potch of materiel. There are oil paintings but the same 10 all over town. There are pictures of monks and temples. There are some nice old South East Asia airport signs that work as art. I was afraid my stuff would become diluted with the other stuff but thankfully it stands out as David Holliday original work. But.. Surely my work will soon be sucked into the art market here and copied ?
This will be very annoying.
The studio is up and running and is attracting passing trade. Its in a nice location in the city a stone throw from the river. People take a short cut through 246 street to get to the park and Royal Palace. As for the street it is very pot holed and beaten up at present. This of course might change. I mean it might get an upgrade. As the heat of the day subsides into late afternoon the street cafes begin to show signs of activity and open up to the motorbiking public. It can get pretty noisy which I think is a good thing. I am proud of my sign hanging from my studio which is hand written on 2 old shutters. I look forward to the cafe being opened downstairs which I hope will attract people. I also look forward to peace and quite as they are welding and breaking up pallets at the moment to make these rather attractive industrial style rough and raw tables and chairs. Add a bit of real ale served in old pint glasses and we might have a winner here.
Back to the drawing board. And back to this diary. I see it has been 2 months since I last scrolled some words here. This is not because I am losing interest, more because of mad rushes , panics and very bad internet connection in my apartment.
But I am pleased to report that much has happened in these 2 months. The very good news is I have my own Studio now. I am in 246 street Phnom Penh. I will enclose a map a little later. I will be working from this studio creating more art and selling and framing. It works a little like a co’op. The framer is right here and he is in fact the Land Lord. His brother my old framer for a few years now sold up shop. Actually the brother had a few problems with his staff. He would teach them and they would then open up their own businesses.
I have a light and airy studio near the river. I am really lucky to get a space like this. This is a real business premises and very open to the street.
Keep posted for more information on David Holliday’s Studio
Well the patio mural is complete
I am working at the moment on a final version of The Patio hotel which will hand on the ceiling. This is very good for me yet I suffer incredible block over this.
Meanwhile I have a set up at the FCC This is a small basket set up
Its a lovely location on the first floor of the FCC and I would love to take over the entire shop if I could and make it into a gallery. I need space now. Not the space of restaurant foyer or a hotel lobby. I need a gallery. I have enough material. I need a shop house gallery to be more specific. This is a great space.
So projects for the future ? Continue with montage style is the general plan working on art decor housing and industrial styles. Of course if I can see another subject I will tackle it as well.
At present been working on new material and have just posted derelict decor which is going to be part of a series on a Industrial theme. I am making my apartment all industrial and I do not have space on the walls for any of my work. It does not fit in. I am also going to make a cull and keep the print the special pieces only. I am working on the hotels out lets for smaller prints and have favorites for this. I have 14.
But now I truly inspired and want to create pieces with a slight different style. There are no shortages of out lets in Phnom Penh at the moment and I have to fill walls quickly. Black Salt , a real estate agent , and more at the patio.
The web site remains relatively unchanged this month as no new material to post but plenty going on here in Phnom Penh.
I have been busy with photographic tours involving Damian Lovegrove. This is far removed from my style however. I would not dismiss it through. Taking photographs of models in old colonial buildings and in Seam Reap and Kep certainly is a very nice thing to do and I ma happy with my results. But this site is about montage and Cambodian montages.
So here I am late at night in my 5th floor apartment that is now getting crowded with old canvas on frames coming from the Tea House .
I have 3 works in the offing. One is a better version of the Patio Hotel. The first version simply does not do justice to myself nor the hotel. When I do complete a work that I like I will show the first version. Its too scrappy with not enough colour in the right places. Its haphazard and lost.
The other venture I plan is the old art decor central market that will tick all the right boxes. Its the biggest and oldest art decor building in South East Asia to the best of my knowledge. Its the shape of a star fish. I need to get high to get it right I think. That will involve climbing high on a building near bye and shooting down. But I also want the guts of the building the shapes and curves.
My work will be coming down from the Plantation albeit just for a few weeks I am hoping to give creative leeway to another artist. Then I hope I will be let back as its such a beautiful space to display. In the mean time I am in Equinox the Tea House , The Patio, Sun dance and Villa Lanka.
I am going for some small prints for two more shop outlets. Which reminds me. I also plan a Tea House exclusive mural and this is going to take a lot of discipline as Tea drinking and Chinese Tea drinking follows rituals and I do not want to break all this up in a mish mash of tea drinking nonsense. I am thinking of a charcoal style shape with Tea pots and tea containers.
Other projects are getting into Raffles and FCC.
And then another The friendly Coffee House set in Hanoi. This breaks one of my rules as this is none Cambodian. But I can not resist it. I have so many amazing frames of coffee shops and buildings. I plan a riot of coffee shops and old houses.
Mean while I find the doors of the Red Dog closed shut. The back packers have moved ship, the guards have gone , and rubbish piles out side the door. It can only mean one thing. My framer guy has been kicked out on his ass. I am sure for drinking the rent money. I found him in the Blue dog. He was with his wife who looked like she was close to murdering him. In fact she did not say a word. Why is it that I have to discover things through tissues of untruths? He is a great framer but at the moment he does not have a work shop and nor does he have staff. He ill teats his staff. I think he should quit trying to be a hotel owner and just stick to being a framer.
I might move his entire family on to my roof where they can live and work.
The rainy season has set in with cool showers in the afternoons. This is the low season but recently like today and the previous week things have picked up with sales. I have had a few orders. Also The Tea House has commissioned a new series of work. And I might just be able to squeeze in their shop. I mean with a few limited edition prints.
Also I am fully involved with the photographic tours that had been in the pipe line for the more than a year. This is more with models, and light and old buildings.
15th July 2014
Today I went to the intercontinental hotel where I met Sara and viewed my second offering to their permanent art collection. Its The Lady and has a very nice spot in The Insider Gallery on a stone wall near the elevators. It has no white border and this seems to work pretty well. It also goes and matches in with the carpet and stone wall.
Also given a glowing letter of thanks which was very nice.
I will be filling the walls again at Equinox . I plan a more pop art approach to go with this music venue.
Then finally I will finish my ceiling montage for the patio. Its nearly finished just getting it on to that canvas and on to that frame .
As I have been staying up all night watching the world cup my days are kind of bleary. I manages to sell a couple of pictures to a drunken Scotsman who for some reason looked like the 2014 version of Dorian Grey. Very youthful and very cheeky to be honest. He nearly knocked me over as her tried to get a good price on two pictures. I was sitting on a high stool watching the big screen a dutch lady said how could I be an artist and enjoy a football match?
Well football is art too I thought.
But not the way the English play it.
I have about 40 works now that I like and that are displayed on my main page of this blogging web site. I am planning more but as yet undecided if I should use other subject matter apart from Cambodia. I am planning a trip to Laos in about 10 days or rather I am going to Laos in 10 day. I have never been. I am hoping I can get some good shots. I really do not know what to expect.
But older work continues to be popular and this is keeping me busy. I do not employ staff. Well only the framer and the printing house.
I have now placed most of my work in order on my blog cum web site by word press. I also have a new side show running . Shortly I will be releasing 2 new works which are both commissions . The Blue Colonial , and The Patio.
The customer is happy with the Blue Colonial and I am too. But my computer is not happy with it and has grayed most of it out. I am having problems with USB storage. For this reason I can not post it yet. Also I need to remove a picture of his son playing the piano.
The patio picture will go on the roof of the bar and I am excited yet have a huge mental block over this picture. When ever I go near I find an excuse not to. Sometimes that excuse is falling asleep. Or normally going for yet another coffee. I have coffee at Artist just down the road.
The entire town seems empty of people that I know. Have they all fled following the murder of a Dutch woman and her child ? If they did I do not blame them. Or have so many contracts come to an end that I am just a lingerer here? Or has scandal and adultery driven people to other shores ?
I will just plod on. I also think I will stay in my flat rather than search for other studios. Its been a trifle slow with some sales. Maybe they really is a tourist season like there is a fishing season. The hotels are full but nobody is biting.
I have now fitted out my son’s room as a work shop and have had every air con unit in the rood top pad cleaned and then later re-gassed. The room is able to stay cool despite the afternoon sun burning at the windows. The building site directly behind me which is not to about floor 4 and counting soon will throw my building in shade. It is going to be 20 stories. I am roof top 5. They work day and most of the night after a very bad and muddy start. The building site hit a mains pipe or the water table and flooded. The flooded water deep very deep became stagnant and green . Plugs of cement as big as a towers on a castle were injected into the ground. Later it was discovered they were in the wrong position and 8 drills worked 24 hours a day to powder the cement mistakes. This was last rainy season and rain lashed down filled all the holes and stopped work.
But there is no stopping progress and I must say it was an engineering feat to bring the project back on its feet. Some how they used the old plugs and made a real rectangle cement base. They worked liked ants in a nest.
I only mention this as it has been hard to work at home. And home is my work place.
But today I made a break through having frozen the room. When I see people my level I will brick up my windows. Then I will look for a new studio. But having said that maybe the building will become more silent as it goes higher and higher.
I am working on what I call The Blue House. This is a commission. Its gone well today. If the customer does not like it I will still use it. Its very colourful and alive.
Meanwhile I am also working on another commission for The Patio. This is going on the ceiling of the bar. I have worked out the shape and am hoping I can make a canvas big enough.
Also now the wall, the screening wall of building work around the red pool at the plantation is nearly complete and I am ahead here as I have another 10 canvases waiting to hang. This arrangement is very good for me. Its a beautiful gallery space. I will enclose pictures in my scrap book as now the first pages of my web site will only contain my present works for sale. I have nearly 40 I think. With the blue house , and the Patio and a scene in Wales and a scene in Australia I really will be adding to my work. I hope to complete 10 more before Christmas.
I have earmarked two venues for exhibitions but maybe not this year. I want something very special.
May 20th 2014
The hot season. Sweltering heat and lethargy in the locals every one falling asleep in the middle of the day. Dust. Building constructions on very block. The road filling up with huge cars. Swarms of motorbikes, dustbin trucks leaving a stench in their wake like rotting flesh.
Reading a novel in the bath is a good way of cooling down. The Movable Feast by Hemingway and the 39 steps. Coming up for air George Orwell. Slam by Nic Hornby.
Sewing the lose ends and continuing after 4 oversea trips in as many months.
I restocked my shop in The Elephant in the Kitchen bar at the Patio. I also added a silk making bottom frame to stop my price list blowing in the wind and getting ragged. In the complicated process of fixing up a new one I decided to leave the original frame in the printing head quarters deep inside the secret printers factory. To no avail maybe the staff decided to throw it around or play baseball or just drop it on the floor. Anyway a corner of the curved shape broke off. All innocent faces around.
Anyway its looking good up on the 7th floor of the Patio.
On Sunday I began a commission of a beautiful blue colonial building. Its coming up very good. I mean bright sun lit hitting the building with the garden green and healthy with orchids , bamboo flowering shrubs , and banana plants with orange succulent flowers. The building has character inside and out with original tiles . Actually it looked like a palace inside. Or the residence of a Sultan. Of course very tastefully down as well.
May 12th Phnom Penh
My jet setting is over for the time being and it is very much back to work. I am not planning any new exhibitions just yet. I plan to take over some space for a gallery. But in the meantime I am running my canvases at two very good hotels . The Patio Urban resort and The Plantation. I plan 5 new works in the next 3 months that will be used in these venues. I also am going to get a slide show on this site. I may even leave the Piano theme to do this.
The heat in Phnom Penh is oppressive. I cant wait for the rains and the floods that come with the rains.
Sydney Australia 7 May 2014
I have been on 3 trips abroad which have involved the death of my father, the 80th birthday of my mother , and the graduation of my daughter Holly. This has taken me from Cambodia to Australia , UK and Australia again.
Soon I will be back in my studio. Well in 3 days and then as a friend of mine likes to say I will hit the ground running. My art will only be Cambodian. This is my market. But having said that I plan a Mural set in Hay near on the Welsh border but this will not be shown in Cambodia. And in a few minutes I am going out with the idea for a Australian bush mural. Its a sunny cold day maybe I can capture some good images.
At the moment I am still exhibiting at The Plantation and The Patio. The Patio is my permanent gallery base with a small portfolio of work in the bar area. But of course many canvas’s on the walls from the Lobby to the bar.
And at the Plantation I have 14 canvases around the pond in the court yard foyer.
I have not further exhibitions planned yet. But will be looking for my own gallery space hopefully in BKK 1 or Street 19.
Its 24th of April. I am lagged and jetted from a jet and a time lag. Throwing my self head first into my work. I do not like to be away for so long.
My next project is a a mural of The Patio to go on the ceiling. I also need to send more work to clients overseas. It is nice. I have about 4 going through all the time. Its hot now in Phnom Penh and I have been sleeping mostly since I got back. But managed to take a canvas off a frame which is going to Mexico.
Other projects include a Mural of Hay on whyi in Wales but this will be send directly to the UK .
I am thinking of a large shop front studio in good old BKK one. Never mind the rental. Actually looking for an old crumbling building.
At last my internet has allowed me to access my site. I was getting reminders on my hot mail that it was time for a post. When I tried to post the web site fell apart into basic lines of text.
Its been pretty none stop running around getting things done. I need to be able to continue to sell my canvases while I am based in the UK. This might mean calling my tuk tuk driver on his scratchy mobile and instructing him to go to the blue house we do not know and pick up a roll of canvas and take this to the red dog hostel where my guy has set up yet another framing shop along with a new roll of staff. The rest run away after he beat them with a whip. I can imagine him doing just that. He says they slunk off drinking and did not return. I heard differently from his boy. He sacked then for insolence.
I need the framing guy to stay afloat as he knows exactly what I want and is able to order in wood for frames and stretch frame the canvas.
I received a call from a photographer who wanted me to provide him with all my data base of suppliers as in canvas , printing and framing. You would not imagine how difficult that proved to be. I mean to discover and root out this people and establish a trusting working relationship. I already gave another guy the contact of my printers on the condition he was not going into competition with me. No he said just family shots.
Then I find him in the depths of the building we do not know talking turkey with my contacts and printing on the canvas that comes in from China for me. And printing with a view to sell .
Another guy phoned me and said he owned a restaurant and while he liked my work please could I give him details of my printer and framer. He wanted to re make a print. I thought it would be a bit like asking him for a recipe which I am sure he would not give me .
I could and am inclined just to start my own art coop . I do not mind this. Already I have my finger in the pie of Equinox gallery. But at the same time it is competitive. I feel I have worked very hard to establish my self. So not sure if I should get involved in a coop.
What I really need to do is to keep creating work that people actually want to place on their walls. With the intercontinental my old mate Rob told me it was flat and boring . I agree some of the pieces might meet his description but its funny. Like he said give up on the Moto style when I had worked very hard to create a 3 set street scene for a long wall at the intercontinental. But one of these pictures was made into a book cover of Phnom Penh.
Today I have had inquires about the exact picture he did not like. And also it is funny that other pictures are selling that I had almost given up on . Older ones that I thought were flat.
Now I have my little shop at the roof top of the Plantation and another outlet at Sun dance Bar. I wanted an edgy scene. I had placed 10 pictures on the wall. And then I placed a sign saying art for sale. A tall grizzled Australian middle aged man asked me where is the art ? Its on the wall I said .
Oh yes .
Back in the studio in Phnom Penh late at night. Strange to come back to this place after Australia. And nearly 3 and a half years in this small flat on the roof. Today was a good day as I awoken from slumber to complete a sale to Germany taking the canvas straight off the frame with the buyer who was leaving 2 hours later. Money exchanged and deal concluded. Then a phone call from the intercontinental hotel and an order placed for another canvas of The Building 3 which I do not think I have posted yet. This is a sky less version with more stairs in it and seems to work better. I collapsed in the heat of the afternoon and slept a couple of hours. Then to the Patio to remove another canvas also going to Germany. While I was there I met some people who would like to buy some smaller pieces and also concluded a sale of another 2 pictures. Also had two thank you letters for sending work. So, just when I thought it was kind of paling a bit things have picked up this incredibly hot Sunday.
Oh and yesterday I made some slates for The Patio comission. Oh and add to that another exhibition space on offer.
A different world in Sydney and a very different world in West Pennant Hills. Sure its leafy and quite. But completely uninspiring leafy and quite. And with out a car and a phone you are in danger of getting stranded as I did when I caught the wrong but and ended up in some other quite leafy suburb. I have no ambition to create a montage of Sydney. And also Ken Dodd has done his take on the Opera House. I like street photography and trees and buildings but these subjects are not going to enter my portfolio.
I came here as my father is sick . He still is very sick.
I fly back to Cambodia tonight very much reverse culture shocked. Much as I love the country out look in the fringes of the city. I miss the city. But even in the city center I am completely lost.
But to my exhibition where I will have to leave my air craft and hang my pictures 3 hours later. Yet my framer has only completed 4 frames so far. He has about 36 hours to complete the other 9. How is that? How could I have stressed more that I needed the pictures for exhibition?
Out of sight out of money and out of mind. This added pressure is not needed. Will and can he complete the framing?
I am nervous enough as it is. Flying after the disappearance of the Malaysian air line air craft in the South China sea.
And setting up the exhibition and preparing a speech and cutting a golden rope. I am honoured to be doing this and I only hope the pictures came out well. The last time I saw them they were in a yellow roll.
But good news as my work continues to sell even when I am in Australia.
10 days since I wrote my diary. I even got a reminder via hot mail I was slacking. But that is far from the case. I am more in panic mode trying to get this exhibition happening at The Intercontinental Hotel Insider Gallery.
I am happy so far with what I have produced. Of course I had produced more for this exhibition but I took a punt and spread my self a bit thinner and wider with work at The Plantation and work at Patio Urban resort and La Palate. This gave me a small space of time to get 13 pieces together including 3 in a set for a larger wall.
Oh news on the display portfolio is good. The leather smith was amazing he did a really good job far better that I could have imagined. Not only that he found real old brass buttons to go on the leather. I also have a spare cattle hide. The owner of the Patio was really pleased with it. I will place some photos up later. I am proud I could design it but even prouder the guy could actually make it .
I have been concluding my postal sales and its been slow work. My apartment studio gets very hot and I was having problems rolling canvases onto poly pipe a really crazy exercise. I need to get it straight and square.
At present every part of the creative process is is touched by my hands. The photography and design and work on the montage. The orders and making the canvases. The postage and the self promotion. And sending them off.
Today I had an afternoon sleep and my son rudely woke me up by smashing on the solid wood door. I screamed at him to let me wake up slowly and what did he want anyway? Some one at the door likes you pictures. Who would have climbed 5 flight s of stairs to get to my flat and managed to get past the guards on the gate?
A couple who had seen The White Building Phnom Penh part 1 on my stair well. They liked it. They had not yet found an apartment but liked my work.
I showed them around the flat and all my work and on going work with rolled canvases pastel, photographs, bubble wrap , white boards and cameras and clothes and a real mess. My studio has taken over my flat.
Yesterday my easel fell over and I lost an entire concept an entire fledgling mural . It smashed to the floor throwing, photographs , magnets and the white board all over the shop. It really made a noise. Later on when I broke up the blue ploy pipe by smashing it against the door there was also plenty of noise.
Its hot and it frustrating but I am getting there slowly .
The machine churned out some prints today. Great . A big yellow roll full of pearl like canvas.
I managed to get my orders up to date but made a small mistake in some sizes of limited edition prints. Its ok . Every room in my roof top penthouse. I mean 5th floor apartment with studio had a layer of bubble wrap with the white bordered canvases laid out. I rolled a few prints and they are ready to send, Then to the Plantation for another sale and I took a canvas off the frame and rolled it in bubble wrap around blue poly pipe. I plan to frame about 6 this week to keep the walls full at the plantation and then go full out on my Intercontinental exhibition. I need to complete 5 pieces. They are called Jolly cafe, Distortion , Sketch coffee, and street scene 1 2 3 and 4. That will bring my short list to about 17. I need 13.
The framer is moving again. He is fighting a losing battle with landlords and electrical companies. I found him collapsed in a hammock on the roof of the red dog. A kind of crash pad with the most basic rooms. I kind of woke up and agreed to get on with the framing soon . Don’t get me wrong he is a great framer but not such a good business man.
The leather portfolio will now be made up of one cattle hide. I wasted a lot of yesterday trying to find brass buttons and studs for the marbled leather. I was in Odessey market . A very hot hell hole in a dank 50,s building made up of tiny stalls. I did not so much as find a button.
My leather guy who is a very good leather smith shoe repairer and bag maker was unable to understand what I wanted fron the photo graphs of my idea for a portfoilio. Not so much a portfolio but a display case to live on the 7th floor of the Patio Urban resort. He did not so much has scratch his head but rubbed it to suggest I was giving him a prize number 1 headache and he could not fathom a word I was talking about.
My miming made him start hitting his head with his hand. I would bring the leather to his shop I mimed .
My idea is to use poppers or buttons to make a free form cow hide display case. But really I might go back to the idea of a bigger version of my smaller case.
When I took the leather to him pinned together with giant cloth pegs he grabbed the largest pair of sissors I had seen and began to cut my hide to threads. No No No leave it in one piece. Do not destroy its national form.
Tomorrow I conclude a further 3 sales, make another print run , Complete Distortion and street scene one, Send 4 orders out of Cambodia. And take some prints to be framed ,and then look at my portfolio.
Leather and canvas go really well together.
I never dreamed that becoming an artist in Phnom Penh would eventually turn into a full time job. Its been hectic all day.
I went to Equinox bar and art gallery and music venue. My stuff has been hanging there for months and months. Some of it has been selling. Anthony the American who runs it had asked me to get my stuff out and this suited me really well as the Planation is selling my art even faster leaving big white gaps in the walls. I dusted the frames down and I also dropped a picture on a floor fan narrowly missing a hangover customers head. The poor bloke had been helping me before as I snapped at the plastic cord with a pair of pliers. I got my tuk tuk driver to take 4 frames to the plantation.
Then it was confirmed I can actually become the curator at Equinox. This will be overseeing other artists and placing their work on the walls. And I get the commission for this. It was in the pipe line but I was not expecting it. So I will make a new page for Equinox. For so long I wanted the break to hang art there and now I am the curator and I can sometimes hang my art there.
The printing press not only has been repaired it has a really good printing head. State of the art and very expensive. They had tried to fix the old head but it sheared again tearing up canvas and burning it in the process.
The entire machine seized up. Now it is like a finely tunes piano. I put in a big order for a back log of limited edition prints.
I have been given a ceiling and a table to display a commissioned work (ceiling ) and table for the mid size limited prints. I had this idea to use a big leather portfolio on the table. The leather shop were supposed to make this for me. A shoes shop. a shoe making shop called beautiful shoes. ‘This is my scale model and can you make one bigger?
What is a scale model and what do you want bigger? My portfolio I say. What is a portfolio? he asks. This and I want it 70 cm by 110cm .
The cow is not big enough. he says
I am buying an entire cow by the way skinned and cured (not the entire cow the skin) Ok how much for 2 cows ? I ask
$200 dollars he says
It was a good deal, really cheap compared with another time I nearly bought one. And this leather is beautiful and matches the wood finish of the patio where I will display my work.
At my studio on the roof top where I have taken over my son’s room as he has taken over the tv room I tried to work out how to make this portfolio I had enough cow skin to make a wig wam. I surfed the inter net but all the portfolios were smaller. I could not find the page I had seen before.
But anyway I decided to use the smaller cow and I would not cut an inch from the skin as this would make wastage.
I have slowly been wrapping it to the correct measurements using my canvases which I realise are all 66cm wide. A little big for the table but possible. I have it on a work table and it is perfect. But if I move it to Bkk 1 market where another leather smith works out of a shack (and who I have used for 2 years now ) the entire thing will slip back into a cow hide. I have pinned it to the shape I want with my unused dumbbell weights (now paper weights ) and a few pink clothe pegs. Now I need to persuade or pay my leather smith and the next door neighbor (who will translate ) to climb 5 flights of stairs with his manual sewing machine and a bag or brass studs.
While I was doing all this my mind has been whirling around trying to work out the 3 piece street montage destined for the wall on the intercontinental hotel.
A creative day today. Half of Phnom Penh seems to be in a stupor as it is the Monday after the Valentines day weekend and the entire city was full of loving couples mainly sitting on motor bikes avoiding their disproving family.
My tech guy is already married but he works in back computer room more than 12 hours a day 7 days a week . He also sits under an Arctic air con unit and is glued to the screen touching up wedding photos of the people who years before had been buzzing around the city in couples on motor bike on Valentines day.
The guy makes up for lack of sleep by taking micro sleeps as the computer saves images. Today I tried to get a circular border around a picture that I had seen in the radical magazine my art teacher friend had given me. It did not work. Black distracts a circle looks stupid .
This is proving to be a busy month and a dead line to meet. Its looming. I need 13 original and unseen pieces of art for the walls of the insider gallery. I have 6. The first thing I did was empty my leather portfolio of all my old work. My mate Rob gave me an old suit bag that I placed the old work in. Canvases with the black border that I do not like. Photographic paper and black and white images. This was a bit of a cleansing process. Rob also gave me some radical left wing magazines and told me to use them in my images. They might be found images but I still feel it is copying. There is one image that gave me a good idea for my Chinese structure piece. Its flowers in a circle . I like it.
Rob is good support an ex art teacher. I should grind up old bricks and mix then with glue and paste them on my canvases. This is a good idea. So is oil paint.
So anyway with the new portfolio I just want to fill it. Then the Patio owner asked me to make a little shop of prints in his 7th floor bar and has commissioned a picture of the Patio in my style which will hang under the swimming pool on the ceiling of the bar. We are worried the screws will puncture the pool. Did I say that already?
I want to present the limited edition mid size prints selling for about $80 in a two leather cow skins sewn together and studded with brass studs that I will pick up from a recycling clothes shop on the river.
Also been spending a lot of time removing canvases from frames and sending them overseas. Also now I have them compact enough for hand luggage. Another sale to Singapore. One to China one to USA,and Holland , Australia, Seam Reap and France.
The guy from the framing shop who runs two hostels. The Blue dog, The red dog and a framing shop has now moved again . Anyone would think he was being framed and was on the run. I have to find a place called the red dog now. That is where he will be working from. Or he might be in a bar some where.
The good news is the huge monster printing press is going to be ready this week they tell me. First of all I was told the spare part I am waiting for to set the rolls in action and to print on canvas would be closed down for a month. This was due to Chinese New Year. A Chinese Factory closing for 1 month was hard to swallow. In fact I did not believe it.
So I asked for machine number two. The printing house is in a huge block of flats by the Russian Market. It is an advertising agency but it does not display any sign of advertising on the outside even the size of a postage stamp. This is because it will be raided for protection money by the friendly police if they can see it is turning a profit. The place is such a well kept secret that even huge printing houses in Phnom Penh are unable to find it. I think I may be their only customer. When I say I could be their agent for canvas printing they simply burst into laughter as they clearly do not understand what I am going on about.
When I asked them to print on printer number two the factory closure time in China halved. When I told them I was going to search Cambodia for a new company I was told the machine would be fixed in less then a week. Then as I was driving home it was 2 days.
So hopefully I can print on Friday.
I am working on a work I have called Pink Seam Reap.
But back to the Plantation. I removed 100 , 000 staples off a canvas attached to a frame. I cleaned it. I shook the gecko crap of it. I attached it to a purpose cut piece of PVC pipe and rolled it up. I had to try 6 times to get it on the tube, and the girl in the shop attached top the plantation was so loath to lend me her sticky tape I had to explain the hotel was receiving 33 and a third percent of each canvas going out and I am sure they could spare the tape.
At one point I was worried the canvas would blow straight into the Lily pond and that certainly would ruin it . In the end I rolled it up and then sealed it with tape and then rolled it in bubble wrap. The customer was right there skyping his wife.
‘Did you remember to sign it ?’
Well know I actually forgot . I had it planned to the point of which pen I should use but clean forgot
So I unrolled the canvas and then removed the tape from the shop. Luckily I only had to unroll a corner and great I got it signed .
The dead line is looming like a late piece of homework at school. But I love deadlines. They stimulate the creative juices.
The Plantation exhibition is going well. The atmosphere is good in the hotel and the lay out of the gallery space is excellent. With luck I should be able to display there until the end of March. I intend now to got there maybe twice a day and sit and get to meet people who like my work. 6 to 7 is a good time in the evening with the first ice cold beer going down. Well not my ice cold beer but you know the people in the hotel.
Today I sold two pieces that are going to China. I would love to break into the Chinese Art market. The customer says she will introduce my work to some galleries in Peking.
Then after I went in to take the canvases off the frames a nice guy who lives in America bought a picture straight off the wall. We also had a good chat later on by the red pool. I like talking art. I really like it when people enjoy my art of course. But there is more to it than that. To create something original that people will hang on their walls is the most satisfying of all.
This has given me confidence for my new work which will hang in the Insider gallery at the Intercontinental Hotel from 18th of March. I have 3 temple works Temple Green, Temple Green and another. I have another two I am thinking about also on the temples. Then I will maybe do 3 moto styles , and a Kep Mural and a Kampot Mural. I hope also to do one set in Hanoi.
I am pretty mean with my furniture in my little rooftop flat. But I might just lash out on some shelving this week . This will go in my kitchen studio.
I am starting on a new piece on the temples of Cambodia and will make a series of three or even more to show at my next exhibition. Actually this exhibition might not happen if I don’t get a move on and stop looking at camera forums and new cameras. I had a perfectly good camera for my work with 3 lenses. I have traded this in and have ordered the Nikon DF. I will use this for my murals. The other cameras I have I use for black and white and street work that I do not sell.
Bad news for me is the massive printing press near the Russian market has burst a pipe. The spare part is on order. I am told the factory in China is closing for a month and then it will take a guy how to figure out how to put the spare part in the machine.
I am having a bit of a selling spree at the moment as well so the canvas’ are coming off the frames and being shipped.
This is the beginning of a creative time forced or otherwise block or not. I have no artists block I am just dealing with all aspects of my little world mainly alone, apart from a framer and a printer. This is not a complaint, far from it . I would employ staff if I had to. I mean staff to run a small gallery maybe. But at the moment it is a one man show.
I have the exhibition at the intercontinental hotel coming up in March and I want this to be special. Time is running out. I am running to the post office on my little motor bike posting limited edition prints all round the world. I am setting up other exhibitions including that at The Patio Hotel.
Been pretty busy.
I managed to find a really good work desk that I placed in my kitchen. Some people put kitchens or bar fridges in their studios at great exspence bathrooms too. I have done it the other way round . I have put a studio in my kitchen and it even has a bathroom too and a wrap around balcony. This saves rent money. Just as well as I have placed an order for a NIKON MF. I can ill afford this purchase nor do I need this camera. I just like it.
I am getting a daily sale I would say. I can feel it slowing down. But my stuff is out there and getting noticed. I need a digital SLR for most of my work and soon the beast will arrive. I sold all the rest of my gear on impulse on Sunday and placed my order.
Other news . The school work came out good and the school is pleased. I will be helping with a mini exhibition. Each child took a photo and this has been made into a montage.
Also my gallery at Patio is looking good. Its there I did it in the end !
Soon is the time for more creating and I look forward to this .
Had a couple of sales this week and lots of meetings with customers. Also visits to the printing press. My montages done with Ican school should be ready tomorrow.
I need to knuckle down and begin my work for the Insider Gallery at the Intercontinental Hotel which will take place in March. I look forward to this and have a lot of stills to work with. I also need to upgrade my portfolio as I like new fresh work inside the leather. There is a possibility I might have a small gallery in Seam Reap but thus is all in the pipe line. I had a big clear out . A clean slate to begin this new work.
Back in Phnom Penh with a few sales to deal with. I would have loved to have stayed in the cool crisp air of Hanoi. A true arty city with style . Just the Vespa driving young woman in leather jackets inspired the idea of a painting along the lines of Moto style. I will try this. I also got many good shots of old buildings and the lake at night.
But on coming home to Phnom Penh and visiting the Patio I was astounded to see that some of my frames had warped to such an extent they were zig zagging all over the wall. It was like they were made of green bamboo. Judging by the misery in the voice of my framer I guessed he had been on a 3 day bender in fact could not even track him down. His little car was there , his staff were working but I could only get groans down the phone. I carried 3 canvases back to the shop and I was blown around the street as if I was sailing albeit with damaged sails.
I have until March to produce 15 new art pieces. I plan one on the temples.
I am writing from a hotel room in Hanoi What a lovely city with cool crisp air and a beautiful lake. I have been here before 5 years ago. I stay in the old quarter. There are many art shops and some great photographs on display.
Before I left I placed 34 framed canvas at patio and another 15 at The Plantation. The patio will be my permanent gallery space. The work is from the foyer to the roof top. Infact the next shot will be on the ceiling of the bar and a montage of the Patio itself We were worred we might put a hole in the bottom of the pool and water would leak down into the bar and flood the entire hotel.
I have been taking stills of red and white Vespa motor bikes. This place has a real sence of style. It reminds me of China the photographic possibilities are endless. I have been shooting black and white and color. The people are completely different to Cambodians.
I know have a real stock pile of images to work with. This will be done in my roof top apartment for the next 3 months. I should produce at least 20 new murals. I have now named my gallery The Montage gallery I had a stamp made here. But a thought nags me did I say mural or montage? This will be hand carved. I can not make a mistake.
I will be shooting here for the next few days and it is a very nice change.
Happy New Year
I spent the 8 days preceding new year taking photos of Father Christmas for marketing company. It was fun but tiring. Maybe post some on my snap shot blog
I will be going to Veitnam for a holiday in a day or so and will be trying capture images in Hanoi for forthcoming montages. As I am based in Cambodia this might not be a good idea. Still so many old buildings there as well.
Last two days have been full on with creating two major exhibitions spaces. Patio will be housing a my collection on all 7 levels and I will create separate page for this space. I will also be making a picture of the Patio which already has a space reserved on the bar ceiling.
I have an extension exhibition at The Plantation as well This runs for 3 weeks.
But at the patio it is for a few years I am hoping. My new work will continue to be placed on the walls there.
Been very busy with getting permanent collection together at patio. This is happening and will all be up and running very soon. The extension at Plantation will be happening soon to but just for 3 weeks .
The Patio is my gallery space now.
But having taken on a job as event photographer at Beeline for 8 days feeling very tired. Had a few sales in between . My framer went on s drunken bender and I found him cowering in near darkness in his hotel that he runs as a side line. He had turned his phone off.
Just been fine tuning the exhibition space at Patio. 3 pictures are already hanging and looking very good. My framer had to balance a ladder in the indoor water feature and then go to the roof top but he took it all in his stride. Only another 30 to go.
In the meantime a few more prints to customers not helped as my phone was stolen along with there numbers.
Been taking thousands of Christmas shots and this will continue until new year. Its fun but very tiring .
A busy day planned on this cold but sunny day in Phnom Penh. Firstly to buy a copy of the Phnom Penh Post. I have a friend who does this daily as he works as a unionist for the garment factory. He checks to see if he is in the paper. And he normally is ! Well today I am supposed to be in the Seam Reap Insider. This is an insert in the paper. I hope for a good write up.
Then down to the French quarter to the old post office to send a purchased Seam Reap canvas to France. I used to work in a post office and it is strange to go in this one. I mean it is like a 1950’s style post office with not really a computer in sight. While I am in the French Quarter I will go and drool over the studio I tried to rent in an old French Colonial Mansion which was the subject for my first Mural. I now have full use of the building as in walking around the place and climbing the very dangerous stairs. I have now found a beautiful gallery space. It is a wonderful space with balcony. But I can not lock the door or place furniture in it . But I can use it for photo shoots freely.
Before I even go down there I will pick up the black and white canvas for Crash Test Dummies in my booth there. Later I will publish what is going there but I still need to plug my Seam Reap exhibition as front page news .
Back in Phnom Penh with 6 floors a roof top and the foyer to fill with my pictures. This will be a permanent display at The Patio, and will be updated as I produce more work. There will be information on real exhibition standard labels. In the lift of all places there will be the price list and what is showing at which floor. You know , like the New Tate Gallery ! Or the big glass elevator. But really this could be a nice little detail. I do not want to splash my prices around. I am happy with the selection. All will be on Pea like canvas. I prefer petal or pearl like canvas but pea it will have to be.
This venue is really something with infinity roof top pool with views of the river and town scape. I will be working on a picture of the Patio. I will also be working on a picture of the Tea House. I plan a tea theme for the latter and look forward to it.
But today it was down to the Russian market with the order of limited edition prints. Then to the framer. We will walk the pictures from framer to the Patio.
I was very close to securing a lease on a room in an old French Colonial building near the post office yesterday. I was very excited about this prospect. But alas it was not to be. Crumbling walls and shutters. A place of great character. Yet I can use the room for photos shoots. I am looking for a semi derelict building in the French quarter rather like this. Amazing . Maybe I should keep trying or pay a few dollars here or there to secure this amazing space. What an art coop it would make as well. Truly inspiring.
A journey with 18 pictures wrapped in bubble wrap in a shaky old van. The driver had no idea what I was doing or what he was carrying or why. We managed to put the seats down and stack the pictures but the van had no suspension and the road is being worked on. But not in sections the entire road has been dug up on each side two or three hundred kilometres of road works.
But I managed a seamless door to door trip in the end. And the canvas was placed on the wall. I spent 3 days in Seam Reap in a hotel. I managed to get some good shots as well for future work. Even pretty original stuff of the temples. And some lovely shop houses. The stock photos are building up and I need to start working again on original stuff.
But first a huge project hanging 6 floors of the Patio hotel.
To the graphics department to complete the last 2 school montages and press CD of the four. And also a rare venture into a black and white montage still to be named. This is for Crash Test Dummies. I have a small booth on the second floor and its going to be black and white stuff.
Then to the printers to make order for Patio and print the black and white montage which is made up of knives and cigars and ash and broken glass and spider webs. And a butterfly.
To the school to teach for 3 hours and then to graphics to make up the program for La Palate Seam Reap.
Went out to eat at score bar with my son and concluded the sale of a small print of garden house.
While I was there I received an email for the floor plan of The Patio and a plan for some work on the walls. All the walls !
This last few weeks I have been working with the school children of Ican International School here in Phnom Penh. We are working on some murals and have completed 4. This week I have been working with the children with my Nikon SLR for their art week.
Down to the Russian market for more printing for two sales at Villa Lanka of The Bike. And a small reprint of garden house.
Then to the Patio where I am decking the entire hotel lounge and restaurant bar with 22 pictures. I must say this is a daunting task . But very grateful I was asked in the first place. I met the owner as I was loading a tuk tuk with a bubbled wrap picture for delivery.