Galleries: The artist brings the rain inside for a show at the Tramway

While Scotland is no stranger to rain, most of us – the skylights that leak out to the side (and I’m speaking for myself here) – tend to only experience it outdoors. All of that changes next week with the evocative solo exhibition by Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang at the Glasgow Tram, in which the skies open up inside the vast gallery in a call for climate awareness.

The call for rain opens next week in the wake of COP26, extending an essential theme and highlighting the need for all of us, individually and collectively, to act to both understand and do our best. to rectify the climate change that human actions have caused.

Samnang was born in the Svay Rieng province of Cambodia in 1982 and graduated in Fine Arts (Painting) from the Royal University of Fine Arts in the capital, Phnom Penh.

His work is multidisciplinary, spanning media ranging from sculpture and installation to photography and film, his works often concerned with exploring and communicating the very real issues of human-induced climate change in the world. Cambodia, as well as issues of colonialism and globalization.

“Environmental degradation, including the complex influence of political and financial disputes over the control of natural resources, the suppression of the rights of indigenous communities, uncontrolled development and systemic and other forms of violence, are among the problems. urgent issues that propel my vision and creativity. .

“I believe in the power of dreams and omens, and humor, to mediate these serious concerns,” Samnang said. It is in this vein that he collaborates extensively with the Chong people of Cambodia, one of the small ethnic groups of Cambodia apart from the Khmer majority, making extensive use of their beliefs and mythologies.

His work for this Tramway exhibition is one example, an immersive installation and film aimed at helping children and young audiences understand the climate crisis.

The film, Calling for Rain, whose tale is based on the story of a monkey who falls in love with a fish and travels through the landscapes of Cambodia on a quest to save the dying rainforest, fighting the fire dragon. whose actions are responsible, may aim to engage young people, but has universal appeal.

And although he creates works for children, “I still maintain the character of my staging with a few abstract masks and … a combination of classical and contemporary dance.”

“In this story, the character of the fire dragon, Aki, represents evil spirits [that come] controlling another area with a greed for natural crops or by transforming nature into its own power … There are also two other main characters: Kiri (the monkey), representing the mountain forest, and KongKea (the fish ), representing water. ”

It is based in part on the animistic religion of the Chong peoples, who revere the spirits of forest animals and celebrate the “cooperative and spiritual relationship between species and the rainforest.”

Deforestation and unbridled development threaten both the cultural and living traditions of indigenous communities in Cambodia, as elsewhere, and this is what Samnang, his characters filmed in areas prone to degradation or overuse, wants to tackle. -development.

“Before doing this story, I studied the thinking of children, in particular [that of] my daughter, ”says Samnang, whose work, though serious in intent, often uses humor. While working on the film, he took his daughter out of town on a stunt with one of the dancers, who plays the character of Kiri in the story.

“What kind of relationship did my daughter have when Kiri played the role of a monkey in real nature?” What did it bring to the children who saw this show?

Elsewhere in the facility, two 11-meter-long curtains will create the impression of walking in the rain, something very relevant in Cambodia where the severe drought problem affects both people and wildlife. Samnang first created the installation partly at home.

“When I made a virtual rain in front of my house, many children came to enjoy the rain, as if they really needed it, and they made a loud and happy noise. It’s adorable. ”

“At the end of the movie, I integrated the question, how should we all handle this? History also shows that only expression and solidarity can prevent bad things.

It’s the actions of the characters, choosing to make things better, that brings about the change and makes Samnang’s film a film of positivity, showing what can be achieved if people work together and take action. “At the end of the story, after the rain, the land was refreshed, and the wildlife, animals, and people were refreshed, and they grew and reaped as happily as ever. ”

Khvay Samnang: Calling for Rain, Tramway, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow, 0845 330 3501 Nov 19 – Mar 6 2022, Tue – Fri, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sat Sun,

12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Critic’s Choice

Finding herself among those during confinement who had seclusion and free time, artist Sue Barclay, formerly Biazotti, who had not done art for about five years, returned to doing, gradually but surely, in a new light. The “One World” series, which will be on display at Partick’s Nicolls from next week, includes stripped-down paintings and a collection of glued and painted wooden bracelets – ideal Christmas gifts, if you like – that Barclay has developed using a limited color palette. His painting process, perhaps due to the time and concentration brought about by the interlocking, was stretched, working the sheets of paper over and over, cutting the works with scissors, his studio littered with shapes, until what she begins to work them into autonomous works of art. Barclay calls them “painted collages,” a series of circular and other shapes that evoke fish-like shapes.

“I have often found myself drawn to working with individual pigments in order to explore their essential nature,” she says. “I saluted the part of chance in this work; in the painting process, the freely cut shapes and the way in which the final images and the series of works came together.

The wooden rushes are again made with wallpaper shapes stuck on the rushes, both series worked at the same time. “There is a direct relationship between the two ways of working and I thought of the bracelets as circular works of art created intuitively as I work my way around the circular shape.”

Sue Barclay: One World, Nicolls, 656 Dumbarton Rd, Thornwood, Partick, Glasgow, 0141 334 2728 November 19 – 24, Thursday, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Fri, 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. Sat, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sun, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. For events, including artist talks, see website.

Do not miss

Byron may make the headlines of this exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, but it is the story of the distant echoes of Greek inspiration in Edinburgh, the “Athens of the North”, and of the long battle waged by the Greeks to overthrow Ottoman rule, for which there is much more than the story of a poet who took the mantle of a revolution. Along with historical material, Karen Cunningham was commissioned to create a two-part work titled Parataxis in textile and moving image, “referencing women and their experiences at the end of the Enlightenment in Edinburgh and then Greece,” a small attempt to write down the wrongs of the historical record.

Edina / Athena: The Greek Revolution and the Athens of the North 1821 – 2021, Exhibition Gallery, Edinburgh University Library, 30 George Square, Edinburgh, until January 29, 2022, Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. https: // www.ed.

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