How it all started: Trees inspire a family legacy

The seeds for Studio 88 were planted many years ago, by Aom’s grandfather, who first taught her the value of giving back to the community. Every time Aom returns home she is reminded of his foresight and community spirit standing tall in the row of teak trees along the 6 kilometer long canal road. Her grandfather did not live a long life to see these trees growing strong, but he has left the legacy not only to his family but people who are enjoying their shelter.

Aom and Sak planting teak trees, Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai
Aom and Sak planting teak trees, Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai

This simple act of an ordinary man has proven that anyone can create an impact in life. With her father, Aom had the idea to continue her grandfather’s legacy and kept planting more teak trees. A number of people stopped and asked what they were doing – many expressed their appreciation and wanted to help. The trees became about more than just creating a shady path, and have become about the way nature, people and culture can interact in daily life.

Teak tree Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang MaiThe story of her grandfather has inspired Aom to create a creative space where she could build a legacy to share with a community of like-minded people. Working with museums and galleries, visiting creative studios and maker spaces, have inspired her to create an artistic space that encourages creativity and collaboration. Because of her work and connection in the arts and culture, Aom decided to link the potential of arts and culture to create positive change with her love for giving back to her local community.

Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai
Space for reflecting at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai

One of Aom’s colleagues and friends, Claire, is a writer who has returned many times to the tranquil space, where she’s worked on writing projects. It was when Aom and Claire started sharing ideas of creative space for social change that they decide to create Studio 88. Taking a lesson from Aom’s grandfather they knew it was important to make change in small steps, one tree at a time. With Studio 88 they don’t want to create a space to visit, but rather a place where artists can share and shape the space, where friends can become family.

The journey of Studio 88 has just begun, and hopefully many planting hands from near and far can share in its growth.

 

By Sasiwimon Wongjarin (Aom)

Don’t let old age get you down

Sak, a self-taught and veteran woodworker of Doi Saket, just turned 60 last year. He is now considered a senior citizen and entitled for elderly allowance. What does this mean to him and the community and society he lives in? And what can we at Studio 88 do to help?

Workshop with senior citizens at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai
Workshop with senior citizens at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai

Thailand will become a full-fledged ageing society in 2021 when the number of its senior citizens is expected to reach 13.1 million or 20 per cent of the total population, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) reported recently. This means one out of five people will be an elderly citizen. While their numbers increase, many in the older generations have low or negligible savings and assets to care for themselves.

Sak working at Studio 88 Artist Residency Chiang Mai
Sak working at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai

Sak doesn’t let his age worry him. Based on his expertise and experience, he approached the local Office of the Non-Formal and Informal Education (NFE) and proposed an idea to organise capacity building and skills training on woodworking workshop for local (senior) people. The workshop, held in early 2019, aimed to equip people with new skills and enable people to generate extra income from the skills that they learnt. Fifteen community members with different level of skills attended the workshop.

Workshop with senior citizens at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai
Workshop with senior citizens at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai

The participants learnt technical skills, from basic shape making with handmade tools to wood turning with machines. They made simple kitchen utensils like spoons, spatulas, shelves and home décor, like key chain hangers and stair railings. The items were simple and straightforward. Many of them hoped they might be able to use these skills to gain extra income, while others had plans to make items for family members.

Home décor made at the workshop with senior citizens at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai
Home décor made at the workshop with senior citizens at Studio 88 Artist Residency, Chiang Mai

The project might have been small, but it demonstrates how we could create a better livelihood within local communities – it’s never too late to learn a new skill. Sak is already thinking about other ways he could share his skills in meaningful ways. In the same vein, I invite artists and designers and anyone at Studio 88 to collaborate with local community to learn local wisdom as well as share their own knowledge. This is one way in which Studio 88 would like to make positive change, on both small and large scales.

 

Sasiwimon Wongjarin (Aom)

 

Open Call for Artists: 12 April

Studio 88 is now calling for artists in any discipline for the August-September residency period.

Studio 88 Artist Residency is a space to play, share, learn, make mistakes and experiment in the northern Thai town of Doi Saket. Set in a rural landscape just 30 minutes from the cultural city of Chiangmai, Studio 88 gives time and space to focus on creating.

The aim of the residency is to provide time out from the busy day-to-day life in order to spend time in a tranquil space to create and think. There is no pressure to produce anything by the end of the residency, although the team can help to facilitate connections with galleries or other initiatives if the resident is interested.

In the first week Sasiwimon Wongjarin (Aom), an international arts manager and a native of Doi Saket, will introduce the residents to the space and the local context through a series of studio tours and site visits. Additionally, where possible she can provide any additional information about local artist initiatives relevant to each artist’s interests. The residency is an open format where each resident has the freedom to shape their own direction and focus.

Check out the application details and send your applications by Friday 12 April 2019.