October 3rd. Day one in Phnom Penh.
Woke up nicely, had breakfast, did a drawing, listened to my STC podcast, and thought to have a look at some art galleries.
Googled art galleries in Phnom Penh, Kbach gallery caught my eye, I explored their website, looked at some of the artists, made some notes, and thought about this for an idea.
How about creating a sort of art fellowship award? So for every painting I sell, an amount, around $100, is donated to the fellowship artists. These would be artists born in Cambodia. So every artwork I sell equally supports a number, say five or six, artists here. This could be a great way of supporting fellow artists. If I were to sell ten paintings a month, @£300, and $100 for each painting was given to the fellows, there would be $200 a month each for them, if there were 5. $200 here is a good amount of money. It would be like a basic income for them. More than. The average wage per household, per person, (called Per Capita) was around $1376 based on December 2017. It’s going to be more than that now, things are on the up, but even so, $200 per month would be around a full time wage, seemingly, and in any case, be a significant boost to any artist, enabling them to practice full time. Awarded for one year, it would be life changing for them, I think. It’s like an art bursary.
So I think this is a good idea, so I head off to find the gallery, Kbach, according to the address, 42E Preah makhat Vann St, (St 178) … I get a Tuktuk from outside the hotel, its $3.
The street is a long road, shops, cafes, spa and massage, workshops, more galleries, although the kind that seems to sell imported works, not local artists, it’s hot, I buy a hat for $1, and starting at the river, walk from one end of the street to the end, and back, and again, and back. I can’t find this place. I ask a taxi driver, he shows me on google maps, I keep walking, where is it? I find 42, and a few shuttered shops at the side. It’s closed down? I’m in need of a drink, I go into the cafe. It’s called Connecting Hands. Great food for a great cause. I pick up a card, and leaflet, and order a bottle of water please. The place is a training cafe designed for young women who have come from highly vulnerable backgrounds to gain skills and qualifications within the hospitality industry. It’s run by a charity, an Australian one, from the .com.au website.
Ah Lord, I think, and probably speak out loud. Is this one of your doings? Do you want me to do something with this charity, support them in some way?
If they’re a Christian charity, I’m going to take that as a Yes.
Easier for the Lord to guide me to a street art gallery than a cafe. And I drink my water.
The manager, in charge of the cafe, and the two girls who are serving, helpfully help me find the Kbach gallery, she says they were next door, but moved, to Exchange Square supermarket, but she doesn’t know if they are still there. She writes Exchange Square on a piece of paper, and suggests I call the gallery. I tell her it’ll be fine, I’ll go there in a tuktuk, she reminds me to be careful with my phone and bag, I tell her it’s the same in London.
I take a photo of an artwork on the wall, donated by a local artist, perhaps I will get in touch, and she can be one of the fellows. Jesi Lee, Jesi.Lee on instagram.
I order a tuktuk on the app I downloaded, it arrives, I think, but drives away. Another one waves me over, I give the address, he googles it, $3? I OK, I only brought $10 out with me, plus some Khmer notes, Rial, I don’t know what they’re worth, pennies I think.
The gallery has moved from the supermarket. The concierge rings them, no answer, voicemail.
The tuktuk is waiting outside. Back to the hotel. $2? I ask. $3. OK.
I’m feeling the heat a little. I arrive back, buy water at reception, and get my ipad from the safe. I’ve received an email from another charity, I connected with them a few months ago, the lady said she was going home to the US for a while, and is now back, asking if I have time to meet. I reply yes, let’s.
Let’s google Connecting Hands charity, and look on Instagram for Jess.Lee.
Connecting Hands moves my heart, and I typed it connecting hearts just now, and I believe in them. It says on the website it was founded by two Australian sisters, in 2010. Have a look at the website please.
It doesn’t say if they’re a Christian charity or not. I think that doesn’t matter, I fully expect they are, for one thing, most charities like this are, people are called to do them, and secondly, the Lord led me there, so He knows them. I’ll ask them if they have a faith affiliation, and see what they say.
Also, the website says photography by Jesi Lee, she’s evidently helped them with the website as well.
Jesi.Lee comes up as Jesi Lee design studio on Insta, seems likely, there’s a URL, jesileedesignstudio.com , I follow it, it’s her.
About the artist
Jesi Lee Janiak is an international artist, graphic designer and photographer. She has created art and design work all around the world; from Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia to Australia and the UK. For the last four years, Jesi’s creative work has been focused toward charity work and social change.
She has a few images, of what looks like her studio. One of the pictures on the wall says NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED.
I myself have a painting, Persistence Is Fertile.
I don’t think she’s in Cambodia right now, she seems to be on her travels. I’ll get in touch through her website and open a conversation.
My feeling is she’s Australian. Let’s find out.
That was this morning. Now it’s tomorrow, quarter to three nearly, in the last 12 hours I’ve met the Director and team of PFC, Prison Foundation Cambodia, and agreed to be able to work with them, and support them, including visiting the children in prison, next Tuesday. With all the goodies I brought over, plus a load more food and medicines and things. I’ve also finished reading, although will read again, and again, Jesus, The Greatest Life Of All, by Charles Swindoll, and I rate it as the second most important book ever written. With regards to the art bursary idea, that’s kind of idea I have, I feel foolish now for even writing it, and clearly, I couldn’t even find the gallery, never mind the artists. I guess what I’m trying to say is King Jesus has His plans, and it is those that are bigger, and better, and more impactful, and real, and easy to deliver, than anything I could come up with. What’s more, the Spiritual element of this journey, and the arrangement with charities that enables people to receive, … I guess,.. what I’m trying to say is that acceptance of Jesus, that’s everything, everything else is insignificant in comparison, and if it came to it, I’d rather feed one person Jesus than a million people rice. It would actually have more value. Ideally, I’d like to feed a million people Jesus, and a million people rice. To be clear on priorities, I’m saying.
I’ve also been invited to a ladies house for tea tomorrow, and to help with some missionary work, her directions include the line ‘Ask your driver to go out street 371 towards the Killing Fields.’
How could I refuse.