Archive for August, 2005

Paintings @ Phare

Sunday, August 7th, 2005


While Lisa is typing up her ‘Masterclass’ proposal for next year, Srey Bandol invites me to take a look at his latest paintings. I have no idea what’s in store until I see the pile of paintings.

He’s done over fifty HUGE boards utilizing dirt and sand, truly multimedia. They are the story of his life as a child in the refugee camps. The text is written in sand, it’s very… tactile.


It’s taken him over a year to do this, in the evenings when he hasn’t been teaching at Phare.
There is an exhibition slated for later this year (October), more news when I hear of it!

And the boards will probably be accompanied by a publication.
As I goggle over the art and the effort involved, Bandol and his friends discuss the idea of taking the boards on the road when he goes to France. (The big problem: transportation and wear. What if the sand rubs off?)



Absolutely stunning. Lots of geometric imagery from ‘youn’, local good luck charms. And he’s mulling over doing a comic later of his experiences as well.


This is all you get to see for now, the full size art will blow you away! OK, this is a book I really want to read. Time to knuckle down and continue studying my written Khmer.



PHARE Comics Workshop 2005

Friday, August 5th, 2005

PHARE Comics Workshop 2005

Lisa Mandel comes to meet me at Sunrise Cafe, just a few blocks from the bus station. Her recent travel was fun, she wants to see more of Cambodia.

We have a coffee and long chat. Lisa is ready to take comics to the next level here, and I’m only too game to help. We brainstorm some draft plans for teaching next year, and some follow-up publishing as well. Then we head out to see how the students are doing.

It’s always fun to visit PHARE art school. Check out this funky house the teachers live in.


Tor Vutha is away in France this time, but Srey Bandol is helping out as always.


Lisa is here for her fourth year to teach comics to the students. She and Sylvain-Moizie originally came out in 2001 to teach, and that first session resulted in the book ‘Sept Mois Au Cambodge‘. After catching the ‘Cambodia bug’ they have returned regularly to help at Phare art school and have facilitated some impressive student work. Sylvain can’t make it this year but is publishing a new book of Cambodia comic memoirs in France.

Collectively the teachers have facilitated some impressive comics, and this time the theme is ‘ghost stories’.


For the first time in several years, they’ve actually been given some money to print! Lisa and Srey Bandol have prepared French and Khmer language versions of the comic, which will be assembled with the help of Libellus Association.

But their scanner isn’t working. I set up my laptop and scanner and get moving. The students are putting the last touches on their work. The scanner is a bit wobbly at first. Lisa needs some samples to take back to France, and we should have backups of the art.


Finally I realize the voltage is incorrect, so I connect using a power regulator and the scanner starts to work. The students watch me for a while but once they realize how tedious scanning really is most drift away.

I want to scan not only the student work from this year but also earlier comics. There is some amazing art at the school that needs archiving.

Some luscious full color pages here. It’s great to see the students flex their art muscles, they incorporate elements from their own lives that really make these works engaging and fun.


After a scanning stint, Lisa uses my laptop and writes a draft proposal for next year. My French is not perfect but I’ll use the writeup as homework for my next tutoring session.

I will take the finished comic art (text will be added later) down to Graphic Roots in Phnom Penh, and share art and ideas with our small world of publishers and funders. The scanner I’ll leave at Phare for a future visit and more scanning, it’s three years old and I don’t think it’ll survive another bus trip.

Tags: Comics Cambodia


What’s cooking at Phare Art School?

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

What’s cooking at Phare Art School?

A heap of hefty drawing effort going on at Phare Ponleu Selpak Art School in Battambang.


Just what are they up to? That’s why I’m taking the 7:00 am bus (and my laptop, and my scanner).


Battambang may be the second largest city in Cambodia, but it used to be the third largest. In the 1970s and 1980s the high population in the Thai border refugee camps ranked it number three.


Like most provincial capitals, Battambang is an island of urbanization amidst a sea of agriculture. We’ll see what fish can be caught. Many of the students at this school complete their drawing/music/circus classes and go directly back to farming.

Looks like some good comics are being produced; – our Lisa Mandel seems to have been busy. More details to follow.