Saturday, 15 June 2013

Look out Saigon; I'm back!

Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon

This week has been one of those landmark weeks when a number of projects have 'matured' , come together, taken flight or been completed

My little book about Hoi An has been taking all of my time and energy for the past two months but we are nearly there now. The ISBN number arrived from London a week ago, the government license from Hanoi arrived yesterday so my wonderful Bulgarian designer, Ani, and I are filled with anticipation. She will see the first proof on Tuesday and will hopefully decide it is good enough to go ahead and print the first 500.

Last week we held Saigon's first Art Market at the VinGallery in District 2. We had twelve artists and designer-makers and over a hundred people came to look, buy and watch demonstrations and enjoy childrens' activities. I designed a banner to head up all our communications and Shyevin, the gallery owner, blew it up to make a 2mtr wide banner for the entrance on opening day. She even managed to find some bunting to match the bunting in my drawing! It looked fabulous!

The event was very good for the gallery that is working hard to raise its profile and very good for yours truly who sold lots of mini watercolours and some limited edition prints of work I did in Hoi An.

In Vietnam it is 'end of year' for schools and for thousands of expats form around the globe. This is the time when families start packing to go on to their next international posting or simply to go back home to visit families.   As a result,I have very few students for my drawing and watercolour classes so I decided to organise some informal drawing sessions for anyone who might be in town and fancies and couple of hour's sketching. 

For our first event, we met at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf cafe in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. This is guaranteed to be a busy spot so it is good for people watching, traffic spotting and the 'basilica' makes for good architecture practice. 

I have drawn here before.  In fact, apart from a potted Frangipani in Jo's home, the sketch of the cathedral was my first in Vietnam. here it is - drawn 17/09/2012

Back then I spent many days wandering the streets of different districts of Saigon. With pencil and pen in hand I was searching the city to find what makes it tick, what people do and discover some of its history. My trip to Hoi An in December and the prospect of publishing a book of work about that amazing little town switched my focus and  I feel I have been neglecting the, so called  'Eclectic, Erotic, Exotic Saigon' 

But............. I am back! 

A few weeks ago I went out with some friends who operate street food tours of Saigon 
on their tour of some of the streets in District 3. This put me straight back in the mood for my Saigon Adventure II: Street Life; The Sequel. Saigon Street Eats is run by an Australian girl and her Vietnamese husband so they mix the inimitable Australian sense of fun and 'getting stuck in' with the Vietnamese  obsession for great food and Vu's local knowledge. It is an unbeatable way to get under the skin of this city.

After that tour I rushed home to do these little paintings. This is the beginnings of my next little book in which will be all about my first 12 months in Ho Chi Minh City. I need a title ............ err..... 'A year in Saigon'............. 'Cycling over lychees' .............. 'A wide beam to Ho Chi Minh City' ........... 'Weeds in my soup' ..... ideas on a postcard please.