Sunday, October 26, 2008

Exhibition opening and mum arriving

Saturday was the cumulation of 13 weeks work for me and the children of CCH. Saturday at 7pm was the opening of the SMILE exhibition. With the articule in the Phnom Penh Post and 300 posters up aroung town I hoped lots of people would come...
Getting the pictures out to hang them
I was up at dawn (again) although up and dressed and travelling to Stung Mean Chey to see the children by 6.30am. It had rained in the night again and the air had a very rare fresh feeling! By 11am I had done all the printing for the information tags etc and was at Gasolina manically measuring out the areas with Brian. We worked non stop until 3.30pm hanging, sticking and also covering the pictures with paper so they could be unveiled to the children when they arrived.

Pictures ready to unveil at 7pm

At 3.30pm I jumped on a moto taxi, did my best areoplane impression, to make sure he understood my request to know where I was off to. My mum was arriving from the UK escorted by my husband Fred. 2 things made me smile on the way to the airport (although I was in a good mood already!). First, in front of the military airbase, right by the sign, bobbing in the wind was a massive Micky Mouse shaped red balloon....a great political statement photo could have been taken but I was in a rush. Moments later a small corgi was seen bouncing like a lamb through a patch of lush green grass! With all the billboards by the airport telling you how wonderful a destination Cambodia is the whole thing was totally surreal.
On arrival at the airport the board told me the plane was 1 hour and 35 minutes late. Thereby causing a disaster wave through my tight schedule for the opening of the exhibition. After making plans for Brian to collect the students from my house and resigning myself for a long borning wait I went to the information desk to ask if the flight had left Bangkok yet. I laughed at myself for doing this. I was expecting a shrug if that from the man behind the desk. However, he simply informed me that the plane had in fact landed... confused I went back to the board and sure enough the plane was in - Now that is service!!

After an emotional reunion Mum was introduced to Cambodia via tuk tuk. It took just over an hour to get through the conjested streets. We arrived home at 5.30pm and the children were early! They were there waiting for us when we arrived. At that moment the Royal Palace decided to call me an to say I was a little stressed would be a small understatement. I was covered in dust and grime, had 10 kids in my house, the King's personal secretary on the phone and my mum trying to lug her suitcase up 3 flights of stairs!!!
All became sorted quicky and after a quick shower we were ready to leave the house at 5.45pm. 16 year old ravuth drove us to the exhibition bar - Gasolina - We arrived and I think it was at this point when the kids saw the place they realised that this was quite a big event. Here my idea of covering the pictures with paper proved to be utterly brilliant(!!) We went around the 28 pictures calling out the kids names and I took off the paper to huge applause and excited cheers of the children. It was very moving. 2 Americans had come early as well and so they witnessed the unveiling and provided our first outsiders views on the pictures. All very positive.

Some of the pictures
With the pictures on display sparkling and a beer in my hand all we needed were guests! I was casually waiting for the British Ambassador to arrive when a reporter showed up. Thinking he was from the Phnom Penh Post (see previous post on their previous article) I went to say hi and introduce myself - It turned out he was from Apsara TV. The TV station owned by the Prime Minister's wife. They were here to do a story on the exhibition! I was then interviewed for my first Cambodian national TV appearance. I am yet to see the results but I think the impression I was trying to create (arty yet professional!) came across!

My TV appearance

They then interviewed 2 children and I asked if they needed any more help - "yes - we need a guest"... Well I had the perfect guest in mind - in the form of my mum. Off she went to make her impression on Cambodia within an hour of landing on the tarmac! The Kemp family do not do things by halves!

The students showing guests around

Once this was over I resumed "ambassador watch" until I spotted His Excellency Mr Andrew Mace. Andrew is in Cambodia as his first Ambassadorship (?) and has only been in the country 6 weeks. I spent some time talking to him before having to entertain other guests and my impression was that he was a genuninely nice person with an interest in the country. I would commend the FCO for their appointment!
The Ambassador, me, Sambo and Thavery - 2 of my students talk about the pictures

We like ambassadors that drink beer with our mums
By this time the Phnom Penh Post had arrived and took some candid shots of the visitors and some also of me - so I am in the paper again (hard life) today with 2 pictures in the Lifestyle section.

It was a busy evening showing people around, taking care of then children and trying to make some sales too! Calendars, coffee table books and prints are now on sale!! Many thanks to everyone who came - and if you are in the country and haven't been yet, the exhibition runs until 28 November. I am very proud of the children's achivements. The pictures look completely professional - and to think they are only 12ys - 16yrs old...and had not taken pictures before. If you are not in the country check out and why not purchase an unframed print! - Posted direct to your door!

With people leaving at about 10pm it was time to have dinner and a large glass of wine before heading home to get ready for the KING(!) on Sunday.......Phew!!... More on the amazing audience with the King later.
Towards the end of the evening...


Catherine said...

Congratulations Michelle - and you've been on TV too, wow!

Ka Ea Lim said...

Hi Michelle,

I hope you remember me. I tried to email you but it keeps bouncing back.

Please email me once you have the time to settle down from all the excitement!


Ka Ea