arts • 20 Jul, 2017
Six Creative Classes To Try In Saigon
Channel Your Inspiration At These Art Workshops
Don’t believe what you’ve heard, creativity is for everyone. You just need an outlet and maybe some experts on hand to channel your vision. So in case you have some time to take in an art class or two we’ve rounded up our favorites just for you.
Ceramics: Hey Camel Ceramics
In a serene space just off Tran Quoc Toan in District 1, one of the owners and head artist Leandro Mercelino is leading a small group of creatives through the final steps of finishing their ceramic pieces in Hey Camel’s studio — the name has a special relevance for the co-owner to his home in the Canary Islands where camels would carry pottery around town. And Leandro also sells his Japan-inspired work too in the adjoining store.
If you’re looking for: Small group creativity making things you can actually use.
Because you want to be: We’re tempted for Demi Moore, but let’s go for one of Vietnam’s most celebrated conceptual artists who works in ceramics, Bui Cong Khanh.
Why we want you to go: It’s perfect for beginners because when you mess up working in clay, it looks like you meant to do it.
Don’t forget to: Gift your artwork to a loved one for those special homemade but from the heart feels (or buy a ready-made piece in the store and pretend it's yours).
Cost: Around 450,000VND per workshop (all materials included).
When: Weekends from 10.00am to 12.30pm.
Where: 116/19A Tran Quoc Toan Street, District 3, HCMC.
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Dance: The Movement Kitchen
The Movement Kitchen is a twice-a-month event focussed on free-expression in supportive surrounds. Now they’ve launched a summer programme called ‘Process’ where ‘an exciting array of movement artists ... will lead dancers to find their choreographic voices and reach their performance potential.’ Teachers will include Ilse Zoerb, a Philadelphia performer, writer and producer who trained with with Headlong Dance Theatre and the Pig Iron School of Advanced Performance Training and founder Emily Navarra, who was one of the people behind the Melting Pot arts and music events (and lately has even been popping up behind the decks as Honey Fingers for nights like The Loop at Rogue Saigon).
If you’re looking for: A chance to explore your soul through movement.
Because you want to be: Like the avant-garde dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
Why we want you to go: Because this special series will only run until 27th August.
Don’t forget to: Choose a flexible series of up to seven summer workshops and show off your free Movement Kitchen tote bag, journal and course book called ‘A Life In The Arts’.
Cost: Single workshops are 350,000 VND with 8 workshops for 2,500,000 VND.
When: Sunday mornings from 10am-12pm on July 23rd and 29th, and August 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th and back with the bi-monthly Movement Kitchens after that.
Where: La Danza, Saigon, 169/2A Vo Thi Sau, District 3, HCMC.
Calligraphy: Tri Shiba
The world’s been obsessed with type for a long time. In Japanese they call it shodo which roughly translates as the way of the line. And in Europe, calligraphy was a monastic practice to record religious texts in a script developed around 600 BC. Artist Tri Shiba has been sharing international variations of this precise artform based on harmony and consistency to enthusiastic students in Saigon. The workshops, like their upcoming event on classical Roman uncial calligraphy, provide a how-to on lettering with ink brush and pen.
If you’re looking for: Classical classes that mix precision with beauty.
Because you want to: Improve your handwriting!
Why we want you to go: Everyone’s handwriting is getting so bad we can hardly read it.
Don’t forget to: Write a few beautiful-penned letters to loved ones.
Cost: 850,000 VND for a three-hour workshop.
When: Check Facebook for their latest events, but upcoming is Uncial script workshop (21st July) and a Copperplate script workshop (19th August).
Where: Locations vary so check but usually LUP Coffee & Tea, 97L1 Nguyen Duy Duong, Ward 9, District 5, HCMC.
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Painting and Drawing: Grado Art Studio
Owner and artist Ignacio de Grado runs this District 2 studio. His art center welcomes the uninitiated (even the owner is self-taught although he has an MA in Arts Management), with courses in oils, acrylics and watercolour, and drawing, portfolio preparation, and one-off paint nights. There’s also a summer art camp for kids from 9am to 12pm until August 25th.
If you’re looking to: Refine your fine arts.
Because you want to be: One day exhibiting in Saigon’s second-generation art spaces like The Factory Contemporary Arts Center.
Why we want you to go: Because we’d hang the studio’s Pop Art-inspired pieces on our wall.
Don’t forget to: Push the studio to help you develop a professional portfolio.
Cost: Drop-in lessons between 590-675,000VND with discounts for pre-booking 5 and 10 lesson cards. Paint nights at 895,000VND (with wine and materials) or 625,000VND for the same experience without the alcohol.
When: Drop-in lessons Tues and Thurs 9-12pm and Weds 6.30-8.30 with other classes by arrangement.
Where: 170 Nguyen Van Huong, River Garden Building, Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC.
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Photography: The Spectacle Saigon and NoirFoto
The Spectacle Saigon are an artist collective that includes filmmakers, painters, writers, and organisers who’ve combined with NoirFoto to put on courses for creatives interested in photography. With over a trillion digital photos expected to be snapped this year, a black and white film photography course might be just the thing to help slow you down, especially this one taught by Brett Hamilton, an American fine-art photographer and filmmaker alongside Pham Tuan Ngoc who is Noirfoto’s darkroom manager and a professional portrait photographer.
If you’re looking for: Multidisciplinary collaborative partners or you want to embrace the global slow-photography movement.
Because you want to be: The next Dzung Yoko (or even an AnyArena staffer).
Why we want you to go: Because we believe in photography as an art form, and the slow-photo movement has got our back.
Don’t forget to: Leave your iPhone at home.
Cost: Three half-day, two weekend workshop includes film, chemicals and paper, and two half days in the darkroom for 1.990.000 VND. Or book sessions individually for 1,000,000VND.
When: The last course finished in early July, but we’re hoping they’ll open another soon.
Where: Various locations.
Flower Arranging: Sogetsu Saigon
Ikebana dates back to the 7th century, when samurais would serve up ornate offerings at altars. Sogetsu Ikebana is a modern school of the Japanese flower arranging art known for its expressive approach and contemporary reference points like French artist Marcel Duchamp. This school’s utilitarian philosophy says anyone can be a flower arranger, with almost any materials, by employing some basic rules and typically Japanese attention to detail. Just ask owner and expert Auralynn Nguyen or teacher Nixon Tran.
If you’re looking for: A reconnection with nature.
Because you want to be: A calming presence like film director’s son and founder Sōfu Teshigahara.
Why we want you to go: Saigon’s intense so we need you to take a breather sometimes.
Don’t forget to: Prime your partner with a short explanation of zen aesthetics before passing on your creation as a present.
Cost: 400,000VND per two-hour class including materials.
When: By arrangement on selected dates in July (28-30th) and August (4-6th, 11-13th, 18-20th and 26th) and throughout the year.
Where: At their Tan Dinh studio but with one-on-one and private workshops available in Districts 1, 2, 3, 7 and Binh Thanh, HCMC.
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Words by David Kaye