(Yangon, Myanmar)—From September 16-19, the SEAD1 fellows gathered at the Pansuriya Art Space in Yangon, Myanmar for the final part of the SEAD program.
SEAΔ is a program co-created by Mekong Cultural Hub and British Council which creates space for cultural practitioners to reflect on how their work in arts and culture can contribute to sustainable development within South East Asia through their individual and collective leadership.
On Day 1, we looked back on what SEAD has done for us in the past year and what the future might hold for us. As an interdisciplinary art-science person, I really appreciate how much more exposed I am towards social and environmental issues, and also as a former journalist I shared my experience in communicating my work especially on the internet.
In the evening we prepared a Burmese dinner together, thanks to the fantastic team of Sa Ba Street Food Tours. I really love the tea leaf salad, and what a great introduction to delicious Burmese food.
On Day 2, we spent time getting to know some inclusive art spaces in Yangon, such as the Pansuriya Art Space where the fellowship was held, and The Able, a cafe and community space which employs hearing-impaired people. We also mapped out our networks and listed our skills, reviewing them as we slowly move forward from SEAD. It was a great say seeing how art can permeate different communities, and how far we ourselves have come.
In the evening some of us went to the beautiful awe-inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda, currently my favorite pagoda in all of Southeast Asia. I really liked the animal sculptures that all had some kind of symbolism.
On Day 3, the last day, we thought about our assets as artist and I realized I had more resources than I thought, and ideated on our insights, values, questions, and redefinitions that we had over the course of the nine-month fellowship. Critically (at least for me!) we worked out what our ladders of success (whether vertical or horizontal), and I diagrammed “The Art Dojang”—how I mapped out an arts career to taekwondo, because, well, what better metaphor do I have? We wrapped up the day sharing stories that connected us, and also filmed a message for the future SEAD2 fellows.
We wrapped up our time in Yangon at the wonderful Burma Bistro. It was quite a wild ride for the past nine months! This is the first fellowship I’ve had where I didn’t need to bring hot sauce. I’m really happy to have said yes to this opportunity to reconnect with my Southeast Asian half in a nurturing and safe environment and to think about the divergent ways I can manifest being an artist. I’m thinking about this experience in the context of a very productive year with very timely gigs, starting from The Unlearning Place at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt to China Residencies and then Southeast Asia. .
My deepest thanks to the Mekong Cultural Hub’s Frances Rudgard, Jennifer Lee, and Patty Chan; creative facilitators Nicola Turner and Sudebi Thakurata; and the British Council’s Katelijn Verstraete, Daniel Donnelly and Julia Davies for taking great care of us and helping me grow through this process, and my fellow SEAD friends for being my teachers as well as colleagues. Very excited to take all that I have learned in the next steps. Can’t wait to begin again in Sydney! .