© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
We had some friendly frogs in the shower and in the kitchen who seemed as hot as we were with a fairly heavy and constant 36 C to 39 C sticky weather surrounding us for the two months we planted ourselves in Vietnam. As you can imagine Huda beer, dragon fruit and salted lotus seeds were consumed aplenty. We saw a flying snake in the garden and visited a defunct water theme park complete with large dragon shaped building on the outskirts of Hue, we met many fine people but mostly I worked away on my sewn drawings like an underpaid person in a sweat-shop environment and sadly I played the roles of both worker and evil boss. It seems art is not meant to be easy.
A short trip to Hoi An was made which is one cute World Heritage site. It has a very long history of being a popular trading port for over 400 years and now it's the place to buy silk garments and learn a few tricks from the excellent Vietnamese kitchen. Silly me forgot to buy a new shirt, a new suit, new shoes and a nice bag but I did buy a new leather belt and even I with not much of a sweet tooth devoured ice-cream to cool down. Not any ice-cream but a delicious cinnamon flavour which I highly recommend.
The general mood or mantra across Vietnam seems to be - do not stop, just keep going, work hard and fast and do not stop. Business booms across this communist land but the mess that 100 million people make on their 200 million motorbikes in this small area is rather daunting. Heavy pollution in the ocean stopped us from eating seafood while we were there which is frightening for everyone especially the poor who mostly sustain themselves with fish. We liked Vietnam for many reasons but I fear what it will look like in the near future. Hard pro-environmental laws needs to be understood, implemented, respected and enforced right now as they do across the entire planet.
Our time ran out at the excellent NSAF residency so I spent the last days observing the huge amount of ornamental scholar stones and the Chinese style garden landscapes in pots to be found adorning gardens all over Hue. Shrunken, cultivated, twisted and tortured vegetation joined with unusual rocks does display a love for nature but also a desire to control it and meld it to fit human desires. I hope that positive love outweighs the controlling urge which can escalate into a negative lust for power.
My drawings were complete and Carolina ran out of old style film so we headed north. We must thank the Le Brothers big time for their home and warmth and we shall do that in Buenos Aires where we see them next. A one night only screening event was held at EXPERIMENTA in Central Hong Kong. I presented a selection of short films from an ongoing series of Simulated Vehicles. These digital vignettes are travelogues based on true stories and set in various locations around the world. Each film is driven equally by both visual and text elements. All are short rides in various forms of transport through tundra, desert, cities and across the sea. I present the essence of travel experiences fuelled with a concern for our enigmatic human condition. The feedback was invigorating as was the buzzy hectic neon city of Hong Kong and its many inhabitants.