A celebration of creativity and artistic works
Arts and artistic works will be elevated to a new pedestal during the Bhutan Arts Festival, an event running as a part of the first annual Bhutan International Festival ( BhIF) from February 14- 23 this year.
In what can be truly described as a celebration of creativity and artistic works, Thimphu city’s galleries and open spaces will exhibit works of national and international painters, illustrators, sculptors and urban artists.
From a myriad of activities to mark the arts festival, the National Institute of Zorig Chusum will have an exhibition at Le Meridien Thimphu, depicting best works in traditional Bhutanese arts by the institute’s students during the festival.
Similarly, the Royal Academy of Performing Arts ( RAPA) would be collaborating with BhIF in exhibiting acts in classical musical dances and several other musical workshops throughout the festival.
BhIF International Artistic Director Justin Wickham said, “The festival is a celebration of the creative arts, and the idea that collaboration brings inspiration.”
“We have so many fun things to see and do. Art in The Park, at the Centenary Park - we want everyone to come and play! To have fun, to get involved, to paint something, or make something - to enjoy the music, dance, or just sit and soak up the atmosphere,” he added.
A major highlight of the arts festival, according to arts coordinator of BhIF Punam Teng, is the collaboration project and workshop depicting the pottery scene in Bhutan.
“We have found, through research, that there are only six potters in the country, however, only two of them know the traditional Bhutanese wood firing technique. This technique or art would die or disappear with them. So BhIF is trying to resurrect this art. We can’t afford to lose this tradition,” she said.
“We are currently planning on documenting their journey from Gangzur in Lhuentse to all the way in Thimphu and their participation throughout the festival,” she added.
Hauke Ziessler, International Arts Coordinator, said the Centenary Parks especially will host several interactive projects, where the young and old can get involved and bring out their artistic spirit.
“It’s an interaction between local and international artists. We are hoping that new boundaries can be formed or through this interaction new ideas can be invented that will enhance cross- border relations and boost both local and international arts,” he added.
Two international experts, one in pottery and the other in kiln building, will also have a kiln made and installed at the VAST Gallery in Thimphu as a joint collaboration. “The experts would teach new techniques as well as learn about our ideas on pot making,” Punam Teng said.
Voluntary Artists Studio ( VAST), a non- government and non- profit organization set up by professional independent artists, meanwhile, will also have an arts exhibition at the VAST Gallery in Thimphu, depicting the amazing diversity of painting and drawing of across the nation during the festival.
It will also declare open the National Arts Competition which will go up to November 11, 2015, an event to observe the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
“Besides traditional and contemporary, we will also have a display of fusion arts. It’s about artists wanting to do modern arts without losing traditional touches or roots. Artists from outside will also come and add Bhutanese elements to it,” the BhIF’s arts coordinator said.
“We will also have painters, sculptors, graffiti artists, a clown, and paper puppet maker. They will be working with their counterparts before the festival and display their works at the Centenary Park,” Punam Teng said.
Similarly, a live theatre and dance performance is scheduled at the Clock Tower Square during the arts festival by Happy Valley Theater – a group comprising dancers, singers and other cross- disciplinary visual artists who contribute to Bhutanese culture by keeping endangered theaterrelated arts alive.
And in collaboration with Greener Way, Punam Teng said they will engage some youth to make collages and sculpture from the collected trash. “A majority of the workshops and live arts projects related to the arts festival will be held at the Centenary Park,” she added.
The proceeds from the arts festival will, meanwhile, go on to fund arts, music, dance and theatre in Bhutan, besides also supporting these areas through infrastructure and human resource development.
“It’s all about building a strong ongoing platform that supports the arts, providing more outlets for creativity and performance of all kinds,” Justin Wickham said.
BhIF is a brand new collaborative arts festival in Bhutan. It’s a non- profit annual event – working to build a new vehicle for the ongoing funding of creative arts in Bhutan. Its mission is to provide a platform on which artistic ventures and artistic individuals can flourish.