Monday, April 26, 2010

Take a moment 2

Moments, the e-zine from the photographers known as the SEA/collective, has its second edition out now, here. The e-zine has a wide range of photographic subjects for your viewing pleasure and news that the group will be working with Dengue Fever on their upcoming visit to the Kingdom for a couple of shows in Phnom Penh. They will also have their own group exhibition at Chinese House in the city in July. Stay tuned for more on both projects.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

No faces

The former 4Faces gallery/bar in Siem Reap
The monthly art exhibitions at the 4Faces Gallery in Siem Reap have sadly come to an end, with photographer, part-owner and pal of mine, Eric de Vries relinquishing his interest in the gallery-cum-bar. Eric will continue to live and work in Siem Reap and is looking to relocate his gallery elsewhere in the future. In the meantime he has his SEA/collectiv work to push on with as well as his own projects.
The end of pretty pictures in and on the walls of 4Faces

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Take a moment

Those happy snappers at SEA/collectiv have just produced their first newsletter and their first 21-page e-zine, Moments. They will produce the e-zine every two months and will host examples of their members' work and other interesting stuff. The group of photographers are also planning a summer exhibition in Phnom Penh. Download the pdf-magazine here.

On the subject of photography, a book of images from Conor Wall and Hans Kemp, titled Carrying Cambodia, will get a book launch at the FCC in the capital on Sunday 7th March, and an exhibition of some of the images will take place at the FCC throughout the month of March. The book will look at carrying loads, human and inanimate, on motos, bicycles, trucks, remorks and the rest.
A new photo-book from Conor Wall and Hans Kemp

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Friday, February 12, 2010

On show

Some of the Hanuman team in Siem Reap January 2010
I work with them every day but they get precious little coverage on my blog. So to put that right, here's a recent photo from our visit to Siem Reap of some of the Hanuman team who work in Phnom Penh. It's not a complete team photo but its as good as it gets. Next to me is the only non-Hanuman employee and that's my friend Now, who is Eric de Vries photographic assistant at his 4Faces Gallery. By the way, Eric is already running photography tours around Angkor and hopes to expand those to include a Cambodia In A Nutshell and a 3-day Meet the Soldiers at Preah Vihear tour in the very near future. I reckon the latter could become a popular niche tour.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Even more de Vries

Every time I open the paper here I see Eric de Vries' name. This man's publicity-machine has been a runaway success in recent months. He's just finishing a month-long exhibition at Raffles in Siem Reap. And as a very good friend of mine, I'm more than happy to continue the trend. The following article on Eric appears in the FCC's latest newsletter The Wires. There will be a Retrospective book out early next year and next month a series of 30 pictures from Sambor Prei Kuk will go online.

Shooting from Heaven

"Retrospective Cambodia 00/09," on display at The Raffles in Siem Reap, is a showcase of Dutch photographer Eric de Vries most memorable Cambodian pictures.

Eric de Vries likes taking pictures in Cambodia. In fact, the native of Netherlands has spent the last nine years shooting photos throughout the kingdom. The acclaimed photographer is currently holding an exhibition at the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap. "Retrospective Cambodia 00/09" features de Vries' work from when he was either living in or visiting Cambodia. "I chose the best pictures I took from that period," de Vries says.

The exhibition includes photographs that de Vries shot of various landscapes around the country, the Angkor temples and the standoff last year between Cambodian and Thai troops near the Preah Vihear temple. When de Vries visited Preah Vihear, there were not any clashes between troops, as Cambodia and Thailand attempted to resolve the dispute diplomatically. "We - my assistants and I - had a great time up there with the troops," he recalls. "It was more like boredom and spending time (for the soldiers) to grow vegetables, and they were happy that someone was around with a camera."

A resident of Siem Reap, de Vries does fine art, commercial, documentary and news photography. He and a business partner run a café/gallery in Siem Reap where much of his work is on display. The relatively slow pace of Southeast Asia and his view that "Cambodia is a photographic heaven" are among the reasons he originally decided to come to the country. His first encounter with Cambodia occurred in 2000, when he traveled around Southeast Asia for three months. When de Vries initially visited Cambodia, he recalls how "there was something" about the country that made him want to come back for a much longer stay. "The people, the countryside, and the temples ... I was surprised by (Cambodia's) beauty and all the smiling Khmers," de Vries says. He made annual visits to Cambodia before deciding to take up residence in Phnom Penh in late 2007.

Since relocating to Cambodia, de Vries has had more than a few memorable moments as a photographer. Not surprisingly, the temples around Angkor Wat were among those memorable experiences. The Preah Vihear standoff and his documentary series, Hello Darling, about the working girl bar scene in Phnom Penh, are other fascinating encounters he's had as a photographer in Cambodia.

Born in the Dutch city of Arnhem, de Vries developed a fascination with photography when he received a camera as a birthday present when he was 14. There were more and better cameras for presents on subsequent birthdays, and he eventually decided that he wanted to become a professional photographer. While de Vries studied at a photography school in the Netherlands for two years, he says many years of practice on his own were what really allowed him to hone his skills. After living in Phnom Penh, de Vries eventually moved to Siem Reap and got married to a Cambodian woman before he and his wife had a daughter named C'moon. The 49-year-old has lots of photography work in Cambodia lined up for the coming years, and he says he plans to stay in the country for the foreseeable future. "So I have no plans of going back to the Netherlands," he says. Links: Eric de Vries FCC's The Wires

Next month, Eric will post 30 photos from his recent visit to Sambor Prei Kuk


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life changing

Now in her new exhibition uniform - it looks like its serious business
I had a phone call last night from my friend Now as she was supervising the latest exhibition of Eric de Vries' work at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap. Eric is her boss and it's Now's job over the next month to supervise his new exhibition at the hotel, entitled Retrospective Cambodia, featuring the pick of Eric's photography over the last nine years whilst on his travels around Cambodia. Much of the exhibition will feature in Eric's next book, which will be published early next year. She called me as it was just before 9pm and the mozzies were out in force, probably as a result of all that water that has been lying around Siem Reap over the past week. In fact the water levels at her village near Srah Srang have finally receded after rising to well over a metre during the worst of the flooding. Here's a picture of her in her new blue uniform, especially made for the exhibition, and a photo of her taken on one of her rare visits to the capital a few months ago. Her job as Eric's assistant has opened Now up to a completely new range of adventures and activities and she's loving every minute of it. As a souvenir seller at Angkor Wat, she would never have thought of walking into Raffles, but now she will be there every day for the next month, in her bright new uniform, talking to visitors at the exhibition as though it was an everyday occurrence in her life, which it now is. Eric has just sent me a photo of the exhibition, which I've also posted here.
The Eric de Vries exhibition at the Raffles Grand Hotel d''Angkor
Now in more relaxed mode in Phnom Penh recently

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Opening night

A rare and welcome visitor to Phnom Penh and one of my favourite people, Now, Eric's assistant
Here's a few photos from the opening night of Khmer Standoff, an exhibition of photographs taken at Preah Vihear temple near the border with Thailand, by Siem Reap-based Dutch photographer Eric de Vries. The exhibits were on show for the first time tonight and will hang in the Chinese House on Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh for the next 8 days. Get along and have a look at how de Vries captured the life of the Cambodian army soldiers on duty at Preah Vihear. Read an article on Eric and his exhibition in today's Phnom Penh Post here.
Eric (white) and Jim Mizerski get a lesson in Khmer tattoos from Sophoin
Sophoin points to her favourite de Vries photo, which she says shows the strength of the Cambodian soldiers defending Preah Vihear
Sophoin and yours truly at tonight's exhibition at the Chinese House
Two of the Preah Vihear soldiers pass the time. Now recognised the soldier getting his hair cut as coming from Siem Reap.

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eBay auction

The Vann Nath painting that's for sale on eBay
A Vann Nath painting called Mother & Child of the Genocide, which he painted around 1980, has gone on sale on eBay, in a private auction. All of his other works from that time hang on the walls of Tuol Sleng and are owned by the Cambodian government. There are 9 days of the auction left to go. Its acrylic on canvas and is 31 inches by 21 inches.

Photographs rather than paintings will be the focus of an exhibition opening tonight at the Chinese House on Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh. Eric de Vries' recent trip to meet the troops stationed on top of Preah Vihear mountain are the basis of the 20 pictures on show in the exhibition, which begins at 7pm tonight. It's called Khmer Standoff and will run for the next eight days before part of the exhibition will be moved to the Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap for another showing. His assistant and my good friend Now has just arrived in town on one of her very rare outings to the capital to be present at the opening night and a few of her own photos, taken on the same Preah Vihear trip, are on sale in Eric's 4Faces gallery shop in Siem Reap.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

An invitation to Chinese House

click to enlarge
Eric de Vries has an exhibition arising from his recent visit to Preah Vihear at Chinese House in Phnom Penh, starting this Tuesday (22nd September) and lasting for 8 days before he has another exhibition at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap, which'll last for a month. He's a busy boy. See more at his website.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Hot stuff

An early night is on the cards as I'm up at 5am tomorrow morning for a dawn visit to Ta Prohm. I must be mad. I've just has dinner at 4Faces with Now and Eric de Vries after spending all afternoon with them, firstly at Neak Pean and then at the closed temple of Ta Nei where Eric was called in to take some pro photos of Hanuman's safari tent, which we set up next to the temple itself. It was hot work as there was no wind around Angkor this afternoon. It went very well, though with Now and myself as people extras, I'm not sure how much damage I've done to the pictures. This morning I collected some guests from the airport and we made a bee-line for Preah Ko and Bakong at Roluos before an excellent lunch at FCC preceded our afternoon fun and frolics.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sells' sights

The latest exhibition at the 4Faces Gallery in Siem Reap will be 'Olympic - Sights from the Stadium' by Nick Sells which will give even greater exposure to the football and sports activities that take place at Phnom Penh's Olympic arena. Nick's photos appear in the Phnom Penh Post a few days each week, accompanying the football reports (that I often write) and other sports. His exhibition, at the gallery-shop run by another pal of mine Eric de Vries, will begin tomorrow and last until 25 September. Get along to the exhibition if you are in Siem Reap over the next month, as Nick captures some great sporting action at the stadium and deserves your patronage.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Snapper supreme

Now in her new role
Eric sent through this photo of my great friend Now in her new role as his assistant, and she looks at home I must say. Eric is a professional photographer with a gallery and bar in Siem Reap (4FACES) and he was looking for an assistant to help out at the gallery shop, with admin and on photoshoots, especially as he's just tied-up with the Raffles Grand Hotel in the town. I suggested Now even though her experience has been limited to selling souvenirs at the Angkor temples and helping her family with rice-planting. It was a long shot but I knew that Now was keen to find a different path and gain more life experience, and so far it seems to be working like a dream. She rang me a couple of days ago whilst she was working out how her lap-top works and now this photo of her with the camera, looking to get the ever-popular monk shot. She's due to go to Preah Vihear temple later this week by motorbike for a photoshoot - she says she will be safe as she knows some of the policemen there from Angkor - and every day brings her new experiences, exactly what she had dreamed of. Its hard to describe how proud I am of her. I well up just thinking of it.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Absolutely chuffed

I currently have a smile as wide as the Mekong River. My pal Eric at 4FACES Gallery in Siem Reap was looking for an assistant to help him at the gallery shop and with his admin, so I suggested another very good friend of mine, Now (pictured), who has up til now been selling souvenirs at Angkor Wat and Banteay Kdei, or more recently planting rice in her family's fields. Well this morning, she went to meet Eric for an interview, they got on like a house on fire, and she starts work on Monday as his assistant. Which is simply wonderful news. This will be a whole new experience for her though of course she already has good people skills having talked thousands of tourists into buying her souvenirs over the years. Her spoken English is pretty good, having taught herself by reading the books she sells and using her language skills to clinch a deal either in English, Japanese, French and so on, like many of the souvenir-sellers at the temples. She's on a month's steep learning curve as Eric has agreed a tie-in with the Raffles Grand Hotel and has to plan for an exhibition coming up at the hotel in October called Retrospective (2000-2009). As I type this my smile is getting even wider. I am so chuffed for my two friends.
Link: 4FACES

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Candids from java

Okay so this one is posed, as Jim captures Eric de Vries and myself in front of his photo collage
Jim Mizerski was assigned to take photos at the recent Java Arts Cafe Asia Motion photographic exhibition on 3 July and caught me in his lense a few times. As always Jim has kindly let me have the snaps of me and my pals, which I've posted here as a reminder of a great evening.
An unguarded moment as I laugh at one of Eric's typically dirty jokes
The main man, David Chandler is speaking, so I am listening, alongwith John Weeks (left)
This time David and myself are listening to John, probably talking about comics

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Not Gone

Eric de Vries and yours truly in front of his Java exhibit, Not Gone
Last night's photo exhibition at Java Cafe was to highlight the work of the stable of professionals working under the Asia Motion banner, though of course they all work individually as well. The exhibits included images from Stéphane Janin, the former owner of the Popil Galery in the city who is now living and working in the States, and others like Nicolas Axelrod and Peter Harris. And of course my pal Eric de Vries. In fact I see more of Eric now than I ever saw of him when he was living in Phnom Penh - he seems to find an excuse to return to the city nearly every week! And I'm still hoping to be able to get up to Siem Reap before his Hello Darling exhibition finishes towards the end of this month. He tells me he's been thrilled with the feedback from visitors to his 4FACES bar and gallery in Siem Reap after the exhibition opened last week. For the Java show, he chose a selection of pictures under the title Not Gone from the War and Landmine Museums in Siem Reap - demonstrating that whilst the war has ended, its aftermath has not - and part of the proceeds from sales will go to the War Museum. Eric is working on two long term projects called Still Life in Khmer Style, that covers landscapes, temple scenes and buddha statues, and Hello Darling, which is about girlybars around town. Since he settled down in Cambodia over a year ago, he's also produced several series, most of them in black and white: Breaking The Clouds (over Ayuthaya), Lotus of Puok, Going Down Slow (by Train) and a series about the Khmer Islam, Monuments of Joy and Some Praying Time. Link: ericdevries.
A visitor to Java inspects Eric's work up close

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An unguarded moment

Hello Darling... at 4FACES gallery in Siem Reap. photo courtesy of ericdevries
I don't think I will be able to get up to Siem Reap in the next few weeks to see the latest photographic exhibition at 4FACES by the gallery owner himself, Eric de Vries. Damn. We've been pals for a while now and I'm pleased that things are are on the up with the opening of his cafe-bar-gallery, a block away from Pub Street in Siem Reap, whilst at the same time taking on the responsibilities of fatherhood with the arrival of C'moon. He's also showing part 1 of his Hello Darling... exhibition throughout July that focuses on the girlybars in and around 104 and 136 streets in Phnom Penh. One of the exhibition photos was taken in an unguarded moment during a visit to one of the bars we made together purely in the interests of researching the background to the story you understand. As it's the first time I've been in an exhibition to my knowledge, I will take a small crumb of comfort from that. You can read more about the forgettable incident here. There's also talk of Eric having an exhibition at Raffles' Grand Hotel d'Angkor in October, so even more good news. Link: 4FACES.
I drop my guard for a few seconds and look what happens. photo courtesy of ericdevries

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Hello Darling..

The latest exhibition at 4FACES Gallery in Siem Reap will be from the owner himself, Eric de Vries and part 1 of his Hello Darling.. on-going series of nightlife amongst the girlybars of Phnom Penh's 104 and 136 Streets. He has an excuse - Eric used to live on 136 Street before he moved to Siem Reap so he couldn't avoid the contact. Link; 4FACES.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kumpheak to the rescue

Defense Ministry's 2-goal hero Um Kumpheak, who equalised well into injury time
The Ministry of National Defense, with Samreth Seiha restored in goal, drew 2-2 with 2nd placed Kirivong Sok Sen Chey
My pal Eric from Siem Reap made a surprise appearance at today's Cambodian Premier League football at Olympic, his first visit to the Stadium and I think he was impressed. Not with the football, but with the Stadium. As for the football, kicking off at 2pm is not good for anyone, let alone 22 players hoping to show off their skills. It was even too hot for the crowd to turn up. Anyway, the two teams did their best in the sweltering conditions and fought out a creditable 2-2 draw. 2nd placed Kirivong were leading well into injury time when Defense Ministry's Um Kumpheak popped up to get on the end of a long hopeful ball and lob the keeper to tie the game. It was Kumpheak who'd opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 10 minutes, only for the African contingent of Eromoselle and Chukwumeka to put the team from Takeo in front. It was good to see Samreth Seiha back between the sticks for the Defense team though striker Khim Borey is still absent with an ankle injury. Also nice to see my favourite peanut seller in figure-hugging black. Right...back to the football.
Sprinting up the stairs of the main stand, my favourite peanut seller in full flow
Chan Chhaya scored a well-taken opener for Phnom Penh Crown
Heng Sokly gave bottom club Phuchung Neak some hope with an equaliser
In the second game of the afternoon, Phnom Penh Crown returned to league action after their unsuccessful sojourn to Kyrgystan in the AFC Presidents Cup (where they lost 2 and won 1) and without Lappe Lappe up front they looked a shadow of the team that won the Hun Sen Cup at the start of the season. Their slick passing was still there but their finishing was woeful and Ayoyinka is no Lappe Lappe. They led through a well-executed goal from Chan Chhaya but were pegged back with the last kick of the 1st half by Phuchung Neak's Heng Sokly and his intelligent lob. Crown improved with the introduction of Chan Rithy and Keo Sokngorn and it was the 17 year old wonderkid who scored the winner from the penalty spot, just a few minutes after arriving on the pitch. Phuchung battled away bravely til the end but couldn't rescue the points and stay rooted to the foot of the table with 1 point from 8 games. Tomorrow the leaders Preah Khan take on 3rd placed Build Bright.
Thul Sothearith leads out Phnom Penh Crown on their return to league action
The starting line-up for Phnom Penh Crown, who made heavy weather of beating Phuchung Neak 2-1
A birds-eye view of the TVK commentary team at today's game
Eric made me take this photo of the clouds soaring above the Stadium's floodlights

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

4Faces opens for business

Inside 4Faces, with the exhibition wall on the right
Although I wasn't able to be there, I hear the opening of the 4Faces gallery in Siem Reap on Friday went very well for my pal Eric de Vries and his wife Lida, and the gallery's opening weekend continued yesterday and today, with photographer Tim Page being the first exhibition on display and the man himself being in residence all weekend. I hope to get up to see the gallery as soon as possible and wish Eric, Lida and everyone involved the best of luck with their exciting new venture. Make sure you have a look when you are in Siem Reap.
The outside of 4Faces with customers enjoying a drink on Friday evening

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4Faces - opening this Friday

This Friday, 24th April, the brand new 4Faces Gallery-Cafe-bar-shop will open in Siem Reap. Make sure you pay a visit and speak to my pal Eric de Vries - he's a genial host and a top photographer.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Great news from Reap

A Svay Ken still-life, Basket, from 2007
News just in from Siem Reap, my pal Eric de Vries and his wife Lida are the proud parents of a tiny female tot by the name of C'moon, who arrived this afternoon after a long labour. My heartiest congratulations to all and good to hear mum and baby are doing just fine. The new arrival and the opening of his new 4Faces gallery-cafe on the 24th of this month will keep the new dad busy for sure, especially as everything will stop for Khmer New Year next week. Eric has announced his list of monthly exhibitions until the end of the year, kicking off with the legendary Tim Page, a Sean Flynn solo, posthumously of course, in November and another friend of mine, Jerry Redfern in December. If you are in Siem Reap, please pop in and visit Eric's new venture, close to the old market.
Tonight was the second showing of Out of the Poison Tree at Meta House, which attracted a small but interested audience. The film generated quite a few questions, especially about the KR Tribunal but also a suggestion that the documentary should be made more widely available to Cambodians to watch. I couldn't agree more. Whilst I was at Meta I noticed a couple of paintings on the walls, on the same floor as the Tim Page exhibition, that I hadn't noticed before. Shame on me. They included offerings from the late Svay Ken and from traditional master painter Chhim Sothy.
A departure from the norm for Chhim Sothy, called Anarchic Construction from 2007

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

4Faces opening soon

A pal of mine, Eric de Vries will open his new gallery-cafe in Siem Reap very soon - 24 April to be precise - and the following story appeared in the Phnom Penh Post during my absence last week. In addition, Eric has launched the 4Faces website at

New Cafe Gallery

Siem Reap photographer Eric De Vries spent most of the weekend in Phnom Penh hunkered down with award-winning war snapper Tim Page to select a range of photographs to display at the opening of De Vries' new cafe gallery. Page has an ongoing exhibition of his iconic Vietnam War photos at Phnom Penh's Meta House and will now launch "almost the same" exhibition in Siem Reap. The Tim Page exhibition will debut in Siem Reap at the launch of De Vries's new cafe gallery, 4Faces, scheduled to open at the end of April in the street running parallel to Pub Street, near the Maharajah Indian restaurant.

De Vries, a member of the Asia Motion Photo Agency, said 4Faces will schedule new exhibitions every month on a specially-created 13-metre "black wall". Hopefully Dutch-born De Vries will not succumb to modesty by refraining from exhibiting his own works, as his arty black-and-white pieces have gained an international reputation, and an exhibition of his photos from his recent book, This Must Be the Place: Images of Cambodia, toured throughout the Netherlands. In June 2006, FCC Angkor exhibited his funky "Blues for Buddha" series, which documented the varied Buddha sculptures found in Cambodia and Thailand, including unusual Buddhas sporting Fu Manchu goatees and what looked like a Jimi Hendrix-style afro haircut.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Bleak and powerful

3 drug addicts from Vancouver's Eastside in Heroines
I invested some time this evening to watch a couple of documentaries that had absolutely nothing to do with Cambodia. Meta House was the venue for two films by a man with 30 years in tv, film, music and theatre, Stan Feingold. An Emmy-winning director, Stan is in Cambodia for a reason, but more of that later. Tonight, he introduced two of his films, Prisoners of Age, an immersion into the world of geriatric convicts whilst following the photographic work of Ron Levine, followed by Heroines. The latter is a story of drug addiction and prostitution in Vancouver's Eastside, again mirroring the work of another photographer, Lincoln Clarkes. All pretty bleak stuff but powerful portraits nonetheless and which have been seen all over Canadian television and are still used for educational purposes. When Stan is not back in Canada producing reality-tv shows, he's currently shooting footage for a landmine awareness film focusing on the controversial Miss Landmine Cambodia project, which is underway. He was kind enough to let me know he's a regular reader of this blog, which introduced him to Karen Coates, the author of the excellent book Cambodia Now and her photographer husband Jerry Redfearn, both of whom then arrived to watch the films at Meta House. Small world. Karen and Jerry are now living back in the States but also split their time here in Asia. It was good to see them both again. Talking of photographers, I hope to have some news soon of a brand new photographic gallery and exhibition space opening up in Siem Reap, courtesy of my good friend Eric de Vries. Between you and me, he's managed to persuade veteran photographer Tim Page to exhibit some of his iconic photographs for the first month of the gallery's existence. Quite a coup.

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