Expat photographers explore the lives of Viet Nam’s women

Visitors to the Sofitel Plaza Ha Noi recently have the opportunity to understand more about the daily life of Vietnamese women, as seen through the eyes of expatriates living and working in Ha Noi, in an art and photography exhibit that opened last Friday.

Entitled Women, the exhibition is a showcase of work by members of the Ha Noi International Women’s Club (HIWC) and their families.

Included in the exhibition are 95 photographs and paintings depicting aspects of the lives of Vietnamese women, which are often very difficult but usually full of optimism and laughter.

"What makes this exhibit special is that the artwork and photographs were created by our members," says Barbara Ali, HIWC president. "The subjects allowed the artists to capture the unique qualities of a woman’s life in Viet Nam. The exhibit also enables newcomers to Ha Noi to capture their first experiences."

Highlights of the exhibit include Market Day Laughter by Pamela Gordon, featuring old women sitting in front of a wide range of baskets, selling their goods in the market. Another work entitled Returning From Bac Ha Market by Nicole Maillard features a young ethnic minority woman returning home, exhausted, followed by a donkey piled with goods.

One artist, Nicky Gielen, displayed several lacquer paintings including Teatime featuring women having tea after working several hours. "Vietnamese women are wonderful, they are very strong mentally despite their hard life," Gielen says.

"I am moved by the hard life of Vietnamese women, in particular women in remote areas," says Des Cleary, an Australian whose wife is a member of the club. He displayed three photos of a Mong woman spreading out her clothes to dry.

Many of the pieces will be reprinted in the 2007 HIWC Agenda. All proceeds of the agenda sales will go to the HIWC’s Community Aid Projects.

Set up in 1986, the HIWC has become a dynamic fund-raising and community organisation that has donated a vast amount of money throughout the years to disadvantaged and poor people in Viet Nam, including the physically disabled, people living with HIV/AIDS and children suffering from cleft palates and eye diseases.

"It helps us to feel more connected with our host country and offers many opportunities for members to learn more about Vietnamese culture and institutions," Ali says.

The exhibition runs until May 12 at the Sofitel Plaza Ha Noi, 1 Thanh Nien Road.


Viet Nam News