Chamnor Arts Festival returning to Battambang

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A street performer at the Chamnor Arts Festival in Battambang back in 2019. SUPPLIED

A riot of dance, circus and musical performances, along with fashion shows and art exhibitions, will return to Battambang this November, as the Chamnor Arts Festival returns from a Covid-19 induced break. The event is aimed at promoting the Kingdom’s creatives, said Poy Chhunly, the organiser of the event.

“We are carrying out a social media campaign to remind fans of the previous event what a success it was. We are also gathering as large a group of artists as possible to showcase their work. We are looking to expand the territory we draw artists from, too – in the past we only saw participation from Battambang-based artists, but now we are speaking with some in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh,” Chhunly told The Post.

He said that the festival was organised as a marketing strategy for artists. The attention of the national and international art community would be focused on the participants from November 25 to 27, the three days of the festival.

“I have suggested that artists who are ready to display and sell their works should offer their work at reduced prices throughout the festival. This is one more way in which we will attract the interest of potential buyers,” he added.

In the future, the organisers of the festival hope that they will be able to grow the event, not just within Cambodia, but beyond borders.

“Our dream for the future is to gather not just artists from Cambodia – we want to attract international emerging artists from as many countries as possible. Currently, we are in discussions with the Japan Foundation, who are interested in participating in the festival,” he added.

The Chamnor Arts Festival is expected to bring together about 50 artists on Battambang’s Street 2.5 this year.

“There will be more than 50 artists’ works on display, and 30 or 40 acts will be performing. 20 models are expected to participate,” said Chhunly.

A Battambang-based fashion design group named Tepsyort Art Fashion is planning to showcase their latest creations with a runway show during the festival.

The collective’s leader, Hin Keomyean, spoke to The Post about their newest collection, “Himalaya Wildlife Fashion”.

“We have prepared 10 costumes inspired from the Himalayan wildlife of the Buddhist era. Models will display these eye catching outfits, and hopefully provoke some deeper thoughts. In the time of the Buddha, there was not much hunting, so there was a lot more wildlife, which can be seen in paintings of the Buddha”, he said.

Keomyean, 29, already has wealth of experience. He has created pageant costumes for two national events, winning Top Designer at Miss Cambodia 2020 and Best National Costume at Miss Queen Cambodia 2022.

Channy Chhoeun was born in Ou Dambang 2 commune’s Tuol Lveang village of Battambang province’s Sangke district. The 34-year-old currently lives in Siem Reap where he successfully exhibited his first solo show, themed around wildlife and the environment, in 2016.

Due to his love of hiking in the mountains and watching wildlife – and his understanding of social issues – the work of Chhoeun highlights the natural beauty of Cambodia. Often, commentary on wider societal problems takes a tangible form in his paintings.

He plans to show three works at the November festival.

“There are two key meanings behind each of the three pieces. First, I want to show a love of wildlife through conservation and the end of hunting. I also want to encourage people to express love for the environment, by cleaning up the space around them, whether it be a town or a village. In this way, our lives could all be more peaceful,” he explained.

The first festival was held in December 2019 and was very successful, so much so that the authorities and the public insisted it be held annually.

The programme will include exhibitions that promote the preservation of nature and the environment, as well as art and fashion shows that use recycled materials.