Having been involved with art for 10 years, Im Seila wishes to use his talents to support access to education for vulnerable children. After witnessing a majority of rural children experiencing insufficient materials for their education, Im Seila decided to use his artworks to try and make a difference.
Som Kanika had an exclusive interview with the artist.
GT2: Can you briefly introduce your background?
Im Seila: I fell in love with art when I was very young, even though I didn’t dream of seeing myself as an artist. Even though I wasn’t able to pursue my higher degree because of my family’s financial situation, I was able to independently decide on my own path when I came to Phnom Penh city and after a short training course I found a job opportunity here. That’s when I began to study art as part of the Youth Development Programs (YDP) in 2011. I studied there for two years and then another two years at Yamada School and Fine Art. From these four years of experience, I am able to draw various types of artworks ranging from pastel oil drawing and charcoal sketching to watercolour painting. What I love most is watercolour painting. Being able to walk on the path you choose in life is very rewarding. Through art exhibitions and fieldwork, I am able to travel to many exhibitions around the world, from India to Myanmar and Vietnam to China, as well as many other fascinating places.
GT2: What is the story behind you, organising charity artwork to support Kampong Speu Orphanage Center?
Im Seila: Everywhere we witness lots of children living poverty traps, unable to access school and becoming involved in the labour force at a very young age. However, the responsibilities they should handle at that age should be focused on the absorption of knowledge and skills in the classroom. As an artist, I don’t expect to change the world, but I hope I can change or at least help someone else’s life. I hope that the beauty of artworks can contribute to saving people’s lives, especially in helping them to pursue their future goals. Most of the income I earn will be given to the Kampong Speu Orphanage Center. The aim of this small charity is to assist Kampong Speu Orphans with their learning and help to equip them with sufficient materials and textbooks for their education. The charity will receive 70 percent to 80 percent from my artwork income, while 20 percent is to ensure that this mission will continue to perform its role in helping venerable children. Many artists also devote part or all of their artwork income to charity. Despite the Kampong Speu Orphanage Center charity just starting, I believe that a small donation from each individual will make a significant difference in supporting the organisation to improve children’s livelihoods and education.
GT2: How do you think art can spur children’s personal growth?
Im Seila: I think being involved with art and drawing can contribute a great deal to a child. Firstly, art is a sort of therapy for children, to develop their personal growth and help them overcome emotional and psychological challenges to achieve a positive attitude and wellbeing. Moreover, engaging yourself with artwork also supports individuals, especially children, to develop self-awareness, explore their emotions and address unresolved conflict or trauma they may have experienced in their childhood. Another aspect is, it allows our brain to feel the freedom and free spirit that come with creating what we want to see on our canvas. In addition, many artists also regard art as a great reflection of society. The value and identity of a state can be witnessed through the artwork of the individual, as part of the broader society.
GT2: What are the major challenges you find in drawing and painting?
Im Seila: In term of materials, some are very costly others, rare or limited in Cambodia, such as large watercolour painting paper. Another challenge regarding drawing would be time, personal space and patience. Every day people have to face endless responsibilities and work, therefore it’s difficult to spare enough time to draw as well. In order to put myself in drawing mode, it requires me to create a comfortable space, which is personal to me and be in a good mood. Painting requires a lot of patience. It’s never going to be good artwork if you rush it.