Tag Archives: australia

Australia Further Supports UXO Free Efforts in Laos

Australian UXO clearance

Australia has increased its contribution to unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance operations in the areas flooded last year in Attapeu Province in Laos.

Australia announced an additional 407,000 Australian dollars (291,000 US dollars or 2.5 billion kip) to carry out UXO clearance operations in Attapeu Province, according to a press release by United Nations Development Programme on 27 June.

25 Year Span: Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Quarter Century Anniversary Arrives Via Australian Aid

First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Opened in 1994, Funded by Australia.

Hundreds of thousands of cross-border passenger and vehicle trips each year are made possible by the first friendship bridge that crosses the Mekong from Laos’ capital to neighboring Thailand and several additional spans just like it.

Art + Altitude: Elevations Takes Exploration of Laos’ Depth of Artistic Forms, Inspirations to New Heights

Depths by Elevations Laos (Laos Briefly)

by Julia Case-Levine

Traditional practices accompany contemporary trends in Depths, the inaugural exhibit of Elevations, a non-profit art initiative launched this month in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos.

Launched last Friday night in the Lao capital Vientiane and continuing until January 16th, the exhibition is both an international event, including artists from China to Cambodia, and a celebration of work of three local artists, Tcheu Siong, Bounpaul Phothyzan and Souliya Phoumivon.

This month, the trio will become the first-ever group of artists from Laos to be included in Brisbane, Australia’s Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, the Queensland Art Gallery’s Gallery of Modern Art’s flagship exhibition.

Depths is divided into three “chapters”—Other, Lands and Selves—reflecting themes explored in the work of Siong, Phothyzan, and Phoumivon respectively.

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

These sections, each occupying a room at I:Cat, present traditional visual and textile work alongside contemporary sculpture, installations and audio-visuals.

The result is a sprawling, impressive debut fitting an ambitious new organization.

Significantly, Depths showcases video and material installation by artists from Laos —including forms that have not always resonated with a local audience.

As Phothyzan explained in a panel at Elevation’s opening symposium; “When I exhibited conceptual work in Laos once before, the reaction was not good. The interest was not here—the thought was that the arts must be drawing, painting, visuals.”

In Depths, Phothyzan’s material installation is a trio of mounted bombshells, each precariously supporting an empty, white, hauntingly pristine birdhouse. His work powerfully reflects both on the devastations of Laos’ recent history of war and his late father’s career as a soldier.

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

At Elevation’s Symposium event, Lao artists spoke of the pressure to focus on traditional painting and sculpture as these forms remain the most lucrative, thanks to the demand that is driven by the tourist industry.

Phoumivon, who graduated from Laos’ National Institute of Fine Arts in 2008, found his departure from visual work met with outright disapproval: “People asked me, how are you going to feed your family, make money in Laos if you are not painting?”

Erin Gleeson, Elevation’s founding artistic director and curator, hoped to answer this question by developing a space supportive of both traditional and non-visual art forms. Says Gleeson: “We wanted to create an environment in which it felt right to show not only painting but also [installation] work artists might usually show outside.”

Phoumivon’s marvellous stop-motion animation—an eerie, playful series depicting humans transforming into a colorful herd of buffalo—represents, in part, Phoumivon’s struggle to resist social pressure and follow his artistic instincts.

“It’s easy to follow the train of society—to become a buffalo. If you simply follow trends, follow materialistic impulses, even highly educated people can become buffalos,” Phoumivon says.

While Elevations places Lao artists among their international peers in Depths, the organization also aims to encourage growth in the local art world. Public programs—ranging from film screenings to art-classes—offer support for emerging artists.

A reading room in Little House Café, a short walk from the gallery, allows patrons to browse texts on art history, theory and practice, while children can color on worksheets inspired by the gallery exhibition.

In addition to its public programs, Elevations is organizing a competition for local emerging artists on even years and a subsequent international exhibition on odd years.

Elevations was founded by Gary Stafford of the Spellbrook Foundation. Stafford served as a managing director of Brisbane-based copper and gold miner PanAust Limited, best known in Laos for its Phu Bia Mining subsidiary.During Stafford’s 18 years managing PanAust, he frequently travelled to Laos, his interest in art collection gradually familiarizing him with the local scene.

When he began investigating how to support emerging Lao artists he was introduced to Gleeson, who at the time was serving as curator and the founding Artistic Director of SA SA BASSAC in Phnom Penh.

The two collaborated to create a unique initiative that would best suit Laos, drawing on support from the Australian Embassy, STELLA, and I:Cat gallery.

Elevations aims to enrich an artistic ecosystem in Southeast Asia by nurturing connections between diverse artists. “If we bring the right people together, networks are formed and opportunities are made,” Gleeson says.

Guo-Liang Tan, an exhibiting artist from Singapore, attests. “Already we’ve exchanged many stories, developed personal and professional relationships.”

Tan also observed the opportunity for intercultural learning afforded by exhibiting abroad. “It’s a great chance for those of us not from Laos to learn about a place many of us have not yet been.”

The visiting artists were introduced to Vientiane on a tour led by Elevations last Friday, focusing on the city’s artistic and literary history.

Although Depths’ range can be dizzying, its lack of focus is often a strength—in moments, contrast creates a delightful tension between works.

Such is the case in the exhibition’s second chapter, Lands, in which a panel of austere, serene water patterns are shown beside destructive, explosive rivers in looping video footage of the impact of humanity on nature for our modern power needs.

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Among a number of superb pieces—such as prints that transform abandoned lots into dreamy landscapes and a photo-series that documents a Hmong legend as lived out in America—the colorful, enigmatic needlework of Lao artist Tcheu Siong is not to be missed.

Siong translates her dreams into large-scale textiles, relying on Hmong mythology and her husband’s shamanistic practice as interpretive tools. While her work is rooted in tradition, the product is something utterly unique, and unlike the full canvases and bold geometric patterns of traditional Hmong textile.

Her textiles depict human figures engulfed in cheerfully polka-dotted creatures. Heart shaped decals flower across the canvas like otherworldly eyes. Appliqués appear simple geographic forms at first glance, but upon closer observation reveal themselves as bodied animals and humans.

The blend of old and new in Siong’s work perhaps best exemplifies Depth’s power as a conceptually modern exhibition that doesn’t belittle or dismiss traditional practices but considers how these may be used in fresh and unusual ways.

Text: Julia Case-Levine
Images: Laos Briefly

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)
Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths at I: Cat Gallery, Simeuang Village, Vientiane Capital, Laos until January 16, 2019.

Opening hours:

Everyday 11:00 – 18:00

Phone for appointment: 020 77839674

Email: icatgallery@gmail.com

Depths Exhibition by Elevations Laos

Depths Exhibition by Elevations Laos

Simple, Natural, Innovative As BambooLao Straws Slurp Up Tourism Award

Luang Prabang’s very own BambooLao has captured the top prize and a US$10,000 Innovation Grant in the 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) challenge, which is described as “an elite travel startup competition, supported by the Australian Government and Asian Development Bank, (including) Asia’s most prominent travel-specialized venture capitalists among its advisors.

“BambooLao is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastics from hotels and resorts across Asia. They have produced more than 80,000 reusable bamboo straws and other bamboo utensils, using indigenous bamboo varieties and a proprietary natural treatment process.

“Their straws are used by Aman Group, Pullman, Rosewood Group, and Sofitel properties, as well as EXO Travel tours. BambooLao estimates their environmentally-friendly products have displaced the use of 5 million single-use plastic straws.”

MIST’s top prize comes with a USD10,000 innovation grant.



Winner of MIST’s 2018 Startup Accelerator, Laos’ Luang Prabang’s BambooLao.

“The MIST innovation grant will help us scale–up production from one to three villages. We must invest in capacity to meet growing international demand,” said BambooLao founder Arounothay Khoungkhakoune was reported as saying.

Bamboo Straws Production
Bamboo straw production a community process.

Vietnamese startup Ecohost reportedly captured MIST’s second prize and received a USD5,000 grant. Ecohost facilitates quality tourism experiences in the Vietnamese countryside, working with rural communities to develop tours and activities while improving the capacity of local homestays to serve international guests.

“BambooLao, Ecohost, and other MIST finalists demonstrate how the Mekong region’s bright, innovative entrepreneurs are finding practical solutions to solve industry problems while striving to make tourism more inclusive and sustainable,” said Jens Thraenhart, co-organizer of MIST and executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

According to the organisation, “MIST supports high-growth-potential emerging market startups in travel and hospitality, particularly startups that generate positive impacts for communities, culture, and the environment. The program’s five 2018 finalists refined their business acumen and pitching skills during MIST’s weeklong business fundamentals boot camp, five months of customized coaching by industry experts, and MIST pitch competitions in Ho Chi Minh City, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and ITB-Asia’s Mekong Travel Startup Forum in Singapore.”


Laos and Australia Strengthen Ties Amid ASEAN Summit

PM Thongloun Sisoulith and PM Malcolm Turnbull

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held bilateral talks on Saturday, amid the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, which was held in Sydney from March 17-18.

The two premiers agreed to strengthen ties and cooperation between their two countries in a broad range of fields, including agriculture, public works and transport, finance, and human rights, according to the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Australia and Laos are parties to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), which entered into force in Laos on January 1, 2011. Australia has provided duty free and quota-free access for Lao goods exported to Australia since 2003.

PM Thongloun with kangaroo

PM Thongloun feeds a kangaroo at Sydney’s Tooronga Zoo

A press release from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that PM Thongloun and PM Turnbull valued the friendly relations enjoyed between the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties 66 years ago. The Enduring relationship between the two nations has included cooperation in various fields.

Australia has provided development assistance to Laos throughout the relationship, including in the fields of education, human resource development, and the clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) that were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War.

The government of Australia has also provided scholarships for Lao students and civil servants, facilitating their study at distinguished Australian universities.

Meanwhile, more than 12,000 people in Australia identify themselves as having Lao ancestry, with over 10,000 born in Laos, according to the Australian Embassy to Laos.

PM Thongloun thanked his host, PM Turnbull, for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation, and congratulated Australia on hosting the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, and invited him to make an official visit to Laos in the near future.

Source: Khaosarn Pathet Laos

Laos and Australia Celebrate 65 Years of Diplomatic Relations

Laos and Australia 65 years

Laos and Australia celebrated 65 years of diplomatic relations on Thursday at the Australian Embassy in Vientiane Capital.

The close ties between Laos and Australia, and between the peoples of the two countries, are the supporting pillars of cooperation between the two nations.

Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith and Australian Ambassador to Laos John Williams expressed this common view when speaking at a ceremony held on Thursday at the Australian Embassy in Vientiane to mark the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Looking back over six and a half decades of relations, we have witnessed tremendous progress in our bilateral cooperation,” Mr Saleumxay said.

He highlighted the first Friendship Bridge built in Laos across the Mekong River as one of the most visible landmarks of bilateral cooperation. When the bridge opened in 1994, former Prime Minister Paul Keating of Australia, Lao Prime Minister Khamtay Siphandone, and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai of the Kingdom of Thailand attended the inauguration ceremony.

In other areas, exchange visits by various high-level Lao and Australian officials, civil servants, academics, and businesspeople, have also been testimony to the success of bilateral relations over the past six and a half decades.

Mr Saleumxay also said that regular visits and exchanges between the citizens of both nations had been a significant contribution to creating a conducive environment for mutual understanding, and promoting and enhancing bilateral cooperation in various fields. On behalf of the Lao government, he thanked the government of Australia for its continued support to the Lao government’s effort to advance socio-economic development over the past decades, especially in the areas of education, human resource development, and humanitarian assistance.

“This has significantly contributed to the attainment of national development goals and poverty reduction in Laos,” Mr Saleumxay said.

In addition, more than 1,200 Lao nationals have graduated from Australian institutions and gained a high quality of education. These graduates not only contributed to the socio-economic development of Laos, but also promoted bilateral ties with Australia, and constituted an important factor in strengthening the bond between the Lao and Australian peoples, he added.

Laos and Australia established diplomatic relations on January 16, 1952.

Australian investments in Laos have increased in recent decades and now amount to US$150 million with Australia ranking in the top 20 foreign investors in Laos.

For his part, Ambassador Williams spoke of the close and productive links between Australia and Laos, which he said enjoyed cooperation in many fields. He said these relations were not simply architecture put in place by the two governments, but a million contacts and networks of collaboration between the peoples of the two countries across many areas of life frameworks.

Thursday’s event also marked the 229th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Australia and featured a ceremony to award Lao and Australian individuals who had made an outstanding contribution to the friendship and cooperation between the two nations.

Source: Vientiane Times

Australia Continues to Support Lao Students

The Australian government is continuing its support for local students to further their education by studying at the National University of Laos (NUOL) this year.

The support comes from the Laos Australia National Scholarships (LANS) Programme, focusing on helping poor students around the country.

This year, about 52 scholarship awardees will join over 280 other students currently pursuing undergraduate degrees. Another 20 scholarships were presented to students from northern Laos last month, who will complete their LANS degrees at Souphanouvong University in Luang Prabang province.

Australia’s Ambassador to Laos, Mr John Williams, speaking yesterday before the LANS congratulations ceremony, said the programme sought to provide a chance for high-performing high school leavers from regional Laos to complete quality university degrees.

He said the LANS programme, currently in its sixth year, covered not only tuition costs and living expenses, but a separate Academic Support Programme to build study and life skills, including intensive English language training.

Through LANS, Australia is delighted to be able to help young, talented Lao men and women from a number of provinces to gain the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to build rewarding and productive careers, he said.

The 52 new scholars, including 26 women, were selected from hundreds of school leavers entering the National University this year. They are keen to pursue careers in science, education, law, business, agriculture and the environment – all areas vital for the economic development of Laos, he added.

It’s hoped in the future LANS graduates will be able to compete and win selection for Australia Awards and other quality international scholarships programmes to complete higher degrees overseas and build even stronger skills to support Laos’ development.

Vice President of National University of Laos, Ms Somchanh Bounphanmy, said every year, Australia offered scholarships to students from remote districts for tertiary study at the NUOL and Souphanouvong University.

LANS covers tuition fees, a monthly stipend, home travel, extra tuition and other university costs. She said young people’s education was about personal development, improving social skills and opening up minds to new horizons and possibilities while determining the path they will eventually take in their professional lives.

It’s also about determining where you will make your mark in life. How you can rise to the personal challenges you set yourself. And how you can contribute something back to the Lao PDR and its socio-economic development, not least in your home districts or provinces, she added.


Source: Vientiane Times

Australia Seeks Nominees for 65th Anniversary Awards

To help mark 65 years of Australia-Laos diplomatic relations, the Australian Embassy is seeking nominations for awards to recognise the substantial contribution by individuals or groups to Australia-Laos relations.

The awards will be conferred at next year’s Australia Day reception at the Australian Embassy on January 26; an event, which in 2017 will also mark the 65th anniversary of bilateral ties between the two neighbours in South-East Asia, according to a press release from the embassy.

Australia’s Ambassador to the Lao PDR, John Williams, said, The 65th Anniversary Awards was an appropriate way for the Australian Embassy in Vientiane to recognise the efforts by outstanding individuals , past and present, who have helped shape the very positive ties between Laos and Australia at any stage over the past seven decades.

We are proud Laos’ relationship with Australia is the country’s longest unbroken diplomatic relationship at the Ambassador level, Williams said.

It’s a relationship that continues to flourish through the extensive, positive contact between the governments and people of both countries, including in education, business, the arts, agricultural research and exchanges between our officials and parliamentarians.

Ambassador Williams said that he would not be surprised if some of the more than 1200 alumni of Australian universities under the Australia Awards scholarships programme were among the awards nominees, given their ongoing links with Australia.

He said there were also a number of business leaders who had helped cement the substantial two-way trade and investment links between Australia and the Lao PDR, and experts who had contributed markedly to Laos’ development in areas such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Members of the public, or organisations, can submit nominations to the Embassy before December 20.

Nominees can include Lao o r Australian citizens, or in exceptional cases third country nationals, who warrant recognition for their outstanding contribution to Lao-Australia relations through excellence in their particular field – whether from business, education, academia, civil society, development, medicine, the arts, government, politics or media.

Nominations for organisations or groups that have made an exceptional contribution to Laos-Australia relations will also be considered.

Nominations of no more than 300 words should be submitted by email (in English or Lao) to 65th Anniversary Australia Laos@dfat.gov.au by December 20.

Nominations should include basic biographical details about the nominee a short description of that individual’s contribution to Laos-Australia relations and why it warrants official recognition. Photographs welcome too.

The final decision on awards will be made by the Australian Embassy in Vientiane. All enquiries should be directed to 65th Anniversary Australia Laos@dfat.gov.au.


Source: Vientiane Times