Cristina NualART

Arts For Mobility at Saigon Opera House

Piano solo_by_cnualart

Guitar quartet by cnualart

Yesterday an annual art exhibition and silent auction helped raise money to give disabled people in Vietnam a wheelchair.

Arts For Mobility is an art and music event at the Saigon Opera. Prior to attending the classical concert, guests placed bids for a number of artworks and handicrafts donated by local businesses and a variety of people: from disabled children to Vietnamese artists with international projection. Ticket sales support the cost of organising such an event, and all the profits of the art auction go directly to the charity, which also benefits some disabled people by giving them employment.

When I first heard, I offered to donate an artwork, but I got roped in further. I was soon gently persuading my contacts in the art world of Ho Chi Minh City to donate pieces, writing the art text for the catalogue and hanging artworks in the semi-circular gallery of the century old Opera House. The stories behind the various artworks made the curating work very interesting. Disabled children from Te Phan orphanage, who had been funded with art lessons and art materials, showed some vibrant and well executed flower paintings. An abstract digital print by an interior designer coexisted with Vietnamese landscapes in traditional oil or watercolour. Glossy lacquered vases and screenprints on linen changed the texture of the show. Truong Cong Tung gave two contemporary ceramic paintings that sold quickly. Another popular image was created by an artist who sticks down hundreds of butterfly wings in different tones, arranging them to form a typical Vietnamese scenery. While there was no disclaimer to guarantee that no insect had been harmed in the process, the curious picture was so unusual that it became one the most hotly contested pieces in the auction. A very varied show!

Vase View by cnualart

Porcelain vases stand in line, with the theatre’s chandeliers in the hall in the background. On the wall are photographs by two Vietnamese artists. Tung Mai’s work focuses on the small gestures seen around this metropolis, the tiny joys that give beauty to HCMC.


Hoang Duong Cam has a strong international projection, but he recently exhibited in his home country at Galerie Quynh. His work is a pinhole photograph of a photograph of a Hanoian family in the 1972, the year his parents got married. He has overpainted it to symbolise his fantasies of products described to him by relatives and friends, but which he had never seen, as they were no longer available in the aftermath of 1975.

artwork by Phan Thao Nguyen

Phan Thao Nguyen trained at the Art Institute of Chicago. The prints she donated are inspired by the master of lacquer, Nguyen Gia Tri’s enormous painting Spring Garden, in the HCMC Fine Arts museum. These two screenprints on silk attracted the audience because of the mysterious images visible when backlit.

My textured collage from the 3 weekend trilogy series sold for more than enough money to buy one wheelchair, which I’m delighted about.


Although the accounting process of all items sold has not finished, it appears that this year’s exhibition was even more successful than last year’s, and that a good number of wheelchairs will be given to disabled Vietnamese as a result of this auction, which raised well over $1000. Thank you artists, volunteers and guests. It was well worth the effort!

Exhibition Front View_by_cnualart   Exhibition Back View_by_cnualart



  1. […] December 2011, I helped organise an art auction at the Saigon Opera as part of the Arts For Mobility annual event. The whole event generated enough revenue to provide wheelchairs for over 20 disabled […]

  2. […] little painting is my donation to the Arts For Mobility art auction that will take place this Saturday in the Saigon Opera […]

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