Dear ThaiCraft Supporters,
Thailand demonstrates importance of Art & Craft as a living heritage for now and the future
This past month has been an extraordinary one for all Thai people as well as those of us fortunate to be living here, even if for only a short stay. While we rejoice in the amazing pageantry and the symbolic rituals handed down through centuries of royal tradition, we know that at the root of this unique experience for almost every citizen is a very deep sense of loss and grief, at both a national and individual level.
Unprecedented unity of love and respect has brought together the diversity of a kingdom to a single cause. Unique expressions in art and craft have decorated and given added poignancy to the crematorium, itself a work of wonder and amazement, as well as to myriad exhibitions and displays, offering solace to us all. In spite of prevailing sadness, we have seen joy and hope in the living creativity and skill of thousands of Thai craftspeople and artists in all genres. Not only do we marvel at this truly living cultural heritage but we also discover the ongoing and increasing importance of handcrafted expression to all societies. Thailand's example confirms that the preservation of art and craft heritage is critical for meaningful human development in our modern world where many tend to think only of technological advance and improvement.
Shortly before these recent events, many parts of Thailand were challenged by unusually heavy rainstorms that led to serious flooding. Many remember the mega-flooding of six years ago when submerged communities supported each other and again we experienced the resilience of the Thai people. The night before the last ThaiCraft Fair, a huge storm (heaviest for 30 years) caused severe flash floods both in the capital and outside cutting transport and access for many hours. In spite of brave efforts, 16 of our expected 50 artisan and food groups failed to make it to the Jasmine. We applaud those who managed to get there as well as thanking customers who braved the elements in spite of the prospect of further downpours to deepen sois already turned into mini-klongs. Unfortunately, this “perfect” storm reduced sales income considerably, causing serious financial pressure on both our partner artisans and ThaiCraft's own administration.
Not all is lost! We can rise above adversity! With your support and help our partner artisans can and will survive and flourish for the future and so can the heritage of arts and crafts of all ethnic origins. Let us demonstrate our unity with the Thai people by promoting the work of craftspeople in our gift-giving and personal use of their handmade products. Please pass on this message to all whom you come in contact with socially and at work. With the gift of shopping for crafts ‘direct from the village’, between us we can demonstrate that the love and wisdom of the late HM King Bhumipol Adulayadej still lives on through sustaining the care of community and cultural relationships in a “sufficiency economy”.
Stephen and Suwadee Salmon
Co-founders ThaiCraft Fair Trade. 30th October 2017