How did an irish illustrator end up organising a Japanese style slide show night in Kathmandu? …its a loooong story….!
In 2010 I did a workshop for a short illustration workshop in Kathmandu University. Iposted about this on my blog and I then got a few enquiries from other artists/designers who were travelling to Nepal. I forwarded these over to programme director Sujan Chitrakar, but he was busy trying to run the course and couldnt fit in random workshops. One evening we were chatting about this over a beer and we both felt it was a shame that we didnt do the workshops. It would have been a sort of win/win situation with the visiting artists getting to see the cultural side of Kathmandu and the students could benfit from meeting the artists. It was also a shame because so many great artists and photographers travel to the country. Nepal is a very beautiful and photogenic country and it seems like every second visitor to the country is some sort of artist or photographer but very few of them get an opportunity to interact with the Nepali artists or contemporary art.
We discussed different ways of somehow arranging talks outside the structure of the University, maybe in the evenings when i thought of Pecha Kucha night. Pecha Kucha is a slide-show format where 20 slides are shown each for 20 seconds. The format keeps the talks short and to the point and is an interesting way for designers and artists to present their work, in London and Dublin it tends to be a kind of designers only event but in Japan it is kept very open and everyone from comedians, academics, grannies and politians have given presentations. It was started in Tokyo in 2003 and is replicated in 400+ cities. I had recently been living in Japan and spoken at the Tokyo PKN and i was really inspired by the format there, it was quite mixed it made a very interesting evening, its in a bar setting so its pretty casual which i really liked. Their tagline is ‘thinking and drinking’. We thought PKN would be the perfect event for Kathmandu and decided …after quite a few more beers that we should set one up!
The only trouble was that i had come to the very end of my 5 month visa and in two weeks i had to leave… we decided to wait until i came back 9 months later.
We got the all clear from PKN headquarters and i came back for a couple of months in the spring of 2011.
As we were putting together the line up we were thinking more and more about how great this event could be. We moved from thinking about it as an outlet for students into thinking about it as a great thing for Kathmandu in general. Kathmandu is a developing city and there arent yet many quality cultural institutions in place and we both felt that it had the potential to be a useful resource for the city in many ways. We had ideas about inviting a wide mix of speakers and get some NGOs based there speaking too. I did the poster and press and got in some speakers but Sujan in fairness did most of the organising.
We got a pretty incredible line-up for the first night. Our headline speaker was the ex-Kumari Goddess
Rashmila Shakya who was worshipped as a Kumari Goddess as a child, she gave an amazing account of her life, she has written a book
also, Susmita Maskey
who led the most successful ever women’s Everest team to the summit, an expert on Balinese theatre, Samantha from the Zoological Society London who was based in Nepal for research gave a talk on the importance of vultures, the spokesman from NSET the earthquake preparedness people gave a talk on the problems facing Kathmandu
. As well as amazing artists Salil Subedi, Karl Knapp, Michelle Hall, Chirag Bangdel and designer Kreeti Shakya and media collective Sattya
Sujan Chitrakar + Chris Haughton What is Pecha Kucha? Why Kathmandu?
Dr Shiva Rijal Theatre Expert
Salil Subedi Performance Artist
NSET (Ganesh JImee) National Society for earthquake technology
Karl Knapp Artist
Samantha Lee Zoological Society London
MIchelle Hall Artist in residence @ KCAC. Artist and teacher at an Aboriginal community Australia
Susmita Maskey Everest Summiter
Chirag Bangdel Artist / Poet / RJ
Anya Vaverko Sattya media collective, Kathmandu
Rashmila Shakya Ex-Kumari and author
I spoke at PKN Kathmandu Vol.6 on the 1st Sept. It was a really great night, a 250+ audience and a really interesting PKN event as its so mixed from NGOs to entrepreneurs and designers. Im SO proud that PKN Kathmandu is doing so well. Hats off to Sujan Chitrakar and the team. Next one is on the 29th Sept.
visit them on facebook
We set up node last year so that we can help a fair trade project/school set up a really nice social enterprise. so far its been going pretty good. Amongst other things we are being stocked by the design museum but there have been other very exciting opportunities that we have not been able to fully realize yet.
There are just 2 of us. Akshay is in Kathmandu and I’m really busy on other projects and to be honest ive no idea how to best do a lot of this stuff. I am offered a lot of opportunities with the rugs but i dont have much business sense, it would be great to have someone on board with a good vision and a more structured approach for growth.
We think we have the potential to scale up. We want to be able to pay ourselves (all voluntary so far) and scale it up to something thats helping lots more people out. we have been offered some VERY VERY exciting exhibitions with some VERY VERY exciting people, and i want to give this project the attention it deserves.
So thats why we are looking for someone to help. If you can make it work and you can make this pay ..you have a job!
for more info on the job see the detailed description below. you can also see the links below:
Are you good at organising stuff? Do you have an interest in design, fair trade and RUGS! If so please drop us an email (address below)
Job title: Creative project & event manager
- to co-ordinate an international fair trade design exhibition project
- to work with designers and Nepal-based manufacturer
- to promote and market project to museums and retailers in UK and abroad.
Responsible to: The owner
Working with: Designers, illustrators, museums, retailers, manufacturer in Nepal
Salary: Self-employed freelancer
Based: preferably in UK (client is based in London)
Terms: in first instance till December 2012, with potential to extend
Our client is a fairly well known illustrator and animator who has been working in Nepal with a fair trade textile manufacturer. This manufacturer is a social enterprise that has got great capacity to create one off or small batch produced tufted rugs.
Exciting conversations have been held with a museum and retailer in London who are interested to present a collection designed by up to 20 designers and illustrators later this year during London Design Festival.
- To create a project plan and budget, set up meetings, liaise with our client, keep project on track both financially and in time.
- Create a collection of 20 different contemporary fair trade uniquely designed rugs.
- You will be the main contact between the 20 designers and the manufacturer in Nepal to create, manufacture and deliver rugs to the UK in time. Responsible for all correspondence, skype conversations, emails etc.
- To write a design brief for up to 20 designers and illustrators, contact potential designers and liaise with designers, creation of contracts and royalty agreements with designers, all liaison with designers. There will be a run of up to 50 rugs per design.
- You will be responsible to create the rug exhibition in London in September with major museum and potential major retailer.
- (Most of designers and illustrators are already known to my client, so little promotion required to get other designers involved)
- To promote exhibition in London to press, potential retailers, with a view to tour exhibition or show in our outside of UK.
- Find additional retail and exhibition opportunities.
- Create online sales through own website or working with partners.
- You will be responsible for the commercial success of this project, with the main aim to financially support the trade fair manufacturer in Nepal through regular trading. This is a self-funded project, so no government funding is involved, although some sponsorship opportunities might be possible.
- You will need to be able to budget and price the collection appropriately, and promote to retailers to show and sell the rugs
- There is the potential to work here as an agent on a longer term project basis.
- We are looking for a candidate with an entrepreneurial, ‘can do’ attitude, who makes things happen.
- You have got excellent communication and negotiation skills, ideally working with designers, manufacturers and retailers. The manufacturer in Nepal has been educated at Harvard in US and has very good English.
- You probably have got a very strong marketing, retail and or design management background, potentially working as an agent. It would be good if you have got experience in costing, pricing and royalty management.
- You must be very interested in fair trade.
You will work as a freelance, self employed agent. You can work from anywhere, but our client is based in London, and some meetings in London will probably be required. There might be some travel to Nepal involved (not necessarily). We expect this project to be commercially very viable, but it is up to you to generate income and your fees.
April Start project, planning, budgeting, write brief, develop contracts, contact designers, liaison with museum
May Design to start
June Manufacturing to start
July Start promotion
Sept Rugs delivered in UK
Nov Exhibition in London
Follow up with other retailers
Send us your CV and a letter (in total no more than 4 sides of A4, ideally saved as a PDF) detailing why you are the best candidate for this position. Please include an up to date email address and phone/mobile number.
We will inform you by e-mail if you have been unsuccessful, and we contact you by phone to arrange for an interview in London on Monday 30 April. We will be able to do skype or phone interviews for candidates outside of London or the UK.
Deadline: Wednesday 25 April at 6pm
Email to: email@example.com
please include ‘job application’ in the subject line. You can also use this email if you have any questions about this position.
The owl rugs and owl toys are now available from the Design Museum!!
buy them online here…
Im VERY excited about this… im co-founding a fair trade project called NODE. We’re launching it today.
We will make and sell fair trade rugs. We want to collaborate with great illustrators and designers and produce amazing rugs all through the fair trade group KTS in Kathmandu.
Last year i made some rugs in Nepal and they became really popular. My blog post
on it was fwded around and ended up in lots of design magazines. I was then approached by other designers and illustrators who wanted to make their own rugs.
I thought this was a great idea, I was connecting great designers with a great fair trade group. We could even do an exhibition in London of the rugs we made.
There was a couple of problems though, the hassle and cost of doing small orders or one-offs with bank charges and shipping and import duty / declaration forms and all the paperwork put most of the illustrators off.
I also just didnt have the time to actually receive payment and organise shipments etc… the more i got into it the more complicated it got. so the whole thing was stalled.
Then i had a chat with with my friend Akshay Sthapit in Nepal who had recently set up harilo.com
Harilo is a bit like amazon for Nepal. They import and export. And do really complicated logistics so we had the idea of working together.
We have decided to call it Node. Its a point on a network but it also means ‘knot’ in Latin.
Node can help organise exhibitions and help designers to sell their rugs. But unlike a company we want to operate very transparently. We want to do some
thing new and self-organise, a group of designers making nice things that can be successfully scaled up and hopefully help KTS help out more and more people. Thats the plan anyway..!
At the moment we only have my rugs available to buy but we will be adding more soon
And next year we will be organising an exhibition..
Anyone who wants to get involved (whether designing or buying) please email me
chris (at) vegetablefriedrice (dot) com
have a look at the site…
As I watch the horrific aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the scale of the rescue effort needed, I cant believe the turmoil that has struck Japan. It is so alarming and distressing to see a developed country that is prepared for the danger of an earthquake be so totally overwhelmed. I am also becoming more and more alarmed of the scale of the disaster if an earthquake were to strike Kathmandu. I met a seismologist who was working here last year and he told me some extremely frightening statistics, my girlfriend has actually also been working on an article about it for the last few weeks. The verdict is that when an earthquake strikes here it may well be more lethal than Haiti.
GeoHazards International rate Kathmandu as the number one danger spot world-wide. There are several reasons for this… all of them very very alarming.
It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Mazes of medium-high rise masonry building, virtually none of which are EQ proofed, tiny streets, no green spaces, and no-where to run. The country has been at war up until a few years ago and any regulation that was in place has since been ignored. There was a huge influx of migration into the city during the war and many poorly built buildings went up. The entire valley floor is densely packed with poorly built 3-4 story buildings.
The entire city is built on a sandy former-lakebed which acts like an amplifier for any shaking in the region.
There is only one airport, with one runway. But the route into and out of the airport will likely be blocked. And in fact it is believed to be in the worst area in the city for damage.
There are only 3 roads into and out of Kathmandu. All of them are tiny and cross huge mountains. All 3 are certain to be entirely cut-off due to landslides. Perhaps for many weeks. Considering there are very regularly landslides simply after heavy rainfall i dont find this very surprising. This means that the city is entirely cut off from the world, when the earthquake does hit there may be no way of getting into or out of the city.
As one of the worlds poorest countries it has very few resources. There are 8 working fire-engines in a city of 2.5 million people. The mobile phone building headquarters are not even proofed. Even right now before the earthquake it has only 10 hrs of electricity per day.
A very large earthquake is overdue. The last one was in 1934. They are expected roughy every 75 years. It would likely be a 8+ scale earthquake. The area to the west of Kathmandu is even more overdue.
It is inspiring to see the outpouring of funds and help going to Japan and Haiti and New Zealand. Japan certainly needs all the help it can get right now, but i cant help thinking that funds may be better spent on prevention in areas where lack of money is the number one issue. The frustrating thing is that most of this destruction can be entirely avoided. Experts had been screaming about the potential disaster waiting to happen before Haiti and there was very little done except after the event. Experts are now screaming about the dangers in Kathmandu, Istanbul, Tehran and elsewhere but we dont hear about these until after they happen. And when it does happen to Kathmandu no amount of funds can help because of the problem of getting into the city. I cant help thinking that the media is failing us. As soon as it happens they are all over it with TV cameras and helicopters but right now many people in Kathmandu i have spoken to seem to be completely unaware of the dangers. Some are not even aware they are in an earthquake zone.
You can donate money to GEOHAZARDS. They seem to be doing a direly needed job. they target the worlds most vulnerable areas and focus on prevention.
My fair trade carpets have finally arrived!
I did them as samples when i was in Nepal a few months back.
Take a look at the blogpost about making them here
If anyone would like to help stock them please get in touch
I have just set up a new website for these carpets
please take a look at
to view and order…