Giant Naga Sculpture To Mark World Water Day

A 200-meter mythical serpent stretching along the Siem Reap River, its naga princess head nearly 4 meters in diameter. This is the sculpture that artist Leang Seckon plans to put in the river in Siem Reap town to mark World Water Day on March 22.

The giant naga will be built with a bamboo armature and covered with the ubiquitous plastic bags that are found littering waterways across the country. This, Leang Seckon said, is to make people aware of the importance of keeping rivers and lakes free of such waste.

The event is part of the Rubbish Project that Leang Seckon and New Zealand art-and-craft adviser Fleur Smith launched in 2006 as a volunteer effort by the art community to protect the environment.

To cover the cost of building the sculpture, well-known Cam­bodian artists and photographers—including Chhim Sothy, Pich Sopheap, Svay Ken and Vandy Rattana—as well as expatriate artists have donated works that will be auctioned at Cafe Living Room in Phnom Penh on Friday, Leang Seckon said. The list of items includes paintings, photographs, pottery, sculptures and clothes made of recycled materials, he said.

Plans for March 22 are to set up the naga sculpture—whose head will stand in front of FCC Angkor restaurant near the royal residence in Siem Reap town—and hold a fashion show of recycled-material clothes.

Siem Reap provincial authorities have approved the project, and the provincial departments concerned are now reviewing the final details, Smith said.

As for the location, Leang Seckon said, “Siem Reap River was created during Angkor,” as part of the empire’s irrigation system. “The river is very important in Cambodia because it flows from Phnom Kulen,” which Cambodians consider a sacred site, he said.

The sculpture is scheduled to remain in place for three to four weeks, he added.

Smith and Leang Seckon said they hope other artists will come up with their own ways of promoting environmental awareness.

“We need people’s support,” Leang Seckon said. “The Rubbish Project is very open: performers and artists are welcome to join in with their ideas.”

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