2018 World Wood Day in Cambodia (Report)




2018 World Wood Day event in Cambodia was jointly organized by the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), World Wood Day Foundation (WWDF) and the International Wood Culture Society (IWCS) to explore the theme Life. The World Wood Day (March 21st) observed its sixth celebration and welcomed about 500 participants from more than 90 countries and regions from around the world from March 19-25 at the Angkor Century Resort and Spa Hotel in Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia. It is first in a series of WWD events in the Greater Mekong Region.



Event Tours

Before the World Wood Day event formally started, there were one-day tours on 19 and 20 March for the event participants to visit Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Terrace of the Leper King for a better understanding of Cambodian history and culture and for inspiration from Angkor Wat, a well-known world heritage.


Opening Ceremony

At the Opening Ceremony on the morning of March 21st, Dr. Chhun Bum Sum, Vice President of Royal Academy, Dr. Howard Rosen, WWDF Chairman, Dr. Chung-Yun Hse, President of IWCS, Dr. Andrew Wong, IUFRO representative, Dr. Mon-Lin Kuo, IWCS Vice-President and and Mr. Mike Hou, IWCS Director welcomed honorable guests His Excellency Mr. Kanharith Khieu, the Minister of Information, and Madam Mrs. TEP Rainsy Khieu. The ceremony began with Cambodian traditional dance and music and followed by welcome remarks from the listed representatives and a ribbon cutting ceremony with international music performances by three professional music groups from Russia, Mexico and Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire). The planting of four memorial trees (Kra Nhoung, Dalbergia cochinchinensis Pierre) at the event venue concluded the Opening Ceremony.



From March 21-23, the 2018 World Wood Day Symposium and the first IUFRO Forest Products Culture Research Group Colloquium gathered 36 scholars from 16 different countries to examine seven sub-categories of research fields in historical utilization and cultural values; traditional knowledge, innovations and practices; landscape and biodiversity conservation; art, design, architecture and music; international and domestic challenges; wood and environmental education and forest products

Keynote addresses, talks, and heated discussion efficiently allowed speakers to share and exchange their research findings and ideas. Topics elaborated during the three-day program were designed to raise awareness on current issues facing the Greater Mekong Subregion and the world, and to enhance multidisciplinary discussions for the crucial role of wood and non-wood forest products in various cultures and sustainable development.


Collaborative Project

This year's Collaborative Project brought together 14 artists from around the world. The team included furniture makers, painters, turners, sculptors, fashion and set designers, and carvers. Playing off the theme of 'Life' and a visit to Angkor Wat, the team incorporated ideas of passageways and crossroads into their project. One of the highlights of the project was a visit from three Cambodian art masters during the design stage of the project. They offered their knowledge and suggestions, notably the idea of incorporating the shape of a lotus flower in the piece. The challenge of designing and building the piece was defined by the limitations of tools. With no stationary equipment such as a table saw or bandsaw, the team had to concoct quick and sound creative solutions during the building process. The success of the piece became quickly evident upon the opening of World Wood Day when streams of visitors paused to look and walk through the passages, having to choose their path. The piece is very visually striking and it appears different from each vantage point of the petals, similar to a lotus reaching skyward.


International Woodcarving Show

2018 Woodcarving Show invited 110 carves from 75 countries and regions. The program started with a visit to the magnificent remains of Siem Reap for inspiration. All woodcarvers were then assigned to teams of 3 or 4 to work together creating sculptural designs on a slab of wood.

During an intense five days, woodcarvers came together in a joint effort to work on a wood slab. Each piece is a combination of individual artistic creativity and culture to interpret the theme ‘Life’ based on various backgrounds.

Each invited artist also brought a 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm x 4 cm carved panel as part of the collaborative project among the woodcraft, young adult furniture making and woodturning programs. These panels are a collective element of the collaborative art piece showcasing a wide range of creativity, skills, formats and culture and was displayed on site for the duration of the event.


International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational (IYAFMI)

17 young furniture makers from 14 countries and regions were invited to participate at the 2018 World Wood Day Event in Siem Reap, Cambodia. With four returning participants as team leaders, the young adults were divided randomly into four teams. With craftsmanship as their common ground, they did what they do best in making a pile of lumber useful by turning them into something incredible. Every one of them completed their project within the given 36 hours creating a piece of furniture that is fairly common but rather important to their daily lives, a symbolic item that represents the lifestyle in their own culture. Their camaraderie and smiles have once again become the mark of the International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational.


Woodturning Demonstration

10 woodturners from 8 countries were invited to the woodturning program for 2018 World Wood Day. Woodturners from Australia, France, Israel and Kuwait presented their extraordinary skills using modern electric lathes.

Local woodturners brought their huge lathes to the venue and showed works from their daily life. Two Chinese traditional lathes, a foot-powered lathe and a bow lathe were presented by the intangible cultural heritage bearer Master Li Xuemin. A traditional foot-turner from Morocco demonstrated different skills. An interesting human-powered lathe was demonstrated by Andy Chen from USA. Audiences were given opportunities to interact with woodturners and try all the different lathes themselves. There are some mini-lathes for children to experience the fun of woodturning.

The woodturners also produced some local style wooden towers. These wooden towers were combined with woodcarvings from around the world to form new artworks.


Wood Design

Wood Design is an amalgamation of many different disciplines. For the past two years, Wood Design has continually explored the possibility and potential of wood. For 2018, the focus has expanded to forest products. Led by Wendy Maruyama, 11 contemporary artists and designers began the adventure with non-timber products that best depict the life of Cambodia: rattan and bamboo. To express the theme "Life," traditional rattan weaving and bamboo techniques were observed, applied and incorporated into the designs in collaboration with local artisans. The message of life and usage of eco-friendly materials is expressed through forms that embody messages, symbols and metaphors of life, culminating in an impressive art installation. The resulting designs, both literal and abstract, referenced the theme of LIFE in relation to preserving ocean life, cycles of life, systems, wildlife, pattern, nesting, cell division, food, connection and energy.


Folk Art Workshop

Comprising 13 groups from 10 countries, the Folk Art Workshop created a welcoming atmosphere for everyone to unlock their creativity with hands-on activities. It allowed people to talk to the artists, touch the exhibits and see the working processes first hand. To further highlight the cultural values represented by each folk art, 3 mask dances and puppetry shows were arranged in the late afternoons of Mar 22- 24. The happiness of expressing oneself, spirit of sharing and openness to embrace similarities and differences all became the best parts of this event.


Music Festival

Musicians and dancers from twelve different countries had gathered in Siem Reap, Cambodia to celebrate the 2018 World Wood Day. During the daytime, a small intimate stage was serving live music all day to all participants and visitors at the entrance of the event. Musicians also had booths to display their unique cultural instruments. Some even allowed their instruments to be played by the public. During the sunset, there were marching bands playing melodies and performing dances from the main entrance to bring audiences to the main concert stage. In the evening, all the participants and visitors were treated with the best possible sound and visuals to witness wooden instruments and cultural dances from around the world. This time, the World Wood Day musical exchange had even extended to flash mob performances around Siem Reap and musical collaborations between international musicians and dancers.


Children's Event

An interactive wood class led by Dr. Yang Ping started with questions such as “Can wood make a bubble?” and “How can a wooden arrow spear into a wooden heart?” A series of experiments answered the questions vividly. Cambodian children who attended the class learned about advantages of wood through their sense of smell, touch and hearing. An “I Love Tree” drawing activity was designed to show what they learned from the class. Those hands-on experiments inspired their creativity and appreciation of wood, forest and nature.


Tree Planting

A momentous tree-planting event was held inside Angkor on the morning of March 23rd. After the commemorative photo taken at the Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and the Elephant Terrace, co-organizers and participants thankfully and carefully planted 200 trees of local species (Kra Nhoung, Dalbergia cochinchinensis Pierre) at the site of Phum Leang Dai, Khum Leang Dai, Srok Angkor Thom, Siem Reap. Also, both WWDF and IWCS have jointly contributed 10,000 trees of Beng (Afzelia xylocarpa (Kurz) Craib.), Neang Noun (Dalbergia bariensis Pierre), Kra Nhoung, Koki Thmor (Hopea ferria Laness), Koki Dek (Hopea helferi Dyer.), Koki Msav (Hopea odorata Roxb), Koki Khsach (Hopea pierrei Hance), Thnong (Pterocarpus macrocarpus Kurz) to the tree-planting event in May at the National Park in Prah Vihea Province.


"Wood and Life" Photo Contest Exhibition

The photo exhibition presented 34 winning photos among the People, Heritage, and Environment categories from the 2018 WOOD & LIFE Photo Contest.  The photo contest ran from November 20th, 2017 to February 20th, 2018 for a total of three months.  The goal was to best convey the interrelationship between wood and culture, and to encourage and inspire people to pay closer attention to how wood appears in their daily life and surroundings.

To learn more about the contest, please visit http://worldwoodday.org/2018photocontest.php


Closing Ceremony

Following the exhibition of works produced during the event on Sunday evening of 25 March, the ceremony began with closing remarks by representatives and each program leader gave a touching summary of their respective program and project. Dr. Touch Sob, President of Royal Academy of Cambodia, delivered a congratulatory speech and the event concluded with a showing of a short event video produced by IWCS.