Australian artist drawn to Hoi An paints its charms

By Ngan Duong   May 19, 2020 | 08:41 am GMT+7
Australian Anna Barnes fell in love with daily life in the ancient town of Hoi An and vividly colored sketches capture her enchantment.
Barnes admitted she fell in love with Hoi An when she first traveled to Vietnam in 2012. Since then, she has been coming back between one to three times each year to continue drawing and hold different art workshops.

Barnes said she fell in love with Hoi An when she first traveled to Vietnam in 2012. Since then, she has been coming back between one to three times each year to continue drawing and hold different art workshops.

A drawing of a market in a fishing market locating on the outskirts where restaurants in the old town buy raw materials from. To become a fish seller in Vietnam, one needs to have good health, owns white rubber boots, has a superficial but cheerful voice and can stand the fishy smell, artist jokingly said.

A drawing of a fishing market on the outskirts where restaurants in the central ancient town buy raw materials from.

"To become a fish seller in Vietnam, one needs to have good health, owns white rubber boots, has a superficial but cheerful voice and can stand the fishy smell," the artist jokingly said.

The idea came to her during her first trip to Hoi An with her 3-year-old son. When she was exploring the wet-market, she had the urge to pull out a notebook and began drawing. She later showed her comic and wowed local food sellers with her artworks.

The idea came to her during her first trip to Hoi An with her 3-year-old son. As she ventured around the wet-market, she had the urge to pull out a notebook and began drawing.

She later showed her comic to local street vendors and they really enjoyed her artworks. At that moment, she realized this is an interesting way to learn and connect with the locals and decided to continue with this project.

Since Barnes has a strong passion for food, her drawings are often centers around food and vendors. She also has more than 25 years experience working in Sydney restaurants. She holds a masters degree in design from University of Sydney and a bachelors degree in Southeast Asian Studies.

Since Barnes has a strong passion for food, her drawings often center around food and vendors. She also has more than 25 years' experience working in Sydney restaurants. She holds a master's degree in design from University of Sydney and a bachelor's degree in Southeast Asian studies.

A drawing of a Hoi Ans sweet soup (che) stall.This is a unique dessert that combines different ingredients like beans, fruit, yams and many others that are cooked with water and sugar. Once they are cook, each types of che was put in separated pots and transported to the vendor.

A drawing of a sweet soup (che) stall in Hoi An.

"This is a unique dessert that combines different ingredients like beans, fruit, yams and many others that are cooked with water and sugar. Once they are cooked, each type of che was put in separated pots and transported to the vendor."

Her favorite piece is the drawing of Tuat, a street vendor selling banh can that made of rice flour and eggs and these steamed cakes come with a lot of toppings to choose from.

Her favorite piece is the drawing of Tuat, a vendor downtown selling banh can, which is made with rice flour and eggs. The steamed cakes come with a lot of toppings to choose from. Tuat later moved her stall out of the town’s center as tourism boomed while she only wanted to focus on serving locals.

"Every time I have the opportunity to visit Tuat's new place, I am very discreet, never taking anyone with me. I always sketched her portraits but she never smiled at me. Perhaps because I am a foreigner and my Vietnamese is very bad. But I still really like the steamed cake flavor here."

The artist said Hoi Ans lanterns look mesmerizing at night with light reflecting of the rivers water surface.

People work on making Hoi An’s famous lanterns.

Barnes said the lanterns look mesmerizing at night with their light lighting up the surface of the nearby river.

She sketched in little notebooks that she carries along everywhere. After that, she took photos and shared them on her personal website and social media.

Barnes draws her sketches in little notebooks that she carries everywhere. Later, she takes photographs and shares them on her personal website and social media.

A painting of fresh florists selling on the street in the morning. They sit in plastic tools and are surrounded with buckets of flowers, which is easy for displaying and cleaning up.

Flower sellers line a street one morning.

"They sit in plastic tools and are surrounded with buckets of flowers, which makes it easy to display and clean up," Barnes said.

Painting and connecting with locals are experiences I cherish the most. she shared, adding her goal is bonding people together via art, food and culture.

A dissection of the ubiquitous banh mi.

"Painting and connecting with locals are experiences I cherish the most," Barnes said, adding that her goal is to bond people together via art, food and culture.

Barnes (M) shows locals her drawings.She had moved back to Australia in March due to the coronavirus, but shared she plans to relocate here for good when the outbreak is over.There is something really special about Vietnam that makes me adore and learn more about this place.

Barnes shows curious locals her drawings.

She moved back to Australia in March over the Covid-19 crisis, but said she plans to relocate here for good when the outbreak is over. "There is something really special about Vietnam that makes me adore and want to learn more about the place."

 
 
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