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UK Trade Envoy meets British creative industries in Laos

Lord David Puttnam met a range of British artists and creative industries working in Lao PDR.

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Lord Puttnam at Creativity Breakfast
Lord David Puttnam looking at British companies' display during the Creativity Breakfast event at the Embassy

As part of an official visit in his capacity as the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Lord David Puttnam met a range of British artists and creative industries working in Lao PDR at an event at the British Embassy. The event aimed to showcase British creativity and innovative partnerships between British and Lao artistic traditions.

Many of the artists present represented many different branches of the arts, from textiles, photography and sculpture to literature and anthropology. All said they drew their inspiration from the beauty of the Lao countryside and its traditions.

Those exhibiting their products included Jo Smith of Ock Pop Tok whose company produces high quality, traditional Lao textiles made by local women, with a strong focus on reviving traditional weaving textiles and providing employment opportunities in remote areas of Laos. She was joined by her sister Heather, founder of Passa Paa which produces accessories such as scarves, cushions and bags based on traditional Lao designs with a modern twist.

Anou Thammavong represented another UK company, Soie de Lune working in the field of Lao textiles, combining traditional Lao designs with UK advanced weaving techniques, creating employment opportunities both in Lao PDR and the UK. Their products are used in interior design collections around the world and are particularly popular in the USA and Japan.

Long term British resident of Vientiane, Dr Robert Cooper displays a collection of his own books on Laos, and those published by his publishing house, Lao Insight Books, including the popular Dr. Siri detective series by British writer Colin Cotterill. Dr Robert is one of the world’s most eminent foreign experts on Lao society and culture and has written extensively on Laos’ ethnics minorities.

British photographer Tessa Bunney exhibited a range of her photographs of Laos, including those taken from her recent exhibition “The Women of UCT6”, following the lives of one of Mines Advisory Group (MAG)’s all-female clearance teams.

Steve Savva of Maison des Artisans Co.Ltd, a company producing paper-based products from porsa paper - a product of the mulberry tree - using a now little used 7th century Japanese paper-making technique known as kanshitsu said:

Porsa paper is abundant in Laos but its commercial value is poorly understood. Maison des Artisans is aiming to revive the kanshitsu tradition and demonstrate the value to local communities of using porsa commercially for paper-making through training young people in the paper-making technique.

Lord Puttnam said:

The UK has the largest creative sector in Europe. The creative industries contribute 6% of GDP, employ over 2 million people, export over £16bn annually and continue to be one of the UK’s fastest growing industries. I am really impressed by the creativity displayed here today. As someone who is passionate about the creative industries, it is great to see some many British people taking inspiration from their surroundings in Laos and developing innovative partnerships with Lao people.

Lord Puttnam with Ambassador and Anou Thammavong
Lord Puttnam with Anou Thammavong from British textile company Soie de Lune and Ambassador Malone
Published 7 October 2013