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Empty Hotels Become Creative Havens for Top Artists – and Art Lovers

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Empty Hotels Become Creative Havens for Top Artists – and Art Lovers

Empty Hotels Become Creative Havens for Top Artists – and Art Lovers

Art enthusiasts are being invited to learn from some of the country’s leading creatives at a series of intimate sessions. The best bit? They’re taking place in a selection of Cambodia’s top hotels, making ARTcation the ideal remedy for those seeking a getaway with a twist.

Lead photo: Artist Teang Borin (Din) at work


Making the most out of a bad situation is a skill the majority of the world was forced to learn throughout 2020, when Covid-19 wiped out countless lives and livelihoods as it stormed across the globe. It’s this notion that sparked the idea behind ARTcation: creative workshops aimed at those craving something different while filling up empty hotel rooms and offering opportunities to artists.

“Because of Covid, there’s not been many exhibitions,” says organiser Marina Pok, also creative director of Anicca Foundation which promotes emerging local artists. “Galleries and museums have been closed a lot so artists haven’t had the chance to show their work much, hotels haven’t seen any international guests for a long time and people here can’t travel overseas.”     

The result is a collection of six artists that span dancers, painters and photographers. Each will host a series of workshops at some of Cambodia’s most exclusive hideaways. During sessions, artists will share their techniques before creating a range of artworks during immersive sessions.

Interdisciplinary artist Tan Vatey will be sharing her skills at 4 Rivers Floating River Lodge in Koh Kong. As the founder of shared art space Ti Samjort, she has built up a strong portfolio both at home and abroad. Her experimental style sees her play with materials in installations, paintings, drawings, pyrography, calligraphy and fabrics.

From the banks of the enchanting Tatai River, Vatey will invite resort guests and neighbouring communities to join creative workshops that explore pyrography, ink, blind drawing and other forms of what she calls “poetic practice”.

“This isn’t necessarily to gain technical skills but to try a variety of poetic practices that make us connect to our own individual senses and stimulate our creativity so that anything can be everything,” she says, adding she hopes the sessions will offer a form of mental respite. “During Covid, projects like ARTcation can turn hotels alive in other ways, give people more energy and bring new experiences to everyone.”

Tan Vatey, founder of shared art space Ti Samjort

Teang Borin, famed for his ethereal reinventions of the classical Apsara dancer, will be in residence at Navutu Dream Resort in Siem Reap. Commonly known as Din, the abstract artist will introduce his artwork and style, host live painting sessions and take guests out into the province’s pristine countryside for landscape sketching.

Budding artists can also visit the temples of Angkor, where Din will demonstrate how he captures the details of the ancient structures and recreate them in modern means. “This is a good way to support each other’s communities,” he says, adding he hopes attendees will also visit Siem Reap and spend money in a town that has been hit hard by the tourism ban.

Conceptual portrait photographer Neak Sophal will be at Kep’s Knai Bang Chatt. She will carry out workshops to help photographers perfect the art of portraits and use film processing techniques that create a vintage-style picture. She also hopes to use the time to continue experimenting with a project she has been working on since last year.

“This is a good chance for artists to stay in new environments, especially quiet places, and get inspiration to create artworks,” she says. “For guests, it’s a good chance to chat and learn about Cambodian artists.”

Conceptual photographer Neak Sophal

Elsewhere, at Amber Kampot revered classical and contemporary dancer Hun Pen will share Apsara dance techniques and create her own improvisation inspired by the resort’s riverside setting. Leng Kimsreang will host sessions transforming trash and recycled material into art at Maisons Wat Kor in Battambang. While MB Baty and Sovan Philong invite guests at Le Relais de Chhlong to learn about painting and photography before planting trees and creating artwork at two nearby schools.

Participating hotels have put on special packages during ARTcation, and there are already plans in the pipeline for a second edition. A collaborative exhibition of all the artists’ work is also planned to take place in Phnom Penh later this year. “This is a really exciting opportunity for anyone who is passionate about art,” says Monika.


The workshops take place between February 22 and 28. For more information, visit


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