Merry Christmas

By Tessa Bunney on 24 December 2016

Christmas Wreaths from the series FarmerFlorist.

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NOVICE exhibition extended

By Tessa Bunney on 19 June 2016

Exhibition dates extended until June 25th!

Now showing in Vientiane at the Maison de la Culture – photographs of Poy Sang Long and Shinbyu Buddhist ordination ceremonies in rural Thailand and Myanmar by myself and fellow British photographer, Mick Shippen.

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Coming soon to Vientiane

By Tessa Bunney on 18 May 2016

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Kayah State, Myanmar

By Tessa Bunney on 28 January 2016

I spent last week exploring a small part of Kayah State (formerly known as Karenni), the smallest of Myanmar’s states bordering Thailand’s north western province of Mae Hong Son.

Until recently Kayah State was completely closed to foreigners but began slowly opening up in 2006 with areas only within a 25 km radius of Loikaw allowed, now it is also possible to visit some more remoter areas with a permit.

Decades of armed conflict between the Government and ethnic armed groups has left Myanmar strewn with landmines with Kayah State one of the most affected. In 2012 all of Kayah’s active major ethnic armed groups signed individual ceasefire agreements with the Government bringing hope for a lasting peace to enable landmine clearance to begin.

To see Dean Chapman’s photographs of the Karenni made between 1990 and 1997 click here.

According to NGO Burmalink, there are currently over 110,000 refugees residing in the Thailand-Burma border camps and more than 600,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in Burma. Despite Burma’s opening up in recent years, very few displaced people have spontaneously returned home.

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Myanmar is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Southeast Asia with 135 different indigenous ethnic groups. While the name Karenni (‘Red Karen’) is taken from the brightly coloured clothing of the largest ethnic group, the Kayah, there are over a dozen ethnic Karenni subgroups that inhabit the region. Perhaps, the most well known of which are the Kayan (Padaung) due to the traditional practice of the Kayan women extending their necks with brass rings.

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They look exotic but all the women I met were also friendly, funny and had plenty of stories to tell. They also hand weave all their own clothes.

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Exhibition in Vientiane – coming soon!

By Tessa Bunney on 18 November 2015

Kin Khao.

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In the air, on the road and up the river

By Tessa Bunney on 25 August 2015

Finally after what has seemed like an endless summer I am heading back to Phongsaly province to continue working on my story about the Nam Ou river. The rainy season is a very beautiful time of year in Laos but travelling has its hazards – flight cancellations, landslides, slippery footpaths and roads, potential flooding not to mention the small personal inconvenience of leeches! I am away from 27th August to 3rd September with no internet access but you can probably reach me on my mobile: +856 205864 6100.

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Back to Laos

By Tessa Bunney on 7 August 2015

Today we begin the long journey back to Laos – for what is likely to be our last 6 months. During my summer in England I have been dreaming and planning about the places I still haven’t visited and which ones I want to see again before we leave Asia. First stop though will be back to the The Nam Ou river.

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In the UK

By Tessa Bunney on 24 July 2015

I am currently in the UK until 7th August. Please contact me on my mobile 07850 740254.

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Picture of the Week – 29.6.15 – Construction and relocation

By Tessa Bunney on 29 June 2015

Currently, down in the Nam Ou river valley, the first phase of construction on the Nam Ou Cascade Hydropower Project by Chinese corporation Sinohydro has begun, the project will generate electricity, 90% of which will be exported to other countries in the region. The project will directly affect many villages through construction, reservoir impoundment and back flooding resulting in loss of land and assets and village relocation.

DSCF5906ccConstruction of Nam Ou Cascade Hydropower Project Dam 6 in Phongsaly…

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Picture of the Week – 26.6.15 – The Nam Ou

By Tessa Bunney on 26 June 2015

When I first visited the 200 year old Laoseng ethnic minority village of Ban Watai back in 2013, a few months after arriving in Laos, I took the local bus to Hatsa and a small boat along the Nam Ou river to the village, I was just passing through on my way to the Akha village of Chakhampa. Now the river is blocked by the Nam Ou Cascade Hydropower Project Dam 6.

Not long after, the village cleared the forest and moved everything to a temporary location away from the river to make way for the water when the dam…

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Picture of the Week – 18.6.15 – The Auspicious Day

By Tessa Bunney on 18 June 2015

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The Auspicious Day 18.5.15 in the Brokpa village of Merak, Eastern Bhutan

 

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Picture of the Week – 9.6.15 – Migration

By Tessa Bunney on 9 June 2015

The Brokpa, the semi-nomads of the villages of Merak and Sakteng have maintained many of their unique traditions and customs. During my recent trip to Eastern Bhutan I was lucky to be present as a Brokpa family prepare to head off to their summer pastures with their zhomo (male yak and female cow cross).

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Pema’s auntie prepared lunch with lots of tea drinking to see them off on their journey. It’s fair to say that…

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The highlanders of Bhutan

By Tessa Bunney on 5 June 2015

DSCF5684Heading up to the 4200m Nachung-La pass | 20 May 2015

I have safely returned from the epic journey to visit the Brokpa people in Eastern Bhutan none the worse for a surfeit of yak products and a few friendly tiger leeches… The wonderful welcome from the Brokpa people more than made up for the effects of altitude – I have never eaten so little and walked so much with so little energy.

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Picture of the Week – 12.5.15 – Bhutan

By Tessa Bunney on 12 April 2015

Bhutan - Rural life - A Layap woman from Laya holding a ball of sheep wool which was spun using a drop spindle called a Yoekpa

A Layap woman from Laya holds a ball of sheep wool which was spun using a drop spindle called a Yoekpa in Punakha, Western Bhutan | December 2014.

The Layap are inhabitants of the northernmost region of Bhutan. Their clothes are woven from yak hair and wool. They are a…

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Picture of the Week – 8.4.15 – The Yumbri

By Tessa Bunney on 8 April 2015

I first met members of Laos’ smallest ethnic group, the Yumbri at the Sayaboury Elephant Festival although I had already read a lot about them. It was one of the saddest things I have come across in Laos to see them sitting in a hut roped off from the gawping and photographing general public. The government had invited them to build a ‘model house’, a shelter made from bamboo and leaves and there they stayed with a big donation box to help raise some money for their daily living expenses.

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Revisiting my first personal project

By Tessa Bunney on 1 April 2015

You never forget your first personal project. In 1990 I bought my first car (a slightly unreliable orange Citroen 2CV for £300) and travelled around the coast of England and Wales photographing the remaining manned lighthouses.

“I thought I had a job for life” Portland Bill lighthouse, Aug 1991 from the series Living in a Lamp Post. Portland Bill was automated in 1996 and the process of automating all the lighthouses finished in 1998.

I’ll be sharing photos from this story this coming week over on Instagram @tessabunney

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Picture of the Week – 21.3.15 – From the archive

By Tessa Bunney on 1 April 2015

Andrew Sheppy and Alistair the Oxford Sandy and Black piglet taken in my home village in Somerset back in 1986 when I was still a student at Farnham. The first picture I ever sold was from this series and was published on the front page of one of the (then) Fleet Street newspapers.

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Picture of the Week – 2.3.15 – The Corridor of Opportunity.

By Tessa Bunney on 1 April 2015

Washing and relaxing in Nameuang hot springs after working in the fields, Houaphan province, Lao PDR.

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Picture of the Week – 23.2.15 – The Corridor of Opportunity

By Tessa Bunney on 23 February 2015

There’s nothing like a bit of trekking and road tripping through rural Laos… Recently back from a trip through Phongsaly, Oudomxay and Sayaboury provinces, I have many photos and stories to share over the coming weeks.

A Prai (Lao Mai) ethnic minority woman gathers broom grass (Kok Kham) along the roadside in Sayaboury province which will later be made into brooms to be sold at her roadside stall. Watching life go by whilst driving through the three provinces, this was the main seasonal occupation of the rural communities of all…

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Picture of the Week – 9.2.15 – The Corridor of Opportunity

By Tessa Bunney on 9 February 2015

With the wonders of technology I am able to write this post in advance and schedule it for posting several days later so by the time this is live I will already be in a remote village high in the mountains of Phongsaly province.

The last time I visited the remote Akha Nuquie village of Ban Chakhampa it was an hour bus ride from Phongsaly, an hour boat trip along the Nam Ou river and several hours steep hike from the river to the village. Now though, the village has a road courtesy of the Nam Ou Hydropower project so…

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