Tuesday, June 27 2017

VietNamNews

Old man paints alley way

Update: May, 28/2017 - 09:00
Top talent: Thịnh’s murals feature children playing.—VNS Photo Bạch Liên
Viet Nam News

An old man in Hà Nội has made a great difference to a small road near his home.

Cao Chí Thịnh has painted all sorts of pictures on the walls beside the road.

Before he did this, the road was untidy.

People say that Cao Chí Thịnh sometimes gets ill if he is not painting.

By  Bạch Liên

If you live in Hà Nội, you may already be familiar with the city’s dirty public walls, which are often covered with graffiti and scraps of advertisements, tainting the face of the capital.

There is, however, a unique alley in Hà Nội where you can admire walls decorated with colourful scenes and pleasant murals

Even more interesting is that these paintings were created by an old citizen over the last ten years, with a modest pension and a lot of passion.

The unique location is Ao Dài Alley, just off Điện Cơ Street (in Bắc Từ Liêm District), and the 94-year-old amateur artist is named Cao Chí Thịnh.

Over the last 10 years, despite the difficulties of old age, he has worked tirelessly to brighten up the alley with his murals.

Thịnh’s neighbours say that he suffers from heart disease and spends much of his time at the hospital, shying away from the media spotlight. However, the people who know him are keen to emphasise his cheerful personality.

“We all appreciate him a lot as he is very kind. He offered us vegetables grown in his garden and a collection of poetry he wrote… But his main passion is painting. 

Whenever he was unable to paint, his health became worse,” said Trịnh Thị Thu, a woman who lives in the alley.

“At the beginning, he painted on a wall of his house. After we saw the beautiful mural, we invited him to paint on our walls too,” she recalls.  The small alley, only 300 metres in length, is home to dozens of Thịnh’s pieces, created over the last decade. A stroll along the alley will take you past all of the murals, covering a range of themes; from supporting environmental protection, to encouraging family planning, or inspiring young children to work hard.

In one corner, you can read a poem about President Hồ Chí Minh that Thịnh composed himself, accompanied by a painting of flowers. Next to this, you can see the late President’s slogan "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom” that Thịnh meticulously painted on the wall.

In another corner is a bright painting of children playing folk games and flying kites with their parents. A little further are images of children growing trees, and household objects as well as domestic animals.

As a great admirer of President Hồ, Thịnh also decorated his home with portraits of the late President hung on the walls alongside more traditional landscape paintings.

Trần Thị Mai, another woman living in the alley said, “He is old but very industrious. Even on sunny days, he kept painting, wearing a shirt, standing on a chair, until he was bathed in sweat.”

For a more beautiful alley

The paintings have embellished the walls and the alley.

“Previously, this alley looked very untidy. The most of the house walls were old and dirty. Thanks to his paintings, the walls are much more beautiful. Not only children but older people like me enjoy looking at his works,” Mai added.

Phạm Quang Hưng, head of living quarter number 2 of Đức Thắng Ward said, “Thịnh is not a professional artist (he worked as a doorkeeper at the Ministry of Home Trade), so when we watched the first paintings take shape, we were very surprised. They were very beautiful. We love them as they convey very meaningful messages. We are also touched by his kindness, and he spent his pension on paints and brushes to paint on the walls”.

The name of Ao Dài (Long Pond) Alley was also dreamt up by Thịnh.

Previously, this alley didn’t have a name. At the end of it, there was a pond. So Thịnh used to call it the "Alley of Long Pond" as a joke. The name grew on us, so eventually the inhabitants chose it as the official name,” Hưng said.

Hồ Thị Minh Tâm, president of the club of aged people in Đức Thắng Ward said, “The poems and the paintings he made are very meaningful to the community, so we are very touched by his enthusiasm and kindness.”

Recently, the Youth Association of Đức Thắng Ward hung baskets of flowers along the walls.

Children in the alley can enjoy the playground with its new see-saw that he created some years ago. The playground was also decorated with his colourful paintings.

“My grandfather does all of this because of his passion, not because of the compliments from his neighbours. He used to tell me that he hopes his paintings can help teach children to live a useful life when they grow up”, said Lan Anh, one of Thịnh’s granddaughters, who lives next door.   VNS

GLOSSARY

If you live in Hà Nội, you may already be familiar with the city’s dirty public walls, which are often covered with graffiti and scraps of advertisements, tainting the face of the capital.

To be familiar with something means to know it.

Graffiti means art in public places. It is usually done illegally.

Tainting means making something dirty.

There is, however, a unique alley in Hà Nội where you can admire walls decorated with colourful scenes and pleasant murals

An alley is a small, narrow road.

If something is unique there is only one of it.

Murals are works of art on walls.

Even more interesting is that these paintings were created by an old citizen over the last ten years, with a modest pension and a lot of passion.

A pension is money saved up for you to spend on living when you are old. A modest pension is one that is not a lot but also not too little.

A passion is a feeling of being so interested in something you do not mind how much time or money you spend on it.

The unique location is Ao Dài Alley, just off Điện Cơ Street (in Bắc Từ Liêm District), and the 94-year-old amateur artist is named Cao Chí Thịnh.

An amateur artist is someone who does art as a hobby rather than an artist who makes his or her living from doing art.

Over the last 10 years, despite the difficulties of old age, he has worked tirelessly to brighten up the alley with his murals.

To work tirelessly means to do so with lots of energy.

Thịnh’s neighbours say that he suffers from heart disease and spends much of his time at the hospital, shying away from the media spotlight.

To shy away from something means to not want to be the focus of attention.

The media spotlight is a person or a topic that newspapers, radio stations and television stations focus on as an important news item.

However, the people who know him are keen to emphasise his cheerful personality.

Emphasise means stress, or underline.

A person’s personality is his or her character and nature.

The small alley, only 300 metres in length, is home to dozens of Thịnh’s pieces, created over the last decade. “

A decade is a period of ten years.

“A stroll along the alley will take you past all of the murals, covering a range of themes; from supporting environmental protection, to encouraging family planning, or inspiring young children to work hard.”

A stroll is a slow walk.

A range of themes means many different subjects.

Family planning is the idea of not having too many children in a short space of time.

In one corner, you can read a poem about President Hồ Chí Minh that Thịnh composed himself, accompanied by a painting of flowers.

To compose a poem means to write a poem.

Next to this, you can see the late President’s slogan "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom” that Thịnh meticulously painted on the wall.

If a person is referred to as “the late” it means he or she is dead.

Meticulously means very carefully and with great attention to detail.

A little further are images of children growing trees, and household objects as well as domestic animals.

Domestic animals are creatures like cats, dogs, sheep and cows, which are used to living with humans and are not wild.

Trần Thị Mai, another woman living in the alley said, “He is old but very industrious.

Someone who is industrious works very carefully and very hard.

The paintings have embellished the walls and the alley.

Embellished means decorated.

“We are also touched by his kindness, and he spent his pension on paints and brushes to paint on the walls”.

To be touched means to have a strong feeling come about within you in reaction to something.

 “Previously, this alley didn’t have a name.”

Previously means beforehand.

“The name grew on us, so eventually the inhabitants chose it as the official name,” Hưng said.

Inhabitants of a place are people who live there.

“My grandfather does all of this because of his passion, not because of the compliments from his neighbours.”

When someone gives you compliments, they say nice things about you.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. The state of the alley way before Cao Chí Thịnh started painting it.
  2. Money people save up to spend in their old age.
  3. Devices children play with by flying them in the sky.
  4. Containers that can be hanged up, filled with flowers.
  5. Food that Cao Chí Thịnh grows and gives to people.

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Untidy; 2. Pension; 3. Kites; 4. Baskets; 5. Vegetables.

 

 

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