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Wartime scrap reborn as works of art

Update: December, 06/2012 - 10:24

Smithereens: A oil lamp made from a grenade.— VNS Photos Truong Vi

 

Tools for thought: A visitor looks at objects made from wartime scrap metal.

HA NOI (VNS)— Visitors to an exhibition that opened in Ha Noi on Monday praised the way Vietnamese people had used optimism, creativity and ingenuity during hard times to transform scrap metal from weapons into objects such as oil lamps, ashtrays, furniture and even musical instrument.

The exhibition titled Toi Ke Chuyen Nay (I Tell This Story) has 50 objects on show from a private collection belonging to journalist Nguyen Ngoc Tien from Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper.

Tien's passion for war memorabilia is well known, and he has opened a coffee shop to display some of the finest items from his collection for the first time.

All of the objects on show were made from the remains of weapons used by French and US forces, including helmets made from mortars, gongs fashioned from bombs, grenade oil lamps, and vases crafted from spent ammunition.

"I've been collecting for a long time now, and thanks to support from my newspaper, I've been able to organise this exhibition," said Tien.

"The event coincides with the 40th anniversary of the victorious ‘Dien Bien Phu in the Air' campaign."

"I named my exhibition I Tell This Story because I think each exhibit has a different tale to tell," he said.

One of those is a set of metal furniture crafted by an old man from the fuselage of an American aircraft shot down over Ha Noi during the US air blitz on the city in 1972. The wreckage was taken to Thu Le Park where the old man ran a tea shop. He took some remnants of the aircraft home and fashioned it into a small stylish table with six stools that can be slotted conveniently away.

To convince some of the owners to part with their possessions, Tien explained that he was a collector and enthusiast who wanted to open an exhibition to display the objects. He also promised to provide a description of the items' origin and the names of their former owners.

"I explained to them the historical value of the objects and expressed my worry that one day they may be sold as scrap metal or damaged," Tien said.

Tien said he's ready to donate the collection to a museum if there is a guarantee the artefacts will be on permanent display.

Visitor Nguyen Phong, a veteran, was moved when he saw and touched the objects displayed at the exhibition.

"They evoke my memories of war," he said.

"For adults, it's like a step back in time, and for young people, it reminds them how hard the previous generations fought for peace," he added.

The exhibition will run until Saturday at Exhibition House, 29 Hang Bai Street, Ha Noi. — VNS

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