Giving the gift of portraits to Cambodians

‘These people don’t even have a photograph of themselves’

Local artist Dave Davies will be giving 16 watercolour portraits as gifts in Cambodia.

Local artist Dave Davies will be giving 16 watercolour portraits as gifts in Cambodia.

Few residents of Siem Reap in Cambodia have photographs of themselves, so when sixteen people receive portraits by local artist Dave Davies, pleased might be an understatement.

“We gave one to a hotel worker (last year) and it was just unbelievable the way her eyes lit up, just so gracious,” he said.

Davies is a resident artist at The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach, member of the Arrowsmith chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists and a member of the local De Cosmos Fine Arts Society. He moved to Canada from England with his wife Anne in 1973. After teaching in England, Prince Rupert and the West Kootenays, he retired to the area in 2004. He has now been painting for about 17 years and watercolour remains his medium of choice. Dave particularly likes to paint old things, including wood and rock, he said, “anything with texture.”

For the past seven years, Dave and Ann have been traveling to Cambodia to visit their daughter and grandchildren there. The majority of Cambodians live in poverty and many are victims of land mines left behind from the Khmer Rouge era.

Dave has been painting and selling local oyster shells for five years, raising $5,000 for residents of Cambodia. The couple is helping put a land mine victim through University in Phnom Penh and are also supporting the Green Gecko Project, which houses and educates former street children.

After giving portraits to a couple residents of Siem Reap last year, Dave got many requests. He began photographing some of the residents and has now painted 16 watercolour portraits and will be taking them along as gifts this month.

“Most of these people probably don’t even have a photograph of themselves, let alone a painting. Whereas a donation of money is appreciated, and goes a lot further there than here, this is something that will stay with them a lot longer.”


Among Dave’s wonderful watercolour paintings at TOSH, he continues to sell oyster shells adorned with sweet little acrylic scenes, with proceeds going to those in need in Cambodia. He will also personalize the shells upon request. He and his wife are heading on their annual trip to Cambodia Oct. 31. For more on Dave’s artistic work visit or e-mail: