Australian gov’t supports Sagada potters

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Pottery rarely takes the spotlight on the Philippine art scene, except for a few galleries that highlight the value and solemnity of this intricate art form.

Art Informal, a gallery  leading on the promotion of pottery in the Philippines, is again partnering with the Australian Embassy, Cav Wine Shop-Café, and Wine Depot for “Ub Ubbo 2011,” an exhibition of artworks by contemporary potters.

Distinctively made stoneware by indigenous Sagada potters Teresita Baldo, Siegrid Bangyay, Lope Bosaing and Jesse Degay, and  Putik Potters Association of the Philippines (PPAP) members Pablo Capati III, Joey de Castro, Jo Geraldo, and Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn are on display at Cav Wine Shop-Café until Nov. 29.

“This exhibit enables Sagada potters to develop their art, bring it to Manila, and expose their products to a wider audience, and I guess it’s safe to say, that it has developed quite a cult following,” Australian Embassy deputy head of mission Andrew Byrne said.

The Australian Embassy, he added, provides “a small injection of funds and capital” to provide Sagada artists with the tools they need to unleash their social and economic potential.

“It’s really rewarding for us to see that happening now,” Byrne said.

Byrne is pleased that promoting the works of Sagada potters has also fostered links between them and the Aborigine potters of  Australia.

A joint exhibit at Vargas Museum will be the culmination of a project that began in 2009 when the Australian Embassy’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) donated a quarter of a million pesos as initial fund for a pottery training center in Sagada.

Kiln project

Through the efforts of visiting Australian artist Sean Cassidy, the project— Sagada Kiln Project—aims to preserve Sagada’s ancient pottery tradition. In the past five years, DAP has already provided P6 million to support income-generating initiatives of indigenous people in the Philippines.

Bosaing said there were seven active potters in Sagada, but the training center, with its own wood-fired kiln, was opening its doors to local and foreign tourists who wanted to learn pottery.

“I feel it’s an accomplishment that collectors are now seeing the value of pottery,” Art Informal’s Tina Fernandez said. “Art Informal’s role is to let collectors, who spend millions on artworks, paintings, sculptures by famous artists, know the value of the pieces. You just have to bite the bullet. Sometimes the more fragile something is, the more beautiful it is, thus, you have to care more for it.”

Visit www.philippines.embassy.gov.au.

E-mail the author at dextermatilla@gmail.com or visit his blog at www.thedxmatillashow.blogspot.com.

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