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Dasmanila: Recycled Art to be exhibited in Sydney, Australia

“There’s a lot in the Philippines that is so not Asian like architecture, food, streets and languages etc.” says Dr. Rick Bennett, founder of Omnium Collaborative Communities, an online global design studio and professor from College of Fine Arts, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. “But the people are incredibly resourceful in terms of task submissions and meeting deadlines. It’s always a Yes culture.“ He continues. What used to be a few vacation trips to the Philippines led Dr. Bennett to help local communities through art and design projects. He said this task is basically composed of designers who “start something they haven’t done before, see where it goes but sometimes it goes nowhere.”

[re]frame Manila for the Women of Lumban, LagunaDr. Bennett describes the community of Lumban as very religious and where he learns to drink Tanduay with the locals. The main source of livelihood for the women is embroidery and for men is wood work. They were asked to submit designs to be installed in wooden frames as a permanent artwork in the hallway of De La Salle – College of St. Benilde’s School of Design and Arts in Malate, Manila. During the inauguration, these women were invited and most of them almost cried as they see their masterpieces beautifully arranged on top. It was all about respect and recognition. None of them talked about the money they were paid for. He remembers these women who never stops eating while doing it before. After the ceremony, though they were given hotels to sleep for a night, a number of them wanted to sleep near or under the artwork.

DasManila for the Women of DasmariƱas, CaviteDasmariƱas is a community where a number of people recycle garbage by gathering, cleaning and weaving by hand. Interesting enough, Dr. Bennett searched those who can make a craft out of it and came up with a design of a flower where Manila is named after, the “nilad”. He shares what blocks him to keep his project on going smoothly is the rampant red tape for public places. He thinks that corruption in this country is probably the worst of all public concerns. Good thing he found Ayala Museum where the visibility is superb to display his art work. He received many positive feedbacks and on March 15th this year, DasManila will be exhibited in Sydney Australia.

One attitude that Dr. Bennett doesn’t get about Filipinos is during negotiation about payments, instead of getting a straight answer of how much they wanted to get paid, they look around or scratch their head and make confusing facial expressions. He thinks that this is a negative attitude, which makes a person weak and gives more opportunity to be screwed up. He has projects currently on – going and would like to do more. He ends his talk by saying “design is for global community, not to elite people only.”

Image taken from “Creative Outreach: Social Development Through Art & Design” with Dr. Rick Bennett of the University of New South Wales, Australia on January 29, 2011, 3:30 pm at the Luna Room, Ayala Museum in Makati City.

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