Friday, January 30, 2009


Rooms have been put on hold at the Artina Suites Hotel for participants in the The Great Filipino Easter Photo Tour. Situated in the heart of Makati City’s Poblacion Barangay (suburb) within easy walking distance of the Folk Art Shrines and the 2 Holy Week processions will pass the door. The closest shrine is literally a minute’s walk from the hotel’s front door.

Having stayed there myself, I can attest to the quality of the rooms and the service. And when in Manila, my friends have also stayed there and all have reported positively on their stay. Click here for more info about Artina Suites Hotel and remember your breakfast each morning (Filipino or continental) is included in the room tariff.

The Great Filipino Easter Photo Tour is for 6 days and nights with 10 photographically interesting locations that have been discovered by your tour guide, a professional photographer/artist, in his 4 years of living and working in the Philippines. To find out more about the tour click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It Pays to Have Balls

Preferably three. As banks head south and the credit crunch starts to bite, it seems that pawnbrokers are becoming the winners. In Britain the tightening of credit has seen the clientele for the local hock shop move decidedly upmarket.

Their shop windows glitter with Rolex watches, diamond rings and gold bracelets, making them look more like a jewelers'. And second hand is becoming the new chic, a Rolex is a Rolex whether you paid full retail or 50% off.

My problem is that a Picasso at 50% off still has way to many zeros for my wallet, sigh.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gus Albor

I have finally had the good fortune to catch up with Gus Albor’s work over the past few days. I had seen his work on my computer via his web site, but invariably the small screen cannot do the justice to an art work that the meeting with it in person provides.

Albor currently has two exhibitions showing around town and a third that closed a couple of days ago.

“Art After 40” is a group exhibition at the Sining Kamalig Gallery in Cabao’s Gateway Mall. Details are a little hazy as the visit was the culmination of a very enjoyable and decidedly long lunch with arty friends and, would you believe, pen and paper were not to hand. From memory, he has five works on display, mostly large acrylic on canvas paintings whose neighbours intruded upon the conversation. That being said a smaller of his works remains vivid in my memory, its clarity of vision and the artist’s ability to step back from the every day is most impressive. Its title escapes me, but it is on the right behind the gallerist’s desk.

“Found and Lost Objects” is at Silverlens’ 20Square gallery which is small even by Manila standards, more of a walk in wardrobe than a tradition gallery. But Albor’s 11 pieces work well in the space. They are intimate works with a surface whimsicality that fortunately doesn’t obscure their often biting and/or satirical inspiration. For me the stand out piece was “Mother and Child” which in its Duchampian simplicity gave me a “wish I had thought of that” moment as together we explored this most fundamental of human relationships.

I missed his Alliance Fran├žaise exhibition as Alliance Fran├žaise is one of my least favourite exhibition venues. The restaurant exhibition combination always makes me feel conspicuous, as a stranger stares at my crotch as I stare at the picture above their head. And I am pretty sure it does little for the dining experience.

To catch the Sining Kamalig exhibition on the upper level of the Gatway Mall in Cubao you will need to pretty quick on your toes. “Found and Lost Objects” exhibition at 20Square gallery 2/F YMC Building, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City is on until February 7. Whilst at 20Square you can also take in “Library Bookworks” in the SLab gallery. There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Gallery

Marc Nader teaches photography at the American University in Beirut and when not imparting his knowledge he makes fine art photographs. Many of which he displays on his web site

He has recently expanded his site to include guest galleries and yours truly is amongst the first to be featured there. Follow this link to see which images from my portfolio made the cut.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Titles Matter

The two current exhibitions at Silverlens, Stella Kalaw’s “Family Spaces” in the main gallery and Renato Orara’s “Library Bookworks” in the SLab gallery investigate the importance of titles and their relationship with the associated image.

In “Family Spaces” Kalaw presents “a series of photographs of her immediate family members' homes all over the world.” In the main these are well composed and technically excellent photographs which admirable display Kalaw’s skills with her camera and in the dark/light room.

But without their titles and the associated artist’s statement their significance is greatly diminished. These interiors could have been taken anywhere and, where this is in part the author’s intention, without her drawing the viewers notice to the fact they could have been taken in my home in Australia before I immigrated to the Philippines. There is little that a non-Filipino would identify as being Filipino. And when viewed with this stateless persona they become nice photos of which many examples can be found on Flickr. In fact this exhibition could well be an example of what Tom Wolfe lampoons in his book “The Painted Word”.

Over the bridge in the SLab gallery Renato Orara presents “Library Bookworks,” an exhibition of a hidden installation. Orara has defaced 15 books with the rendering of a human ear on one page in each book. The books have been placed in 15 Libraries throughout the Philippines, one book in each library. The SLab exhibition is a series of photographs of the defaced page from each book along with clues to the locations of the originals with their pen and ink drawings.

By the placement of the rendering over a section of text from a book, that text becomes the de facto title of the work, the significance of which the artist invites the viewer to ponder. And with some of these titles being several sentences long there is plenty of food for thought, especially with the selected text being taken out of the Hurley Burley of the story’s narrative.

That the chosen rendering is of a human ear, whilst encouraging the viewer to use more than one sense to experience the works, underscores the oral tradition of the medium. The choice of books for these renderings also emphasizes that tradition, from a written record of an oral history in the Odyssey to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. With the latter being a book my parents read out loud to me as a child and which I in turn read, in a like manner, to my children.

Then there is the treasure hunt, searching out the originals from the clues provided at the exhibition. Like a search for that perfect gift for a loved one or for the art work that speaks to the heart, the journey is half the fun. This is a project that will keep on giving whilst one scours the nation’s libraries. And being the lackadaisical tourist that I am, I now have an incentive to visit Baguio which has been on my “to do” list for some time.

“Library Bookworks” is highly recommended, especially if you are a fan of the written word as well as the visual arts. In these few words about it I have only skimmed the surface. The defacing of the books and the associated concept that the act of creation is an act of destruction, I will leave you to ponder at your leisure.

Stella Kalaw’s “Family Spaces” exhibition is at the Silverlens main gallery until the 7th of February and Renato Orara’s “Library Bookworks” is at the SLab gallery until the 14th of February. Both galleries can be found at 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City and more info can be found online at .

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rework of Airline Sign No 1

A friend in the States suggested this rework and she was right. Many thanks Barb.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Power of the Internet

The www is a wonderful place that can and does interconnect people from all corners of the globe. We can strut their stuff, like this blog, and a wealth of information is at our finger tips. But it can also be a monster for the unwary.

Take the case of artist Joanne Mattera and her self named art blog. Fed up with the ageism in the arts that favors the under thirties she decided to curate an exhibition for the over fifties. Called “50 over 50” she was going to show 50 works of art created by professional artists aged fifty or more. Her big mistake was to make it an open submission.

In her own words, “There were almost 100 submissions in my inbox this morning! When I posted this project here on the blog, I was thinking of it as something to involve my readers. Apparently the full text of this post was distributed by several arts organizations to their electronic bulletin boards and list serves.”

And the upshot? Again in her own words, “I cannot imagine processing 100 entries every day, or even half that, for the next two months. I am a working artist who maintains this blog as a labor of love. So with deep regrets I'm canceling this project.”

It’s a shame, it could have been an interesting exhibition. But I can sympathize with her, although part of me says mmmmm “Shoulda seen that one coming”.

On a positive note, through internet activity by friends and supporters of JPG Magazine, it has been given a new lease of life, 200,000 fans cannot be ignored. Seems the noise they were able to make has seen some viable life lines being thrown. As reported in their latest blog post “we have multiple credible buyers interested in giving JPG a home.”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's How Big

The US in their current fiscal mess are bailing out (ie throwing money at) financial institutions and auto makers. The pre-requisite seems to be part of “the too big to fail” corporate world.

Over at the Joanne Mattera Art Blog she points out the size of the arts industry and asks "Where’s the bailout for the arts?" An interesting read if you want to get an indication of just how much the arts effects your daily life.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Over at Ed Winkleman’s self named site he, in his wisdom, opened the under-graduate first year can of worms, er debate, about the existence of God rather than his usual insightful discussions about art.

As to be expected the comments section lit up, although somewhat less than some of his arty offerings can attract. (Perhaps all is not lost.)

In amongst the comments was one from a regular commentator, Franklyn, who points readers in the direction of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Which is an amusing if cheeky spoof on Intelligent Design and its proposed introduction into the Kansas’ school curriculum.

If you are a fully paid up member of the true believers it may not be the best site for your blood pressure.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Reports of their Death are Gravely Premature


There was a certain glee apparent through the crocodile tears on certain photography blogs as they announced the demise of JPG Magazine a few days ago. Amidst the expressed regret were pompous ponderings that ranged from “the demise clearly shows that for a photography magazine to be able to survive it needs to offer something that you can't easily find online” to “running on wishful thinking, like a lot of the economy in the past couple years”.

Now, I am not a great fan of the magazine as they don’t like digitally abstracted work (mumble, mutter, sigh, complain). Earlier this year I had a stouch with the previous editor, Derek Powazek, over the content of the magazine and its exclusion of abstracted photography. See here if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyhow the armchair pundits all seem to have jumped the gun as the latest post on the JPG Blog indicates that there are some life lines out there. Perhaps this is another example of a resurrection if a tad secular.

Monday, January 05, 2009

How Did You Kick the World Today

Came across this pic at the photo sharing site Photography

Kick © Marcel T 2008
An eloquent depiction of man's disregard for nature. Made by the Canadian photographer who travels under the name of Marcel T, it could well be the poster child for the Green movement.
Definitely deserves a spot in the pic of the week category. More of Marcel's work can be seen on Flickr.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year, New Book

Finally got my hands on the proof copy of my latest publishing venture; Pixel Perfect.
It is the first time I have published anything thing through Blurb and I must say I am pretty impressed with the quality. The reproductions in the book look just like my canvas prints, only on a somewhat smaller scale. (The book isn’t 4’ wide)

Pixel Perfect covers my best work from 2006 to 2008, 53 photographs in 104 pages. But hey, check out a preview of the first 15 pages here. And at $US44.95 for the soft cover edition it is pretty kind to the old credit card. Hard cover editions are available, but expect to pay more, that thick cardboard used for the cover is expensive.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

The Christmas break here in the Philippines has turned into a bit of a nightmare for small business. Usually over the Christmas/New Year period there are 4 public holidays, but this year President Arroyo, in her wisdom, declared an extra 3 non working holidays. Which with weekends added into the mix makes for 11 days without essential services like banks and the post office.

Great break for the wage slaves or nice overtime for major shop employees, but ATM’s are running out of money and it gives a whole new meaning to the old saying, “the cheque is in the mail”. Roll on Jan 5 and some normality.