The first of its kind for Sydney, The Bayanihan Philippine Art Project is a collaborative multi venue celebration that presents numerous opportunities to discover and explore Filipino art and cultural practice across the city this winter.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Blacktown Arts Centre, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Mosman Art Gallery and Peacock Gallery & Auburn Arts Studio, in association with Museums & Galleries NSW, are partnering to present a multi-arts program that celebrates contemporary art and culture of the Philippines and the strong ties that this country has to Australia.

The art of the Philippines has been largely under-represented and under-explored in visual arts programming in many Australian cultural institutions. This project seeks to redress the imbalance and to examine the diversity of contemporary art forms and artists of the Philippines and present them to Australian audiences.

Mosman Art Gallery on Sydney’s North Shore is taking a lead role in the project with its presentation of Halò – an exhibition by internationally acclaimed installation artists, Alfredo Juan Aquilizan and Isabel Gaudinez-Aquilizan, alongside the creative talents of Sydney based multi-media artist, JD Reforma.

Perhaps the most ambitious installation ever to be shown at Mosman, the belly of the Gallery has been filled with a large scale construction that dominates the main exhibition spaces. The Aquilizan’s ‘fleet’ of military-like vessels, amassed and waiting mid-journey and all handmade from ubiquitous cardboard boxes, appears in whole floating between two floor levels. It is a powerful and challenging statement sensitive to the social and complex issues of migration and of the artists’ own personal history and transient experiences.

These much in demand contemporary art practitioners supplement the exhibition with significant works from their own archive reflecting the artist’s practice of recycling materials and works wherever possible.

Taking over the Gallery’s Cube Space and it surrounding walls, is the work of JD Reforma, a young Sydney based artist with Filipino family heritage. Reforma’s layered video works convey aspects of the complex and often violent ways in which American culture has entered the Filipino psyche.

In his digital and popular soundtrack mash-up ‘Coconut Republic’ (2017), five films convey conflict, linked by the fact that each was shot on location in The Philippines but set elsewhere; Filipino jungles and landscapes serving as an aesthetic stand-in.

Reforma also investigates notions of popular culture and the cult of celebrity in his darkly humorous ‘Confidently Beautiful, with a heart’ (2017) a work about the Miss Universe 2015 pageant, at which Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was crowned winner. As Reforma notes in the exhibition catalogue: “I think it’s particularly resonant now to revisit and assess this post-Trump institute in the context of a very Trumpian reality.”

A series of special community events and public program is programmed across the city. Halo, a free exhibition, is on show at Mosman Art Gallery until September 11.

Featured photo – A photo showing the entrance to  Mosman Art Gallery, one of Sydney leading suburban galleries.