Exploring Art And Nature At The Lubi Island Art Residency

Photographed by JOSEPH BERMUDEZ for the April 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines

Photographed by JOSEPH BERMUDEZ for the April 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines

In Davao, art and nature come together with the Lubi Island Art Residency.

At the slipper-shaped Kopiat Island, the sun sets over the mountains on one side, and it rises from the gulf on the other. Its breathtaking vista comes with the well-tended waters and greenery within the island, making it an idyllic location for Silverlens Gallery to open their Lubi Island Art Residency.

Art blends in with nature at the Dusit Lubi Plantation Resort. The Makati-based Gallery collaborates with the Lanang Realty Group to open an art residency where artists of different disciplines make use of materials abundant in the area to create installations for visitors to enjoy during their stay.

Co-owners Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo share that welcoming artists to this island has been a dream for them for decades. “We saw it at its most virgin, and now we want to give back to it by having artists come and make work using what she has to offer,” Isa says.

To build on that commitment, the artists invited to the island have also been working together with the Barangay Pindasan Women’s Group to provide them with an alternative source of livelihood. This group of twenty women has helped create some of the installations found on the island today.

Rillo also shared in a past interview that the Philippines and many developing Southeast Asian countries do not have a lot of museums and infrastructures for art. However, the people are very much interested in festivals, music, performances, and immersive experiences. This is something that the resulting artworks of the residency can play into  “The introduction to art can be experience-based. It can be something you walk into,” Rillo adds.

Photographed by JOSEPH BERMUDEZ for the April 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines

The 80s and 90s saw the Kopiat Island go through different stages: In the 1980s, the island was isolated from the rest of the Davao province and seen as a source of agricultural products only, which is why there was little investment for tourism at the time. A decade later, the group that would eventually become the Lanang Realty Development Corporation adopted the island and immediately committed to rehabilitating its waters and land by bringing in local scientists and marine biologists.

Their first batch of artists hail from many different disciplines. Media artist Corinne de San Jose’s bamboo sculpture harnesses wind in the island to create a sound installation that blows solemn tunes on one side of the island. Guests at the island can walk in the corridors of her structure and allow themselves to be surrounded by sound when the wind blows strongly the right way.

Meanwhile, Bernardo Pacquing’s Earth Mound sculpture, a mountain of driftwood susceptible to the termites in the island, makes a statement about strength exposed to time and the elements. Other artists in their roster includes Gary-Ross Pastrana, Wawi Navarroza, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, and James Clar.

The artists are selected based on the work they have done in the past that leans into recycling and upcycling materials into artworks. On the island, they are encouraged to create carbon neutral outdoor art installations by making use of indigenous raw materials found exclusively in Kopiat. The residency is designed to serve as a platform for the artists to explore new materials and mediums and the team believes that this is a welcome challenge for the artists they work with. 

As a result, transformation and weathering from rain, wind, heat, and interactions with the wildlife on the island will naturally affect how the art pieces will be experienced by resort visitors through the years. This brings a new dimension to the installations as it continues in the future. 

Vogue Philippines: April 2024 Issue

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