Handwoven pieces that delight the eye, urge you to touch

Hila-Bana x Cathy Ekid by Venazir Martinez (left), and Inhabian's Sparkle by Twinkle Ferraren (right)

The first thing that comes to mind when the term “art exhibit” is mentioned is usually a collection of paintings or drawings. But art encompasses so much more such as sculpture and photography and in this particular case, handwoven tapestries.

Ongoing at ARTablado in Robinsons Galleria until October 11 is an exhibit of handwoven pieces that go over and beyond the normal grids and repeating patterns. Made by skilled artisans from the Cordilleras, the mounted pieces showcase new designs that mimic paintings but that are made entirely of thread.

Entitled “Art Weave: A Tapestry of Life & the Arts,” the exhibit features works by traditional hand weavers and local visual artists. It envisages a possible future for inabel (woven cotton fabric), one that highlights and encourages the individual artistry of its crafters while staying true to their identity and history.

Traditionally, inabel was woven on narrow looms resulting in narrow fabric panels that needed to be joined together to make wider panels. These were, in turn, made into household items like table cloths and table runners, bed sheets and blankets.

This time, however, patterns are reshaped and motifs are re-envisioned. Project head Twinkle Ferraren recalled how Art Weave started as an idea and passion project when she moved to Baguio during the pandemic.

“There were all kinds of art activities and events, and I met a lot of artists of all kinds. I wanted to dedicate time for my own art exploration and get back to doing the things I love,” she said.

Ferraren started out an accessories and swimwear designer but said she always researched on and sought out local textiles and weavers on the side. “It’s been a 15-year journey of meeting new communities and groups each time.  When I get to teach and train, it’s important for me that my students know where they get their inspirations and concepts from.”

It was out of these encounters that she began thinking: What kind of new designs and patterns can come out of this merging? She collaborated with visual artists and textile weavers of the Cordillera and now, visitors can see some of the results on display and for sale at ARTablado.

There are vivid tapestries displayed beside the paintings that were inspired by them as well as textured wall hangings tempting you to reach out and stroke them. “It’s a visual and tactile experience to see handwoven textiles in their many dimensions,” Ferraren said.

“We chose to exhibit at ARTablado because Art Weave was also born during the pandemic. We are happy that ARTablado is a space that is nurturing and provides opportunities for new artists and groups to expose new arts media to the public,” she said. “The Art Weave Project was made possible by Baguio Arts & Crafts Collective Inc. and TELUS International Grant.”

There will be weaving art workshops where participants can learn the basics and make their own mini woven work of art. The workshops run for around 90 minutes and are priced at P1,500 per person inclusive of a kit and materials that they can take home and work on after. The schedules are on Sept. 29 (1:30-3 pm and 6-7:30 p.m.) and Sept. 30 (1:30-3 p.m.)

Established in 2020, Robinsons Land ARTablado, a portmanteau of “art” and “entablado” is Robinsons Land’s very own stage in showcasing the Filipino ingenuity and creativity. This platform allows emerging and established artists to freely express themselves through art and paves the way to greater recognition of their talent and hard work. To date, ARTablado has mounted numerous exhibitions and hosted over 400 artists.

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