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Australian Ceramics Triennale hosts Tambays in Tasmania

Source: Supplied by University of Tasmania

Three Filipino multi-media artists have become cultural Tambay in this year’s Australian Ceramic Triennale.

As artists-in-residence of   University of Tasmania, Mark Valenzuela, Pablo Capati III and Babbu Wenceslao create  Tambay, a unique installation  of street-side stall, like a replica of sari-sari store in the Philippines,  that fuses ceramics, sculpture, and  street art and further animated by art live performances.

Housed in a wooden shelter, on display  are  various ceramic and clay objects in the form of pig heads and trotters, vulcanising equipment, and soft-drink bottles that reference goods and services typically offered by vendors.

The art installation also explores its social function --  Tambay is a Tagalog word derived from ‘standby,’ which is used to describe individuals or bystanders who frequent such spaces and gather together for the latest catch-ups.

Wooden stall houses art ceramics
Supplied by Babbu Wenceslao

In the Philippines, the most commonly and traditionally referred to as tambays or istambays are  groups of  adolescent to adult men who hang around by the streets or  outside sari-sari stores, often times taking shots of alcoholic drinks. Tambayan is a watering hole without the costly beer or spirit in the pub.

 “It’s really a celebration on  how also we look at space, how we relate to space. It’s a little bit territorial,”  says  Babbu Wenceslao.

“It’s really a multimedia piece. The general form is a media installation but all the parts and the pieces of the artwork are composed of different objects." as explains the art.

“We kinda look at ceramic also as a canvass. We also paint on it,” Wenceslao describes the multi-media aspect of the exhibit.

Most importantly, “It’s an art  performance because we really intend to make it “Tambayan” says Wenceslao.

The stall with a Tambay
Supplied by University of Tasmania

He says the three of them will man (become tambays) during the duration of the Trieannale, which ends on 4 May.

Wenceslao shows apprehension that the concept of  Tambays may be alien to the crowd,   but he is not unfazed,   "That is how we are, That is our culture and I think as  artists, it is really what we want to share to the rest of the world".

“We just hope that they get something from it and I hope we also do justice on how we portray an aspect of our culture, “ he adds.

After the show, the artists want to bring their installation to  the Philippines.

 “There are lots of pieces, and the dilemma is that  it is expensive because of the freight cost," explains Wenceslao

 The Triennale is Australia's landmark national ceramics conference, bringing artists, educators, theorists and collectors from around the country, and the world, together to interrogate the field of contemporary ceramic practice.

This is the first collaboration of the trio. Pablo Capati had his  first solo exhibit in Singapore in 2016. Mark Valenzuela, who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines, is the co-founder of Boxplot, an Adelaide-based art initiative fostering collaboration between Australian and Filipino contemporary artists. Wenceslao is a renown artist in his hometown Dumaguete

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