Poetry & prints: a Filipino migration story

Lily of the Valley, 1998, Photoetching, monoprint.| Photo courtesy of Lenore R.S. Lim.

Scattering and Gathering, curated by Jing Palad, is the latest offering at Vancouver’s Roundhouse, running July 7–12. The exhibition aims to expose the experiences of the ongoing exodus to Canada from the Philippines.

“I think an understanding of what it’s like to be an immigrant – and not just a Filipino immigrant – is becoming more relevant every day. Also, the search for employment is no longer limited to the city or province where we were raised, so the possibility of migration at some level may be more imminent than many of us expect,” says Palad, who was born and raised in the Philippines.

The exhibition focuses on a specific narrative of Filipino people who are coming to Canada in search of a better life.

“The process of setting out, leaving your home country to find and build a new reality may be a distant concept for some, but it is something we’ve known for centuries as a people. I think visitors may be surprised at how many facets there are to this experience and also how it’s almost always about family. In addition, I would hope that visitors leave with a better understanding of just how challenging this can be, but that it can also be very rewarding,” says Palad.

A poet and a printmaker

The exhibition centers around the works of two Filipina migrants. Poet and writer Lakshmi Gill of Spanish-Filipina-Punjabi heritage moved to Canada from the Philippines at a very young age. Her work speaks about the experiences faced by people of multi-ethnic heritage making such a life changing journey. She hopes visitors will gain an insight into her perspective on how this profound experience changes over time.

Alongside the display, the exhibition features the prints of Lenore Lim, who relocated alongside her children. She now has a reputation for a vibrant blend of printmaking and high technology.

Both Gill and Lim became friends in the course of their settling in Canada and decided to collaborate by creating a dialogue between their works; the result is a glimpse into their stories as immigrants of Filipino heritage.

Of dreams and expectations

Palad says the exhibition turns themes such as dreams, expectations, searching for employment, displacement, longing for one’s home country, accomplishments, and new friendships inside-out – all of which are tied to uprooting oneself and rebuilding in a new country. Part of the exhibition is an extension of this exploration into the lives of Filipino immigrants.

“We’ve assembled the works of poets Wilbur Victoria and Maria Castillo and artists Danvic Briones, Art Calapatia, Stuart Dee, Chito Maravilla and Esmie McLaren,” says Palad.

An inspired calling

“After university my first job was as a graphic designer which led me from Manila to Hong Kong and to Singapore. I also spent time in Spain and Thailand. It was a productive first phase of my career, but I had always been fascinated by art, artists and the entire creative process,” she says. “So after many rewarding years I decided to follow my original passion. I completed a Master’s in Arts Management in Italy and I’ve been involved in art projects in the Philippines, Singapore and now Canada. Two years ago my husband and I decided to settle here in Vancouver permanently.”

Palad says her fondness of art and the creative world is simply due to the potential of creating meaningful influences in her own life and the lives of others.

“To some, art is still seen as a picture that hangs on the wall of an illustrious museum or an object that cannot be touched. I think we’re now entering a time when artists, educators, curators and many others are ensuring that art is experienced by all in many different ways,” says Palad.

Palad says as more people resonate with and get closer to art, the more they can also help to support it, and she wants to be a contributor.

“I recognise that while there might be some commonality in experiences, every immigration story is unique, and so I would only wish for us to keep the resolve that guided us when we all started our journey,” says Palad.


For more info, please visit www.roundhouse.ca/events/scattering-gathering-exhibition/