Exhibition Launch: Wednesday 10 May 5-8pm | All Welcome
A World of Islands considers the movement of indigenous knowledge, practices, materials and people, and historical fabrications of tropical utopia and dystopia. Locating the ‘tropics’ as both a mythological and real place with shared colonial trauma but wildly divergent histories and cultures, the exhibition unpicks some of the clichés and relocate agency in the ‘tropical’ narrative. In the context of one of the largest diasporic tropical populations, A World of Islands brings together artistic perspectives and research on the Philippine archipelago, its people and their movement over seas and oceans.
Starting with the exchange of plants and the craft, building, food and medicinal knowledge during the period of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade (1565 – 1815), Stanley Picker Fellow Ligaya Salazar’s project explores practices of ‘making home’ amongst Filipinos in the Philippines and in some of the over 100 countries with diasporic communities. Filipinos have played a disproportionate role in worldwide maritime trade, currently making up 20% of the international maritime workforce. The experience of contemporary Filipino life and diaspora is highlighted through artworks by Derek Tumala, Carol Anne McChrystal, Ronyel Compra, Alex Quicho and Stephanie Comilang that explore memories and practices of home and community-making. Through forced, government-sanctioned and voluntary movement across oceans, the exhibition points to practices and thinking often hidden in plain sight.
Ligaya Salazar is a curator and programme director who has devised creative cultural programmes across the cultural and museum sectors for 15 years and was appointed to the Stanley Picker Fellowships in 2021. Her work as a curator and commissioner focuses on contemporary interdisciplinary practice at the intersection of design, fashion, art and graphics. Her approach is shaped by an interest in how audiences can be positioned at the heart of curatorial practice, enabling a human-centred take on storytelling. As Director of Fashion Space Gallery and Arcade East, at the University of the Arts’ London College of Fashion campus, she developed the strategic direction for the two spaces and managed the programme, budget and team. She devised the public exhibition and events programmes there from 2013–20 and curated specific projects as part of that, including the Designer in Residence programme, Creative Lab, Polyphonic Playground and Fordlandia.