Friday, 20 April 2018

Diorama Images At Manila's Ayala Museum, Part 1

James has a weak spot for how humans like to depict themselves and their surroundings - from religious figures to animals to the physical world around them. He finds scenes all over the place: in museums, churches, amusement parks, train sets. People love to show other people how they think the world is.

In Manila, there's the Ayala Museum. It's a straightforward art museum with various exhibitions on textiles, paintings, the usual mix of art and design.

And then there are the dioramas. Overwhelming. For James, nirvana. A major section of the museum is devoted to about 60 elaborate dioramas, each telling a little bit of the history of the Philippines.

These dioramas aren't slapped together with repeating figures and cheap cotton clouds. An army of artisans made and carved everything from scratch and the quality is apparent. The dioramas went on display when the museum opened in 1974.

As source material for James' images, the dioramas deliver a wealth of settings and moods. Time to create another world from a created world.

While the following images are in rough chronological order (the dioramas tell the history of the Philippines in chronological order), things have been shuffled a bit to take better advantage of visual transitions. Consider it a post-modern interpretation of an historical interpretation, etc...

In the beginning, an unspoiled land.


Then, indigenous people building a society.



Beautiful flora, a paradise.

Ugh oh.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Details Of The Old Chinese Cemetery In Manila

You've seen the big mausoleums, now let's take a look at some of the details of the cemetery.

Paying homage. People come for birthdays, anniversaries. The big day to visit is All Saints' Day, Day of the Dead (November 1).


More than a mausoleum. Many plots feature sinks, toilets, kitchens. The concept is: come hang out. Awhile. All that real estate needs upkeep, so you hire a staff to come in and keep it spiffy.

Beyond mausoleums, plenty of large graves, crammed in like a big metropolis.


Mausoleum turnover. While in progress, a dog to guard the renovation. The saddest sight, the crypt of a child, complete with weekly offerings of juice, snacks.

Typical mausoleum patina, foundation for a nice still life.