Realizing Artist Wishes: Sustainable Art through d’Aboville’s Giant Dandelions

September 6, 2023

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By 

Shan Arcega

Climate change, capitalism, and overconsumption. These are the challenges currently engaging humans from all over the world, scenarios born from people forgetting where the true value of life really lies. In art, in making more time for seeing other people, in nature, in the art of noticing what is rarely noticed in a chaotic life. Last August 29, the Vogue Philippines Gala at Shangri-La BGC presented The Common Threads: Re/Creating Fashion exhibit. This exhibit is a journey that retraces the common threads connecting culture and identity, heritage and modernity. Here, Vogue highlighted fashion and art through a mix of installations and displays.

Related read: Reinterpreting Fashion and Art: A Glimpse of The Exhibits During the Vogue Anniversary Gala

‘Vogue Unbound’ was the open-book display of Vogue Philippines’ first 365 days told through its covers. ‘Vogue Visions’ immerses guests in Vogue’s world of photography through a TV installation capturing the fashion editorial’s storytelling prowess. ‘Re:Made’ showcases clothing designed with an emphasis on high craft and upcycling that highlights Vogue Philippines’ commitment to promoting new mindsets and upcycling options.

Cebu-based queer model and designer Lukresia viewing the Vogue Visions display.

‘Re:Create’ is the intersection of art and crafts where artists and designers find innovative ways to renew materials. ‘Dreamfields’ are dreamy and lushly designed multisensory pods that allow guests to experience films and installations from Vogue’s September issue. Imaginary Frontiers is a cube-shaped portal that uses generative software to transport guests to the world of Vogue in 50 years.

Vince Uy in the Imaginary Frontiers installation.

Together, these exhibits showed the past, present, and future of the creative industry. In this time capsule, creativity and passion combine with ecological responsibility while reminding people of their natural roots with nature. In Olivia d’Aboville’s eyes, the event exhibit is a shining example of the kinds of exhibits we must present to the world more.

“It’s especially important today when we see the effects of climate change, capitalism, and overconsumption.” d’Aboville says, “We need to pause and see what’s really important, slow down to see where lies the true value of things. Vogue is such an iconic name that people will listen. To support quality, craftsmanship, nature, and creativity is a beautiful and bold statement in the world we live in where everything changes and “expires” so quickly.”

Olivia d’Aboville is an artist fascinated by ordinary mass-produced objects and tries to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the sea’s biodiversity.

Making a Wish: Dandelion Lights

d’Aboville’s art–Dandelion Lights was one of the artworks exhibited during the Vogue Philippines gala but this isn’t the first presentation of this installation. It was actually first presented in 2013 for an open call from iLight Singapore 2014–an annual sustainable light festival held in Singapore’s Marina Bay.

“I conceptualized the Giant Dandelions in 2013 for an open call from iLight Singapore 2014.” d’Aboville explains, “I was working with used cocktail stirrers at the time but I needed an easier material to work with. I thought of the water bottle because I could easily collect hundreds of used discarded ones. I was experimenting with lighting at the time and working on this design was like switching on a light bulb! The “a-ha” moment came while experimenting.”

READ MORE: A New Wave: i Light Singapore Opens To Inspire Sustainability With 14 Captivating Artworks

Each dandelion uses 100 water bottles. The whole installation used 9,000 bottles per batch.

For the Vogue gala, Giant Dandelions version 2.0 still used recycled and repurposed plastic bottles that reflect light, giving the dandelions a dream-like effect. But she now used durable stainless steel for its base with three dandelions per base.

Olivia d’Aboville has always been interested in arts and crafts ever since she could remember. “As a kid, I never thought I’d be an artist though, maybe an architect or designer. It was during my last year at ESAA Duperré that I realized I wanted to weave my own forms and be an artist…Everyone is different! I am one of those who had support from their parents. They gave me the freedom to choose my path and supported me along the way. I am extremely fortunate that I’m able to make a living out of my passion. Not everyone is as lucky. You need talent and luck. If you can, choose passion!”

Olivia D’aboville and her Dandelion Lights made from discarded plastic water bottles.

The Vogue gala exhibit presented the many different materials artists and designers could work with. For Olivia d’Aboville who has specialized in tapestry and textile structures and adapted the techniques to create her own woven forms, Philippine Silk, abaca, and raffia are just some of the beautiful fibers that she usually works with. According to her, there are also many materials available now that are more eco-friendly. Piñatex for one is a more eco-friendly alternative to leather. Cellulose fibers extracted from pineapple leaves compose this non-biodegradable material, PLA (polylactic acid), and petroleum-based resin.

It’s probably everybody’s wish to live a life where art and sustainability take center stage. In this day and age, letting life flourish in art and sustainability is an effort everyone should be more conscious of doing even in their own small way.

Photos courtesy of Vogue PH

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