Bulols, bangles, and beads

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AFTER selling affordable artworks in a park and high-end paintings in a two-storey parking lot, the organizers of Art in the Park and Art Fair Philippines are now introducing a marketplace for antiques and their collectors in an event called The Nonesuch: Fine Collectibles and Rareties.

Nonesuch – which means something or someone without equal – will be a fair for old but well-preserved treasures like furniture, gold jewelry, rare books, and other things that are, well, still a secret.

“There will be furniture, linens from Europe, old prints… It is a competitive field [so the things on sale still remain a surprise]. It’s like having a designer coming with a collection, you can only give sneak peeks,” Gino Gonzales, the event’s creative set designer, told BusinessWorld at the launch on Oct. 4.

A preview of what will be available was shown during the media launch: small antique pieces like beads from Kalinga, bulols (Northern Luzon granary gods), carved narra tables and boxes, old prints and maps of the Philippines, sterling silver fruit trays, and gold earrings and necklaces.

The Nonesuch – which will be held on Oct. 27 to 29 at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City – will offer antique pieces, both big and small, coming from the 13 participants, which, as Mr. Gonzales said, are very “competitive” with one another.

The exhibitors are Gallery Deus, Gallery Joshua, Gallery of Prints, Leon Gallery, Maria Angelica Rare Finds, Maria Closa, Natalya Lagdameo, Nicole Whisenhunt, Osmundo, Tawalisi Antiques, and Unang Panahon.

“The Nonesuch” is inspired by fine art and antique fairs like Masterpiece London and The European Fine Art Fair, said cofounder Lisa Periquet.

“Launching The Nonesuch is continuing what we do in widening the exposure to craftsmanship,” added cofounder Dindin Araneta.

Besides creating a marketplace for antiques to entice new collectors, the event is a chance for the antique shops to show their treasures in a big and more organized fair. “They know what is the best to showcase because they have the knowledge [in antiques],” said Ms. Araneta.

Not only a marketplace for things, The Nonesuch is also an agora for discourse.

“Aside from an opportunity to acquire choice pieces, it will also be a learning experience widened by lectures. This is our way of promoting connoisseurship and appreciation of art and design,” said Ms. Araneta.

One of the event speakers is writer Floy Quintos who is a specialist in the traditional art and culture of indigenous peoples.

In a small lecture with few lifestyle journalists, he gave an enlightening talk about the heirloom beads of the Kalinga, which will be among the nonesuch things on sale.

“They are not necklaces but a set of [beads] worn asymmetrically so that the important beads [when worn crisscrossed] are on the chest and the cheaper beads – well not really cheaper – but less beautiful beads are in the back. What is interesting about this is the beads are from India, Venice, Afghanistan, from the Dutch… how did these beads get here? That is the result of centuries and centuries of trade,” he said.

He said the accessory is like a family portfolio. “The Kalinga aesthetic and families had to wait [for long time to finish the accessory] because siyempre, ’pag nag trade ka naman hindi naman ’yan agad agad (when they traded it was not instantly for) 500 bead pieces in one exchange. Wala naman silang instant gratification (They did not have instant gratification). So they would have to trade two to three pieces at a time.”

He said the value of the beads, when traded back then, were measured in pigs and cows and chickens.

“All these beads are from all over the world and the idea of the Kalinga assigning all the meanings and classifications speaks of their fine aesthetics,” he said.

The Nonesuch is slated to become an annual event like its sisters, Art in the Park and Art Fair Philippines. – Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman