Sydney-based artist Daisy Ann Gonzalez Cumming sets a new precedent in the way the Philippines' cultural agencies tap into the often overlooked talent of Filipino artists living abroad.
There’s no such thing as bowing out or taking it slowly for painter-art teacher-and cultural animateur Daisy Gonzalez-Cumming. She is what the old proverb refers to as a rolling stone that gathers no moss. In point of fact, an oldster she may be, but she remains unstoppable and is perpetually coming and going.
No stranger to the limelight, this!
Her offshore exhibitions earned waves and laurels in USA (Atlanta and Georgia), London, and in Asia mainly at Singapore and of course her country of origin, “Pilipinas”. Onshore, she remains the toast of the Filipino community in NSW whose “Sydney 400” peopled the ongoing “Art from the Heart” creative collaboration between Plaza Filipino, Inc. and her very own 1944Art Gallery Pty Ltd. at Bankstown Sports Club February last year.
Needless to say, this so-called bejewelled crowd came not only to gape and gawk but buy her precious artworks the evolution of which is currently being researched, collated, and written up by this writer vis-a-vis profiling the buyers/owners in a coffee-table treasury book due for release in 2014.
Catch her if you can, but indeed, she’s here, there and everywhere!
If she’s not here conducting her ongoing pro bono “Explore Art” teaching initiative and first salvo as the newly-elected Plaza Filipino President amongst some 40 children and adults right in her own backyard; or there in the Philippines personally distributing APCO-donated relief goods to flood victims in her hometown Pampanga; then she’s most probably travelling everywhere art dealing if not adding on to her growing collections.
Don’t look now, but very recently, Mrs. Gonzalez-Cumming scored another coup the cost of which is certainly worth every artist’s salt.
She did something no migrant artist living overseas has ever done before, that is, making an original, most relevant, and historical painting of Andres Bonifacio in time with the Philippine celebration of his sesquicentennial (150 years birth anniversary on 30 November 2013) and donating the same to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the country’s primary agency and highest institution governing culture and arts and the Philippine equivalent to Australia Council of the Arts (AUSCO) .
If only for this, which is certainly no mean feat, she was feted by her own peers at a special reception held last 9th September 2013 at the NCCA Lobby-Art Gallery in General Luna, Intramuros, and Metro Manila.
“I had to pinch myself as I couldn’t believe the huge reception that the NCCA Secretariat whipped up for me headed by its Executive Director Emelita V. Almosara and attended by Nemesio R. Miranda, current chair of the NCCA Visual Arts Committee, TV presenter Atty. Reginald Tongol, and Marco Antonio Villanueva Sardillo III, Director of the Intramuros Administration and other staff members and representatives of NCCA’s attached cultural agencies such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Historical Commission, National Library, National Archives and Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino among other artists,” Gonzalez Cumming gushed.
Director Almosara thanked the visiting artist for her effort and for setting an example for other overseas-based artists to emulate, stressing that the contributions of foreign-based Filipino craftsmen cannot be overlooked. Mr. Miranda on the other hand emphasised that the subcomission on visual arts go out of their way discovering artists throughout the Philippines but with the precedent set by Mrs. Gonzalez-Cumming, they will now be paying attention as well to the Filipino artists permanently living abroad who continue to honour their country and people though their art work.
In paraphrasing the famous Andre Gide quotable quote: “Art is collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better”. Daisy in her own response said that the greatest gift an artist can share with her fellowmen is giving back the gift that God has bestowed on her.
“Whilst we strive for and enjoy the comforts of stability and sustainability as migrants overseas, it doesn’t mean anything that our lives go from strength to strength but it means everything if we keep plowing the gains and profits of our respective triumphs back into our roots, in our beloved country of origin,” she said.
Additionally her official statement was quoted in various Philippine television and radio and as printed on a giant tarpaulin was displayed prominently for some time outside NCCA building. Her short but resounding message reads: ‘As a Filipino residing in Sydney, Australia, I am commemorating Bonifacio’s heroism by painting his portrait and some significant vignettes of his revolutionary life. It is my gift to our country marking his 150 birth anniversary on 30 Nov 20 13. Though I live far away from our country, my innate spirit and passion for the arts speak of my love for our people. I am proud of the richness of our culture and the artistic heritage that runs in my blood."
She continued, "The experiences of my life journey continue the evolution of my artistic prowess. The influence and fusion of the diverse society in Australia has pushed the boundaries of my artistic expression on canvass. As an artist, I want to convey to the public through this painting my appreciation for the freedom we are all enjoying at present which was the fruit of all the sacrifices of our heroes such as Bonifacio. Thus I entitled my painting 'Pag-ibig sa Kalayaan'."
Meanwhile, it is well and truly understood that the safety and security of this 6’’ x 8’’ acrylic painting on canvass shall be taken care of by NCCA which is duty-bound to loan the same amongst museums and other historical buildings from time to time to allow for it to shine through and be seen by the larger public and people from all walks of life.
The other good news is that, Daisy Ann has already made another commitment to paint and donate again to NCCA another venerated Filipino hero, Apolinario Mabini, on the occasion of his sesquicentennial on 2014. This forms and completes the 3rd angle of the triangulated Filipino heroes Daisy Gonzalez-Cumming has painted, the second being Andres Bonifacio, and the first being our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal which occupies an unmissable viewing position at the Philippine Consulate in Sydney.
True, once an artist, always an artist. Indeed, there's no stopping Daisy Ann Cumming and going!
About the writer
Marcelino "Mars" Cavestany is a multi-award winning playwright, director, actor, critic and educator. He is the first Filipino-Australian recipient in the field of theatre arts granted the highest government Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) towards a Ph.D in Theatre/Performance Studies (UNSW/La Trobe).
Photos sourced from Daisy Ann Cumming. More info as below:
Frame 1 - Atty Regie Tongol-TV Presenter and lawyer of the artist; Nemesio R. Miranda-current chair of NCCA Visual Arts Committee; artist Daisy Ann Gonzalez Cumming; the Hon. Emelita Almosara- Executive Director of NCCA and Atty. Marco Antonio Villanueva Sardillo lll -Intramuros Administrator.
Frame 2 - Endorsement of 'Deed of Donation'
Frame 3 - Centre Stage- full media coverage
Frame 4 - Unveiling of Andres Bonifacio painting was welcome by NCCA Rondalla playing Filipino music.
Frame 5 - Photo of the painting