We’ve followed the paper trail up View Street. Relax! It’s not another tax evasion expose. Just a hunt for a lone man with ruler and scalpel. We’re told he’s holed up at the Visual Arts Centre. And sure enough, just outside the studio door, tiny triangles of the white stuff give him away.
Ryan makes paper cuts. Painlessly, joyously, into the wee hours of the mornings. In Bendigo he’s been up at 2am in the View Street studio, developing a new solo show for the privy of locals. “I like the silence of the morning, and I like being by myself,” he says. “I can really focus on what I do. I like the solitude.”
Ryan’s work has been shown in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, France and the UK. Bendigo will be his first Australian exhibition. Our city is also informing it.
The artist’s raw materials have been salvaged from the city’s tip shop, op shops and the Goldfields Library. He’s collected old books and photocopied pages of Bendigo and Victorian buildings, plus natural landscapes, ancient and sacred.
“This is such a small town but I can tell how rich the culture is,” he says of our goldfields-era streets. “It’s very European in a lot of ways.”
Ryan’s work is exquisitely executed, and in a class of its own. He says he wishes more artists would join him in the field of paper cutting. Although he graduated with a bachelor degree in painting from the University of the Philippines, this adopted medium has him hooked above all others. It’s allowed him to explore ideas and thoughts on natural disasters, war, politics, maps and boundaries. And now, the juxtaposition between local indigenous and western ideals.
“It’s quite an experience, having to prepare everything for this exhibition in three weeks,” he says. “I’m enjoying the process, but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself because I also want to learn about the culture and meet the people.”
Ryan will have a chance to meet the locals, and vise versa, at the exhibition opening on April 16. His work will be on show at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre until May 29.
*Ryan is the recipient of the 2016 La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre / Ateneo de Manila University Artist in Residence partnership program.