For the artist's fourth solo exhibit, Lilianna Manahan finds power in the mundane.

Lilianna Manahan has embraced the power of observation in order to create her new collection. Known as an industrial and product designer, she is at the core, an artist. She recently launched her latest exhibition in Modeka Art Gallery, titled, Unlimited. Lilianna explains that the concept behind it has been something she has been thinking over for the past few years. “I wanted to choose a material and use it in different applications. I saw that this was a good opportunity to try it out” she says.

What she zeroed in on was metal because it’s been a material she’s loved for quite some time. In Unlimited you will see a variety of art forms: from drawing, the use of metal leaf on paper, sculptural forms, to jewellery and wearable art. Lilianna’s consistent use of metal and its manipulation into unique works is symbolic of the shows name, Unlimited. “The different forms of metal came in metal leaf (thin and flat), which could be applied to paper; black iron for the light sculptures; and silver in casted, sheet and wire form for the jewellery” she elaborates.

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The inspiration behind each piece and the overall exhibition was the simple yet potent idea of creation. “I have always been interested in creation, but particularly that split second point in time where everything is still, unformed in darkness, and when God calls everything out into light to become whole. Genesis 1:1-2). I've tried to imagine the kind of energy just waiting to burst out,” Lilianna shares.

With that, her mind ran free and these fresh, imaginative designs were born. To her, this powerful energy exists in the everyday. Through her artistic process, observing surroundings throughout this lockdown was paramount. Lilianna noticed that there truly is strength in what we have dubbed as the mundane, which is why she made this a motif that carries through in Unlimited.

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This artist used the routine of the pandemic to fuel her creative spirit. “I think I used more of the mundane circumstances of waking up and doing the same thing every day. It might sound strange but I took it up as a mental challenge. I took this opportunity to do several things. The first was to go back to what I consider the basics, which is drawing, paper, pencil, pen. Even with these things, there is so much that can be created.”

What she wants us to understand is that our creative abilities are truly unlimited, no matter the simplicity of your resources. “[I simply] observed and enjoyed the days, much like you see in the works of the impressionists like Monet who just painted the same thing in different times of the day. It was very refreshing for me because a lot of things before the pandemic seemed to move so quickly. I had a lot of time to spend just sitting around and watching, what looked like the same scene every day. But I began to notice things at the macro level. Every day had a sunrise and sunset but none were exactly alike in colour and in cloud formation. I saw plants grow and behave. Even the reflection of the bubbles that Clorox made on my balcony wall. All of this kind of showed me that there is beauty and design everywhere, you just have to look closer.”

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Through Unlimited, Lilianna encourages us to make the most of every moment we have, and to not be bogged down by the pandemic. In fact, she realised that limitations cultivate creativity, and has announced that she will be working on more metal smithing. Keep an eye out for her new jewellery collection, coming soon!

All items available for purchase through Modeka Art Gallery. The exhibit closes on 24 April, but they will still be available upon request. 

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