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Tucked away in the provincial town of Tiaong, Quezon is a unique residence—a showcase in terra cotta and brick architecture, and glazed pottery design and craftsmanship. This is a place of pilgrimage for those wishing to decorate their homes with Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan’s sublime, world-renowned sculptures, vases, tiles, wind chimes and fountains. Many others come to learn pottery from the master himself while others sojourn for his cuisine. Well-traveled himself, Bigyan is a man who knows how to explore and how to be explored.
You’ve stated previously that you learned much from Indonesian artisans and sculptors. How has your many travels abroad influenced your art? What are your favorite travel destinations and events and why?
Yes, since Indonesia was the destination of my very first trip abroad, my exposure to their craftsmen and artists influenced my early works. Many of my travels influence my art in different aspects; traces and memories of them can be seen in some of the works I display in my place in Tiaong. Morocco, Egypt and Greece are my favorite places to visit.
Your residence in Tiaong, Quezon has attracted many for its workshops on pottery, your gorgeous artworks, its unique architecture and ambiance, and its cuisine. Tell us, what new events or attractions were featured in your place in recent months?
August 10, Saturday, was my yearly birthday sale. 50 percent discount on all pottery items. It was also my 50th birthday.
Tell us about the experience of your place becoming one of the most sought after attractions in Tiaong Quezon? What are the challenges of growing this institution/residence?
A lot of times we are paid a visit by writers and photographers for interviews and pictorials for magazine publications. We have also been featured on both foreign and local television shows. On some special occasions, ambassadors from different countries also visit to view my creations and taste my cooking.
A lot of challenges have come along the way while growing my gallery/restaurant. The challenge of running a business concerning the arts and employing people is no joke. As a potter for almost 30 years, creating identical pieces of art is a challenge and to enter the ‘market’ is an accomplishment. Twelve years ago, before opening the food business, the challenges were making the space look nice, learning cooking, and managing the kitchen and its crew. Service and cleanliness play a major part in running a restaurant.
What led you to sculpture and, lately, cooking? What new art mediums and genres do you wish to explore?
Sculpture is similar to pottery—making, creating, and molding forms by hand in a wheel or with some tools. As I enjoyed making plates and bowls, I discovered that cooking completed my art. That’s why I offer it to my guests. Both the glazes for my pottery and the colors of the food I prepare require taste and skill.
As for the future, I want to create more art with clay and probably do some mixed media in modern art.
What is the one work of art you wish you could make?
I wish to make a huge work of art made of clay for a public audience and install it in front of a nice museum.