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An Interview With Evelyn Lim-Forbes


An Interview With Evelyn Lim-Forbes
Ms Evelyn Lim-Forbes, an art lover and a great advocate of the arts in The Philippines (image courtesy of

Tell us a bit about your personal collection and your journey through the years of collecting.

My buying started because a close friend of mine, Elizabeth Punsalan, became an art dealer in the early 70’s. She was the first serious art dealer that I knew and was really an advisor. From her, I was able to purchase a few pieces that remain favorites till today.

I cannot honestly call myself a collector, that is more of my husband’s hobby. He is a both serious and passionate about it….my role is simply to make my house a home and not a museum or storage facility.


Do you have a particular method for collecting? What sort of guidelines do you set yourself when buying art, if any?

I have to like what I buy and not want to put it in storage.  Through the years, someone like me, always thinks about where to put, hang, and enjoy what we acquire.  I have yet to learn how to let go of pieces that I have outgrown.


What is your advice for young collectors looking to start their own art collections?

Always like what you buy.  Art is very personal and should always be enjoyed. To covet, for the purpose of investment, is a reality that one has to live with, but it becomes about the money, and not about the art. But then, different strokes for different folks. It keeps the market alive and I am not one to question those dynamics.

The back room of the Drawing Room, a leading contemporary art gallery in Manila

You are a major supporter of the arts in The Philippines and have helped organise exhibitions such as ‘The Amorsolo Retrospective: His Art, Our Heart’. Do you think that Filipino art has the potential to have a greater presence in the regional Asian or International art scene?

I think we are already there in the Asian market. Filipino art isn’t “out there”, because there is a happy market, purchasing the goods right here. Shhhhh. We have long appreciated our own, for quite awhile. You have been in enough homes in Manila to have seen this first hand. The international development has been happening for awhile, just not on a sophisticated level.

When Valentine Willie came to Manila to open Manila Contemporary and in the same year, got on Time magazine’s “Things to do in Manila”, it set the art market as having arrived to a level that was of destination point for visitors.  The point was to put Filipino artists in the same venue with Asean artists and for the local artists to understand that they were at par with their neighbors. No one ever looked at it that way, within our shores.

Silverlens, has gone on over, to branch outside of the Philippines and do us proud, as has the Drawing Room. This kind of representation and collaboration can only help the art scene for the region. How exciting for us.

Image courtesy of Coconuts Manila

Do you think the local cultural scene is supported sufficiently?  Which area of the the cultural scene do you believe needs the most support?

It is really economically based.  When there is prosperity, there will be a budget and the cultural scene will be supported. If the government truly wants to support the arts, then a standard of excellence much like many other developed countries do, needs to be put into place with credible leadership. 

All cultural scenes need to be supported as part of the government budget in all governments.  It is how a country maintains and ensures growth of its national identity. Without it, the soul of a nation cannot evolve.


What would you recommend to visitors to give them a taste of the cultural scene in Manila if they are visiting for the first time?

Ayala Museum ( it’s the first place I send everyone to who has limited time), National Museum, Metropolitan Museum, SilverlensDrawing Room, Finale [Art File], and the University of Santo Tomas.

The Ayala Museum, a leading private museum dedicated to Filipino art in Manila
Image courtesy of Ayala Museum




Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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