Dasmanila, a unique public art exhibition of more than 1200 flowers made from woven recycled garbage, has opened in the Philippines, with the help of staff and students from UNSW's College of Fine Arts (COFA).

The exhibition - one of the largest public art displays ever staged in the country - is located outside The Ayala Museum, one of capital's major art galleries.

"The installation aims to encourage the eradication of pollution in Manila's waterways," says Associate Professor Rick Bennett, Head of COFA Online. Bennett leads the not-for-profit Omnium Research Group, which uses art and design projects to help craftworkers in third world countries.

"The installation will beautify the area, by bringing a little colour back to it," he says. "In poorer countries, there is often very little public artwork except traditional bronze statues."

Bennett says the concept of the flower is to remind people that the city was once very beautiful, even though it is now choked with pollution and rubbish. "The word Manila actually derives from 'may-nila', a translation meaning 'there are (nila) flowers'."

And there's another positive outcome from the exhibition, according to A/Professor Bennett.

"The women who make the flowers are paid for their work, as well as gaining additional skills. They are learning how to run a small business and how to work successfully as a collective."

The installation, on show until 21 November, will become a travelling art exhibition around Manila.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton | UNSW Media, 02 9385 1583