Arrivants: Caroline Holder

Homeland Insecurity (2006)
6-piece place setting for four
Sgraffito on slip cast ^6 porcelain
Variable dimensions
Collection of the National Art Gallery, Barbados

 Caroline Holder was born in England in 1964, to a Jamaican mother and Barbadian father, with the family returning to Barbados when she was four years old. Upon graduating from Queen’s College, Holder went abroad to pursue Design and Painting at York University in Toronto, followed by Art Education at McGill University in Montreal. She ultimately relocated to New York City in the early 90s where, save for a two year break to complete an MFA in Craft from NSCAD University, Nova Scotia, she has maintained a consistent studio practice while simultaneously teaching art at the Professional Children’s School.

Holder’s primary medium is clay, from which she creates ceramic object-sculptures combined with drawings and text. Her influences include a background in printmaking, a love of pen and ink drawings, experiences of intersectional identity as a Caribbean immigrant in North America, and most recently the life-altering experience of late motherhood. Holder has been showing since 2002, most recently at Clay Art Center in Portchester, NY and Carifesta VII, in Barbados.  She has received recognition for her work, in scholarships, awards and nominations, with an exhibition record which includes shows across the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

Artist’s Statement

I left New York City to study in Nova Scotia in 2001; my first day of classes was September 11. When I returned to New York two years later I was in prime position as an “outsider” to observe the enormous psychological toll; the world had become less safe and we less certain of our place in it. Fear cast a thin layer of dust over the city. I found it particularly poignant to see the burning towers recurring in the drawings of my young students two years after the tragedy occurred. These, alongside the ubiquitous advertising campaign, “If you see something, say something,” and police presence everywhere compelled me to develop this installation.

The nuclear family together at dinner has traditionally symbolized a secure, desirable social norm. A dinner set serving disturbing images at the site of the eating ritual was an excellent vehicle to address the discomfort that infiltrated homes post 9-11. Each setting comprises a dinner plate, a salad plate, a soup bowl, a cup and saucer and a tumbler. The tale of personal unease begins on the dinner plates, each showing a child’s drawing of a house. The drawing is stereotypical in every aspect save for the burning plane flying into the house. On the back, children’s blocks spell WMD (weapons of mass destruction). The salad bowls bring us to governmental surveillance, with phones that have been “tapped”. Conversations flow from the devices, for the most part stunningly banal. The foot doubles as the ring of a magnifying glass, zooming in on streams of meaningless patter.

People spy on their neighbours from behind the curtains in the soup bowls, in response to “If You See Something, Say Something,” the refrain on their outsides. Underneath are once-innocent, weaponized  items like nail scissors and backpacks. The teacups and saucers enter vigilante territory as we start to suspect our nearest and dearest. The cups whisper, “Yo mamma is a terrorist,” and the saucers respond, “So turn the bitch in.” The text is a slap in the face as respected family members fall under suspicion. Finally on the tumblers everyone is accusing everyone else.

Note: Caroline Holder’s work can be seen in the permanent “living room” display at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, where it engages in provocative dialogues with the colonial-era furnishings.

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Arrivants: Conversations in/with the Cunard Gallery

 

The Arrivants exhibition, as a whole, intervenes into the historically charged environment of the 19th century military prison in which the Barbados Museum and Historical Society is located and the broader environs of the historic Garrison Savannah area. The parts of the exhibition that are mounted in and around what is known as the Cunard Gallery in the Museum intervene more actively, and politically, within the particular context and significance of that gallery.

The Cunard Gallery is named after Sir Edward Cunard, Bt., a member of the Cunard shipping line dynasty and a donor to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. He was one of several wealthy individuals who built villas on the Barbados West Coast in the mid twentieth century. Encouraged by the Museum’s Director, lawyer and art enthusiast Neville Connell, Sir Edward started collecting colonial Caribbean prints, which would have been deemed appropriate to the environment of such plantation-style luxury dwellings. Upon his death in 1962, he bequeathed the Museum a significant collection of 65 West Indian prints, by the likes of Agostino Brunias, Isaac Mendes Belisario and Lieutenant J.M. Carter, which are the core of the collection that is now on view in the Cunard Gallery. While these prints, and other historical paintings and artefacts that are also displayed in the Cunard Gallery, represent the Caribbean seen through the eyes and the world view of the planter and colonial administration classes, they are an important and multi-layered visual archive of life in the Caribbean during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of the artists who are represented in that collection were themselves migrants who travelled between Europe and the Caribbean, often under the patronage of high-ranking colonial officials, and Belisario is the only one who appears to have been born in the Caribbean, so they add another layer to the Arrivants narratives.

The interventions we have made in the Cunard Gallery, using the work of the modern and contemporary artists Ewan Atkinson, Karl Broodhagen, Ras Ishi Butcher, Paul Dash, Francis Griffith, Hew Locke, Lynn Parotti, Keith Piper, Sheena Rose, and Golde White, talk back to, and argue with, a selection of what is normally on view in this gallery. Most of these works are pre-existing, and were selected because of their relevance to the Arrivants exhibition and the specific themes that arise in the Cunard Gallery, but Ewan Atkinson’s work was specially commissioned, as a response to the historical maps that are normally on view in the Gallery. The interventions and juxtapositions question and subvert the colonial perspectives represented in the historical works, while commenting on the social and cultural contradictions of postcolonial Caribbean life. Some interventions are subtle and, in Ewan Atkinson’s board game, even use a visual language that mimics and spoofs the colonial representations, but other juxtapositions are more pointed, such as the “across-the-room argument” between Ras Ishi’s 400 Years (1994), which lambasts the legacies of colonialism and slavery, and the anonymous panoramic painting from the mid eighteenth century, The Governor Going to Church, which celebrates those very same things.

On the outer wall of the Cunard Gallery, Leasho Johnson’s mural, Land of Wood and Water (2018), the third incarnation of what started as a guerrilla street intervention, provides an even more provocative response to the genteel, sanitized imagery that prevails in colonial Caribbean art, with its floating bodies/islands and raucous sexualization of the male and female figures. The work speaks to the histories of the Caribbean as well as to contemporary issues of objectification and agency in tourism and dance hall culture. Cosmo Whyte’s installation In the Belly of the Whale (2018), in the adjoining prison cell, evokes similar issues in a more veiled and poetic manner, and invites visitors quite literally to “take a peek” at the histories and contemporary realities of the Caribbean through the prison cell door hatch.

[Note: other installation shots will be added when these become available]

Arrivants: Paul Dash

Paul Dash - Self Portrait

Self-Portrait (1979) 
Oil on canvas
35.5 x 28 cm
Collection: the Artist

Paul Dash was born in Fairfield Cross Road, St. Michael, Barbados, in 1946, and is based in London, UK.  He emigrated to Oxford England in 1957 with his family at the age of 11.  After completing the Foundation course at Oxford Polytechnic, now Brooke University (1964-1965), he completed a BA at Chelsea School of Art in1968 and an MA at the Institute of Education University of London (Distinction) in 1990.  In 2009 Dash was awarded a PhD from Goldsmiths University of London, writing a dissertation on African Caribbean pupils in Art Education.

Dash was an active member of Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) during 1969-1972 and exhibited with the group at various venues in London and Kent. He participated in the Whitechapel Open Exhibition in the 1980s, and Caribbean Connection 2: Island Pulse, at Islington Arts Factory in 1996 which was curated by Denzil Forrester.  Other exhibitions include Revellers Gather for Mas’ at The Royal Academy (1998) and No Colour Bar at Guildhall Art Gallery, London (2015-16).  His recent work has focused on the boat refugee crisis. In 2019, Paul Dash will present his first solo exhibition at 198 Gallery Brixton.

Artist’s Statement

The portrait was painted at a time of some frustration for me at not having access to a studio or area dedicated for making work. This lack of space and time for working, resulted in unsatisfactory, “experimental” pieces appropriate to my domestic arrangements and circumstances. Self-confidence was rapidly diminishing. I decided that a challenge was needed to showcase my skills and give meaning to making encounters above and beyond a few ill-conceived collages and crudely worked still-life set-ups. The choice of subject had the advantage of a permanent, largely unchanging presence and it engaged those aspects of making in art I most enjoyed: drawing and painting in oils.

At that time I had not painted a full-on portrait of a black sitter and hadn’t seen many portraits of black people in the flesh; paintings in which there was a black presence yes, but few portraits in which artists struggled to say something specific about such sitters. Rembrandt, Pieter Paul Rubens, Marie Benoist, Augustus John and others had made wonderful paintings of black subjects but I hadn’t yet seen them in a gallery setting or had the opportunity to study such works in depth.

The one artist, however, who made the black body his specialism was Gauguin. As a result, I had taken an interest in his art from my mid-teens. Whilst at Oxford School of Art, I had a very good older friend who loved Gauguin, both his lifestyle and his art. He introduced me to the work of the French artist. On visits to the National Gallery, Courtauld Institute and later the Louvre in Paris, Gauguin’s technique for modelling and representing black body hues was inspirational – his use of umbers, ochres, reds and other colours on the palette caressed and celebrated the black body. Works by many other great artists would one day inspire me as well but Gauguin filled my imagination with new possibilities. This self-portrait, while not borrowing heavily from his technique, was inspired by Gauguin’s confidence in finding colour specific to representing the exquisite browns, purples and other hues intrinsic to the colouring of the black body. Most of all Gauguin taught me to look and peel away extraneous material not implicit to an understanding of the subject under scrutiny.

I made the painting in the bedroom I shared with Jean, which was situated on the northern side of our first-floor apartment in a block surrounded by other high buildings. Although the room was dark, its position should have been an advantage by offering consistency of light throughout the day. Over time, however, I became disillusioned with the poor quality of light. To counteract this, I introduced the pale yellow hat, which was a mere roll of paper. It, however, added balance to the work and sparked new life in what was a truly difficult but stimulating challenge.

Arrivants: Kelley-Ann Lindo

Kelley-Ann Lindo - Love Inna a Barrel
Kelley-Ann Lindo – Sending Love Inna a Barrel (2018), in Arrivants at the BHMS
Sending Love Inna a Barrel (2018)
Mixed media installation
Variable dimensions

The Evil We Know (2017)
Single channel video with sound
Accessible on line via QR code
Kelley-Ann Lindo - Love Inna a Barrel (2016-2018) - mixed media installation
Kelley-Ann Lindo (Jamaica) – Love Inna a Barrell (2016-2018), mixed media installation – photograph courtesy of the artist

Kelley-Ann Lindo was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1991, and is based there. She was educated at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Art (BFA in Painting, 2015). She worked as a gallery assistant at the CAGE Gallery, as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Jamaica, and currently as an assistant visual arts coordinator at the Multicare Youth Foundation and a lecturer at the Edna Manley College, all in Kingston, Jamaica. She has been artist-in-residence at Alice Yard, Port of Spain, Trinidad (2016), at NLS, Kingston, Jamaica (2017) and at Blaqmango Consultancy, Kingston, Jamaica (2018). Her work has also been exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica (Jamaica Biennial 2017), Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts (Final Year exhibition, 2015), and the College’s CAG[e] Gallery (2014). Lindo produces large, mixed media installations, but also works in drawing and print media, and in video.

skippy peanut butter
Kelley-Ann Lindo – The Evil We Know (2017) video still

Artist’s Statement

Traumatic memories are forever susceptible to change each time there are attempts to recollect them, and it is that fragility I have explored, through the use and manipulation of fragile materials. My ongoing body of work seeks to establish a conversation around the dynamics surrounding the ‘barrel children’ syndrome within the Caribbean culture – a term referring to children who have been left behind by one or both parents who have migrated. The term also reflects the parents’ need to disguise their absence with the provision of material goods and remittance for the children. This body of work raises questions about migration, Caribbean family structure, material relationship between experience, memory, story and identity.

Through abstraction, I have absorbed the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice as an act of catharsis. The works do not reference recognisable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted.

qr-code - Lindo - The Evil We Know
Please scan with your smart phone to view the video The Evil We Know

Arrivants: Ewan Atkinson

IMG_0874
Ewan Atkinson – Peregrination, A Playable Reproduction (2018), the board game – photo: courtesy of the Artist, all rights reserved

Peregrination, A Playable Reproduction (2018)
Game components: digital reproductions of the game board and five game pieces, five wooden stands, a pair of dice, ninety-one buttons as counters.
From the players’ pockets: a wooden shoe, a Vape mat, a dried passion fruit, a peanut-candy wrapper, the key from a can of corned beef, a plastic toy, and a commemorative pin.

Ewan Atkinson was born in Barbados, in 1975, and is based there. He graduated with a BFA from The Atlanta College of Art, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA (1998) and an MA in Cultural Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados (2014).

Apart from solo and group exhibitions in Barbados, Atkinson has shown in international exhibitions including; Infinite Island, Brooklyn Museum, NYC (2007); The Caribbean Pavilion (Liverpool Biennial 2010); The 12th Havana Biennial (2015); Caribbean Queer Visualities, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2016); and most recently Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago (2017-18).

Atkinson is currently the coordinator of the Studio Art BFA programme at the Barbados Community College and co-founder of Punch Creative Arena, an artist led curatorial initiative.

IMG_6967
Ewan Atkinson – Peregrination, A Playable Reproduction (2018), installation view in Cunard Gallery, Arrivants exhibition – photo: courtesy of the Artist, all rights reserved

Artist’s Statement

The Neighbourhood Project investigates the development of persona and character within the social boundaries that might define or confine a community. Using The Neighbourhood and its inhabitants as objects of study, I examine the production of meaning and how it might create or hinder an individual’s sense of self.

For over a decade I have been studying artifacts from The Neighbourhood.

Peregrination, a board game reproduced and presented “in play” for Arrivants, is a very recent discovery.  Seemingly intended as educational entertainment (much like early European and North American 17th or 18th century games), promising advice on how new residents might acclimate to this community and eventually attain acceptance and “prosperity”.  This important find has cast some doubt on many of my earlier suppositions about the history of technological and social development in The Neighbourhood.  The era suggested by the apparent age of the game is in conflict with much of it’s content. I am left to wonder if time might operate differently in The Neighbourhood. Was it indeed created by the “much respected” Nelson Brothers? Are they ageless? It is a puzzling conundrum.

My attempts to play the game have been futile.  In fact, the game may be entirely “un-winnable”.  The game may have been produced as part of some elaborate ruse.  More research is required.

Interlopers
Ewan Atkinson – Peregrination, A Playable Reproduction (2018), the Interlopers – photo: courtesy of the Artist, all rights reserved

Arrivants: Simon Tatum

Simon Tatum - Tropical Forms (2018) - detail
Simon Tatum (Cayman Islands) – Tropical Form (2018), wall-based drawing installation – photograph Jonathan Tatum

Simon Tatum was born in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, in 1995, and is also based there. He was educated at the University of Missouri (BA, 2017). His solo exhibitions to date are Discover and Rediscover (2016), at the University of Missouri and Looking Back and Thinking Ahead (2017), in the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Various group exhibitions include Open Air Prisons (2016), LACE Gallery in Los Angeles, California, and Sense of Place (2018), Spinnerei Halle 18 in Leipzig, Germany. He was part of the Caribbean Linked IV (2016) residency programme in Oranjestad, Aruba. Moreover, he currently serves an Assistant Curator at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

IMG_0505
Simon Tatum installs Tropical Form at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (photograph courtesy Karen Brown)

Artist’s Statement

Tropical Forms are monotone paintings designed to act as organisms by adapting to the dimensions of their exhibition space and incorporating materials and references from the various locations they travel. The concept was created by Tatum during a residency in Leipzig, Germany. While in Germany, he learned that male Cuban contract workers were sent to Leipzig to work within the spindle factories because of a trade deal between Cuba and the German Democratic Republic. The Cubans spent limited time in Leipzig, but several of them intermixed with German locals and had children.

Moreover, Tatum is becoming interested in narratives of promoted migration caused by political matters and how such movement encourages sexual encounters and coupling between different cultural groups. Tatum realises that migration is historically recognised by both positive and negative circumstances, but feels that hybridising should be embraced and his Tropical Forms are attempted shrines for acts of hybridising.

The Belly of the Whale: A Conversation with Cosmo Whyte

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This blog was created as a partnership between Kelley-Ann Lindo and Simon Tatum. Both are participating artists in the Arrivants exhibition and are serving as curatorial interns, assisting with the exhibition install and documenting conversations with other artists involved with the project. This post will focus on a conversation with the artist Cosmo Whyte, and it will illustrate his experience while installing his new work for the Arrivants exhibition.

Whyte is a Jamaican born artist who is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as a full-time teaching professor for Morehouse College.  He has a trans-disciplinary art practice and employs drawing, performance and sculpture to create conceptual work that explore identity and how it can be disrupted by migration. Moreover, his creative process is anchored by interrogations of his own body as a racialized black man.

For Whyte’s work in the Arrivants exhibition, he has been granted access to intervene within a prison cell space at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS). The BMHS site is housed in historic buildings originally used as the military prison at St. Ann’s Garrison. The buildings hold an extensive history and once served as the headquarters of the Windward and Leeward command of the English forces. There are only twelve structures like this military prison that were constructed under the British Empire, and this space is greatly significant within the Caribbean region.

One opinion that Lindo and Tatum were interested in hearing from Whyte was his thoughts towards addressing the prison atmosphere of the BMHS site within his short time limitations of the install.  Whyte mentioned that he had engaged in a similar experience with time restraint during a residency in Panama in 2007. That residency was a two week programme where he had to create new works on site for an exhibition. He saw that residency as a healthy experience because it challenged him to make new, experimental works and demanded him to negotiate his ideas towards the definitive construction of his artwork. Moreover, he carries that experience within his current practice and it helped him with the much more difficult install limitation (2 days) for the Arrivants exhibition.

Continue reading “The Belly of the Whale: A Conversation with Cosmo Whyte”