Friday, 17 June 2016

Alice Yard - Week 3 - final one :-(

My last week drew to a close and I am now back in Toronto. Last Thursday, I presented the pieces I produced in the time that I was there. I also did an artist talk, mostly presenting the work I have been doing during the 1st year of my MFA at OCADu. Thanks to everyone who came! I really appreciate it.

With the presentation done, it left a window to be more playful. I was able to shoot some more photographs but with no clear purpose at this point. I am interested to see if and how the photos I have taken will be used in the future. This is not usually my process. I don't usually take photos to see what develops out of it but rather start with the idea and take photos or do a video after. However, I have been finding lately that having an archive to dip into has been helpful as it is not always possible to do work in-situ.

In the last few days, I was able to see some more of the island with my tour guides extraordinaire Ashraph and Shalini and head over to meet Sean at his Toco casita, designed to be open to the environment. (photos below). 

I learnt a new card game! Now one may think that a new card game is not that exciting but I was reminded that sitting around the table playing games with friends and family is a pre-digital era way to spend time with people. I did this growing up but lost touch with it. 

Not forgetting about art, I did a studio visit with emerging artist Shanice Gonzales and met for lunch  Nadia Huggins, artist now living in Trinidad and co-founder of Arc Magazine. You can participate in her project Every Horizon looks the Same.

All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed my residency, sweat and all.

I produced two pieces in the time I was there and got more footage.

I re-connected with a few people and made new connections which I hope will move into the re-connect phase at some point.

I got a little taste of Trinidad and liked it. I furthered my understanding of the Caribbean region.

I feel that, with time, more things will unfold from this opportunity.

Thanks Alice Yard!

Some more Port of Spain

Gingerbread house


Electricity grows plants here!

Not very helpful

Likely much more helpful

A sugar apple, unfortunately not ripe :-((((((

Jetty by Orange Valley


Corbeaux waiting for scraps (because of Trinidad's history, there are words and names of places that are Amerindian, French, Spanish, English, Indian, African, Chinese)

Landscape and Industry

Travelling east

The winding roads and landscape of the north east coasts reminded me of Barbados.

Some words of wisdom?

All roads lead to Bachannal.

Sean Leonard's Toco house

Somehow doing dishes out a window seems nicer. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Alice Yard - Week 2

Week 2 is done! oh gooooood time flyin’

Let me see, there was less touring around the countryside this last week. Still I did get up to the Bamboo Cathedral, which is gorgeous. Would be nice to go some time prepared to walk further.

A trip to Town. 

Do NOT touch the mannequins

The Colonel or Carol's?

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The National Library

a real mixture of architecture
it was pretty impossible to get any photos without cars in them

Christopher Cozier returned from his residency so we did great studio visits. It was wonderful to hear his thoughts on my work and see his artwork in person. I am now a proud owner of one of his pieces. ok so it is about 2 x 5 cm - you gotta start somewhere!

I also went up to Granderson Lab to visit Alex Kelly and see his studio.

Back at Alice Yard, TOOF is here to install the new posters, changed every two weeks. These ones are by Richard Rawlins

See you on Sundays setting up for a screening of art documentaries

At "fifty-fifty" - an installation and conversation conceived by Marsha Pearce in collaboration with Medulla Art Gallery

Despite all the photos, the last few days I have been in front of the computer a lot. The date has been set for my artist talk and presentation so time to finish things up. There is nothing like necessity to force you to learn how to use editing software better. 

A residency is a strange beast. Trying to soak everything in, get out and about but also do work. And  producing work with the awareness that the full extent of my experience of my residency here at Alice Yard will only come out later. I am sure that ideas will come to me from this experience at a later date and that I will end up crossing paths with people I have met here in other countries.

At the same time, I am left with the lingering feeling that I need to come back here in the future to make more work. (are you reading this Chris, Nicholas and Sean? :-)

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Pure Caribbean

Turn up your volume

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Alice Yard - week 1

My first week at Alice Yard has sped by. I was nervous and excited before coming here, not really knowing what to expect and what was expected of me for my first official residency. Despite Trinidad being a different country than Barbados, the general familiarity of the environment made me feel more comfortable once I arrived here. The Alice Yard space is great - with a small apartment, a studio space, a gallery, lots of general outdoor yard space. Sean Leonard and Nicholas Laughlin welcomed me and have been great to chat to about Trinidad. Christopher Cozier is off at a residency himself and will be back shortly. 

The residency has been about finding a balance between spending time in the studio and walking around looking at everything. After being on my list of things to read forever, I am finally reading The Repeating Island by Antonio Benítez-Rojo (somewhat more slowly than usual as, in the heat, I find myself holding the book with my eyes closed - going to hit up the coffee shop this week to read in the AC). Also looking at fiction - currently reading Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique which takes place on St Thomas when it transitions from being a Danish to an American colony-  and have my eye on a Nalo Hopkinson next. I have been working on ideas and putting my very rusty drawing hand to work on a few sketches. 

View from the rooftop terrace at Alice Yard
Queen's Park Savannah
I have had the opportunity to meet Marlon James a Jamaican photographer living here, Ashraph Ramsaran from the Frame Shop. a space inna spaceand had a bite to eat with Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe from Grenada who I cross paths with every few years in a different country.

I visited The National Museum and Art Gallery, which was what I expected - a mixture of historical, social, economic and natural history. Unfortunately, the fine art section was closed until further notice but the room filled with Cazabon’s drawings, paintings and lithographs was accessible. 

Walking around Port of Spain

I went on an Island Hikers walk to Chacachacare Island, which has served as a cotton plantation, a whaling station and a leper colony. There were amazing views from the lighthouse and one could see just how close we were to Venezuela (the two countries were once physically connected). There is a long history of exchange, migration etc with South America both pre- and post-Columbus. One of my grandmother’s sisters moved to Venezuela in the 1930s or early 1940s and then had 8 children so I have a whole set of family in Venezuela that I have never met. 

Venezuela just over there

Ashraph also took me down to Chaguanas to meet Shalini Seereeram and see her studio. We all went to the Dattatreya Temple and Hanuman Statue, Temple by the Sea and then to Our Lady of Monserrat RC Church and Tortuga's surrounding rolling hills. 

The Lion House made famous in VS Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas
Hanuman Statue
Dattatreya Temple

Temple by the Sea

A sno-cone. Artificial-flavour-on-ice-topped-with-condensed-milk goodness
Our Lady of Monserrat RC Church

Old postal station in Tortuga
A cocoa drying house (no longer functional)
Moving around, seeing these different sites, is important but still it also feels like I am playing tourist. I wonder about the flaneur-residency model that happens in the art world - how much does it replicate tourism and the power dynamics within that? It does make me consider how one’s position must be negotiated with care.