Torika Bolatagici’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Fijian-Australian artist Torika Bolatagici shares her final blog post looking back at her Fresh Milk residency which took place during the month of June. The final week was full of activity, ranging from the public event FRESH MILK XIX, a presentation to delegates in a UNESCO workshop and continuing to meet with artists and members of the creative community, while still finding time to work on her photographic series The Camouflage Act developed in Barbados. Read more from Torika below:

Week 4 began with mine and Anisah’s public presentation on the evening of Monday 27 June. I prepared a presentation to introduce the Barbadian audience to the arts practices of Australian-based artists of the Fijian, Papua New Guinean and Autonomous Region of Bougainville diaspora. My presentation was titled ‘Seeing the Black Pacific’ and focused on drawing out particular themes that emerge from Australian-based artists of Melanesian and Indian-Fijian ancestry. Specifically, Cultural Heritage, Revival and Redress; Julia Mage’au Gray (Papua New Guinea); Lisa Hilli (Papua New Guinea); Dulcie Stewart (Fiji). Performing Contemporary Oceanic Identities: Salote Tawale (Fiji); Eric Bridgeman (Papua New Guinea). Positioning the (Geo)political Pacific: Taloi Havini (Autonomous Region of Bougainville); Mohini Chandra (Fiji); Torika Bolatagici (Fiji). It’s a huge task to condense the work of such diverse artists with significant bodies of work into such a short amount of time, but I hope that those who were able to attend will be able to follow-up on individual artists.

It was a pleasure to chat about Anisah’s work in more depth, in relation to the concepts, motivations and processes behind her previous work, as well as the way she has been developing these ideas further through the residency. Working alongside Anisah has been one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my residency and I hope that our paths will cross again in the future.

On the Tuesday of week 4, I led the final session of Anisah’s Quid Pro Quo exchange session, in which I covered some basics about web content and layout for artists. We looked at some fundamentals of information architecture and compared and reviewed some of the various platforms available, before taking a look at the backend of a Squarespace site.

On Wednesday 29 June, we were lucky enough to participate in Katherine Kennedy’s presentation to a group of Caribbean delegates attending a UNESCO workshop that was taking place in Barbados that week. While I was aware of some of the work that the Fresh Milk organisation does, I was amazed at the multiple levels that they are involved in building and supporting the arts and culture industry in Barbados. It was truly amazing to see the grassroots through to international reach of the organisation and the delegates were visibly in awe of the breadth of work being achieved. There were audible gasps and ‘wows’ in the audience. It was an honour to be invited to speak about my residency experience as a part of Katherine’s presentation.

My two final days on the island were packed with multiple (and overlapping) appointments as I hopped from parish to parish trying to squeeze everything in, including photographing friends for my series The Camouflage Act. I was really glad to receive an email from Barbados-based attorney Lalu Hanuman, who wanted to pass on a copy of his publication Reality Check about “the mendacity of those in power in the days of European Colonialism – who propagated cannibal myths (and similar superiority notions), the better to facilitate their plundering activities.” (Hanuman, 2005). Not only was I grateful to Lalu for reaching out and gifting a copy of his book, but I was also pleased to learn about  his work as an environmentalist and with the Barbados Marine Trust. I regret not being able to meet Lalu in-person, but was thrilled to learn that on the day he met with my husband to give him the book, he was in court and winning the case against the government’s proposal to introduce fingerprinting at all ports of entry, including for Barbadian nationals entering and leaving the country (more information in the online newspaper Barbados Today here.)

Another highlight of my final week, was meeting Russell Watson and visiting his studio to learn more about his practice. Russell really helped me to understand more about Barbadian history, culture, politics, topography and marine life. I was really struck by his photographic series Phylum, featuring disembodied figures framed by layers of luminous coral that reminded me of Byzantine mosaics.

After a final photoshoot with Sheena Weekes at Fresh Milk on my last day, I took one final drive up to Gallery NuEdge to take a sneak peek at the installation of Quaternary, curated by Natalie McGuire, featuring the work of Sheena Rose, Versia Harris, Llanor Alleyne and Katherine Kennedy. It was wonderful to finally meet Sheena Rose (whose work I have been following for some time) and take a walk through the gallery with each of the artists. The gallery is lovely and the works looked beautiful in the space; ranging from sculpture to digital print, and mixed-media assemblage. An exquisite show!

As we drove back from Holetown to Worthing in the rain with the windows open, the smell of roti filling the mini van and the sound of Skip Marley on the radio, my heart was sad to be leaving, but full of gratitude for all the learning, experiences and friendships formed. Each day as I entered the dairy I passed a sign that read ‘Manipura’ – the solar plexus, the centre of vitality. Symbolised by a downward pointing triangle indicating “the spreading of energy, growth and development.”

Thank you Fresh Milk for providing the space for growth, renewal of energy and development.

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This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Fresh Talk: Glexis Novoa

Fresh Milk and Fresh Art International are collaborating to present Fresh Talk: Caribbean, a series of podcasts about creativity in the 21st century with a Caribbean focus.

This week’s episode features Cuban artist Glexis Novoa, one of fifty artists that curator Juan Delgado invited to participate in the public art exhibition Detras del muro (Behind the wall) during the 12th Havana Biennial.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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About Fresh Art International & Fresh Talk:

Mission: To inform and inspire a world of followers, Fresh Art International’s team shares conversations, commentary, news, and views about contemporary art.

Launched in October 2011, Fresh Art International is an evolving independent media outlet with a global point of view. Our website is the virtual platform for Fresh Talk: Conversations About Creativity in the 21st Century, our signature audio podcast. The site welcomes up to 3,000 monthly visitors. Averaging more than 9,000 feed hits monthly, we welcome new friends and followers every day: Facebook (3,000+ Likes and Friends) and Twitter (5,000+ Followers).

For Fresh Talk, independent curator Cathy Byrd meets with contemporary artists, curators, designers, architects, composers, writers, filmmakers and other cultural producers. Listen to conversations directly on this website, download episodes, or subscribe to the series on iTunes and Stitcher. Fresh Talk is also accessible through Public Radio Exchange at prx.org.

Anisah Wood’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Anisah Wood, recipient of the 2016 ‘My Time’ Local Residency at Fresh Milk, shares her final blog post. The last week was hectic, including public presentations, the conclusion of her Quid Pro Quo skills-exchange programme and interactions with fellow creatives on the platform, but the experience and the material sourced in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room during her residency is sure to have left a significant and ongoing impression on Anisah’s practice moving forward. Read more below:

Monday – the FRESH MILK XIX public event.
Tuesday – the final Quid Pro Quo session hosted by Torika.
Wednesday – the presentation for participants in a UNESCO Workshop.
Thursday – positioned myself in front of Torika’s camera as part of her project in response to her time in Barbados

Yup, clearly the final week of this residency was eventful, hectic, yet enjoyable. These events allowed for an expansion in my network, an interchange of thoughts and ideas, and collaborations with a fellow artist.

During the in-between moments I decided to peruse the text Caribbean: Art at the Crossroads of the World. Within this comprehensive book I stumbled across a work by Dominic Serres entitled The Capture of Havana, 1762. The English Battery Before Morro Castle, c. 1775. This painting pays homage to the epic battle between Spain and Britain towards the end of the Seven Years’ War. In fact this was the last major episode of the Seven Years’ War, which so happened to be meted out in Caribbean waters and involved the capture of Havana.

Caribbean Crossroads

The Islands as a battleground. The site of Euro-American conflicts and ambitions. Colonialism and territoriality.

Continually I am amazed at the fact that global contemporary issues involving borders, territory and migration are concerns that have affected the Caribbean for centuries, indelibly shaping the region’s identity. So then what are the effects of these events on the contemporary Caribbean? And how can this territorial history and the current manifestation of this history and concerns within the region add to the global debate regarding borders?

On a lighter note, I crocheted a small bag as a parting gift to the Bolatagici family. I also got a chance to observe Renelde take charge as she directed the actors for the play she had taken on board for her residency. It was actually quite riveting to observe the methods of production within another artistic field. I also commenced on a small project in response to the thoughts I have been reading, and enjoyed small eats with fellow Quid Pro Quo participants.

Now My Time at Fresh Milk as a resident is up. It is a bitter sweet moment knowing that those who were residents with me, along with those who willingly volunteered to be part of the Quid Pro Quo programme, will be parting ways. But how wonderful it was to have been able to make the acquaintance of such interesting and passionate people. And as I pack my Georgie bundle and contemplate on my time spent here, I feel satisfied and grateful for this experience. Now it’s time for my next step towards the deep end of the art world.

Thank you to the Fresh Milk team, Torika Bolatagici and her family, Sheena Weekes, Akhaji Zakiya, all those who came out and supported the FRESH MILK XIX public event, and all others who consistently demonstrated their support during my time at Fresh Milk.

Renelde Headley’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Renelde Headley, who was on the Fresh Milk platform as part of the first Emerging Directors Residency hosted in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), writes about her second week in the studio. This week saw her becoming more accustomed to her surroundings and continuing her interactions with the other creatives sharing the space, as well as the introduction of the two actors she is working with to develop the style of the play ‘Yellowman‘ during her residency. Read more from Renelde below:

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My second and sad to say final week at Fresh Milk brought me outside a lot more. As I got more comfortable in the space I’d walk about and play with the puppies or eat snacks out on the deck as well as talk to Katherine, Anisah and Torika, when I needed to step away from the monotony of thinking. This week’s conversations included my hope that I’d hear a monkey on the roof, just once. At the same time, the studio was a hive of activity this week with presentations to UNESCO representatives being made by Katherine, Torika and Anisah and myself.

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I spent most of my time delving into the script, conceptualising the work and all-round prepping to meet the actors, Shea Best and Teila Williams. When I met with them, we were off to a strong start discussing character development and the over-all themes and concept. We also were able to experiment with movement and investigate how that impacts/ strengthens a theatre piece.

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Over-all the experience, though short, has been extremely rewarding. Having the chance to experience a programme that supports and allows you to investigate your art without the pressure of deadlines or “production” makes me feel like I’ll be a much stronger artist because of it.

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ncf mark rgb2This project is a collaborative initiative, supported by the NCF Barbados

Fresh Talk: Franky Cruz

Fresh Milk and Fresh Art International are collaborating to present Fresh Talk: Caribbean, a series of podcasts about creativity in the 21st century with a Caribbean focus.

This week’s episode features Miami-based, Dominican Republic born artist Franky Cruz speaking about how Miami, and the art space known as Spinello Projects, became the laboratory for the exhibition project he titled Sistema.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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About Fresh Art International & Fresh Talk:

Mission: To inform and inspire a world of followers, Fresh Art International’s team shares conversations, commentary, news, and views about contemporary art.

Launched in October 2011, Fresh Art International is an evolving independent media outlet with a global point of view. Our website is the virtual platform for Fresh Talk: Conversations About Creativity in the 21st Century, our signature audio podcast. The site welcomes up to 3,000 monthly visitors. Averaging more than 9,000 feed hits monthly, we welcome new friends and followers every day: Facebook (3,000+ Likes and Friends) and Twitter (5,000+ Followers).

For Fresh Talk, independent curator Cathy Byrd meets with contemporary artists, curators, designers, architects, composers, writers, filmmakers and other cultural producers. Listen to conversations directly on this website, download episodes, or subscribe to the series on iTunes and Stitcher. Fresh Talk is also accessible through Public Radio Exchange at prx.org.