Umi Baden-Powell & Hannah Catherine Jones – Week 1 Blog Post

UK-based artists of Caribbbean heritage, Umi Baden-Powell and Hannah Catherine Jones, share their first blog post about their Fresh Milk artist residency. Umi & Hannah have taken the first week to acclimatise to the environment in Barbados and on Walkers Dairy where Fresh Milk is situated, as well as to connect both literally and spiritually with their family and ancestors in the region. This situating of themselves, along with the research they are conducting, feeds their collaborative ‘Ancestral Architecture’ project, revolving during this residency around the decolonisation of rum. To learn more, come to their first community session this Thursday, November 16th, from 6-9 at Fresh Milk:

Panoramic view of Walker’s grounds

Ancestral Architecture (AA) is a recently founded collective agency led by Umi Baden-Powell and Hannah Catherine Jones intended to generate positive creative responses and conversations surrounding decolonisation, and healing for the African Diaspora. At Fresh Milk, AA will be utilising “decolonized” bush rum (the transformation of rum with African herbs and spices) as metaphorical and literal fluid vehicle to connect with and heal concepts associated with displacement.

Our first week has been spent acclimatising physiologically to life on Walker’s Dairy (a former plantation), researching and engaging with the wider community of Fresh Milk and exploring the island in general.

Our intention as Ancestral Architecture is to construct and consolidate links with existing, emerging and dormant descendants, literally and metaphorically. This has been enacted through visiting Hannah’s Bajan family connecting with and meeting  mutual friends (of friends) and forming new bonds along the way.

Despite the immediacy of digital “closeness” (predominantly enabled through social networks) Diasporic communities are becoming increasingly fractured.

Ancestral Architecture is about connecting and maintaining unity of family, no matter how dispersed.

Ruins on Deborah’s, Bay St. Philip.

The Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE) screening at Fresh Milk was a potent evening of formal and informal discussion that enlightened us to the possibilities of the Fresh Milk community and beyond.

Exploring the island by bike has been a refreshing way to appreciate Bim’s breathtaking beauty, although international rumours that Barbados is flat have been quashed:

Our research this week has focussed on:

  • the slave plantations, particularly Bayley’s Plantation – the site of Bussa’s Rebellion in 1816.
  • expanding knowledge of Bajan flora and fauna in preparation for our rum production on site. Experiments have begun with Dominican cask rum infused with pwev, sensitiva and carpenter grass.
  • completing all the necessary invisible labour of administrative tasks, liaising with museums and rum factories for site visits, scheduling talks/workshops at Barbados Community College’s Art and Music departments and planning our first AA meeting.

Barbados Community College.

The first week has already been a potent journey of connection with and expansion of our ancestral links through social, geographical and spiritual experiences. Binaries connect and facilitate a more “whole” understanding of our ancestral architecture. The simple activity of feeling the force of the wind hurtling across Atlantic Ocean, the collision of warm air and human body provoking new kinds of comprehension. Something poetic becoming harrowingly pragmatic; this natural “trade” wind being the key geopolitical condition that resulted in our ancestors being transported these lands.

We hugely anticipate our first Ancestral Architecture session in week 2.

 

Invitation: Ancestral Architecture

Ancestral Architecture (AA) is a recently founded collective agency led by Umi Baden-Powell and Hannah Catherine Jones intended to generate positive creative responses and conversations surrounding decolonisation and healing for the African Diaspora. At Fresh Milk, AA will be utilising “decolonized” bush rum (the transformation of rum with African herbs and spices) as metaphorical and literal fluid vehicle to connect with and heal themes associated with displacement. 

During our artist residency, AA will be studying the processes and transformations (cane to sugar, sugar to alcohol, product to colonial capital, etc.) of rum, a key product in transatlantic slavery. AA will explore the ways our ancestors channelled trickster tactics and used consumption of decolonized bush rum to fuel other decolonisation tactics and self-healing practices – music and performance. These themes will be explored at our first AA meetings on Thursday, November 16th, 2017 from 6-9pm and culminate in a day long residency finisage on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 at the Fresh Milk Art Platform, Walkers Dairy, St. George.

Performance, ritual, and community collaboration are Ancestral Architecture’s tools for navigating and addressing cultural and collective issues: the trans-generational, the (in)tangible residues of rum’s history. Alchemy (medicine creation via spice), shamanism (healing), and transformation (intoxication) and their historic/contemporary references will be ingredients of our collective performance: a communal consumption of the collaboratively spiced AA rum, the sharing of stories and traditions in an attempt to promote transatlantic antiphony and transcendence.

It is vital that any outcomes of the AA residency be inclusive, sensitive and generous. We want to produce the conditions for dialogue and mutual knowledge exchange by calling out for community participation at the AA meetings (Thursday November 16th + Saturday December 2nd). We are looking to infuse the work with archival, oral and sonic histories from everyone from rum connoisseurs/historians to DIY home-brew spiced rum makers, artists, musicians, performers and spectators.

With permission, performances, talks, rum production, would be documented and shared publicly and online.

Drop in or RSVP to Umi & Hannah at ancestral.architecture@gmail.com

Fresh Milk welcomes Umi Baden-Powell & Hannah Catherine Jones to the Platform

Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome UK-based artists Hannah Catherine Jones and Umi Baden-Powell, of Barbadian and Dominican heritage respectively, to the platform from for the month of November, 2017.

TAXI FOR TWO, 2012. © [Hannah Catherine Jones + Umi BadenPowell]. Mapping fox roadkill + event documentation.

Umi and Hannah, through their collective agency ‘Ancestral Architecture’, will use their residency at Fresh Milk to explore “decolonized” bush rum (flavouring of rum with African herbs and spices) as metaphorical and literal fluid vehicle to connect with their own ancestral architecture as members of the Caribbean diaspora. They will be studying the processes and transformations (cane to sugar, sugar to alcohol, product to colonial capital, etc.) of rum, a key product in transatlantic slavery, and explore the ways their ancestors channelled trickster tactics and used consumption of decolonized bush rum to fuel another decolonisation tactic – music and performance.

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About Umi Baden-Powell:

Umi Baden-Powell is an artist, designer and aspiring architect living and working in South East London for the past 7 years. Her background in Fine Art (BA FineArt, the Slade School of Fine Art, University CollegeLondon) and her experience as a maker greatly informs her experimental but pragmatic approach to architecture and design. Umi is interested in ways to initiate egalitarian, ecological, social, grassroots and cultural interventions, as well as forming proposals for alternative models of living in the city – activism through architecture.

About Hannah Catherine Jones:

Hannah Catherine Jones (aka Foxy Moron) is an artist, scholar, multi-instrumentalist, radio presenter (NTS), composer, conductor and founder of Peckham Chamber Orchestra – a community project established in 2013. Her broad practice is connected through a central spine of inclusivity and decolonization. Myths (both ancient and modern), word-play, appropriation and her own voice (in song) are her materials. The videos she composes use   fragmented appropriated footage, as do her orchestral compositions. Her Oweds are a temporal form of self-reparation, a method of connection with ancestors though sonic ritual using voice, theremin and video her Afrofuturistic operatic performances bridge visual arts (video) and music (sonic improvisation).

Philipp Pieroth’s Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

German-born, Johannesburg-based visual artist Philipp Pieroth shares his second blog post about his Fresh Milk residency. This week, Philipp has tried not pressure himself in terms of having fully reconciled work at the end of his residency; rather, he is trying to trust his process and know that clarity will come over time. He also had the opportunity to present his work to students at Barbados Community College, and has started a mural workshop with them on a wall at the school. Read more below:

In my last blog, I wrote about my process. I still haven’t finished any work – I won’t be finishing the works before I Ieave, which was my original plan. Nobody pushed me to do so, but I that’s the pressure I put on myself. I’ve learned that I don’t work that way; there is a certain organic nature of the process I just can’t deny or can’t force. It needs time, no matter how much work I put in. At times I feel like I am not working enough, even though I am working every day up to 12, 14 hours, even often on weekends. A painting needs to be worked on, sometimes it needs to sit for a while and barely be looked at for weeks, before doing any work on it again. Though I was aware of these facts, the residency has acted as a good reminder.

My paintings look very different from each other. Like they have been made in different periods of my life almost. That was confusing and also unsatisfying, but I have accepted it now. I always try to take a failure as a chance to change my angle on things and turn it into a lesson. So it might turn out not to be a bad thing. I actually prefer – let’s say at a solo show – to see diversity in a body of work. If I see 20 works and the shapes and the colours only change a little bit, I feel bored.

Chelsea and I had the chance to speak to a class at the Barbados Community College. I showed my work and started a workshop with some of the students working on a mural at the school. The work that I saw from them was impressive, and I feel the talk was well received. For the mural, the group came up with an interesting concept, which we need to execute now, after the sketching is done.

Chelsea Odufu’s Residency – Week 2 Vlog

US-based filmmaker of Guyanese and Nigerian descent Chelsea Odufu shares her second vlog post about her international artist residency at Fresh Milk in Barbados. She talks through her experiences navigating the island, learning her way around and in so doing beginning to build familiarity with people and places. She also gave a talk to students at the Barbados Community College (BCC), where she screened her film Ori Inu: In Search of Self. Read more below: