Nicole Smythe-Johnson announced as curator for the Tilting Axis Curatorial Fellowship 2016

Kingston-based curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson has been selected for this year’s Tilting Axis curatorial fellowship. Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator, who has written for ARC magazine, Miami Rail, Flash Art, Jamaica Journal and a number of other local and international publications. She is currently Assistant Curator on an upcoming exhibition of the work of Jamaican painter John Dunkley at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. She is also working on an Institute of Jamaica publication looking at Jamaica’s National Collection.

Congratulations, Nicole!

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The curatorial fellowship is a direct outcome of the Tilting Axis meetings in 2015 at Fresh Milk in Barbados and in 2016 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Scotland based cultural partners CCA Glasgow, David Dale Gallery, Hospitalfield and curatorial collective Mother Tongue produced a structural long-term fellowship for an emerging contemporary art practitioner living and working in the Caribbean.

This new fellowship opportunity focuses on the development of pragmatic and critical curatorial development hailing from the Caribbean region, and is research and practice-led, and mentor-based. Designed as a year-long programme between the Caribbean region and Scotland, it offers support for critical development of curatorial practice and gives a practical base in the partner institutions with visits to Scotland and throughout the Caribbean.

During the fellowship, Nicole Smythe-Johnson will travel to Scotland in November, and will also undertake research visits to Suriname, Barbados, Cuba and Grenada. Smythe-Johnson said: “I am very excited about the fellowship. I attended the Tilting Axis conference this year in Miami and really savoured the opportunity to meet other arts professionals and hear about other institutions in the Caribbean region. I love my island, but island life can be isolating and there is a real temptation toward the insular. This fellowship then, is the perfect opportunity to build on the connections I made at TA 2016, and get some answers to the questions that came out of that experience. I can’t wait to jump in with both feet, starting with Glasgow.”

David Codling, Director of Arts for the Americas, British Council said: “In so many ways which are often overlooked, the Caribbean is the epicentre of the Americas: for better or worse Europe’s involvement with what it called the “New World” began in the Caribbean and for many European countries, including the four nations of the UK, our relationship with the Caribbean is deep, intense and complex. The British Council is proud to support and to be associated with the Tilting Axis Curatorial Fellowship which offers an opportunity to explore and understand that relationship and to promote new conversations.”

Holly Bynoe, co-founder, Tilting Axis said: “In keeping with the notion of tilting the axis which refers to the re-focusing of our gaze and harnessing our collective power to make the visual arts sector more sustainable in ways that resonate with our lived realities in the Caribbean, the introduction of the Tilting Axis Curatorial Fellowship is one example of how this might happen. Tilting Axis 2: Caribbean Strategies made significant strides in its aims to fortify networks and extend the reach of the arts throughout the Caribbean, with its partners in the Global North. I am delighted that the inaugural fellow is Nicole Smythe-Johnson and eagerly anticipate what will come of her research across the Dutch, Spanish, and Anglophone Caribbean, concluding in what I am sure will be a rich and stimulating experience in Scotland.”

The fellowship is in partnership with CCA Glasgow, David Dale Gallery and Studios, Hospitalfield, Mother Tongue and Tilting Axis. Supported by the British Council.

For more information, images or interviews, please contact Julie Cathcart, Communications ManagerCCA – julie@cca-glasgow.com / 0141 352 4911.

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About Nicole Smythe-Johnson:

Nicole Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator, living in Kingston, Jamaica. She has written for ARC magazine, Miami Rail, Flash Art, Jamaica Journal and a number of other local and international publications. She is currently Assistant Curator on an upcoming exhibition of the work of Jamaican painter John Dunkley at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. She is also working on an Institute of Jamaica publication looking at Jamaica’s National Collection.

About CCA:

The Centre for Contemporary Arts is Glasgow’s hub for the arts. The building is steeped in history and the organisation has played a key role in the cultural life of the city for decades. CCA’s year-round programme includes cutting-edge exhibitions, film, music, literature, spoken word, festivals, Gaelic language events and performance. CCA also provides residencies for artists in the on-site Creative Lab space, as well as working internationally on residencies with Palestine, the Caribbean and Quebec. CCA curates six major exhibitions a year, presenting national and international contemporary artists, and is home to Intermedia Gallery showcasing emerging artists.

About Hospitalfield:

Dedicated to contemporary art and ideas, Hospitalfield is a place to work, study, learn, visit and enjoy. Hospitalfield is an artist’s house in Arbroath, on the east coast of Scotland, with a captivating cultural and social history that spans many hundreds of years. The contemporary arts programme is anchored in the visual art yet encourages interdisciplinarity, supporting the production of new work and providing space for debate and learning through residencies, a summer school and four public projects with new commissions each year. The organisation maintains strong national and international working partnerships with the aim of making Hospitalfield a meeting place and cultural catalyst in the working lives of artists, students and creative professionals in Scotland and far beyond.

About Mother Tongue:

Mother Tongue is a research-led, independent curatorial practice formed by Tiffany Boyle and Jessica Carden. Since 2009, they have produced exhibitions, screening programmes, discursive events, essays and texts, working in partnership with galleries, museums, festivals, and publishers. Mother Tongue’s practice in exhibition-making intersects with research interests – including, but not limited to – post-colonialism, language, translation, heritage, identities, indigenousness, migration, and movement. They are currently researching the presence, work and exhibition histories of artists of colour in Scotland, working towards a future ‘AfroScots’ exhibition project.

About Tilting Axis:

Tilting Axis is a roving project conceptualised by ARC Magazine and the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. The first iteration was hosted at Fresh Milk in Barbados in February 2015 under the banner Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean | Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity. Tilting Axis 2.0 was hosted by the Pérez Art Museum Miami in February 2016. This meeting explored the current state of cultural work in the Caribbean, and aimed to fortify networks, increase administrative and programming capacities, as well as transfer knowledge and funding opportunities to those working in the region. The Tilting Axis Emerging Curatorial Fellowship developed out of the second iteration and the next edition of the meeting is slated to take place in April 2017, hosted by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI).

About The British Council:

The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations. The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We call this cultural relations. We build trust and understanding for the UK to create a safer and more prosperous world. In terms of our reach and impact, we are the world’s leading cultural relations organisation. Cultural relations is a component of international relations which focuses on developing people-to-people links and complements government-to-people and government-to-government contact. We use English, Arts, and Education and Society – the best of the UK’s great cultural assets – to bring people together and to attract partners to working with the UK. The British Council has over 7,000 staff working in 191 offices in 110 countries and territories.

Raquel Marshall’s Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Barbadian visual artist Raquel Marshall writes about the second week of her Fresh Milk residency. This week, Raquel gives us some more insight into her impetus behind applying for the residency, and how her personal experiences with those who have suffered with alcoholism as well as research into the subject feed into the body of work she is creating while at Fresh Milk. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:

I have been working on a few different concepts this week. Here is a look at two of them.

The clay sculptures for the installation I imagined are coming along nicely. Each piece is its own unique vessel, and none are premeditated. Their shapes are quite fluid and remind me of sea life. I wanted to add texture to some of them and decided to go with coral and shell patterns. In trying to approach the subject of denial, it is my intention for these pieces to convey weight, time, care and an element of ‘what is hidden’ within the work. There is nothing I love more in the creative process than to start with a vague idea, be sensitive to the medium and observe the work evolve on its own.  I have about 80-100 to make!!

I was inspired to do this piece after having to face a difficult time in my life, which pushed me to apply for this residency.  In 2012, I lost my father to suicide due to a lifetime of alcohol abuse. It’s been 4 years (even though it feels like only 4 days at times) of numbness, questions and deep reflection; a time of cocooning and rebirth. The entire experience has inspired me to explore more about alcoholism (drug abuse), especially as it relates to our local (perhaps even regional) culture.

I am grateful to The Substance Abuse Foundation which is a place of healing for addicts because they have been very supportive in helping me find some statistics. Thanks to Larry Mayers and Bernard Pooler.  I also had the privilege recently to sit with Curleen Alleyne and hear how she uses art as therapy with the patients there. I have such high respect for this organization and the people who work there.  I feel proud of those who have walked through their doors to find healing as it is a very brave and honest act, and shows a tremendous strength and love of self.

In my efforts to gather some information I created a little anonymous survey. If you are a Barbadian please fill it out. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time so far. I hope to use the sentiments and statistics for future work.

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I truly believe that love saves lives, and this brings me to the next concept I have been working on.  According to Barbados Free Press in an article written in 2010,  the number of car accidents reported was estimated at 240% higher than the UK, and in 2015 Barbados Today also reported that there was a rise in road fatalities from the year before. Police say drunk-driving and speeding are among the leading causes of accidents. Anesta Henry’s report expresses my personal sentiments through the statements of Richard Cox, the public relations officer of the Barbados Road Safety Association, and Ronald Stanford, Assistant Superintendent.

I have been challenging myself as to whether or not I am being loving and responsible when I watch someone who has spent a night drinking get into their car and drive away? For those of you who don’t know, we don’t have safety laws to prevent people from drinking and driving, we don’t even have breathalyser tests. I have watched many leave the “partay” even with their “one fuh de road” in hand (what a terminology!) and said nothing – I just prayed they made it home safely. Seat belts are required now, and I wanted to incorporate one in a piece as they have been proven to save some lives. I cut the belt into hearts in the way children try to make patterns with folded paper. It was all experimental. The cutting caused the belt to fray, and I found myself drawn to the very tactile and now fragile properties of this new object. I want to do another one. I hope that my work creates dialogue that promotes change.

I took some time this week to walk the grounds here at Fresh Milk. I took in the scenery and calmed my thoughts. Discovering new places and new things always brings out our inner child, so even though there is seriousness in thought, playfulness is never far from reach. My imagination was sparked…I discovered an intimidating snake-like creature with many arrow-shaped heads, a wondrous tree with many rooms, and a troll under a “bridge”. And had a stare down with a cow.

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CBB Logo White & Black TextThis residency is sponsored by the Central Bank of Barbados

Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell writes about the second week of his Emerging Directors Residency, a collaboration between Fresh Milk and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). This week emphasized the importance of planning and strategizing to get the most out of the residency period, as well as seeing Matthew work more with his selected actors Patrick Foster, Nala and Luci Hammans as he continues to develop his interpretation of the play ‘Shakespeare’s Nigga’.

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Greetings.

I almost didn’t know what to write for this report. At first when I thought about this week, I kind of felt I had very little to say or report – yet when I really thought about it, I have a lot to say.

Well, first off, I got more clarity on what is expected of me during the residency, which has caused me to re-evaluate many things, almost start over and restructure. One thing that’s for sure is the importance of timing and planning. With that said, the date of the residency showcase has been postponed till late October. This works better for me and for everyone. In order to have a productive rehearsal, I can’t have my actors being loud disturbing the concentration of the visual artists. Also, we have time to focus on the text with stretched out rehearsal times.

Speaking with Kendel Hippolyte, we’ve asked some serious questions and came up with very interesting observations about the texts and the characters. It’s very clear he loves this play and the craftiness of Joseph’s attempt at old English fused with modern English. In conversation with him and my actors, we’re still dissecting the characters and figuring out who they really are and what their purposes are. The language has a lot to offer in many different connotations and offers a range of possibilities for both actor and director to explore. Many views were agreed on and a few questioned, but the journey to discovery is most amazing and rewarding, definitely the highlight of the residency.

I can’t say that I have a 100% concrete idea and concept of how to stage it. Through the many conversations with mentor and cast, more ideas float in and out. This is great, but I also need to concentrate on the theme I am pushing, which is Black Masculinity. One of my objectives is to give this text a space in the Caribbean, have the actors own the language in their voice. Our discussions on black masculinity mostly take place through the character of Aaron and the decisions he makes. Why Shakespeare’s daughter? How does he feel about Othello? The will to over throw Shakespeare’s empire.

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The rehearsal space gave room for exploration and discovery. Friday’s rehearsal saw Patrick and Nala on their feet working a scene where the power dynamic switches from Shakespeare to Aaron. After all the reading and discussion and dissecting of text for further understanding, after the second time on their feet, the actors got very intense. Choices of ‘interrogation’, ‘opium and open threats’, ‘dependency and power’ overcame the scene. Patrick and Nala as veteran actors entrusted me as a young director to get them to that point, and I am confident we have found the direction to head in. The actors, so happy and impressed by the work we put in, hug it out after a strong rehearsal!

So since the push back to October, I will be stretching my rehearsals to once a week. Though my time with Kendel is almost up, we agreed to keep talking through the duration of the residency as our conversations are very insightful, and often times humorous in the things we discover in the text and the ‘interesting’ choices I would like to make. I have more hours to make up with my actress than I do with my actors, but I’m excited about what I’ve learned in the process of directing, and excited to see what more can be uncovered.

– Kupa

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

Leann Edghill’s Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Leann Edghill writes about the first week of her Fresh Milk residency, where she has been adjusting to the space alongside her fellow residents Raquel Marshall and Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell. Despite coming to Fresh Milk with a particular plan in mind, Leann hopes to be open to what the space and its resources can offer, while experimenting with different mediums in her work. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:

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My first week here at Fresh Milk has been very welcoming. The space, the environment and the landscape has quite a refreshing feeling, but I also feel nostalgic about being in the country – except for the smell of nature, which hasn’t been my friend! I am currently sharing my experience with another local artist, Raquel C. Marshall, who is very excited about this journey we are on together. Raquel is very energetic and active, which I find helps me to keep just as active and driven as she is. Even though Raquel has more ideas than I do, we are both touching on similar issues and challenging ourselves in our work. I also met another resident on the farm, theatre artist Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell. He is completing an Emerging Director Residency. Matthew is more tranquil than Raquel and I, but also a very interesting individual, and I am keen to understand the ways in which he views his art.

I came to Fresh Milk with a plan, knowing the types of mediums I wanted to explore. My idea is to continue conducting research on the iconic Barbie figure and historical events that occurred in Barbados, as well as how Barbie is deteriorating today due to modern technology.

Typically, I prefer to paint with a very bold and monochromatic colour scheme in the style of Pop Art. I am considering exploring watercolours, but I have mixed feelings about this approach although I am familiar with the medium. I think I need to allow the medium itself to dictate the artwork, rather than exercising full control over the process.

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CBB Logo White & Black TextThis residency is sponsored by the Central Bank of Barbados

Raquel Marshall’s Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

Barbadian visual artist Raquel Marshall writes about the first week of her Fresh Milk residency. Eager to get started, Raquel has been using her time to explore new ideas, take in the creative environment with her fellow resident artists and utilize the material in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room for research, as she considers the context of her work in this space. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:

The first week of my residency at Fresh Milk went by in a swoosh.  I quickly felt at home here, and was able to settle and take advantage of “my time.” Coming into the residency, I already had some concepts in mind and was eager to develop them. I decided to start working on an installation using clay. While creating this, I’ve been pondering denial and the human survival instinct of hiding truths, either from each other or from ourselves. I managed 6 small pieces so far and am feeling accomplished.

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I am blessed to be sharing this creative space with Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell and Leann Edghill. Mathew and I engaged in a long, interesting conversation about Caribbean music, Barbadian music, calypso, soca and bashment soca on a long drive to drop him home one day. Consider me now more “edumacated.” He is passionate about cultural studies. Leann’s work intrigues me, as I find common threads between our practices, and yet our work is so different. I can’t wait to see what comes out of HER residency!

In between the interaction, the creating and the trying to source a variety of things, the Colleen Lewis reading room occupied the rest of my attention. Contemporary artists,  Richard Bellingham and Rehema Chachage, caught my attention this week and I am currently watching the ART21 DVD series about art in the 21 st century.

Onward and upward.

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CBB Logo White & Black TextThis residency is sponsored by the Central Bank of Barbados