Leann Edghill’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Leann Edghill blogs about the final week of her Fresh Milk residency. Though the week was interrupted by Tropical Storm Matthew, Leann saw this limitation as a chance to carefully plan the rest of her residency and make the most of her remaining time, as she continued to investigate and challenge her relationship to the iconic ‘Barbie’ figure . This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:


My last week in residence had some challenges, but was also delightful. Being that I spent a lot of my time in The Colleen Lewis Reading Room, I finally painted Barbie’s and her sisters’ bright baby blue eyes that I have been longing to do for quite some time. Battling with my thoughts about how I want to destroy Barbie has been very disturbing, because I can’t seem to come to grips with destroying her image and what she stands for, even though she’s two-dimensional.

While I was here on the farm, Raquel and I saw a cow give birth to her calf in the stable, marking my last week with a very generous ‘Birthing Experience’ that I wish never to encounter before having lunch! The cow was have minor difficulties giving birth and had be given professional assistance to ensure she had a safe delivery.

Nature certainly had an impact on my last week; besides the lizards and insects paying me visits at Fresh Milk, Tropical Storm Matthew came along and caused Barbados to have an island-wide shut down that day. Even though that was a bit upsetting, it really forced and challenged me to think about how I wanted to use the rest of my time in residence. Fresh Milk has opened doors for me and sparked the inspiration that I have been missing for almost a year since I left Barbados Community College (BCC). It really made me dig deeper and question the relationship I have with Barbie, and how much of a role Mattel has played in brainwashing me and other fans into seeing her as more than a doll. The attachment I feel, almost making me regard her as a human being, makes me wonder if I am being abusive by mutilating her.

Having Ewan Atkinson and Dr. Allison Thompson visiting me on the platform has also been very influential on how I should continue to pursue my artwork. As I continue my journey post Fresh Milk, I will keep destroying Barbie and what she stands for gradually, whether it’s by bandage, melting, or vandalizing her actual body.

I want to give a huge thank you to The Central Bank of Barbados for creating this opportunity and allowing artists like myself to be able to share and interact with one another. Even though this opportunity has come to an end, I know that this won’t be my last time at Fresh Milk.


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

Echidna: An Essay by Adam Patterson

London-based Barbadian artist Adam Patterson spent some time in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room earlier this year, which provoked ‘Echidna’, a performance work carried out at various locations across Barbados and expanded on in this accompanying photo essay. See documentation from this performance and read Adam’s full essay below:

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Speightstown, Barbados, 2016.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Speightstown, Barbados, 2016.


Home  may  easily  always  be  “elsewhere”,  by  which  I  mean  a  place  that  is
recognised  as  not  quite  yet,  at  every  moment  in  which  one’s  feet  touch
ground. [1]

In the reclamations of one’s plot (in land and self) of the Caribbean, there is a continued
wading  against  colonial  influence.  In  the  contemporary  Caribbean,  touristic  intervention  has worked as an impediment against the formation of identity, while recognising one’s self situated in  the  oppressed  dialogue.  The  Antillean  is  left  flailing  and  thrashing  in  doubled attempts  of rejection  and  hasty  grasps  of  European  and  imagined  African  ideals;  all  in  the hope  of refinement  and  reparation  of  those  shreds  and  scraps  of  identity  into  something new.  This complicated resistance (which keeps itself open to the entry of desired culture) is a Caribbean wrestle – the crux of open-mouthed resistance. [2]

Humans are not so hardy that we can thrive in our bodies as castles  –  we are spoiled  or
tasked with building shells [homes]  as lines  of defence and emblems of territory, property and
personal space. Sea Urchins are not so fragile. They are the perfect model for the Antillean openmouthed  resistance  –  the  performance  of  clinging  to  this  land,  claiming  dominion, absorbing what is truly ours – overcoming dispossession – with a back of thorns to deflect assimilation and imperialism.

Each can return to the Skin without any inhibitions imposed by the exterior
attributes of the Castle. [3]

This  invocation,  rather  than  accessory,  of  the  Urchin  is  a  tactic  of  the  Paradise  Militant,
through which we must mobilise ourselves toward ingestive interpretation  –  the posture faced
downwards,  mouth  to  dirt,  consuming  landscape  as  analysis  –  followed  by  the  excretion  of culture  –  the  production  and  establishment  of  culture  as  waste-product  of  our  analytical ingestion. We spend so much time, as a people, directing our mouths upward / outward, hoping to  be  quenched  by  food  that  falls  from  a  colonised  sky,  one  never  thinks to  look  at  his  feet  – downward to the land that grounds him as Caribbean.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Speightstown, Barbados, 2016.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Speightstown, Barbados, 2016.


To invoke the Urchin is to invoke the ability of the Hermit –  that which involves a capacity
for meditative and defensive states in similitude.  The pursuit of identity, as experienced by the
Antillean  (in  his  wake  of  Postcolonial  reflection  and  neocolonial  encounter),  is  arguably  a
hermitage insofar as it requires a submergence into the Atlantic pool of memory, a self-burial beneath  the  soil  of  plantations  ruined  –  of  long  erased  Amerindian  bone  yards  – alongside  a negotiation  against  the  gale-force  battering  ram  of  contemporary  foreign visitation  /  consumption [a  tourism as formidable  as  Sargassum].  A hurricane may only devastate what it can see as penetrable – the Hermit / Urchin is, fortunately, invisible and hardy in his decision to be laid locked in stubborn refusal of the storm’s incessant knocking. A land already ravaged by a history of storms need not be mourned but rather reinterpreted and analysed. As long as  we  of the Antilles remain, persistent in a culture of resistance, a storm may be discarded as trivial as the seasons and bracing it, the same.

In  advocating  a  collective  hermitage,  what  must  take  emphasis  is  the  sublimation  and fluidity  between  manoeuvring  states  –  that  is,  a  mastery  of  the  Hermitic  approach  in  his proverbial ascent up the mountain  / into the cave [a marronage]  whereby through a gaining of insight,  in  a  meditation  and  a  protective  negligence  against  the  Outside  [the  Foreign  /  the Overseas  /  the  Abroad],  an  almost  alchemical  transformation  occurs  by  which  the  Hermit descends  or  emerges  graced  with  a  nation  language, [4] a  language  and  cultural negotiation sophisticatedly  illegible  to  the  will  of  the  coloniser.  To  reword  this,  an  importance  lies  in the Antillean Hermit’s capacity to be present as a factor of influence in his society and culture, while still invisible and impenetrable to the touristic  gaze and will; an Urchin who may face his island without risking his sanctity to the West of whom he backs. [5]

All music born in the West Indies […] were born from silence. Because it was forbidden to speak aloud and to sing. It was born from silence and in silence. One of the common cultural points of music in all the plantation areas of the Americas was the necessity to sing without being heard by somebody else, by the master or another person. The art of silence is fundamental in this kind of music. [6]

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Walkers Dairy, Barbados, 2016.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Walkers Dairy, Barbados, 2016.

[Aside] Let it be made clear that this proposition is not instigating a historical rejection or denial
of colonial rule or Western influence in the Caribbean, like proposals before that seek to restore a  lost  Africa  untouched  by  history  [impossible].  This  is,  instead,  a  proposition  that  bears  a
consciousness  and  hypersensitivity  to  the  European  presence  and  is  hereby  worn  and embittered  by  its  ongoing  injection.  Frankly,  this  Urchin  has  had  enough.  How  may  an island stand to look at itself if still knelt to a stature of servitude?  How may an island stand to care for itself if still bent in gape to the prick of Empire? This Urchin’s flesh is tired of being picked by transatlantic flies who see an idyllic charm in the poverty and immobility of Caribbean people.

And  so  we  collapsed  into  the  ocean,  creating  a  catastrophe  of  sunken memory  and  leaving only the  sunken tips  of  these  volcanic memories,  the islands of the Caribbean. It is my impression that even now, a million years later,  we  still  hear  the  echo  of  that  catastrophe, and  much  of  our  work relates  to that memory. We somehow lost the sense of the mainland, the sense of wholeness and we became holes in the ocean.[7]

The  weight  of  contemporary  Western  influence  sinks  us  and  forbids  us  any  time  for  the contemplation of culture and  identity. The faces of our islands have been shaped  –  now is the time to learn and assert them  –  the continued treading of the visitor’s foot will only recede our shores further back towards uncertainty and dispossession; towards something that will only be ours in memory, in passing, in mourning, towards something that is taken from us once again – everything that constitutes we as a people.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Walkers Dairy, Barbados, 2016.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Walkers Dairy, Barbados, 2016.


Following the previous articulation of the Hermit, it must be clarified that this notion is an appropriation and adaption made suitable for Caribbean thought. Any quality or connotation of solitude  produced  by  the  Hermit  archetype  should  be  discounted  in  favour  of  a  collective hermitage.  What  is  meant  by  this  is  a  mass  transformation  and  movement  of  the  Antillean community towards the posture of the Urchin, therefore a communal assumption of the nation language  in  an  effort  to  deflect  and  resist  touristic  and  outside  persuasion.  A  cast  of strewn islands  erupting  and  foresting  a  black  spiny  cloud,  every  Antillean’s  mouth  to  their own  soil, each  foot inter-crossed  and  woven  to  spin  a  net  fat  and  soaking  with an  identity unhindered, uttering a salt language amongst itself, too spicy, too flavourful, too explosive, too excessive to ever  be  reduced  to  the  limits  of  foreign  interpretation  –  a  harmony  of resistance  raised  by  a choir of cobblers.  It is miraculous to see a rock pool or a coral plain coated in urchins  –  such a sight beckons fright and caution in the knowledge that no tread may pass, no foreign body may step nor land nor claim nor possess nor own nor colonise nor nothing.  The miracle lies in the utterance of which the symbol of the sea urchin represents, “Doan cum ’round me!”

[…]  another monster, irresistible, in no wise like either to mortal men or to the undying gods, even the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful [8]

In collective assumption of the Urchin posture, may we undergo another sublimation; the invocation  of  the  Monster.  The  qualities  and  potential  inherent  to  the  Monster  involve  a negotiation  of invisibility alongside the accessory of the Grotesque [excess]. To be monstrous is to manoeuvre rather mythological attributes  –  to maintain a sense of being hidden, while  also exuding  a  weight  or  presence  in  excess. [9] Echidna,  the  monster  of  Greek  Mythology,  who is described in opposing dualities of irresistibility and awfulness, may be linked in character to our understanding of the notion of the Paradise Militant. [10]

For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so, because it serenely disdains to destroy us.[11]

The  split  characterisation  of  the  Monster  is  one  of  both  temptation  and  repulsion, highlighting the dangers of that which is desired.  Beholding a sea urchin –  the black silken glow of  crimson  that  melts  across  its  spines,  wet  with  pearls  of  light  that  drip  in  its  gyration  – is exciting and seductive, comparable to the thistle, a thorny rose or even the rich candied blue of a man o’  war  –  legend is spun in tales of  seeing,  but fortified through an inability  to grasp. Lay  a naked  hand  on  a  thorn,  spike,  tentacle  and  your  skin  will  break,  bleed  and  sting. Admire  the fruits  of  the  Tropics  but  forever  lay  humble  and  restrained  in  the  promise  of their  pluck;  a Paradise lost.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Gibbes Beach, Barbados, 2016.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Gibbes Beach, Barbados, 2016.


The sort of bodily excess to which  I am  alluding  is of the same nature as our Carnival. The mobilisation  of  this  posture  as  a  collective  act  of  resistance,  while  maintaining  invisibility through the nation language,  conjures the urchin rock pool, the spiked archipelago,  the islands crowned with thorns, the Monster that is seen  and admired  but  may always hinder  tangibility and  exploitation.  Excess,  as  observed  in  Caribbean  culture,  may  be  enacted  through  the expansion  of  the  body  in  collective  celebration  of  the  flesh.  The  agency  of  celebrative transformation  may  involve  the  transcendence  of  the  individual  towards  the  potency  of  the community  as well as the compensation of  one another’s limitations  so as to promise a rising of the whole.  The spirit of the community, as emphasised and exaggerated in Carnival practices, seeks  to  transgress  the  idealised  ‘individual’,  overriding  the  competitive  ethics and  economic cannibalism  associated  with  Western  Capitalist  thought.  The  concentrated effort  of  the  mass body in celebration, the collective body in excess, the Antilleans’  decision to assume the Urchin posture in resistance, may counter the crisis of cultural exploitation faced in the Caribbean.

Earth at that time was so excessively heated that it broke into an enormous sweat which ran over the sea, making the latter salty, since all sweat is salt. If you do not admit this last statement, then taste of your own sweat.[12]

The transformative potential of the Carnival space is the optimal environment for invoking the Urchin posture. Given Carnival’s cyclical process  –  a  rhythmical  progression  of inhaling the material and the bursting of one’s seams,  a repeated mass death and  rebirth in  excess, exhaust and revival  –  the  collective  body  dances  in  synonymy  and  similitude,  consuming one  another (not  cannibalistically  but  in  a  sense  of  osmosis)  and  allowing  one’s  self  to transcend  towards [and  to  be transgressed by]  the  other.  There  becomes  a radical materialisation of the world in which cultural negotiation  is a material engagement whose discourse may only be understood in the participatory Antillean flesh.

When the body is freed (when day comes) it follows the explosive scream. Caribbean speech is always excited, it ignores silence, softness, sentiment. The body follows suit. It does not know pause, rest, smooth continuity. It is jerked along. […]  He keeps moving; it can only scream. In this silent world, voice and body pursue desperately an impossible fulfilment.[13]

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Gibbes Beach, Barbados, 2016.

Adam Patterson, Echidna, Performance. Gibbes Beach, Barbados, 2016.

The  membranous  sublimation  of  the  revelling  bodies  is  a  dance  spoken  in  laughter.  The performance  of  nation  language,  finding  its  climax  in  the  laughter  of  participation,  leaves the tongue  and  coats  the  Antillean  in  camouflage,  reiterating  the  duality  of  invisibility  and presence. [14] In the ambiguity of the shift of bodies  –  passing through one another –  the sheer joy of it all,  the  mass smile and  the earthquake laughter  become  the nation language.  For this  is a means of cultural relation and communication unique to the flesh of the participants, falling deaf to the oppressor. In the overlap of spikes, does the black of urchins seem to form a single source of beautiful terror  –  where  does it begin or end? In the nesting embrace of the Carnival space, where bodies [shells] and limbs [spikes] crowd and  cluster, does a culture emerge in sweat [the same  sweat  that  kept  a  people  from  burning  in  the  toil  of  the  sun]. In  the  dissolution  of  our individual flesh, to its meshing concretion in unity, do our islands erupt into being.

I will raise up a cry so violent
that I will spatter the sky utterly
and by my shredded branches
and by the insolent jet of my solemn wounded bole
I shall command the islands to exist [15] (55-59)

“No longer shall our shores bend and gape to the prick of Empire. Let the black urchins on
our backs extend arms outstretched as barbs – behold our islands crowned with thorns. May the
empire who maims and reduces us to paradise run aground our coral teeth. By its sting, does a
nation rise from welts. By our sting, does paradise bloom and throb as floating terror.”


[1] Forbes, C. “Between Plot and Plantation, Trespass and Transgression: Caribbean Migratory Disobedience in
Fiction and Internet Traffic.” Small Axe, 2012. 16(2 38), 2012. 23-42.
[2] The coining of ‘open-mouthed resistance’ is indebted to the anatomy of the sea urchin, whose mouth is a
central orifice situated at the base of the creature. The urchin ingests food, which is digested upwards and excreted through the anus located at the central peak of the urchin’s dome. This term is to refer to a practice of repossessing the Caribbean landscape and cultural identity by returning a focus to the land, itself, while backing the distraction, interruption and assimilation of foreign neocolonial forces, in resistance.
[3] Lamming, G. “The Pleasures of Exile.” Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. 159.
[4] Brathwaite, K. “History of the Voice: The Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry.”
New Beacon Books, 1984. 5-6.
[5] The eye of the foreign storm from which the Antillean as Urchin seeks to stay invisible, throws its gaze in vain. Scientific studies have shown that sea urchins have light-sensitive cells embedded throughout their body which allow them to detect light and its direction, so they may hide from it. The Urchin’s tendency towards invisibility is a quality we must adopt. See more: Yong, E. “Sea urchins use their entire body as an eye.” Not Exactly Rocket Science. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2011.
[6] Brathwaite, K. and Édouard Glissant. “A Dialogue: Nation Language and Poetics of Creolization.” Presencia Criolla en el Caribe y América Latina/Creole Presence in the Caribbean and Latin America. Ed. Ineke Phaf. Frankfurt am Main: Verveurt, 1996. 19-35.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Hesiod. “Theogony.” The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn -White. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. 300-305.
[9] Excess in the realm of the Grotesque is to be read as an unquantifiable state of being – similar to the Sublime, yet based in the material, bodily world in flesh. The body when inflated to a plane of inconceivable physicality is an exaggeration of bodily potency and capability; a heightening of the body’s ability to expand and exhaust in fat, blood, sweat, excrement, etc. Moreover, in the case of the Monster, this capability may expand to the extent of cosmetic qualities; the excess of beauty or conversely, ugliness.
[10] This characterises the notion that Paradise is not passively beautiful – idyll in servitude – but may be activated to become Monstrous, resistant and autonomous in defence of paradisiacal natives and their culture against foreign exploitation.
[11] Rilke, Rainer M. “Duino Elegies.” Translated from the German by Stephen Cohen. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1998. 21-43.
[12] Rabelais, F. “Gargantua and Pantagruel.” Translated from the French by M.A. Screech. London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2006.
[13] Glissant, E. and Dash, J. “Caribbean Discourse.” Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. 120-150.
[14] Glissant, E. and Dash, J. “Caribbean Discourse.” Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. 21-22.
[15] Césaire, A. “Lost Body.” The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. England: Oxford University Press, 2009. 39-40.

Work Cited:

– Brathwaite, K. “History of the Voice: The Development of Nation Language in Anglophone
Caribbean Poetry.” New Beacon Books, 1984. 5-6.
– Brathwaite, K. and Édouard Glissant. “A Dialogue: Nation Language and Poetics of Creolization.”
Presencia Criolla en el Caribe y América Latina/Creole Presence in the Caribbean and Latin
America. Ed. Ineke Phaf. Frankfurt am Main: Verveurt, 1996. 19-35.
– Césaire, A. “Lost Body.” The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. England: Oxford University Press,
2009. 39-40.
– Forbes, C. “Between Plot and Plantation, Trespass and Transgression: Caribbean Migratory
Disobedience in Fiction and Internet Traffic.” Small Axe, 2012. 16(2 38), 2012. 23-42.
– Glissant, E. and Dash, J. “Caribbean Discourse.” Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia,
1989. 21-22; 120-150.
– Hesiod. “Theogony.” The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G.
Evelyn-White. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.
– Lamming, G. “The Pleasures of Exile.” Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. 159.
– Rabelais, F. “Gargantua and Pantagruel.” Translated from the French by M.A. Screech. London:
Penguin Books Ltd, 2006.
– Rilke, Rainer M. “Duino Elegies.” Translated from the German by Stephen Cohen. Evanston, IL:
Northwestern University Press, 1998. 21-43.
– Yong, E. “Sea urchins use their entire body as an eye.” Not Exactly Rocket Science. Waukesha,
WI: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2011.

Raquel Marshall’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Barbadian visual artist Raquel Marshall writes about the final week of her Fresh Milk residency, which she describes as coming to a “bittersweet end.” Despite losing some time due to what was at the time Tropical Storm Matthew, Raquel has exceeded her expected output for the residency, and takes us through the development and realisation of a number of pieces she has worked on for the last month. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more below:


The final week at Fresh Milk was filled with excitement and disappointment.

I completed the large 3 dimensional piece that I started last week. This was definitely one of my highlights. I hand stitched about 70 egg-shaped sinkers and three large hooks onto the tentacles. Although I thought the work to be finished, I was unsure and asked Annalee for her insight. Her response was, “I am thinking it could have a little more.” Having recalled Ida Applebroog’s quote ‘with art it either has to be too much or not enough’, Annalee’s response confirmed for me that I was indeed finished. That quote has not left me since I heard it, and it has shifted the way I look at art generally and at my own work, having a huge impact on my decision making during the creative process.

In my opinion, this work poetically fulfills all the expectations I had of it from its inception. It is inviting, cozy and fun, yet dangerous to play with, heavy and somewhat burdensome; large and striking, obvious yet ambiguous.

Another highlight of the week was that Leann and I watched the birth of a calf. It was quite an ordeal because the calf was too big and had to be helped out. It took a team of people to help the cow and calf make it through without harm coming to either of them. I have found being here in the “country” and on a farm quite interesting. One night there was an amazing perfume aroma similar to that of tuberose. Apparently, it was a green flower in bloom on a tree. I believe it is a Ylang-Ylang tree. Here, I am surrounded by scenes and smells that I do not see regularly, so I feel like I am truly “away”.

This week Tropical Storm Matthew swirled by and the country was on lock down, so that meant I lost a day at the studio and an important meeting was postponed to October. I had planned to do a few more clay vessels, but I was unable to due to this, and so continued with the other plans I had for the rest of the week.

Before leaving the residency I wanted to make one more pattern in another seat belt. Ironically, the first seat belt I found was grey, which I painted a significant blood red, but the recent ones I found were already red. I still had to paint them though, as I discovered while creating the first one that the paint helped to stiffen the fabric to stay in folded positions. I cut the belt into a pattern of people holding hands; it’s a common pattern kids use when creating these in paper. I decided to paint each person a colour – white, light brown, dark brown, black and red. The colour was a reference to the many races that make up our culture and that all are affected by the overuse of alcohol; however I did not like the aesthetic, and decided it was unnecessary to have all the colours as the monochrome red referred to all people without making it obvious. So I started again from scratch, and am way more satisfied with the outcome. I honestly love when the fabric shears and comes apart. I don’t wish for that to happen too often, but treasure when it does and I try as best I can to preserve it.


While here, I also worked on a few other concepts which I have not yet mentioned: a work using bottle caps, a video and sound compilation and another with found objects. Only one of those is fully realised and completed, and that is the video and sound compilation. Knowing that I would be doing this residency, I had decided to record a sound to bring with me in case I wanted to use it. At the time, I was totally unaware of what would become of it. The sound is a memory, a classical conditioning. After I left home, and for many years since, when I heard an ice tray crack and the ice hit the glass, my whole body would tense. My body was automatically responding to a sound that brought unease and signalled it was time to tread carefully. It’s been seventeen years, and the residue is still there. I have always been aware and amazed by it, and for some strange reason I wanted to record the sound and do something with it in an art piece one day.

I had never done anything like this before so I asked a dear friend of mine, Simon Pipe, who is an accomplished musician and song writer and who has his own recording studio, if he would do the recording. It was quite a different experience being in his studio, and I realised quite suddenly that sound was becoming my medium the same way I use objects or paint. We cracked ice (this we had to do over and over again, as it had to sound exactly right), dropped ice into the glass (also a specific pitch and a special glass had to be bought), we broke the tin seal, twisted the cap and poured the liquid. Now listening more intently, each sound had a beauty I didn’t notice before. And through its creation I found my reaction to what I heard changing.

Around the same time, I had a totally separate thought picturing a video I wanted to produce, but similarly wanted to bring the video with me to the residency in case I should want to develop the idea. I called on another creative friend, Adam Taylor, who is a photographer, graphic designer, and now music video producer. I needed him to record my feet crushing eggs; if anyone knows my work, walking on eggshells has been a revisited theme. I knew exactly where it had to be shot and how it had to look. So with a dozen eggs and some black velvet, we met at the parquet floor for the shoot. I crushed egg by egg with my feet, the yolk and the thick clear albumen oozing between my toes, slimy and gooey and quite therapeutic. It was gross and exhilarating at the same time. At some points in life, we just need to stop tip toeing and just let the eggs break. It’s messy but it’s authentic and it’s necessary. The video came out perfectly with only a little editing needed.

With no clear way forward individually for the two pieces, I decided to put them together. It was absolutely riveting. The sound of the egg crunching mirrored the sound of the ice cracking and the liquid pouring into the glass juxtaposed with the splashing of the liquescent egg was intense. I had unintentionally – and yet intentionally – made something very sensuous.


And so I come to a bittersweet end to my residency.

What’s next? I am not ready to leave. Here, I have found my “voice” again as I set out to do, accomplished the development of various ideas, and managed to complete more than one piece which is more than I anticipated. My new challenge is how do I maintain this momentum when I return to my “normal” life?

Thank you to the Barbados Central Bank for making this residency possible. I am truly grateful for the opportunity. Thank you for recognising the potential that the Fresh Milk platform can bring to the national development of our island.


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

Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell writes about the third week of his Emerging Directors Residency, a collaboration between Fresh Milk and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). Having extended his time at Fresh Milk to continue his research and exploration around the play ‘Shakespeare’s Nigga’, Matthew had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Sean Benson, a professor at University of Dubuque, USA who specializes in Shakespeare and is currently on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. Read more about their thought provoking discussion below:


Dr. Sean Benson in conversation with Matthew ‘Kupakwashe’ Murrell


This week was a short week, but this post won’t be short; though short, it was still relatively impactful.

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with Dr. Sean Benson, a US professor specializing in Shakespeare. We had quite an extensive and enlightening conversation. I had my questions ready to discover some truths about Shakespeare, but the conversation didn’t go as I’d imagined. We’ve both discovered Shakespeare’s impact on the US is not necessarily as deep and as complex as it is in the West Indies. Within my research, I wanted to uncover Shakespeare’s invasive legacy onto the Caribbean space as a tool of socio-political, race related, educational and literary oppression. Many of these things Sean didn’t know, but totally understood how it could be so, being as we both agreed that after the Bible, the next series of literary oppression to the enslaved Africans and free Africans would be the works of Shakespeare. Shakespeare in the US, is not Shakespeare in the West Indies. As Sean stated, Shakespeare isn’t putting anyone on the back burner in America, as America has been more diverse in its literary scene. Many American and non-American writers dominate their spaces, with Tennessee Williams, Langston Hughes and even Samuel Beckett having their dedicated audiences, and even festivals in their names. Whereas on this island, every year in Holder’s Season, Shakespeare is met with bourgeoisie audiences, expensive tickets and a class privilege one must hold; let’s not forget Gale Theatre as well and their Shakesperian contribution.

In our society, for many years, to know and understand Shakespeare, his ‘classics’, sonnets and the iambic pentameter, showed your level of intelligence and social status, or potential for these things. Sean also mentioned that his UWI students (who he believes are being overworked!) come into the classroom knowing more about Shakespeare, almost twice as much as his American students! Yet, though he himself says he’s a fan of Derek Walcott, can’t say the same for his Caribbean students. I introduced my new buddy to the works of some of my favourite Caribbean playwrights and poets, Kamau Brathwaite, Denis Scott and Earl John, to have a feel for some awesome Caribbean classics.

Sean and I also delved into the Moor characters, Aaron and Othello, and this is where I learned a lot and discovered some greatness to employ in Shakespeare’s Nigga. Sean gave me a basic timeline for Aaron, from Titus Andronicus being the first mention of a Moor in Shakespeare’s earliest works. Though the writing of the play and staging of it were two different times, it was staged before slavery ever started. Interestingly enough, Aaron is a slave that carries out deadly deeds in the name of the crown and persecuted for it. My question was, how would Shakespeare have met with Moors at that time? Apparently, Mr. Shakespeare would’ve befriended a Moor living in the UK and, as writers do,  felt compelled to understand his friend’s culture and write about it, as a challenge to himself. Sean also believes that Othello is an evolved character based on Aaron, basically a Moor going from slavery to being a free man, with Othello being written much later in Shakespeare’s life. I found it interesting that Shakespeare in his time would’ve been seen as a very progressive writer, who wrote for the unspoken for, defied the traditional way of writing and gave not only a black man a voice, but women a more powerful voice at the time. It’s interesting to see how a meager living playwright could centuries later be considered the ‘pinnacle’ of literary greatness. (Something to aspire to! Hmmm). Also funny, when same said meager playwright, whose profession was seen as lower than low, centuries later is heralded by the bourgeoisie. When Othello was staged, Sean informed me, that it was the most hated of Shakespeare’s plays for many reasons.

  1. At the time, the Aristole way of playmaking was to write about Kings and Queens, and though army generals might seem noble, it’s not noble enough! (Noble Othello! – or not so much)
  2. How dare you, Shakespeare, write a play about a black man! Especially when at the time you wrote that play, Europe was about to embark on the biggest economic plan the world has ever seen! SLAVERY!!!
  3. And then you had the audacity, the unmitigated gall to give that…that…Moor the title of the play…Othello!
  4. And he’s married to a white woman??? And you expect this play to be released under the queen’s patronage? A black man with a white wife??? You are inciting interracial coupling, do you know what that means!? God what next? Gay marriage!?

Denzel Washington in ‘Training Day’ (2001), directed by Antoine Fuqua

I had no idea Shakespeare could’ve been seen as progressive; kinda made me respect that man just a little. Maybe it’s his followers who irk me a bit (sounding a lot like John Lennon here). To think that Shakespeare wrote a play like this of such political magnitude at a time where he could’ve easily lost what little he had, was quite brave. What fascinated me more, was the progression of Aaron to Othello. Aaron, an angry and enslaved Moor, was desperate for freedom and basically would do anything at any cost for this freedom. Aaron would’ve faced blatant racism to its highest degree, physical and mental, causing his actions to seem evil though understandable – he’s treated like an animal and will lash out like one. Now with Othello, a successful and progressive Moor, he speaks the language, walks in their spine and adheres to their rules, yet he is not an equal. He too faces the racism and jealousy of white men who feel that, because of their skin colour, they deserve more than Othello. Othello, I think, has a deep internal struggle which I see a lot of black men today face, where to prove success is to embody the oppressor while still being oppressed. This type of black man is caught between the field of Aarons, questioning his blackness or his contribution to the struggle, versus fighting the system from within, almost assimilating to become part of it, and although having proven himself worthy of all praise, is never good enough due to the ‘curse of skin pigmentation ’.

Still shot from 'The Harder They Come' (1973), directed by Perry Henzell

Still shot from ‘The Harder They Come’ (1973), directed by Perry Henzell

Not only in Shakespeare’s Nigga, but in many contemporary forms of Othello, we’ve seen this struggle of black masculinity challenged, and conversation has been generated around successful black men marrying white women as a way to boost to their social standing. I think we’ve had more stories understanding the Aarons of the world, the plight of the disadvantaged black man in an oppressive state (even I have my plays about them), but Othello is quite interesting to dissect. Often times, we praise the Aarons: we filled the seats for Roots in the 70s, Django Unchained had many people talking, Birth of a Nation is coming out soon, and most if not all Caribbean nations have a statue built of their emancipation hero. Then there are the unsung Aarons, ones not quite heroes, but tragic black heroes who in our contemporary adaptations face harsh penalties like Jimmy Cliff in The Harder they Come or even the portrayal of Easy E in Straight Outta Compton.  We don’t always like these images, these harsh, broody and hateful images of black men. Men whose faces are hardened by the life they were systematically placed in. We feel these images are destructive, demonstrative of an already disenfranchised community. When the art is reflecting the images we see, we panic that it can and possibly encourage more Aarons without a cause, almost seemingly forgetting the point of the existence of that Aaron. We just see the gratuitous violence, the tattoos, misogyny, the drugs and the love of a deadly lifestyle; then we want to see more Othellos.

“…I am a fucking black man
Hole in my head
Brains in my belly…”

– Kamau Brathwaite

Sarah and Thomas DuBois from 'The Boondocks'

Sarah and Thomas DuBois from ‘The Boondocks’ (2005-2014)

What about the images we give the Othellos? First image that came to my mind was Thomas DuBois of the Boondocks. Middle class black man, highly educated and great job. These Othello images can’t seem to just get it together, with people often questioning their blackness (How real is you, Nigga!). He doesn’t want to be labelled as an Aaron of the world, but he understands the Aaron. He still has to do his job, even if that means placing Aarons in trouble. He could easily be very well hated and loved for the same reasons. He’s successful, he’s over diplomatic, he wants to please his people but he wants to keep his status and gain power. He can’t really balance both; if he wants to please his people, he could risk his status, putting him back in a position where he can’t do much as before. If he pleases his superiors, he’s a ‘sellout’ an ‘uncle tom’ and a ‘coon’, and essentially ‘forgot where he came from’.

We know these Othellos. They’re professors at our Universities, they govern our countries and become knighted, they eloquently speak for the misleading media houses, the doctors, lawyers, the academics. We praised them when they fought on our behalf, but somewhere down the line they became ‘sellouts’, they’ve lived long enough to see themselves become what they once hated. A friend of mine from South Africa, she shook me to core once when she told me she has no love for Nelson Mandela. I know many black people who are dissatisfied with Barack Obama not addressing gun laws (or even pardoning Marcus Garvey!). How many disparaging statements we’ve heard about Sir Hilary Beckles. Our preferred Othellos usually have tragic moments before we could see them evolve into characters we no longer recognise; basically they die in climax of their revolutionary stance. Those Othellos are like Walter Rodney, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some have slow deaths into obscurity due to whatever reason like Marcus Garvey, Clement Payne. These Othellos ultimately want peace, not justice. He might even say words like ‘assimilation’, ‘adapt’, his version of equality might not match yours. He wants Progression without Aggression, but sadly it can’t always happen, so they opt for the life better suited. They want their status, respect and a comfy home. Their partners may play the part of submissive wife, preferably in the categories of white, light skinned or racially ambiguous. Even if she’s black, she has to be highly educated but submissive, she doesn’t have to work either, and please, not the angry Angela Davis/Cole type! Why the change? He can’t take it anymore, he’s done enough for you ‘ungrateful negroes!’ If he can do it, you all can do it! He no longer believes there is a system because he’s cracked the system and become successful, so there is no racism!

…my people? They don’t need me.
They got legs and arms of their own…

– ‘Dutchman’ – Amiri Baraka

He’s worn, tired and frustrated with black people not working hard enough. He believes that after either affirmative action or 50 years of Independence, black people should know how to better themselves. He also feels disrespected by black people for not giving him the credit he deserves for his contributions. He’s done so much and received so little, all he gets is black people wanting more and more from him. He is now a miserable and cantankerous old man. Oftentimes, he’d write in the newspaper or be on the radio having an opinion no one cares about. He no longer cares to discuss race or race relations because it’s tiring. He’s more #AllLivesMatter than he is #BlackLivesMatter. Internally he still cares for black people, but he doesn’t think they care about him anymore. They’ve scrutinized every move he’s made. Disregarded his contributions. He’s self-loathing. He remembers so many times he’s wanted to be seen as more than just black, that he’s colour blind. Blind to the world, and blind to the struggle…blind to himself.

…We Cannot All be Masters,
nor All Masters Cannot Truly be Followed…

– Othello

What a life to live.

Anyway, much more to learn and grow. I’d like to thank Dr. Sean Benson for a great conversation and learning experience. So much more to learn about the Aarons and Othellos of this world, and the rest of us Moors in between trying to find a balance and conquer these dated notions of black masculinity. Until next time…

– Kupa


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

Leann Edghill’s Residency – Week 2 & 3 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Leann Edghill blogs about the second and third weeks of her Fresh Milk residency. These two weeks have seen an increase in Leann’s studio hours and level of productivity, with studio visits from art historian and curator Dr. Allison Thompson and visual artist Ewan Atkinson helping her to think more about her concepts, and encouraging her to consider pushing her boundaries to move out of her comfort zone. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:


My second and third weeks on the farm were very productive. I managed to start creating my first piece of artwork, and getting into the process of painting has been delightful. At first, I was off to a rough start, trying to figure out the composition of the piece, but I had a little help from Katherine Kennedy, Fresh Milk’s Communications & Operations Manager, and also my friend Shomari Harrison, who visited me on the platform for a week.

I spent a lot of my time painting in the spacious Colleen Lewis Reading Room, as well as having interesting discussions regarding the different activities that go on here at Fresh Milk and gaining some insight into how the space operates. I also extended my studio hours this week, giving myself time to dig deeper into the development of my work; more ideas keep coming to mind, and I can’t seem to get all of them on paper!

After being at Fresh Milk these past few weeks, and having studio visits with art historian and curator Dr. Allison Thompson and visual artist Ewan Atkinson, both of whom I knew from their roles at Barbados Community College, I am realizing the importance of taking several different approaches to my work and process. Being here has really made me challenge my thoughts and relationship with Barbie, which has been somewhat love-hate for many years. In a way, she is one of my best friends; we have been through a lot together (feminist backlash, issues around careers, family, friends etc.). We did everything together – or was that what Mattel wanted me to believe? Being here has allowed me to consider the doll’s status as an icon, and to reevaluate my connection to Barbie and the corporate powerhouse behind her.

Even though this icon has had major backlash for over fifty years, she still remains an idol to many young girls. I started to illustrate Barbie through simplistic line paintings. Using a minimal colour scheme, I created a different side of her, shifting the focus from just her beauty. I have an obsession with Barbie’s blue eyes and the way that her artificial stare captivates many, including me. I am playing with the contradictory ways her eyes can be read, ranging from innocent to sinister.


By creating melting patterns and distortion on Barbie, I want to question her classic features, and why it is that Mattel has kept this reoccurring imagery to the present day. Although Mattel has shifted with the times to some extent while keeping up with Barbie’s appearance, they have managed to always maintain those baby blue eyes. As I dig deeper into her construction, I realize that my fondness for her compels me to keep her signature look intact, even when attempting to distort her to reveal a different side to her image. It is this nostalgia that prevents me from disfiguring the actual doll; even destroying her as a painting is hard. Perhaps this is an area in which I need to challenge myself personally and artistically, considering the depth of this connection and what might happen if I sever it.


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