Kristel Rigaud, a student of the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), Curaçao, shares a blog report about her time in Barbados where she, IBB co-founders Tirzo Martha and Davis Bade and two other students, Dominic Schmetz and Rashid Pieter, were invited by the Fresh Milk Art Platform as part of a collaborative exchange program between the two institutions. Read more below:
This project for me was from day one was already amazing. Before even arriving in Barbados, we had to wait for our 5 hour layover to be over at Trinidadian airport we had a minute to check outside of the terminal, seeing all those hills was refreshing and the place had a similar island feel but was still different. Then it was time for us to head to Barbados, we ran into a bit of trouble before entering the plane, ’cause of some mix up with Dominic’s name or should I say Gerardus! He wasn’t allowed to board with his ticket, thankfully that was eventually cleared up.
When we arrived at Barbados we were welcomed by Annalee Davis, she’s the director of Fresh Milk and the person that would be showing us the Bajan art scene. What immediately caught my eye was that the steering wheel of all the cars were on the right side, which is an obvious sign of the island’s British colonial past. We had a delicious supper at a place called Just Grillen. Then Annalee showed us where we’d be staying for the week, David, Tirzo and Erik stayed at the Blue Horizon hotel and us students stayed in an flat on her family’s land in St. George.
Monday November 26th
The next day we finally got to see where we were since it was pretty late when we arrived the night before, we were surrounded by green, horses,cows and kittens. I actually even got bitten awake by one of those adorable kittens, free “alarm clock”.
After eating some toast we got picked up by Annalee go meet up with David, Tirzo and Erik so we could head to BCC to check out the fine arts department. That took longer then expected since the confident trio got lost, so we had to go pick them up somewhere in Bridgetown. After that we headed to the BCC campus and met up with the 2nd and 3rd year students and viewed their work for the next few hours. Then we headed with Annalee to this kind of rastafarian themed vegan place with Allison Thompson(Head of Arts Division), very spicy food, but tasty. Afterwards we headed to Fresh Milk Studio which is located on a dairy farm, the oh so green location and the wooden building was mesmerizing with the background “music” combination of a wind chime, birds and cow moo’s. There we met the resident artist Alberta Whittle, two BCC Fine Arts graduates and Holly Bynoe who gave us a masterclass at IBB a week before was busy interviewing on the grounds. Then we came up with the brilliant plan to go to he beach at 5, but got a bit lost and stuck in traffic.So we ended up swimming at Blue Horizon, which was chill. When we were done we got supper at the place we at when we arrived the night, Just Grillin’.
Tuesday November 27th
The next morning we were all paired up with one of the artist to do a workshop with the students at BCC. I was placed with David, Dominc with Erik and Rashid with Tirzo. David’s workshop was a mural with the 1st and 2nd year students. The theme of it was Mother, since it was David’s mother’s birthday and also happened to be my mother’s too. The students had to first sketch for 10 minutes their idea for that theme and then had to leave that sketchbooks behind and start working! Everyone was really into it, but I must say when it started raining and all the paint started dripping down people truly let go and it resulted into an insane mural in my opinion.
Afterwards we ate some great rotti with Annalee and went to visit Russel Watson’s studio, he’s a multimedia artist. He showed us some of his photography, told us about his latest feature movie and how him studying in Jamaica and then eventually in the States impacted his view of things. Afterwards we went to visit the artist Allison Chapman-Andrew’s studio. Her studio was filled with art of herself and other artist’s from the island. She had so much work to look at and her sketchbooks dating back to the 70′s pretty much tells her life story.
That night we had dinner at Mojo’s with visual artist and Fresh Milk board member, Ewan Atkinson and the artist Mark King.
Wednesday November 28th
In the morning IBB and the Fresh Milk had a conversation about moving forward. How to allow Caribbean artist to sustain themselves with their profession and how to make the Caribbean art scene noticeable to the world, our region gets overlooked too often. Then we looked at the works of Katherine Kennedy and Alberta Whittle. The latter was currently doing a residency at Fresh Milk and told us about a performance art that she was going to do the next night at the “Fresh Milk IX”.
Our lunch that day was catered by one of the best cooks of the island, Anna Went. The food was delicious.
Last up for that day was a visit to artist Nick Whittle’s studio in St. Philip. His life dedication to art also truly inspired me. He recited us a poem of his called “The Colonial Legacy”, which when he was done only thing we could do was thank him for sharing his mind, for being an artist.
Thursday November 29th
We viewed the works from two former BCC students, Versia Harris and Janelle Griffith who both had some insane short films. Versia’s short films were completely animated with drawings that she made with her clear fascination with Disney cartoons which had an interesting contrast. Janelle’s short films showed her love for the Jewish culture. We also viewed the works from photographer, Mark King. He had an unique way of shooting people, kind of story like.
Then we grabbed lunch at the famous Chefette’s we had heard so much about. An interesting fact about Barbados is that unlike most of the world they don’t have Mac Donalds. There was one, but the locals simply preferred their own fast food chain and I can understand why! They don’t just sell the usual fries and hamburgers, but also rotti,pizza, chicken and a whole lot more.
We headed back to Fresh Milk and then me and Tirzo got picked up by Holly Bynoe to go to the place she was staying. She and Nadia Huggins are busy producing a film on artists from the region, and wanted to interview us all. Holly interviewed and Nadia filmed, they started with Mr. T. I learned a lot about him through watching this interview happen,like I had no clue that he studied fashion! The interview took pretty long so they decided that it would be better for me to get interviewed the next day with Dominic and Rashid, Thank god! I don’t have enough experience art wise to be able to speak that long, I’ve only been doing it seriously now for about a year and a half.
That night there was the Fresh Milk IX event, there was art work every where from emerging Bajan artists. The night started off with Alberta Whittle’s performance art called’Hustle de Money’ , it explored the social construction of identity as defined through race, gender and sexuality. After that IBB had a presentation, David and Tirzo talked a bit about what IBB exactly is and then us, the tree students had to show some of our own recent work and it ended with Erik showing his artworks.
Friday November 30th
In the morning we went to Fresh Milk to finally view Annalee’s artwork, we had viewed and discussed so much art but still hadn’t seen hers. Then we got interviewed by Holly and Nadia. This day happened to also be Barbados’s independence day, they’ve been independent from the United Kingdom since 1966.
We had the rest of the day off so we drove around and ended up on a beach, where a surf competition was being held. I love this island’s landscape its so diverse from huge cane fields to rainforest-like parts, it really felt like a tropical island compared to Curacao’s sometimes extreme heat and flatness. That night we ate at a sushi restaurant, the food was delicious!
Saturday December 1st
We got picked up by Holly to have breakfast with her and Nadia at their place and then headed to the beach to swim for a little while. Then Erik and Marijn popped up and we ended up actually still seeing a bit more of the island and Bridgetown. The architecture of the buildings there are beautiful, there was a nice contrast with brightly colored building with clear British influenced castlelike buildings.
That night we went to mojo’s again to grab some supper, but since it took forever we never minded it and ended up eating somewhere else.
When we got back to the apartment I still needed to pack, which “surprisingly” took a while.
Sunday December 2nd
Luckily we all still managed to get a bit of sleep before we got picked up at 5am to go to the airport.
The flight back to Trinidad was great, we could finally really see how it’s landscape looked like since it was night the last time we flew over it, it was so green. All the greenness of these islands really mesmerized me, besides it being my favorite color I’ve never seen so much of it in my life.
This trip has really opened my eyes, it made actually want to come back to Curacao after I’m done studying in Holland. It made see that I have to come back. The Caribbean art scene gets so easily overlooked and if we keep fleeing to other countries we’d just be making those art scene’s stronger instead of our own. Before going to Barbados it seemed so small and insignificant, besides the art I’d see at IBB I’d only see super commercial tourist directed art which I’m pretty sure my art will never categorize under. That’s why I’m truly thankful for this whole experience if it wasn’t for IBB,Fresh Milk and all the amazing people we met during our stay there, I doubt I’d be so confident about truly making art my life.
Read the original blog on the Instituto Buena Bista website.