Marla Botterill & Conan Masterson’s Residency: Week 2 Report

Puppet3Day/Night

Above/Below

Leisure/Work

East coast/West coast

Rain/Sun

Wake/Sleep

There is a strong contrast between the night and the day here.  The contrast is not just one of light, though this contrast is severe.  In the day the sun is blazing, but the darkness falls early and quickly, cloaking the island in darkness.  Was there a moon the first week?  If there was, we didn’t see it.  The sounds and smells change; it is almost as if they are two entirely different places.  There is a mystery to this island; it is felt most keenly at night.  Perhaps we feel this contrast more being in the country and away from the lights and traffic of the city, but we feel that mystery, pulsing around us like the oceans and enveloping us in the darkness.

In conversations with the people here we’ve learned of the caves beneath us.  As fellow resident, Mathew Kupakwashe Murrell pointed out to us, the whole island is formed over limestone caves.  Is this a space where are puppet characters could come from?  Have they bubbled up from the dark, damp, mysterious caves beneath to the lush, sun-filled land above?  How long have they been here?  How have they evolved to live on this island?  They are taking on characteristics of the vegetation, animal, insect, bird and amphibian life above, but there is an unnerving quality to them, they come from that place of mystery.  In the past two weeks we have jointly created a small ensemble of puppet creatures that will continue to grow but now we must listen to them, hear their stories and take them out of the studio and allow them to explore this island where they come from.

We had our own chance to explore this week, we were taken on an island tour by Joscelyn Gardner, the love of her homeland is palpable and contagious.  A collector of stories herself, she shares a combination of local history and personal anecdotes with us.  The tour turned into a double-night sleepover at the family’s cottage on the Southeast coast, where we had a mini-vacation and also experienced the deluge of a tropical rainstorm.  The rain comes as quickly as the night, you fear it will never stop, but it can leave just as abruptly and replaced once again by the sun.  The rugged Atlantic coastal landscape is such a contrast to the manicured calm of the Caribbean west coast; Fresh Milk is conveniently located in the middle of these extremes, a rural, hilly centre point.  We want to take our puppets out into these contrasting landscapes.

The platform at Fresh Milk continues to be a hub of activity and a place of networking and interchange.  We are finding our days are becoming more productive as we begin to feel at home here. Though no matter how hard we try, we cannot wake up early enough to start the day as early as the Bajans do!  On May 16th FM hosted ‘A Performative Moment’ with Northern Kentucky University and we were happy to be included with the past and current residents of FM and to be given the opportunity to briefly present our individual and shared practice.  Even though Annalee and Katherine are both abroad, we feel very looked after by the people (and pets) of Barbados.  Winston Kellman dropped by FM one morning to return a book and see our progress so far.  We had an interesting discussion about Barbados, we focused around the night/day contrast and as he left, he wished us “many more sleepless nights.”

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