Fresh Milk resident artist Helen Cammock shares her second blog post about her time in Barbados, which has uncovered a wealth of information and material for her practice. This week included an artist talk at Barbados Community College, a photography workshop at Workmans Primary School, visits to the Barbados Museum, St Nicholas Abbey and Morgan Lewis Windmill, revisiting Animal Flower Cave and even witnessing the moments immediately following the birth of a foal. Read more about the impact of these experiences below:
Knock, crash, trip, battery, tripod, shoes
in our lumber you had arrived
An hour of licking and falling, licking and falling again
we saw you experience the world you had rushed to be a part of
Then there was the artist talk at Barbados Community College – focus, questions and trying to share something of what I want to say with my work.
Then there was the Workman’s Primary School photography workshop – two groups of excited and charming class 3 students. A whistle- stop on portraits, communicating with images and unrivalled enthusiasm finished off with two short dances to Beyoncé to conclude. The school was welcoming and very open to working with artists – a refreshing experience.
Next I walked in the torrential rain to the Barbados Museum Library where I nearly succumbed to an onset of hypothermia due to the highly emphatic air conditioning.
Books, letters, newspaper cuttings, more books and a conversation with a Canadian trying to track someone from his home town from the 17th Century. I am now a member of the historical society there and will return as much as I can before I leave – jumper firmly in hand.
Then there was a return to Animal Flower Cave – down inside the cave again and with a coastal shoot up high on the windy windy cliff tops of the North Point which taxed my bending tripod to its limits.
And then I focussed on Sugar – the journey had begun in the library and led me to St Nicholas Abbey Grind, Morgan Lewis Windmill and the old disused mill here on Walkers Plantation. I photographed and filmed, machinery, architecture, process, and details. I met a mill operator who had been a mental health social worker in Hackney where I live and we chatted about London and the life change required to move back to Barbados, the place of his birth. With another mill worker I discussed the throwing of Mahogany and Sycamore seeds as helicopters when children – different trees, different countries, same concept. He lamented the creativity and simplicity of such games and wondered whether his children even knew what the mahogany seeds looked like…
Then I have sat all week – in my room, in the studio, on the beach with the books from the Colleen Lewis Reading Room that have triggered my thoughts about Sugar, The Panama Canal and Legacy.
On Thursday I’ll film Bulkeley sugar factory and on Friday, Portvale Factory and museum.
Then I’ll begin to consider how to develop a conversation with all this imagery. Where it will lead I don’t know yet, but I know that my head is full of smells, thoughts, conversations and newness that will begin to find a juncture with all the practice, cultural, personal and theoretical concerns I have brought with me here.