Helen Cammock’s Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

In the third week of her Fresh Milk residency, British artist and filmmaker of Caribbean heritage Helen Cammock faced challenges both health and footage-wise. Despite this, she managed to visit Bulkeley Sugar Factory, Portvale Museum and Harrison’s Cave while continuing to conduct research, reflecting on these varied locales and the histories of the island that are often simultaneously visible and invisible. Read more below:


This week…

I have lost my best bit of footage – the kind you can only hope will happen when everything just comes together – the slip of a hand and it’s gone.

I have been ill for a few days with what we think might be the Zika Virus – all over rash, fever, sore eye sockets, joints and muscles.

Photo by Helen Cammock

But earlier in the week I did film at Bulkeley sugar factory…

…and Portvale sugar museum…and I spoke for a long time with a worker at Portvale who talked me though the whole sugar refining process with the love and knowledge of a scientist. He told me how he’d wanted to be an artist, but his father couldn’t afford to put him through college. He had sadness, regret (and a suspicious fire in his eye as he looked over me, my college education and my expensive equipment) but he said he loved the sugar refining process and spoke of it as a painter sees or an author writes. He said that although the sugar industry was an extension of the colonial machine, he still loved to see the chemical processes involved in the building of sugar crystals – getting the balance right with the extracting and condensing water and felt proud that he felt master of this process.

I have driven and navigated across the island without getting lost.

Photo by Helen Cammock

And the Museum library has continued to offer up interesting information about the Silver Men of the Panama Canal…it has all brought me back to thinking about how historically. so much we revere has been built by invisibles…there’s too much left unsaid, unseen and unacknowledged. So much stolen, appropriated and fabricated.

We visited the screening programme run by Andrew Millington at the Errol Barrow Centre for the Creative Imagination (EBCCI), a branch of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and watched a film that gave insight into a man’s journey to connect with his ancestral history, and in so doing, gave insight into the history and contemporary experiences of the Maroons of Jamaica. On the way home we discussed the significance of legacy and impact of access/lack of, to knowledge about personal, community and cultural legacy.

Harrison’s Caves…

And I sat in the quiet unsubstantiated safety of the library and started to think more about Appropriation – why, when who and how…

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