Fijian-Australian artist Torika Bolatagici writes about the third week of her Fresh Milk residency. Things become increasingly busy as her time in Barbados goes on, with a number of studio visits, presentations and general research of the island’s history and environment providing her with a wealth of information – but leaving her with the feeling there will be much more to discover beyond the residency period! Read more below:
The pace really started to intensify last week and I started to feel the pressure of being half way through the residency as I juggled writing, presentation preparation meetings with artists and other appointments around the island.. I am really feeling like I will be leaving with unfinished business…
Monday was a full day that started with a press launch for the ‘Emerging Directors Programme’ which is an initiative between the National Cultural Foundation Barbados and Fresh Milk. It was wonderful to see all Barbadian print and TV media covering the launch and to hear the inaugural recipients, Matthew Murrell and Renelde Headley discussing their projects. I also loved meeting Andrea Wells (Chief Cultural Officer, NCF) and Amanda Cumberbatch (Cultural Officer, Theatre Arts, NCF). I have loved getting to know Renelde this week and look forward to seeing her project unfold.
Following the NCF launch, I met with Barbadian curator and scholar Natalie McGuire to discuss a forthcoming collaborative project and to visit the Barbados Museum. At the museum I was interested to discover more about Barbados history and botany and was surprised to see that Fiji was mentioned in the section about Sea Island cotton. This visit sparked my interest in visiting the last remaining sugar factory here, but I hear that visiting hours can be a bit haphazard, so we’ll see how we go.
Monday afternoon was perhaps one of the most surreal experiences I have had so far, as we were lucky enough to visit Frank Rickwood’s collection of Papua New Guinean artifacts at his Colleton Estate. I am still processing the breadth and significance of his collection and what it means to find such culturally important items so hidden away and so far from Papua New Guinea. The impact of visiting the Colleton Great House has not yet left me, especially having learned of John Colleton’s role in the movement of African slaves from Barbados to Carolina in the 17th Century.
The remainder of week 3 was filled with inspiring meetings with Barbadian artists and scholars Versia Harris, Katherine Kennedy, Llanor Alleyne, Mark King and Therese Hadchity – each of them giving me an insight into their research, practice and artistic journey and the broader creative culture of Barbados. An enriching way to finish my third week here.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.