Barbadian visual artist Raquel Marshall writes about the second week of her Fresh Milk residency. This week, Raquel gives us some more insight into her impetus behind applying for the residency, and how her personal experiences with those who have suffered with alcoholism as well as research into the subject feed into the body of work she is creating while at Fresh Milk. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:
I have been working on a few different concepts this week. Here is a look at two of them.
The clay sculptures for the installation I imagined are coming along nicely. Each piece is its own unique vessel, and none are premeditated. Their shapes are quite fluid and remind me of sea life. I wanted to add texture to some of them and decided to go with coral and shell patterns. In trying to approach the subject of denial, it is my intention for these pieces to convey weight, time, care and an element of ‘what is hidden’ within the work. There is nothing I love more in the creative process than to start with a vague idea, be sensitive to the medium and observe the work evolve on its own. I have about 80-100 to make!!
I was inspired to do this piece after having to face a difficult time in my life, which pushed me to apply for this residency. In 2012, I lost my father to suicide due to a lifetime of alcohol abuse. It’s been 4 years (even though it feels like only 4 days at times) of numbness, questions and deep reflection; a time of cocooning and rebirth. The entire experience has inspired me to explore more about alcoholism (drug abuse), especially as it relates to our local (perhaps even regional) culture.
I am grateful to The Substance Abuse Foundation which is a place of healing for addicts because they have been very supportive in helping me find some statistics. Thanks to Larry Mayers and Bernard Pooler. I also had the privilege recently to sit with Kurlyne Alleyne and hear how she uses art as therapy with the patients there. I have such high respect for this organization and the people who work there. I feel proud of those who have walked through their doors to find healing as it is a very brave and honest act, and shows a tremendous strength and love of self.
In my efforts to gather some information I created a little anonymous survey. If you are a Barbadian please fill it out. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time so far. I hope to use the sentiments and statistics for future work.
I truly believe that love saves lives, and this brings me to the next concept I have been working on. According to Barbados Free Press in an article written in 2010, the number of car accidents reported was estimated at 240% higher than the UK, and in 2015 Barbados Today also reported that there was a rise in road fatalities from the year before. Police say drunk-driving and speeding are among the leading causes of accidents. Anesta Henry’s report expresses my personal sentiments through the statements of Richard Cox, the public relations officer of the Barbados Road Safety Association, and Ronald Stanford, Assistant Superintendent.
I have been challenging myself as to whether or not I am being loving and responsible when I watch someone who has spent a night drinking get into their car and drive away? For those of you who don’t know, we don’t have safety laws to prevent people from drinking and driving, we don’t even have breathalyser tests. I have watched many leave the “partay” even with their “one fuh de road” in hand (what a terminology!) and said nothing – I just prayed they made it home safely. Seat belts are required now, and I wanted to incorporate one in a piece as they have been proven to save some lives. I cut the belt into hearts in the way children try to make patterns with folded paper. It was all experimental. The cutting caused the belt to fray, and I found myself drawn to the very tactile and now fragile properties of this new object. I want to do another one. I hope that my work creates dialogue that promotes change.
I took some time this week to walk the grounds here at Fresh Milk. I took in the scenery and calmed my thoughts. Discovering new places and new things always brings out our inner child, so even though there is seriousness in thought, playfulness is never far from reach. My imagination was sparked…I discovered an intimidating snake-like creature with many arrow-shaped heads, a wondrous tree with many rooms, and a troll under a “bridge”. And had a stare down with a cow.