Barbadian artist Ronald Williams, the recipient of the 2018 Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Artist Residency, shares his second blog post. In addition to catching up on his research using publications in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room, Ronald made site visits to the St. James and St. George Parish Churches as part of his interest in religious iconography and the relationship between spirituality, decadence and materialism. These visits, while awe-inspiring on the one hand, also prompted further thought around the role of organized religion in Barbados’ colonial history. Read more below:
Since week 1 didn’t go exactly as planned, week 2 was spent playing catch up on the research I wanted to do the prior week. In my mind that leaves me square with where I wanted to be at this point when the residency started. In reality, I’m probably quite a ways off the mark, but I won’t realise that until later when I can’t do anything about it. No sweat, right?
The highlight of the week was definitely my field trips to the St. James and St. George Parish churches. I intended to do St. John’s as well but time didn’t permit. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend. Those spaces felt like an alternate reality; the contrast from the draining heat outside to the refreshing chill inside, the various sounds of life outside to the deafening silence of reverence.
There’s something to be said, for me at least, about the energy in the Parish churches when you’re completely alone. There was a pressure I can’t quite describe; I felt small, like who I am was insignificant in the light of those grandiose stained glass renderings. Maybe I am.
I understand the effect those structures are meant to have—and boy do they work—but it’s my knowledge of this that makes it hard for me to ignore the fact that the churches were built in the 1600s, that in their pomp and circumstance are enduring symbols of colonialism and imperialism.
The architecture, which carries specific elements which have endured through every great period of history was also very interesting to me. That led me to do some research on sacred geometry and the symbolism of shapes.
As it is, I believe I’ve got enough pieces to play with so it’s time to make this work. I think this week will be good.