Marianne Keating – First Blog Post

Irish artist Marianne Keating shares her first blog post about her Fresh Milk residency. During her time in Barbados, Marianne’s focus will be  on the migration of indentured labourers from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales who arrived in the island in the seventeenth century. She intends to explore this complex history both through the physical and social landscape of the country, beginning by conducting site visits and reflecting on the journeys of those who have long since traversed this space. Read more below:

Marianne Keating presenting to the students at Barbados Community College

During the last six years, I have spent my time as a practice-based researcher exploring and tracing the multiple trajectories of the migration of the Irish to Jamaica during Ireland’s colonial rule by Britain. My beginning point in the complex histories of Irish emigration to the Caribbean is the movement of Irish indentured labourers from Ireland to Jamaica beginning in 1835 until its abrupt end in 1842, and their resulting legacies in contemporary Jamaica.

My practice-based research combines many hours spent in national archives, libraries, onsite research, interviews and location shooting before combining all these research methods in my studio, where my multi-disciplinary outputs include a series of video pieces and written accounts. My research has now expanded to include the Irish diaspora in Barbados – bringing me back once again to the beginning –with a new direction in my research in an unknown land, surrounded by a new landscape, history, culture and people.

Although my research subject is the same, there are vast differences in all aspects between the Irish migration to Jamaica and Irish migration to Barbados of which I am still attempting to wade through and come to grips with during my first few weeks of onsite research.

To Begin
LAND – Ireland, Jamaica and Barbados

“By land is meant not merely land in the strict sense of the word, but the whole of the materials and forces which nature gives freely for man’s aid in land, water, in air and light and heat.” – Alfred Marshall.

I have always been fascinated by the geology of land, how the soil under our feet has been formed, who has passed this way before and the frequency of such movement. I think of our homogeneous desire to follow the same, well-worn path and manoeuvre inside the marks created in the landscape by those who have come before. These lie in stark contrast to the rawness of other areas, where few now walk allowing the natural world to continue ownership or reclaim the land back to its original form; removing all traces of life that passed through before.

Path of migration within a cane field, St. George, Barbados

As economist Alfred Marshall discusses, the word ‘land’ refers to not just the soil beneath our feet, but instead encompasses all of nature’s resources including the minerals underneath the soil and the trees above. “The term ‘land’ thus embraces all that nature has created on the earth, above the earth, and below the earth’s surface.”

Land holds the memories of past lives. The coral and limestone sediment on which we stand embeds what has come before and consumes the archives of past experiences, leaving us with few traces with many details never to be recovered. We trail through all manners of the past archaeology, anthropology and sociology to attempt to reconstruct the narrative, but often the land holds onto more traces than it reveals.

I think of the importance of our place in the landscape, and its gradual erosion by the constant migration of people over thousands of years, crossing the land back and forth on daily journeys and the eroding and erasure of the ground by natural or human-made means. It highlights the experience of all who have emigrated and continue to migrate from one country to another whether by choice, necessity or force. The formation of land over millions of years is a culmination of its coral and limestone structure and the inedible marks left in the soil by those that have passed through.

Many conflicts have been fought, whether on global or localised scales, over the ownership of land. But as Mason Gaffney discusses in his essay Land as a Distinctive Factor of Production, we are all only present for a time before the land is handed down over and over again, recycled as the limit of land is determined; its value may change due to circumstances, but its supply is finite. “Land is reusable. All the land we have is second-hand, most of it previously owned. Our descendants, in turn, will have nothing but our hand-me-downs. As there is never any new supply, the old is recycled periodically, and will be in perpetuity, without changing form or location.”

The importance and weight of land can never be diminished, and people’s connection to the land is universal. As each new generation is born, their attachment to the land continues, both of the lands of their birth and of that of their ancestors.

There are many points of connection between the three countries of my research through which I trace the migration of the Irish to Jamaica and Barbados. They all have the collective experience of being island states, their connection by the Atlantic Ocean and their colonisation by Britain till the 20th Century. This is not where these connections end, but it is instead the starting point for my exploration in Barbados.

To look at the lands of Ireland, Jamaica and Barbados, there are vast physical differences. Barbados, the eastern-most Caribbean island, was created by the collision of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, along with a volcanic eruption. It comprises low-slung terraced plains, separated by rolling hills, with eighty-five percent of the island’s surface consisting of coralline limestone. The island is small in comparison to the others, measuring 23km at its widest point, 34km long and a small surface area of 430 square km, with Mount Hillaby – the highest point on the island – at 340 meters above sea level.

Barbados is geologically unique, being two land masses that merged over the years with the deep ravine visible across the island. The distance by sea between Ireland and Barbados is approximately 6,357km, and I am imagining time spent by the Irish on their migratory path travelling across the Atlantic Ocean, knowing there was little chance of returning to the soil of their birth.

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This residency is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland

Fresh Milk Welcomes Marianne Keating to the Platform

Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome Irish artist Marianne Keating to the platform between March 11th – April 18th, 2019.

Landlessness, 2 Channel Video Installation, StudioRCA, London 2017.

Residency Statement:

Harnessing post-colonial and archival theory to analyse the migration of the Irish diaspora to the Caribbean during Ireland’s colonial rule by Britain, my research focuses its attention on the complex histories of the movement of Irish indentured labourers from Ireland to the Caribbean.

My focus in Barbados addresses the subaltern ‘poor whites’ community on the East Coast of the island, who are believed to be direct descendants of indentured labourers from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales who arrived in the seventeenth century, although through creolisation their direct origins can no longer be determined. During my residency at Fresh Milk, I aim to visit and document regions related to this community in the villages of the parish of St John where the ‘poor whites’ still live today and other sites of importance including the “vanishing villages” of Irish Town and Below Cliff. The analyses of this material and sites are fundamental to my research and development of my practice-based output, which involves the gathering of oral histories through interviews, film footage, research and documentation.

Excavating the official government documents at the Irish, English, Jamaican and the Bajan National Archives, alongside on-site investigation of other remaining visual and material traces, and through new oral histories, I begin to reconstruct this history.  Accumulating these disregarded and overlooked traces of different histories, I seek to insert a series of previously muted or silent voices into the archive and to give them presence through my practice-based work as an artist-researcher.

Situating my practice within the historiographic turn in contemporary art discourse and in relation to the Archive, notably through the examination of unrecorded, private and disregarded histories, my multi-disciplinary approach to the research, the archival record and the archival image questions the legitimacy of the archive and falsification within the recorded image and text. My research involves the gathering of oral histories through interviews, film footage, analysis, documentation and re-documentation. Through my research and the study of archival theory, I wish to challenge the definitions and meanings of the archive itself. By recovering photographic and textual traces, which had been consigned to disappear within the archive, I question what the archive remembers and what it forgets; for whom and for what purpose. By investigating collective, social and individual memory through a series of video interviews, I accumulate accounts and memories of a particular time and consider how they have been affected by the passage of time. My engagement with archival and personal accounts and embodied memories positions my research as anti-monumental, counterpoising monumental official state histories, and developing strategies to address excluded narratives, enabling previously muted voices to inform a counter-narrative assembled through creative practice, exhibition and written accounts.

About Marianne Keating:

Marianne Keating graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art, London, and a BA from Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland. She has exhibited extensively including exhibitions in London, Paris, New York, Melbourne and Shanghai. She is currently preparing for upcoming solo shows for the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland and Rampa Gallery, Porto, Portugal. Recent group shows include New Contemporaries, South London Gallery and as part of the Liverpool Biennial; Arrivants: Art and Migration in the Anglophone Caribbean, Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Bridgetown, Barbados and Between Us And, Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2018). 

The Colleen Lewis Research/Writing Residency 2019 – Deadline Extended

Thanks to the support of a generous donor, Fresh Milk is pleased to offer a Barbadian-based writer, scholar, researcher, curator or art historian a one-month residency at Fresh Milk!

 

Proposals must demonstrate interest in engaging with the material in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room (CLRR) as a critical resource, articulating the value of the residency opportunity in a retreat-like location as a time for research, production of new writing or scholarship and expansion of references & knowledge.

The CLRR offers resource materials which may be used for research purposes and as a source of inspiration. The selected resident will be asked to share informal reviews or responses to CLRR publications as a way to activate the collection and interface with the public. At the end of the residency, they will have the opportunity to share their research outcomes or new writings with the local community.

About Colleen Lewis

Colleen Heather Lewis (nee Shaw) was born on July 12th 1962 in Canada. She died in Barbados on September 6th 2006.  Many of the books in this reading room have come from Colleen’s own collection of books which she acquired while doing an art history degree in Toronto and her Masters in Cultural Studies at Cave Hill, reflecting her interest in and love for the arts. The Colleen Lewis Reading Room collection has been established in her name to keep her memory alive and reflects the generosity of her spirit.

Duration of Residency:  4 weeks

Fresh Milk will provide:

– A $1,000.00 BBD stipend to the resident
– Wireless internet
– A 15.5 x 14 ft research space
– A wide expanse of rural land
– Access to the Colleen Lewis Reading Room on-site
– A varied network of creatives to connect with
– The option of professional mentorship is available if desired
– Fresh Milk will facilitate public activities during the residency such as a presentation of the resident’s research/writing in a public event or the hosting of critical discussions

Eligibility criteria:

– Applicants must be Barbadian residents, living and working in Barbados
– Applicants must be able to work independently, be highly motivated, self-directed individuals
–  The resident must not have taken part in an on-site Fresh Milk Residency within the last 2 years.

Expectations of the Resident:

–  The Resident must come out to the studio a minimum of four days per week between Monday and Friday. Studio access is between 8 am and 6 pm.
–  As a form of public outreach and as a way to activate the content in the reading room, the resident must be willing to share reviews or responses to some of the material in the library during their residency (see examples of previous reviews/reflections on our Fresh Milk Books platform)
–  The resident will be required to keep a weekly blog of their activities and processes, and submit a report to Fresh Milk at the conclusion of the residency

Application Process:

To be considered, please submit the following to freshmilkbarbados@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Colleen Lewis Research/Writing Residency 2019 Proposal’:

–   The completed application form which can be downloaded here (includes applicant’s contact information, statement about their practice, and full residency proposal)
–  An up to date Curriculum Vitae (CV)
–  A selection of writing samples that offer a strong representation of your practice or current research focus
– We seek proposals that will actively engage with the CLRR collection

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The deadline for submission has been extended until April 12th, 2019. The residency will take place between June 10th – July 5th, 2019.

Fresh Milk’s 2018 Year in Review

Thank you for your continued support of Fresh Milk.

We recognise that the creative landscape across Barbados and the Caribbean has transformed in recent years, bringing with it new opportunities, challenges and developments.

We have decided to take 2019 to review our programming to consider how best we can serve the local, regional and international contemporary arts community in the future. We wish to remain as relevant and as constructive as we have been over the past seven years.

Fresh Milk remains open to potential partnerships while maintaining its commitment to Caribbean LinkedTilting Axis and Transoceanic Visual Exchange. We are considering a reduced number of residencies per year, with a dedicated concentration on the Colleen Lewis Reading Room as a critical resource for the residency programme. 

For now, we invite you to reflect on 2018 with us in
our annual year in review newsletter

Announcing Caribbean Linked V

Ateliers ’89, Oranjestad, Aruba in collaboration with Fresh Milk, Barbados and ARC Magazine is pleased to announce that the regional artist residency Caribbean Linked V will be taking place at Ateliers ‘89 from August 6th through 28th, 2018. The official opening event will be held on Wednesday, August 8th from 8pm – 12am.

Thanks to generous support from this year’s core sponsors BankGiro Loterij FondsMondriaan FondsThe Tourism Product Enhancement Fund (TPEF), UNOCA and Aruba Bank, as well as number of local sponsors in Aruba, creatives from around the French, Spanish, English and Dutch Caribbean will convene to produce work, meet cultural activists in the Aruban art community, participate in public talks, blog about their experience and present a closing showcase of works during this three week period. The final event will be held on Sunday, August 26th.

Caribbean Linked is a space for building awareness across disparate creative communities of the Caribbean. It has created viable opportunities for young artists, writers, critics and creative activists from over twenty countries to foster new relationships with a larger community, contributing to the holistic development of the creative industries. In addition, it provides the opportunity to link with industry professionals who facilitate access to wider global conversations for the region’s practitioners, while allowing the artists to create work, exchange ideas and broaden cross-cultural understanding.

Participants in Caribbean Linked V (L-R): Sharelly Emanuelson, Velvet Zoe Ramos, Raily Yance, Adam Patterson, Miguel Lopez, Irvin Aguilar, Gwladys Gambie, Franz Caba, Alex Martínez Suárez, Kriston Chen, Averia Wright, Marina Reyes Franco

Artists this year include Irvin Aguilar (Mexico/Aruba), Franz Caba (Dominican Republic), Kriston Chen (Trinidad and Tobago), Sharelly Emanuelson (Curaçao), Gwladys Gambie (Martinique), Adam Patterson (Barbados), Velvet Zoe Ramos (Aruba), Averia Wright (The Bahamas) and Raily Stiven Yance (Venezuela).

The writer in residence will be art historian and independent curator Marina Reyes Franco (Puerto Rico). Visiting artists who will be lending support to Ateliers ’89 during the residency will be Laura de Vogel (Aruba) and Katherine Kennedy (Barbados). This year’s specially invited curators will be Alex Martínez Suárez, independent curator and general coordinator and museographer at the Museo Fernando Peña Defilló, a private museum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Miguel A. Lopez, co-director and chief curator of TEOR/éTica in San José, Costa Rica.

For more information, call Ateliers ’89 at (+297) 565 4613, email caribbeanlinked@gmail.com or visit the Caribbean Linked website at caribbeanlinked.com, and follow the Caribbean Linked Facebook page for regular updates on the residency!