Ronald Williams’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 3.5 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Ronald Williams, the recipient of the 2018 Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Artist Residency, shares his blog post for the three and a half week mark in the studio. This part of the residency was largely focused on production, taking the research and influences of previous weeks to experiment with pattern-making and digital collage. On Tuesday May 22nd, Ronald also led a collage & portrait workshop with a group of Class 4 students at Workmans Primary School as the community outreach component of his residency, where the children looked at African masks for inspiration and got creative and expressive with materials. Read more below:

Week 3 Monday saw me start what I fully intended to be a productive week in solitude. Both Katherine and Daisy were out at the Barbados Museum and the Jewish Synagogue respectively, so I took advantage of my little alone time and was a DJ for a while. Side note: K. O. D. and Without Warning are hard and I’m a lot late to the party but Migos’ two albums are better than I thought they would be. Judge me.

So, first order of real business was to create the pattern I had in mind. The base design is actually the amalgamation of various prints, cut and pasted together in Photoshop and laid on top of a photo of a piece of black fabric. Took much longer than I needed it to. That base image was then flipped, duplicated, pieced together and the process repeated until I got what I wanted. With that, the day was almost up.

I worked on this piece for the rest of the week, getting lost midway, questioning what exactly I was trying to say with the piece and if I could properly translate how I felt without the reading of it going very left. We’ll see.

Week 4 Monday was spent preparing materials for an African mask inspired portraiture collage project that I, along with Katherine and Daisy, would conduct  with the Class 4 students at Workman’s Primary School the next day. This project, which was my community outreach portion of the residency, was my personal highlight of the last week and a half. Daisy, Katherine and I all ended up making one. It was fun.

All things considered, a relatively complicated week and a half where everything didn’t go to plan, but an ultimately satisfying one.

Invitation: Ancestral Architecture

Ancestral Architecture (AA) is a recently founded collective agency led by Umi Baden-Powell and Hannah Catherine Jones intended to generate positive creative responses and conversations surrounding decolonisation and healing for the African Diaspora. At Fresh Milk, AA will be utilising “decolonized” bush rum (the transformation of rum with African herbs and spices) as metaphorical and literal fluid vehicle to connect with and heal themes associated with displacement. 

During our artist residency, AA will be studying the processes and transformations (cane to sugar, sugar to alcohol, product to colonial capital, etc.) of rum, a key product in transatlantic slavery. AA will explore the ways our ancestors channelled trickster tactics and used consumption of decolonized bush rum to fuel other decolonisation tactics and self-healing practices – music and performance. These themes will be explored at our first AA meetings on Thursday, November 16th, 2017 from 6-9pm and culminate in a day long residency finisage on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 at the Fresh Milk Art Platform, Walkers Dairy, St. George.

Performance, ritual, and community collaboration are Ancestral Architecture’s tools for navigating and addressing cultural and collective issues: the trans-generational, the (in)tangible residues of rum’s history. Alchemy (medicine creation via spice), shamanism (healing), and transformation (intoxication) and their historic/contemporary references will be ingredients of our collective performance: a communal consumption of the collaboratively spiced AA rum, the sharing of stories and traditions in an attempt to promote transatlantic antiphony and transcendence.

It is vital that any outcomes of the AA residency be inclusive, sensitive and generous. We want to produce the conditions for dialogue and mutual knowledge exchange by calling out for community participation at the AA meetings (Thursday November 16th + Saturday December 2nd). We are looking to infuse the work with archival, oral and sonic histories from everyone from rum connoisseurs/historians to DIY home-brew spiced rum makers, artists, musicians, performers and spectators.

With permission, performances, talks, rum production, would be documented and shared publicly and online.

Drop in or RSVP to Umi & Hannah at ancestral.architecture@gmail.com

Fresh Milk Mural Project at St. George Primary School by Evan Avery

Fresh Milk was very excited to have the opportunity to carry out this community mural project on the water tower at St. George Primary School in Barbados! Barbadian artist Evan Avery has beautified the school with his original characters, which were co-designed with input from some of the Class 4 students.

Thanks so much to Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd. for their sponsorship, and to Infra Equipment Rentals Ltd. for generously donating the scaffolding for the project!

Kraig Yearwood’s Residency – Final Blog Post

Barbadian artist Kraig Yearwood shares his final blog post about his Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Residency 2017, which took place during March this year. Kraig gives an overview of the residency and final thoughts on the experience, including the workshop he held with Class 3 students at Workmans Primary School, and his participation in our public event FRESH MILK XX, which took place on May 9, 2017. Read more below:

A view of the Colleen Lewis Reading Room as well as a few of my reading materials

The Lost Blog

Okay, the title is a bit of a misnomer – I guess it’d be more accurate to say that life got in the way of writing this final blog post.

Once again, I can’t believe how time flies. As I cast my mind back to when I started the My Time Residency, it’s strange to imagine that my 1st week at Fresh Milk seemed to drag on endlessly and I was in a constant battle with myself about not doing enough. This was despite my using this week to work on possible directions as well as researching some of the materials I was hoping to work with.

A few of the experimental pieces which were made during the 2nd week of my residency

I’ve stated previously, on commencement of my residency, that I had no solid ideas other than I’d known I’d wished to play with materials I’d never used before and also wanted to explore the use of collected trash items. As I got deeper into my stay, I started to focus on exploring themes of materialism, mass production, excess and what we leave behind.

Knowing that I still had to develop ideas for the social outreach component of the residency, I decided to create an environmental awareness programme which would be geared towards primary school students. The aim of this workshop was to educate the children on the importance of proper waste disposal, drawing attention to local and global environmental issues, community activism and the importance of teamwork in tackling such issues. Workmans Primary was selected mainly due to having a very limited arts programme as well as the existing relationship between the school and the residency platform. The workshop began with a with video presentation focusing on environmental awareness and recycling tips, and was followed by a question and answer segment. The children were then split into groups where they were invited to colour and collage bits of trash items on to a poster which was illustrated by myself, depicting an appropriate method of waste disposal as well as the consequences of litter. To conclude, the class was given a smaller version of the poster to take home, as well as a handout which included interesting facts on the environment and a small activities section.

The poster for the “This! Not This” campaign

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FRESH MILK XX Event

On Tuesday May 9th I wrapped up my time at Fresh Milk with a showing of the work made or conceptualised during this stint, as well as participating in a Q & A with international curator Pamela Lee. Pamela also delivered an eye opening presentation on the connections between the areas of Art and Science. This well attended event was brilliantly capped off by the then current resident, US-based poet drea brown, who spoke on her residency experiences which was followed by an engaging poetry reading.

Although this might be the 1st time that I’ve perhaps failed to complete a body of work, I do believe that the Fresh Milk platform has provided me with an invaluable experience. It has allowed me some much needed time to focus on making artwork, experiment and introduce new materials into my practice in a new and supportive environment.

Much thanks to Annalee Davis and Katherine Kennedy.

Dorothea Smartt’s Residency – Final Blog Post

British-Barbadian poet and live artist Dorothea Smartt, who was in residence with Fresh Milk in November-December 2016, led a workshop on poetry and free writing with Class 4 students at St. George Primary School on January 16, 2017. Read more from Dorothea about this experience below. Thanks so much to the staff at St. George Primary for allowing us to host the session, and to the bright and enthusiastic children for embracing it!

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After a return to London to take care of pressing domestics, I reconnected with Fresh Milk in January. We had a good meeting with local St George Primary School in December. Katherine at Fresh Milk followed through, and we were given a date, Monday January 16, to hold an 80 minute session with some of the students.

We met the head teacher before going to the class. A junior class of curious boys and girls greeted us formally, after a brief introduction from their welcoming class teacher. Katherine introduced me as a Fresh Milk International Artist in Residence. I talked a little with the pupils about myself and being a poet.

The class took part in a discussion on people leaving Barbados to go to work building the Panama Canal. I drew a rough map of the Caribbean, and they joined in identifying where Panama was. Some pupils, one boy in particular shared about great grandparents who’d gone to Panama. Some pupils were hearing about it for the first time.

I read them one of the poems about Panama that spoke of some of the men who died. And we spoke about the dangerous working conditions people endured. I guided the pupils in a free-writing exercise with a prompt: ‘In those days…” and they wrote for 3mins. They responded with enthusiasm.

To follow I shared five old black and white photos of the Caribbean. These were from a learning resource pack produced by the (British) National Archive. The pupils worked in five groups with a photo each. First they discussed the image and were asked to imagine how they might relate to Panama workers. For example, they imagined a banana worker was harvesting food for the workers; a large drawing room, a place where bosses would have gathered to relax; and an image of a hut with a canoe outside a place where a worker may have lived and fished for food.

Then each pupil wrote a short poem drawing on our discussion, their free-writes and the photos. We had time to hear some of the pieces produced, which were full of imagination and insight.

I really enjoyed meeting these pupils, they were keen and interested. Their input, questions, and writing added to my own imagination, especially when it came to what the workers would have eaten! Hopefully my workshop is the start of an on-going relationship with Fresh Milk – as they have plans to work with this class on a future project!

I had hoped to connect with the group in Panama again, and present something of my work and process. Time, internet and availability of space weren’t able to come together and after a discussion with Katherine/Fresh Milk, I let this go.

On this residency, the space, time to focus and reflect, discussions with Bajans and others, and the events I attended have enhanced me. I feel encouraged and affirmed on my journey with this research and the poems I written. There’s more to unfold and write, and this residency has definitely resourced me to carry on.

Maferefun Egun. Maferefun Orisha.