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.

Letitia Pratt’s Residency – Third Blog Post

Bahamian writer Letitia Pratt shares her third blog post about her Fresh Milk residency. This week, Letitia took the time to get out of her own head and experience Barbados is different ways to overcome her writer’s block. This exploration, coupled with inspiration gleaned from reading Shivanee Ramlochan‘s ‘Everyone Knows I am a Haunting’ proved to be the breakthrough she needed to continue writing about the folkloric Hag Woman in her poetry. Read more here:

This week, I went exploring. Stir crazy from the isolation of my own head, I decided to give myself a break and travel all over the island. I thought it would be good to do this because I was having trouble formulating the narrative of my poem, and a break was necessary to gather my thoughts.

My week started off with an island tour that Natalie McGuire took Nyugen and I on. We were able to watch the island come alive through her lead. With good company, I allowed the spirit of the island to speak to me. We explored caves and cavernous cliffs that overlooked the sea at the east and north points of the island. It was a beautiful thing to experience, and from the natural beauty of this place, I was able to find some melody to my writing. But it wasn’t quite there yet.

During the week I decided to go walking around in Bridgetown. The bustling activity of the place immediately overwhelmed me. It was quite different from the silent stillness of Walkers Dairy and reminded me of the hullabaloo of Downtown Nassau. Because of this, I found it kind of homey as I walked through the busy crowds that were ambling towards shops. I visited libraries, souvenir shops, produce markets, and stalls on Swan Street. The Bridgetown atmosphere was definitely invigorating, but did not unblock the words I needed for the piece.

Feeling frustrated I confided in Sonia Williams, a Barbadian performance artist, theatre director, writer, and educator in Theatre Arts at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, about the construction of my Hag Woman character. She suggested, because the character was so connected to the woods and trees of her environment, that I immerse myself in the woodsy areas of Barbados for inspiration. So one morning, pulling on my T-Shirt and very long jeans, I ventured into the woodsy trees that surrounded Walkers dairy. The stillness of these woods inspired some of the words for my poem. I was able to indulge in what my protagonist would be able to see when she transforms herself, and her voice came passionately.

When I left the woods I felt reassured. I knew the words were coming. But I needed a bit more help, and Annalee was able to provide some for me. Later on in the day, she gave me a copy of Everybody Knows I am Haunting by Trinidadian writer Shivanee Ramlochan. Her words were vivid enough to fuel dreams and spark my imagination. The story of the Hag Woman comes from the inspiration I gathered from reading this book. It came from those dreams.

After all the exploring, all the reading, my piece began to take on form. I was delighted. Again, I would like to thank Annalee and Katherine for letting me indulge in this amazing experience here at Fresh Milk. The Hag Woman and I are immensely grateful.

Open Call: The NCF and Fresh Milk Emerging Directors Residency 2017

The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and the Fresh Milk Art Platform are pleased to share an open call for the Emerging Directors Residency 2017. Launched for the first time last year, this exciting programme is a paid artist residency for early career theatre directors, which will provide them with an opportunity to conduct much needed research into Caribbean theatre heritage and to explore and create through theatre form and style.

One residency will be offered for one emerging Barbadian director, who will receive a stipend of $1,000.00 BBD. The residency will be based at the Fresh Milk studio in Walkers, St. George, and will run for a 50 hour period which the resident must complete over five weeks, between October 2nd – November 3rd, 2017. The deadline for applications is July 27, 2017.

The selected resident will be mentored over the course of the programme by a noted Caribbean Director and, at the close of the period, will present by way of an intimate, private showcase with their actors and specially invited theatre professionals, aspects of the work they have been exploring.

Rationale:

Residency programmes afford professionals time and space away from the demands of daily work life to carry out much needed professional development, with the emphasis on process rather than necessarily having the pressure of producing a finished body of work. Outside of traditional longer term training, a paid residency allows artists time for contemplative study and exploration. In the Barbadian context, there is much focus on the training of performers, however there are considerably fewer opportunities for those theatre artists with a special interest in directing to hone and develop their skills. Highly skilled, culturally aware and visionary directors are needed, as we move nationally to advance our cultural industries sector, and to enrich the quality of small and large scale staged events, whether drama, music, dance, or indeed multimedia events.

Greater awareness of Barbadian/Caribbean theatre form and style will serve to enhance the ideological and interpretive output of those up and coming directors on the local theatre scene, and equip them to create work that consciously and profoundly engages with Barbadian tradition. ‘Emerging Directors Residency’ offers an opportunity to design and apply staging concepts for ‘alternative spaces’, i.e. the “site-specific”, and otherwise environmental concept. It offers mentorship, access to archival material, and affords time for creativity.

Eligibility:

The ideal candidate should be a trained Barbadian theatre artist, who has directed between 1 and 4 plays.

Duration of Programme:

50 hours to be undertaken between October 2nd – November 3rd, 2017.

*Please note that your application must include a timeline mapping out your use of the set 50 hour period. While access to the Fresh Milk studio may be granted in addition to this timetable which may inform the work, it would be considered as work done outside of the parameters of the residency

Application process:

Prospective candidates can apply with the completed application form (which includes a bio/artist statement, project proposal and detailed timetable outlining the 50-hours of the residency, and can be downloaded here), full CV and portfolio, writing samples from your director’s notebook and 2-3 critical (newspaper, peer or academic) reviews of recent work to the National Cultural Foundation, Theatre Arts Office at the email address lisa-cumberbatch@ncf.bb before midnight on Thursday, July 27th, 2017. They will be interviewed by a panel comprising NCF and Fresh Milk officials.

The successful candidate for the residency will be offered a stipend of $1,000.00 BBD. The mentor will spend 10 hours in total with the resident over each 50 hour residency. The resident will have access to two actors for 15 hours to experiment and/or create work. At the end of the residency period, there will be a short, private showcase where the resident can share aspects of the work they have been contemplating with a small audience of invited theatre professionals.

Expectations:

In addition to the 50 hours spent at Fresh Milk, each resident will be required to keep a weekly blog of text and images documenting their thoughts and processes which will be shared on the Fresh Milk website. At the close of the residency, each resident will also be required to submit a report according to Fresh Milk and the NCF’s guidelines.

FRESH MILK XXI

The Fresh Milk Art Platform is pleased to invite you to FRESH MILK XXI, taking place on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 from 6:00pm – 8:30pm at Fresh Milk, Walkers Dairy, St. George. This event will feature our two international resident artists for the month of June, US-based interdisciplinary artist Nyugen Smith and Bahamian writer Letitia Pratt.

During his residency at Fresh Milk, Nyugen has been spending time with people who live and work in Barbados, walking the streets of Bridgetown and performing investigative actions on the grounds of Fresh Milk which include video and photo-based projects. Nyugen will engage visitors with a new performance which considers his research on sites charged with memory, synthesizing his experience and findings with his interests in African cosmology.

After this performance, Letitia will give a reading of some of her previous work and the new pieces which have developed during this residency. Letitia’s research and poems in Barbados have been investigating and questioning the ways in which misogyny manifests in the Bahamas and throughout Caribbean, exploring commonalities and differences through Caribbean history and folklore with emphasis on the tale of the ‘Hag Woman’.

The evening will close with an artist talk and Q&A session with Nyugen about both his work in Barbados and his wider practice.

This event is free and open to the public. For directions to Fresh Milk, visit the ‘About Page‘ of our website.

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About Nyugen Smith:

Nyugen Smith (Photo credit: Janice Marin)

Drawing heavily on his West Indian heritage, Nyugen Smith is committed to raising the consciousness of past and present political struggles through his practice which consists of sculpture, installation, video and performance. He is influenced by the conflation of African cultural practices and the residue of European colonial rule in the region. Responding to the legacy of this particular environment, Nyugen’s work considers imperialist practices of oppression, violence and ideological misnomers. While exposing audiences to concealed narratives that distort reality, he destabilizes constructed frameworks from which this conversation is often held.

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 About Letitia Pratt:

Letitia Pratt

Letitia Pratt recently obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the College of the Bahamas. An avid reader of fantastic fiction, most of her writing navigates the existence of black (feminine) bodies within that genre and draws heavily on stories within Bahamian folklore. Her themes often explore the function of art and literature within the Bahamas, and her most recent published work, ‘A Scene (of Two Lovers Contemplating Suicide)‘ discusses the concept of liminality within artwork, and how it’s the ability to occupy multiple spaces creates an active exchange of ideologies.

Letitia Pratt’s Residency – Second Blog Post

Bahamian writer Letitia Pratt shares her second blog post about her Fresh Milk residency. Continuing her research into Caribbean folklore, particularly the tale of the ‘Hag Woman’, Letitia is beginning to find a voice for the character she’s exploring, as well as drawing connections between folklore and trauma in the region – a thought fleshed out during a visit with acclaimed Barbadian author Karen Lord. Read more below:

This week went by as quickly as it came as I further explored my project. I found myself deep in search for the Hag Woman’s voice. The words were coming, yes, but trickling slowly. This character is taking her time forming herself, and I am letting her take all the time she needs! I spent most of my days at the studio, sketching her out in my mind. She forms like a cloud, and I reach for her, but she disappears between the cracks of my fingers. Needless to say, this project is taking quite a while to materialize.

As I continued working, I contemplated the effects of trauma on my protagonist. Last week I thought about the silencing of feminine experiences under the patriarchy and I thought I’d make it a goal this week to tap into the communal trauma that this fosters. The Hag Woman, while tapping into the powers of her femininity, is responding to this trauma.

These thoughts were inspired by my sit down with Karen Lord (who was gracious enough to do so and learn me some things) who offered an interesting perspective on folklore and trauma. Trauma inspires folklore, and while some draws from spiritual roots, they are responses of a community to explain a shared traumatic experience. What this conversation prompted me to think of is what trauma could inspire a story about a lady who strips her skin at night and terrorizes the town.

I am still developing this idea and by no means is this project complete. Currently, it is not only responding to the traumatic silencing women face because of the patriarchy, but it is also growing in the direction of responding to the specific type of misogyny that black women endure because of their own blackness. This is a community of people that experiences a particular type of misogynistic violence on the basis of their skin. Consequently, I want my protagonist to embrace the power of her skin: instead of “running away” from it, she uses it as a tool to absorb her power (sunlight) so that she can transform into a glorious ball of fire during the nighttime.

This project will take a little more time than I imagined to complete itself (I came here with a plan, I promise) but fortunately, I have the brilliant company of Katherine and Annalee to discuss these ideas with. Even more fortunate is that I have the solitude of the studio, where my thoughts have all the time in the world.