Fresh Milk & the NCF launch three Digital Public Artworks

The Fresh Milk Art Platform, with support from the Cultural Industries Development Fund of the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados, has launched three Digital Public Arts Projects featuring works by local artists! Congratulations to Joshua ClarkeMohita Shenoy and Chris Welch, whose artworks are now exhibited on the Fresh Milk ArtBoard, a mural at St. George’s Primary School and a Fresh Stops Bus Shelter respectively!

Now more than ever during the global limitations we are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to think about how we as a society value the work of artists. Fresh Milk and the NCF seek to empower creatives and stimulate the creative economy in the island, especially during this very challenging moment, and are thrilled to have engaged with a range of artists at different stages of their careers and working across a variety of media including illustration, graphic design, photography and artificial intelligence to name a few.

Joshua Clarke on his piece:

“…The two works [I incorporated are] the Nelson’s History piece that tracks his personal story from young sailor to figure of heroism and horror in duality in the English Caribbean, and the Statue Fallen piece that draws on space opera & science fiction imagery to see the scar of Nelson’s idolatry rent asunder from the figure representing the island of Barbados. My hope [is that the piece] arrests the viewer as something simultaneously otherworldly but relentlessly Caribbean, pulling the dynamic color from the painting and the complex linework from the illustrative piece for a pop poster mashup that takes my two artistic directions and combines them in a way that can be communicated on a large scale.”

Mohita Shenoy on her piece:

“…Since lions are the mascots of [St. George Primary] school, I had the idea that the lions being portrayed are a sort of symbol, a spirit of the school that goes wherever the students go in life. The boy is shown to be reading (academics). The lion alongside him patiently allows him to lean against him, supporting him in his studies. The girl in the middle is playing soccer (sports), the lion cub at her side runs with her, again a symbol of moral support. The girl on the right is dancing (the arts). The lioness accompanying her winds around her, as if it wants to dance in support too.”

Chris Welch on his piece:

“…AI Chattel is a model that dreams of Bajan architecture, connecting the past, present and future of these unique structures. AI Chattel bridges the gaps between art, technology, culture and architecture. Machine Learning (ML) is the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience … I used an image dataset of 2500 chattel house images from around the island to train a Style GAN 2 (Generative Adversarial Network) model. The objective of this project is to show an important and yet mostly forgotten characteristic about architecture; architecture is alive, lives among us and is capable of stimulating our senses.”

There is also a QR code embedded in Chris’ work on the bus shelter, and the public is invited to scan it to learn more and to see the video component of his AI Chattel series.

This project is made possible in part by the Cultural Industries Development Fund of the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados. Special thanks to Colour XL for the printing and installation of the mural and ArtBoard, and to Adopt A Stop for the construction of the bus shelter.

‘Hardears Universe’ at Barbados Community College

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Fresh Milk  and Adopt A Stop are excited to conclude this edition of the the Fresh Stops collaborative project, ending on Matthew Clarke’s piece titled ‘Hardears Universe’.

In an attempt to bring art into the public space, six artists were commissioned to produce original artwork for benches that have appeared at varied locations around the island. ‘Hardears Universe’ has been installed just outside Barbados Community College, Eyrie Howells’ Road, St. Michael.

Huge thanks to Adopt A Stop for partnering with us on this project over the past year to support emerging Barbadian artists and introduce more artwork into the local environment; it has been a wonderful experience!

The other participating artists included Evan AveryVersia HarrisMark King and  Simone Padmore. This project aimed to create visibility for the work of emerging creatives, allowing the public to encounter and interact with their pieces in everyday life, generating interest and inviting dialogue  about their practices.

See the full suite of works on our Fresh Stops project page here.

About ‘Hardears Universe’:

Hardears Universe showcases a collection of characters from the ‘Hardears World’ featured in my graphic novels. It is a place of fantasy populated by characters from Caribbean folklore.

About Matthew Clarke:

Matthew Clarke portrait

Matthew Clarke‘s passion for art started at a young age, and he began participating in the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) while attending St. Michael’s School. Through the Festival, he achieved bronze, silver, gold and incentive awards, and went on to be the recipient of the Prime Minster’s Scholarship for Visual Art in 2003. Clarke completed his Associate Degree in Visual Art at the Barbados Community College (BCC) which earned him a Barbados Exhibition for tertiary studies, and in 2009 he obtained a Bachelor Degree with honours in Graphic Design at the same institution. He has freelanced for various design agencies (Virgo, 809, RED Advertising, G and A Communication, RCA) and worked at the Nation Publishing Company on the Attitude Magazine, creating its logo and design. He has also worked at Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), where he was appointed Internal Web Designer in charge of the Banks Beer website.

In addition to working on independent projects, he has been working as a graphic designer at RED Advertising and PR Agency as of 2011, where he is currently Deputy Creative Director. He is the co-owner and principle of a Caribbean comic company called Beyond Publishing, which has published over 22 books sold digitally and in print, both locally and internationally.

Ronald Williams shares a statement about ‘Alpha’

There has been some recent media coverage in the Nation Newspaper in Barbados surrounding a public art piece by local artist Ronald Williams, which was commissioned by Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop as part of their collaborative Fresh Stops project.

Fresh Milk is very pleased to be able to share a comprehensive statement by Ronald about his artwork entitled Alpha, which can be seen on a bench in Independence Square, Bridgetown. Alpha combines imagery and references from contemporary black culture, based on the artist’s own observations from everyday life, with classic figures from Greek mythology to challenge Western standards of beauty.

We are proud to be supporting Ronald’s thought provoking work, and hope that the attention it is receiving will lead to further dialogue and understanding about contemporary art, its role in society and its value for our culture and environment.

Ronald Williams with his bench entitled 'Alpha'

Ronald Williams with his bench entitled ‘Alpha’

Alpha attempts to question traditionally dominant Western beauty standards. It injects a black consciousness alongside, and at times instead of, the established images found in Classical Greek, Renaissance and Baroque eras.

In appropriating the revered iconography from these eras, I sought to challenge the Western ideals which are so dominant in our culture and mind-sets. The characters are based on five of the Olympians from Greek Mythology (tales which were dominant in my own psyche as those were the first stories I remember really liking as a child).

While I removed the mythical Greek icons from their pedestals, the aim was to also critically investigate black culture and present a Barbadian/Caribbean existence in a new light. Therefore, I used ordinary people and mundane personalities as my inspiration. As a result the five characters take the form of the pretty boy, the party animal, the conscious one, the bad boy and the trickster.

The work, viewed as a collective, reflects African, European and East Asian influences, highlighting that even though we are a predominantly black county/region, it is the intermingling of these various cultures which has caused the Caribbean to be a unique space.

Apollo - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Apollo – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Apollo, described as the most beautiful Olympian and a ‘God’ of the arts, becomes the pretty boy. He is the personification of modern male fashion, which often goes beyond metrosexual and into effeminate/homosexual realms. The character sports a white face on a black body, highlighting the skin bleaching phenomenon (seen as a beautification process), which is prevalent in the black population in the Caribbean.

Dionysus - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Dionysus – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Dionysus, the ‘God’ of alcohol, drunken revelry and ecstasy is the party animal. Dressed as a Kadooment/Carnival masquerader holding a bottle of brandy and set against a smoky marijuana background, the character appears intoxicated and moody. The piece as a whole aims to underline the use of controlled substances when we ‘play mas’ or celebrate, while it simultaneously hints at the darker mood swings which can be a side effect of drug abuse.

Zeus - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Zeus – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Zeus, the supreme Olympian, takes the role of the conscious/spiritual one. He represents a state of serenity and oneness (an ideal level of consciousness many religious/spiritual teachings uphold that one should strive for). His modest natural wood frame (in comparison to the other metallic embellished frames) symbolizes a sense of purity and an immaterial view of the world.

Ares - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Ares – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

‘God’ of war Ares naturally becomes the ‘bad’ boy. The aim of this piece is to exude an aggressive, violent vibe. The character’s ‘tattoos’, made from graffiti, his skull scarf and his horned mask all help to paint the picture of a sinister ‘gangsta’, while the red scarf background and the frame made from bullets sell the idea of a dangerous yet strangely glamorous lifestyle many from poor ‘ghettos’ seem to aspire to.

Hermes - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Hermes – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Hermes, the mischievous ‘God’ of trade, thieves and wanderers is the trickster. He has a clownish appearance, but the background of optical illusions and card suits indicate that there is some level of deception and gamesmanship involved. While Apollo haughtily wears his white mask, Hermes insincerely revels in his. He is the personification of a role many in the black population (Caribbean and worldwide) feel is necessary to play; a conformity to a dominant white culture.

Ronald Williams, Alpha, 2015

Ronald Williams, Alpha, 2015

Thank you to Ronald for sharing his work, to Adopt A Stop for entering into this partnership with us, and to all of the artists participating in the Fresh Stops project. You can learn more about their pieces here.

Re: Controversy around Bench in the ‘Fresh Stops’ Project

There has been some recent controversy in the local  Barbados media surrounding one of the benches commissioned by Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop as part of our collaborative Fresh Stops Project.

'Alpha' by Ronald Williams.

‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams, featured on a bench currently located in Independence Square, Barbados

Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop have been involved in a dynamic partnership since 2014, creating opportunities for young Barbadian contemporary visual artists to produce new artworks in public spaces. To date we have commissioned five artists to produce images for benches which have been popping up around the island, including sites at River Bay, Bathsheba, Hunte’s Gardens, the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) and Independence Square. The final bench in this current series is set to be released soon, and will be placed at the Barbados Community College (BCC). You can see more about the innovative project here.

The article published in the Nation Newspaper on Friday, 18th September, 2015.

The article published in the Nation Newspaper on Friday, 18th September, 2015.*

In the Friday, September 18th edition of the Nation Newspaper, there was an article referring to one of the benches featuring artwork by BCC Graduate, Ronald Williams, expressing concern about the nature of the images in the piece. Since being a student of the BFA programme at BCC, Ronald has been producing a body of work looking at stereotypical representations of black culture. Here is his statement for Alpha, the piece on the back of the bench in question:

Alpha attempts to question traditionally dominant Western beauty standards. It injects a black consciousness alongside, and at times instead of, the established images found in Classical Greek, Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Fresh Milk is also currently showing Ronald’s work in our public gallery space called the Fresh Milk ArtBoard.

full bench alpha

Ronald Williams, Alpha, 2015.

We have been in touch with the Nation in order to clear up this matter. The artist and representatives from Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop are happy to discuss the work and the project further to generate a healthy discourse around contemporary art in Barbados.

*Please note that the bench was not, as stated in the newspaper article, donated by Massy United Insurance, and that they are not affiliated with the project.

Fresh Stops: Matthew Clarke up next!

Matthew Clarke poster

Fresh Milk  and Adopt A Stop conclude the first edition of the Fresh Stops collaborative project with Matthew Clarke‘s piece ‘Hardears Universe’. In an attempt to bring art into the public space, six artists were commissioned to produce original artwork for benches that have been appearing at varied locations around the island. ‘Hardears Universe’ will soon be revealed at a location near you.

The other participating artists included Evan Avery, Versia HarrisMark  King, Simone Padmore and Ronald Williams. This project creates visibility for the work of emerging creatives, allowing the public to encounter and interact with their pieces in everyday life, generating interest and inviting dialogue about their practices.

About ‘Hardears Universe’:

Hardears Universe showcases a collection of characters from the ‘Hardears World’ featured in my graphic novels. It is a place of fantasy populated by characters from Caribbean folklore.

About Matthew Clarke:

Matthew Clarke portrait

Matthew Clarke‘s passion for art started at a young age, and he began participating in the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) while attending St. Michael’s School. Through the Festival, he achieved bronze, silver, gold and incentive awards, and went on to be the recipient of the Prime Minster’s Scholarship for Visual Art in 2003. Clarke completed his Associate Degree in Visual Art at the Barbados Community College (BCC) which earned him a Barbados Exhibition for tertiary studies, and in 2009 he obtained a Bachelor Degree with honours in Graphic Design at the same institution. He has freelanced for various design agencies (Virgo, 809, RED Advertising, G and A Communication, RCA) and worked at the Nation Publishing Company on the Attitude Magazine, creating its logo and design. He has also worked at Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), where he was appointed Internal Web Designer in charge of the Banks Beer website.

In addition to working on independent projects, he has been working as a graphic designer at RED Advertising and PR Agency as of 2011, where he is currently Deputy Creative Director. He is the co-owner and principle of a Caribbean comic company called Beyond Publishing, which has published over 22 books sold digitally and in print, both locally and internationally.