Fresh Milk hosts ‘A True & Exact History’ by Sonia Farmer

On Monday, April 30th, 2018 Fresh Milk hosted an exhibition & panel discussion around ‘A True & Exact History‘ – an erasure poem by Bahamian writer & artist Sonia Farmer, using Richard Ligon’s publication A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes (1657) as its source material.

Sonia was in conversation about her work with Ayesha Gibson-Gill, Cultural Officer for Literary Arts at the National Cultural Foundation, and Tara Inniss-Gibbs, Lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Thanks as always to our photographer Dondré Trotman for these images!

Artist Statement for A True & Exact History

I consider my writing practice a tool for disrupting and investigating existing narratives, forming a response that is not necessarily preoccupied with making new narratives to replace them, but rather exposing different narratives as a parallel, ultimately calling into question the inherent power structure in the existing narrative (such as historical accounts, folktales, mythologies, canonical books, etc). Experimental process of generation, such as erasure, found text, mistranslation, technological intervention, or other restrictive methods, are especially exciting opportunities to create direct responses to existing narratives by using its own language against itself. The resulting text then becomes the content for my final projects.

The core of my artist book A True & Exact History is an erasure of one of the most formative descriptions of the English Caribbean in the seventeenth Century, Richard Ligon’s 1657 guidebook, “A True and Exact History of Barbadoes.” This project began during March 2016 at a writing residency at Fresh Milk, an art platform in St. George, Barbados, where I encountered Ligon’s book through their Colleen Lewis Reading Room. Using the language, imagery, and thematic drives at the core of this text to disrupt the teleology of colonial Caribbean history, these unbound poetic fragments scattered among a shifting landscape simultaneously re-create and resist narrative as a device of cohesive history, ultimately calling into question what it means to write “a true and exact history” of anything.

Reading Room Open Day – Saturday May 5th, 2018

Fresh Milk invites you to come check out our Reading Room Open Day, this Saturday, May 5th 2018, anytime between the hours of 10am-4pm!

The Colleen Lewis Reading Room at Fresh Milk is a mini-library of about 3,000 items, including books, films, journals, magazines etc. While there is a focus on contemporary arts publications, we also have a great selection of design, craft, fiction, non-fiction and history books among others. Our bibliography can be browsed online here.

Our team is working hard to improve how we share this material with creatives and researchers in Barbados. As practitioners ourselves, we know just how useful access to quality info about regional and international art worlds can be – whether for research, professional development or inspiration.

The aim of this open day is to create a space for dialogue; to not only run ideas we have had for the library by the public, but to really learn about the desires and needs of creative communities and find out if or how they can benefit from this resource.

Directions can be found on the ‘About Page‘ of our website. We hope to see you pass through to browse the collection and chat with us then!

 

Levi King’s Emerging Directors Residency – Week 5 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the fifth and final blog post by Barbadian actor & director Levi King, who recently completed the Emerging Directors Residency Programme held in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). Levi’s final blog reflects on the process as a whole; what he has learned, who he has worked with and how he has grown as a director, from writing his initial application to seeing the work come to life during the small showcase held at the close of the residency. Thanks to Levi, his mentor Sonia Williams and his actors Kim Weekes, Dy Browne, Melissa Hunte and Asha Elcock for their stellar work! Read more below:

Trust the process

To be honest, I struggled to write this blog. Not because it is the final blog for the residency process and I’m overwhelmed with emotions and separation anxiety and stuff (cause I’m not, I’ll miss it and the wonderful people who took this journey with me, but I’m not). Nah, I struggled because I knew what I wanted to express but I didn’t know what to say.

I wanted to speak about how my process of learning began even before I set foot in the Fresh Milk residency space. How I had to learn a way to write a proposal, just to apply (I really needed to spend time with making proposals). Fortunately the proposal was accepted and I was chosen.

I wanted to speak about how choosing the work was a difficult choice, then I chose a piece that brought with it its own learning curve. I chose a piece that I felt I was able to use the space most creatively with. I chose a piece that had a story and themes I felt we need to explore in Caribbean media (childhood prostitution, poverty and cycles of abuse). I chose a piece with heavy subject matter. I had to do some cutting and editing which took more time than I anticipated.

I wanted to speak about the books I read which really gave me an insight into some techniques and styles which relate to directing and some acting.

I wanted to speak about how I chose most of the cast before I even applied (they don’t know that though, I chose them before I even asked). I was fortunate they said yes.

I wanted to speak about how I had trouble setting a rehearsal schedule because even though I knew the actors were right for the process, all our times constantly clashed. I had cast one man and three women. One man was unable to continue after the first rehearsal. I had to wait a week to recast. I recast. He played the part great.

I wanted to speak about how I spoke with my mentor. and from the beginning, she was upfront about her concerns and her support. Sonia Williams was fully supportive and fully honest throughout the process. Sometimes even just a simple suggestion, question or non-verbal expression was all I needed to know that I may have other choices to pick from that may be better.

I wanted to speak about how my rehearsal process kept evolving with each rehearsal and each conversation with Sonia.

I wanted to say that I was at times unsure I was making the right choices. That I had fluctuating confidence in my ability to deliver what I wanted to deliver. Not because I wasn’t able, but because I faced several personal challenges during the residency.

That there were challenges that arose at points, not my personal challenges this time, that in my mind threatened to halt the process.

That Janelle Mitchell was great at navigating those challenges with me.

That Katherine Kennedy was also great at navigating those challenges with me.

That actors Kim Weekes, Dy Browne, Melissa Hunte and Asha Elcock and my mentor Sonia were all great at navigating those challenges with me.

That at one point, I felt it may have been best to stop because I was becoming too stressed about what I thought was my inability to finish in the face of the challenges (yes, me, stressed).

That I learned so much more than just how to cut a script and find the story, how to work with actors with this kind of material and how to handle production meetings.

That I was grateful every day i was able to work on this.

That the feedback given was invaluable and deeply appreciated.

That I can be a little more forward in my approach as opposed to laid back, and I still need to work on how I communicate my vision to people who aren’t myself and actors.

That I was glad everything worked out in the end.

I struggled because there is lots I could talk about. There was so much that went through my mind during this process. The biggest lessons I learned weren’t academic, they were personal and professional. The reaffirmation of my love for directing was priceless to me. Being able to learn from a director that I respect and whose work I admire, was great. Even though I had struggles throughout, I was happy.

The biggest lesson I learned, or re-learned was simple…Trust the process.

Till next time

Your friendly neighbourhood rastaman.

___________________

ncf mark rgb2This project is a collaborative initiative, funded by the NCF Barbados

Fresh Milk welcomes Daisy Diamond to the Platform

Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome US-based visual artist Daisy Diamond to the platform from April 30 – May 25, 2018.

In addition to broadening her knowledge and understanding about contemporary arts in Barbados and the Caribbean, Daisy is also extremely interested in the history of Jews in Barbados since their arrival in the mid-1600s. As an Ashkenazi Jew herself, she is invested in researching the refugee experience of Jews who migrated to the island and investigating the historical and cultural impact, including their contributions to the cultivation of sugar in Barbados, their roles in the painful history of slavery, and current heritage preservation projects. She hopes to make paintings exploring similar themes from reconstructionist Judaism: community, engaging with contemporary socio-political environments, and forming new progressive outlooks on traditional ideas and texts.

About Daisy Diamond:

Daisy Diamond is a painter, animator, and student originally from Philadelphia who values interdisciplinary and intersectional collaborative exploration. She is currently pursuing a BA in Studio Art from Bates College and spent this past year as a visiting student at Rhode Island School of Design. While she is a resident at the Fresh Milk space, she plans to research the history of Judaism in Barbados and the relationship between ritualistic sacred practices and artistic creation.

Announcing the Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Resident Artist 2018 – Ronald Williams

Fresh Milk is very pleased to announce Barbadian artist Ronald Williams as the Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Resident Artist for 2018. Congratulations Ronald!

Ronald’s one-month residency runs from Monday April 30th to Friday May 25th, 2018. Ronald will focus on issues currently affecting Barbadian society, exploring how the glamour associated with materialism, drugs and violence breeds a certain vanity, with a particular focus on the poorer “ghetto” class.  Inspired by the Vanitas paintings of the 17th century, he will work on contextualizing similar themes in today’s society, looking at decadence, insecurity, swagger & pretension, and their connection to religion/spirituality.

About Ronald Williams:

Ronald Williams is a digital artist, born, raised and working in Barbados. His digital collages; created through the manipulation of photographs, print and online media as well as computer generated images, investigate race, class and culture; particularly representations of ‘blackness’.

Since earning his BFA in Fine Arts from The Barbados Community College, Williams has participated in various local, regional and international group exhibitions.