Marla Botterill and Conan Masterson’s Residency: Week 4 Report

GregorOur last week began with a trip to Harrison’s Cave. We elected to do the walking tour, the guide was patient with us and gave us ample time to shoot videos of our “little dolls”.  We thought the caves were spectacular and well worth the visit.  The peculiar forms, continual dripping sounds, humidity and darkness combine to create a mysterious, prehistoric ambiance.  After emerging from the depths of the caves, the fresh air above was welcomed in our lungs.

We kept busy with videos the last week.  Our puppets went on many excursions where we improvised performances, intuitively working with the surroundings.  We reviewed all of our footage and began the editing process.  This was the most tedious part, but we found it rewarding and exciting to see the puppets come to life through movement.  We did not find all footage successful, but we agreed that many moments intrigued us and made us laugh such as the unexpected moments captured on camera.  A lot of these snippets were edited into our short video “sketches” that we presented publicly on our final night.

On May 30th along with Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell we presented what we worked on during our residency at Fresh Milk.  We enjoyed seeing excerpts from Matthew’s play being performed by the actors.  We hung our 10 completed puppets in our former studio space and projected 11 short videos.  It was a crucial time for us to get some feedback on the work, as we must now digest and process what we’ve accomplished and determine a path for continued development.  We were happy with the turnout and pleased to see many familiar faces and the feedback provided raised interesting questions and things for us to consider going forward, particularly in regards to the videos and the relationship between the puppets and their environment.

Our puppets boarded the plane with us and successfully made the journey north to Canada.  They have already complained about the cooler temperatures and lack of ocean breeze – some even miss the singing frogs.  We plan on taking the puppets out so that they may explore their new surroundings, some may need adjustments and we will likely have to make them some new friends to ease in this transition.  We foresee some sweaters and toques after the summer ends. FM provided an excellent and encouraging platform for us to freely experiment with this new body of work and new partnership.

We are both thrilled with our experiences at FM.  So many people welcomed us into their studios and homes, we passed many evenings in the company of new friends.  We want to thank everyone who contributed to making our residency rousing and fulfilling, in particular: Annalee, Joscelyn, Ewan and the Davis’.  A special shout-out as well to Rico & Mikka for their determined and steadfast companionship and protection.

We soaked up every last minute of our trip to Barbados; we are changed from our time at Fresh Milk and for us it was the first step in a collaboration we expect will continue in London, Ontario as we are both delighted and motivated by our production at Fresh Milk.

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Thanks to Sammy Davis for producing this video showcasing our eleventh event, and the work of Canadian visiting resident artists, Marla Botterill and Conan Masterson, as well as local playwright Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell.

For more FRESH MILK clips, be sure to check out our Videos page.


We’re delighted to share some images from FRESH MILK XI, which took place on Thursday May 30th from 7:00 – 8:30pm. The event featured local and international resident artists Matthew Kupakwashe MurrellMarla Botterill and Conan Masterson sharing works produced during their recent Fresh Milk Residencies.

A reading from 'The Brightest Red'

Matthew, a Barbadian playwright and actor, presented a reading of an excerpt from “The Brightest Red – The Life and Death of I’Akobi Maloney,” which he began writing on the Fresh Milk platform:

I chose this topic because it spoke to me. I’Akobi Maloney and I are both born the same year, 6 months apart. Two weeks after his crossing, I remembered being stopped and harassed by a policeman for no reason. At the time I had an afro which I wore wild and drove a car many wouldn’t be proud seeing. But like I’Akobi, I was an intelligent young man scrutinized not for what is in my head but what is on top of my head. I do believe in the work of ICAR, The Justice Committee and the Maloney Family to fight for justice. This could happen to anyone’s son and anyone’s daughter. 

–         Excerpt from Matthew Kupakwahse Murrell’s residency blog.

To watch clips of the performance, featuring actors Levi King, Kim Weekes, Deevon Clinton, Adrian Green, Joseph Volney, Dorhonda Smith and Teila Williams, click here.


Canadian visual artists Marla and Conan showcased their collaborative video shorts and puppets created from materials found around the Fresh Milk premises and Barbados:

In conversations with the people here we’ve learned of the caves beneath us.  As fellow resident, Mathew Kupakwashe Murrell pointed out to us, the whole island is formed over limestone caves.  Is this a space where are puppet characters could come from?  Have they bubbled up from the dark, damp, mysterious caves beneath to the lush, sun-filled land above?  How long have they been here?  How have they evolved to live on this island?  They are taking on characteristics of the vegetation, animal, insect, bird and amphibian life above, but there is an unnerving quality to them, they come from that place of mystery.  In the past two weeks we have jointly created a small ensemble of puppet creatures that will continue to grow but now we must listen to them, hear their stories and take them out of the studio and allow them to explore this island where they come from.

–          Excerpt from Marla Botterill and Conan Masterson’s residency blog.

The artists spoke about their residency experiences, which was followed by a Q&A session. Thanks so much to Matthew, Marla and Conan for a fantastic month – Fresh Milk will miss you, and we wish you all the best following your residency!

All photographs © Dondré Trotman

Marla Botterill and Conan Masterson’s Residency: Week 3 Report

JerRadIt is always a pleasure to meet artists and see their work, last week we visited a couple of studios and also spent a lot of time in our own studio at Fresh Milk; we managed a balance of work and play. We began week 3 with a jaunt to the south east coast with artists we met at Fresh Milk:  Sheena Rose and Versia Harris.  After exploring a couple of beaches we visited Sheena’s studio.  She had a number of projects to show us and her excitement is infectious.  Versia showed us a couple of her imaginative animations. We enjoyed looking at their past and current projects and hearing about their future plans and were impressed by their work ethic.  That evening the four of us went to Oistins for the famous fish market, ate an amazing meal and were joined by other FM artists Alicia Alleyne, Shanika Grimes & Mathew Kupakwashe Murrell.  It was a truly memorable day.

Joscelyn Gardner arranged our second studio visit of the week with Akyem Ramsay at Gun Hill. We had the chance to see his work already in week 1 when we toured Mervyn Awon’s collection, so it was great to see more of it.  There is always something exciting about seeing active work-spaces and a wide range of projects.  We had a morning of stimulating conversation and viewing a mix of both 2 and 3-dimensional works and his inventive tools.

Our own studio has been productive, we continue to build puppets and have started to learn more about their respective character traits.  A few of them are anxious to be introduced so we’ve included a brief description of four of them below:

Nancy Pillow:  You never know where you’ll find her, but she will find you.  She’s always watching.

Bargo:  The constant worker-bee.  Bargo longs for a moment free from work to play.  Bargo also wishes to grow in size, to fit better into the world.

Jer-Rad:  Never at work, always at play.  Really wants to become a professional beach bum.

Speight:  A self-taught dancing machine.  Currently mastering the “6:30” and “wukkin-up”

We took the puppets with us on fieldtrips outside of the FM studio as well this past week.  Joscelyn took us to St. Nicholas Abbey where we explored the buildings and grounds and shot some short videos with the puppets.  The next day we went to Bridgetown.  Jer-Rad was anxious to get to the beach (we will blame him for taking us there) so we spent a few hours at Carlisle Bay.

We also had a fun night out with Annalee and her friends.  Her dogs continue to be our daily companions and self-appointed guardians.  We find it hard to believe that the end of our residency is fast approaching.  We have grown accustomed to the sounds of the singing frogs and the heat.  We are enjoying the food & have done some “souvenir” shopping at the grocery store as we’ve become fond of Bajan pepper sauce.   A lizard visits us daily for a share of any fruit we have with us for a snack.  We’ve been given fig bananas, mangos, fresh coconuts, baked goods, meals, drinks, tours, catalogues & pendants.   The people we’ve spent time with here are generous in many other ways as well, they give you their time, share their stories and recommend their favourite places and activities on the island.  The community around FM is supportive and provides an excellent platform for the experimental way we have been working during this residency.  We have one week left.  The final week includes a visit to the caves and a presentation of our puppets and videos at Fresh Milk on the evening of May 30th where fellow resident Mathew Kupakwashe Murrell will also be reading from his play.





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On Thursday May 30th at 7:00pm, local and international resident artists Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell, Marla Botterill and Conan Masterson will share works produced during the recent Fresh Milk Residency programme.
Matthew presents a reading of an excerpt from “The Brightest Red – The Life and Death of I’Akobi Maloney” and Marla and Conan showcase their collaborative video shorts and puppets.
The artists will speak about their residency experiences which will be followed by a Q&A session.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the residencies, view the artists’ blog entries below, and see our About page for directions to FRESH MILK. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!