Kia Redman’s Fresh Milk Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Barbadian artist and aspiring writer Kia Redman shares a blog post on her third week in residence at Fresh Milk. In addition to activities such as attending a reception for the ‘Trio of Residents’ held by one of Fresh Milk’s patrons, returning to Workman’s Primary School to reveal the result of their group time capsule project and taking part in a collage workshop about Caribbean identity hosted by Ethan Knowles, Kia also began the daunting task of venturing into creative writing – something she has not done in a very long time, but that she is eager to take the leap to explore. Read more below:

Creative writing has been a big fear of mine for a long time. I remember it being something I fearlessly enjoyed once, but that time passed so long ago I can barely remember the words I wrote and the feelings they conjured within me. It has been so long that I don’t even know where to find the stories, and if I did, the papers would probably be in tatters, darkened and consumed by time. So many years have passed since then that it almost feels like another person’s story; another person’s path not taken. But the best thing about life, at least mine, is that the path is hardly ever straight and easy. There are steep inclines, rugged terrains and winding roads that if you’re lucky, wind back around to give you a second chance at exploring a previously untrodden path.

This unfamiliar journey started with this residency. I spent the first couple weeks researching for a critical essay that I hoped would inform my visual work. It was what I had planned to do, it was what I felt comfortable with, having written strictly academically for the last few years. It was the safe option. However deep down, something just felt a little off. Residencies are supposed to push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to explore and experiment – something I love to do – but I was resisting it. It has been a long time since I’ve felt truly afraid to do something creative.

My visual work still scares me, and I hope it never stops. Having to learn and discover, fail and adapt is what excites me. Yet, while that has become a fear I have learned to embrace and use as fuel to push my visual practice, this fear is as yet uncharted. There is no evidence that the failures I’ll endure along this path will result in something fruitful. It has not yet proven itself to me, nor have I proven myself to it. It is my hope that this confrontation will clear the way for a bridge between my visual and literary work. I love combining different techniques and art-forms in what I create, and the challenge of merging both of these worlds into one thrills me. Sonia Farmer’s “A True and Exact History” stands on that bridge. The fusing of visual, tactile and literal is simply breathtaking and stole away much of my time this week.

This third chapter has been packed full of reading, thinking, creating and socializing. I’ve walked and explored with Ethan and Ark and stood beside them at Dr. Clyde Cave’s house for the vibrant yet relaxed evening he hosted for us, amongst his incredible art collection. I returned to Workman’s Primary to show them the video they shot and give them copies. Ethan’s collage workshop on Wednesday was a fun experience that allowed me to tackle my topic in a lighthearted way without the pressures I usually inadvertently place upon the process of creating. It was a breath of fresh air just being able to enjoy the act of making without all the strings that somehow get attached along the path of being an artist. Perhaps it was the reminder of that feeling that made me finally agree to confront my fears to write creatively. It is a feeling I must remember in the final week as I commit to setting pen to paper.

FRESH MILK XXII – Residency Readings

The Fresh Milk Art Platform is pleased to invite you to FRESH MILK XXII: Residency Readings, taking place on Friday, July 5th, 2019 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm at Fresh Milk, Walkers Dairy, St. George, Barbados. Fresh Milk writers-in-residence – inaugural recipient of the Colleen Lewis Research/Writing Residency, Barbadian artist Kia Redman; participant in our international residency programme, Bahamian writer Ethan Knowles; and the 2019 ‘My Time’ Local Resident, Barbadian writer Ark Ramsay – will each be sharing the outcomes of their residencies, giving readings of their work and engaging with the audience about their experiences over the last few weeks.

Come share in their experience, and celebrate the accomplishments of this ‘Trio of Residents’!

This event is free and open to the public. Directions to Fresh Milk can be found on the ‘About Page’ of our website.

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Kia Redman

Kia Redman is a creative professional living and working in Barbados. She attained her BFA in Studio Art from the Barbados Community College where she received an award from the Lesley’s Legacy Foundation for the highest GPA.

She has worked as a scenic painter for Operation Triple Threat, taught video marketing at the World University Service of Canada Caribbean, participated in an open studio residency with Punch Creative Arena and taken part in local group shows and screenings internationally. In 2018 her short film Roots|Routes won six awards including Best Short Film at the Barbados Visual Media Festival.

Kia currently works as a designer and videographer for Acute Vision Inc. and Bajans in Motion Inc. whilst cultivating her creative practice.

Being born into a post-independent nation in formation, Kia’s work focuses on issues of identity, defining culture and documenting histories. She aims to rewrite the blanket definition taught to be her Caribbean identity and discover the things unique to her lived experience.

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Ethan Knowles

Ethan Knowles is a writer and photographer from The Bahamas. His work, largely tied to the islands of the Lucayan archipelago on which he grew up, aims to decolonize and sensitize, paying particular attention to topics of cultural erasure, environmentalism and identity in the Caribbean. After completing his high school education in Nassau, he spent two years in Italy at the United World College of the Adriatic and graduated with his International Baccalaureate diploma in May 2018. He is now enrolled at Colorado College in the United States, working part-time as a photographer while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Italian. Over the past few summers, he has published writing on tourism, culture, and neocolonialism in The Nassau Guardian, worked as a curatorial attaché for and exhibited at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and, most recently, been awarded the James Yaffe Prize for Short Fiction by the Colorado College English Department for a story set on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera.

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Ark Ramsay

Ark Ramsay is a 25-year-old Barbadian writer who recently completed an MPhil in Chinese Philosophy at Fudan University in Shanghai. Their short fiction has been published in Small Axe (50) in 2016, after winning that journal’s emerging writer’s contest. Ark’s writing is centered around queer, Caribbean identities and coping with the reality of a warming earth–the fragility of an island ecosystem that cannot fight back.

Ark will begin an M.F.A in creative writing at Ohio State University in the Fall.

Kia Redman’s Fresh Milk Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Barbadian artist and aspiring writer Kia Redman shares a blog post on her second week in residence at Fresh Milk. Deviating from carefully laid plans, this week saw a whirlwind of activity for Kia through studio visits, openings, workshops and bonding sessions with her fellow residents. She has been going with the flow and taking in the action, hoping to return to research, writing and production moving forward, with these experiences to reflect on. Read more below:

My favourite part about making plans has always been witnessing the innumerable ways life will set them off course. The futility of it all and the sense of powerlessness it instigates is nothing compared to the exhilarating sense of serendipity that just overwhelms every derailed plan. This is the state in which my week progressed.

I ended the first week with a clear vision in mind for the goals I was planning to achieve during my second week at the Colleen Lewis Research/Writing residency. I had planned to get a start on writing and tackle some of the topics I had narrowed down. Life had other plans for me. Monday morning I pitched my idea for my community outreach, and the rest of the week went by in a blur of activity, excitability and camaraderie: One moment you could find us chilling on the studio floor with Ewan, as he shared his work with us. The next I was beating everyone at Ewan’s “unwinnable” game Peregrination. There was the invention of our “fish cake crawl” and its strict judging criteria. Our visit to the opening of The Enigma of Arrival -The Politics and Poetics of Caribbean Migration to Britain at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and our hyped up selfie session. It was a dynamic week.

When I wasn’t off learning and bonding, I planned and prepared for my workshop I called ‘The Time Capsule Project’. Geared toward the class 4 students who will soon be leaving Workman’s Primary School, I thought it would be both a fun and important exercise to create a digital time capsule with them. We are all shaped by our histories. Our past memories, decisions, interactions and tales are the building blocks that form our foundations and influence our personalities, and inform our futures. History is something to be respected, cherished and most importantly, documented. Who better to chronicle the stories of a time than those living in it?

Friday morning I arrived at Workman’s Primary with Ark and Ethan, who had agreed to help me out. We were escorted to a classroom and I greeted the kids the only courteous way you should approach children forced to sit in a classroom all day: with snacks – more specifically Shirley Biscuits. I played them my stop motion animation,“HOME”, in which the little house from a Shirley biscuit traverses obstacles in an effort to find its way home. It was an example to show them how I chose to record my personal history. What followed was a brief chat on the importance of documenting their personal histories and memories, during which they shared with me the best memories they have from their time at Primary School. Using the cameras donated by a past Fresh Milk resident, I set them free and they spent the next couple hours playing, exploring and capturing whatever they deemed most important.

I won’t say what I foresee for this upcoming week. Regardless of what happens, I’m sure it will be an enjoyable one. I do hope that I will get more reading and writing in though…I really miss my hammock time.

Kia Redman’s Fresh Milk Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Kia Redman shares her first blog post about her Fresh Milk residency, reflecting as the 2019 recipient of the Colleen Lewis Research/Writing residency programme. Writing has always been something Kia wanted to explore more within her growing creative practice, and she is taking this time to immerse herself within the material the reading room has to offer, with a particular focus on ideas of ‘paradise’ and ‘escapism’ in a Caribbean context. Read more below:

Writing is not something I have ever done for myself. There has always been an assignment, an application or a job providing the catalyst for me to flip the switch in my mind from visual to literary. As such, I have never presumed myself worthy of the title of writer, despite how much I enjoy the process. A title can often grow to become part of your identity. I could not, in good conscience, claim one that I had not had the courage to actively pursue…until now.

While I am not yet ready to claim the title, perhaps I will gain new perspectives by the end of this residency. For now, I will just embrace the joy of being able to write for myself.

My first week as the first Colleen Lewis Research/Writing Resident at Fresh Milk was liberating. There is a peculiar kind of freedom that comes with having a vast expanse of knowledge at your fingertips and a vast amount of time with which you can peruse it all. It is somewhat akin to living while time stands still. The construct of days and hours lose all meaning. The change in time now only marked by the end of a chapter, the occasional pang of hunger, and the draw of my bed as the light shifts gradually darker in the sky. Throughout that time only one thought occupied my mind: How to Escape from Paradise.

The irony of the topic of my research was never lost on me the many times I laid in the hammock strung up just outside the studio, basking in the breeze and lush foliage, with one of the many books I felt compelled to read nestled in my hands. It has been a near constant topic on my mind since the final year of my studio art degree, two years ago, when I wrote on it as part of an assignment for Ewan Atkinson’s Contemporary Issues class. It almost seems like it was an inevitability that I would confront it again after he suggested that I would be interested in applying to this residency.

Initially, I was a bit apprehensive when approaching the topic. It had been ruminating around in my head for two years and I was nowhere closer to being able to translate my jumble of thoughts into something tangible. Moreover, I had somehow convinced myself that the topic was limited and there were not many avenues down which I could pursue my ideas. I was proven wrong within the first few moments of stepping foot in the studio. Before I even fully unpacked, Annalee graciously provided me with many starting points and perspectives that gradually turned into large stacks of books on my desk as the week progressed. While the jumble of information in my head did increase, the breadth of my understanding deepened and the constraints I had unwittingly placed on the topic, fell away to make room for new pathways I will enjoy exploring in the coming weeks.

One of my goals for this first week was to delve into the Colleen Lewis Reading Room Collection and engage with books that caught even an ounce my interest. I wanted to start with an open mind. My next goal was to explore the vibrant surroundings I found myself in and feed off of the tropical energy I’m attempting to translate into words. My final goal was to develop a structure for what I plan on writing throughout the residency.

The first goal was met within moments of the start, while the last two came to be on the last day of the first week: Annalee had just suggested I read a piece by Colleen Lewis, the namesake of the residency and very reason I found myself sitting amongst her treasured books. She rummaged around the shelves until she found “Pictoral Depictions of the West Indian Landscape in the 18th Century and Early 19th Century: The Sublime, The Picturesque, The Romantic” in the fiftieth volume of the Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and placed it in my hands. Within moments, her vivid descriptions of the history and form of the earliest means of paradise marketing in the Caribbean had me yearning to consume the words surrounded by all that she spoke of. I immediately grabbed the journal and said my brief farewells to Annalee and Ethan as I strode out of the studio with a fierce purpose. Seconds later I was back to grab my pen and notebook. It had taken me a moment to realize that the intense familiar calling I felt was inspiration. A couple hours and a few heated conversations with some cows later, I was back in the studio. I felt accomplished. I had not only come up with a structure for what I plan to write, but the walk and Colleen’s words in the journal had helped to solidify two years-worth of jumbled thoughts in my mind. I could finally start to see the form my visual work, under the same topic, will take.

The next following weeks will find me exploring:

  • The link between Paradise and Escape
  • The methods and motivations behind the creation of the Caribbean as a Paradise
  • The realities that have paralleled the Paradise throughout the centuries
  • Paradise as an exotic escapist destination
  • The physical aspects of Paradise as a tool for escape and concealment, as seen with the Maroon societies, runaway slaves and escaped prisoners in more modern times.
  • Paradise as a prison, for indentured laborers and slaves
  • Paradise as a banal reality for those who live within its lush bounds and the means by which they indulge in their escapist fantasies.

It was a great first week. I can’t wait to begin the next!

Fresh Milk contributes to the 2019 Understanding Risk Caribbean Conference

The 2019 Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference took place May 27 – May 31 at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) in Barbados. This conference brought together representatives of government ministries and national disaster management agencies, disaster risk management practitioners, urban planners, insurance industry stakeholders, private sector organizations, academia, multilateral development banks, regional partners and donors to discuss the core theme ‘From Risk to Resilience: A Foundation for Action’.

Janot Mendler de Suarez, a consultant with the World Bank, most recently the Caribbean Technical Programme of GFDRR’s Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance initiative, and Pablo Suarez, Artist in Residence, National University of Singapore – Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk, invited Fresh Milk to co-develop three artistic interventions for the conference. These projects acted as a way of translating and communicating key factors about environmental risks in the Caribbean into a visual language, as well as showing tangible examples of resilience within our culture and landscape in Barbados.

Photographs by Dondré Trotman unless otherwise specified.

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Risky Timelines:

Concept: Janot Mendler de Suarez & Pablo Suarez
artists: Akilah Watts, Alanis Forde, Anna Gibson in collaboration with Kia Redman and Kraig Yearwood
With thanks to: Harclyde Walcott, Joseph Spagnuolo, Kerri Cox, Mary Boyer, Rashmin Gunasekera, Thibaut Humbert, UWI EBCCI

Photo by Dondré Trotman

This project, conceived by Janot Mendler de Suarez and Pablo Suarez and created by Barbadian artists Akilah Watts, Alanis Forde and Anna Gibson with Kia Redman and Kraig Yearwood, saw the depiction of natural disasters which have taken place in 33 countries across the Caribbean in the form of a large data sculpture.

This piece showcases a timeline of these events spanning from 1990-2019, and communicates the breadth and impact of these catastrophes on the region. The artwork creates a visually intuitive juxtaposition of natural hazard data – on hurricanes from category 1 to 5, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and floods – with impact data on the number of people affected, the number of lives lost, economic losses and the amount of money invested in response and recovery efforts.

‘Risky Timelines’ was installed at the EBCCI between May 27th – June 3rd, 2019.

The Making

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The Installation

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The Finished Work

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Sargassum and Coral Reef Benches

Concept by Janot Mendler de Suarez & Pablo Suarez, Photography By Nadia Huggins & Data Story Layout by KAtherine Kennedy
A collaboration with Adopt A Stop Barbados
With thanks t:o Shelly-Ann Cox and Hazel Oxenford of CERMES, UWI Cave Hill Campus

Photo by Dondré Trotman

As an extension of our Fresh Stops public art project in collaboration with Adopt A Stop Barbados, the design and production of two benches to be permanent fixtures at the EBCCI were commissioned by the World Bank for the UR Caribbean Conference through Janot Mendler de Suarez.

Telling the stories of ‘Risk and Resilience’ within the Caribbean’s oceans, the backs of these two benches feature data stories about the properties and importance of coral reefs and Sargassum seaweed. These graphics were designed by Barbadian artist and Fresh Milk’s Communications & Operations Manager, Katherine Kennedy, using information largely provided by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), UWI Cave Hill Campus.

The fronts of each bench showcase photographs by Vincentian artist and photographer Nadia Huggins, depicting modified versions of photos related to her Transformations series, which she describes as “[exploring] the relationship between my identity and the marine ecosystem.”

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(Bush) Tea Plots – A Decolonial Patch

A Work by Annalee Davis in collaboration with Ras Ils and Kevin Talma

Photo by Dondré Trotman

This artwork by Barbadian artist and Founding Director of Fresh Milk Annalee Davis in collaboration with Ras Ils and Kevin Talma, also commissioned by the World Bank for the UR Caribbean Conference through Janot Mendler de Suarez., sits within Davis’ larger artistic practice and confronts the historical imposition on this island of the monocrop–Saccharum officinarum–while recognizing nature as a radical maneuver against the singular model of the plantation. Observing how the natural world is threatened and degraded, (Bush) Tea Plots acknowledges the resilience of our regenerative biosphere and its inherent capacity for healing at the agricultural, botanical and psycho-spiritual levels.

The work creates visibility of near extinct (Bush) tea practices, appreciating biodiversity through dormant wild botanicals now resurfacing in abandoned sugarcane fields. This live restorative plot–an apothecary of resistance–is permanently installed at the EBCCI for the UR Caribbean Conference 2019, includes mobile accessibility via a QR code linked to the project’s web platform.

The Installation

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The Finished Work

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UR Caribbean is organized by the World Bank’s Caribbean Disaster Risk Management team, in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the European Union (EU), and will be hosted by the Government of Barbados. This conference is co-financed by the European Union-funded Africa, Caribbean, Pacific – European Union (ACP-EU) and the Natural Disaster Risk Reduction (NDRR) Program and managed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).