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!

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.

Leann Edghill’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Leann Edghill blogs about the final week of her Fresh Milk residency. Though the week was interrupted by Tropical Storm Matthew, Leann saw this limitation as a chance to carefully plan the rest of her residency and make the most of her remaining time, as she continued to investigate and challenge her relationship to the iconic ‘Barbie’ figure . This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:

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My last week in residence had some challenges, but was also delightful. Being that I spent a lot of my time in The Colleen Lewis Reading Room, I finally painted Barbie’s and her sisters’ bright baby blue eyes that I have been longing to do for quite some time. Battling with my thoughts about how I want to destroy Barbie has been very disturbing, because I can’t seem to come to grips with destroying her image and what she stands for, even though she’s two-dimensional.

While I was here on the farm, Raquel and I saw a cow give birth to her calf in the stable, marking my last week with a very generous ‘Birthing Experience’ that I wish never to encounter before having lunch! The cow was have minor difficulties giving birth and had be given professional assistance to ensure she had a safe delivery.

Nature certainly had an impact on my last week; besides the lizards and insects paying me visits at Fresh Milk, Tropical Storm Matthew came along and caused Barbados to have an island-wide shut down that day. Even though that was a bit upsetting, it really forced and challenged me to think about how I wanted to use the rest of my time in residence. Fresh Milk has opened doors for me and sparked the inspiration that I have been missing for almost a year since I left Barbados Community College (BCC). It really made me dig deeper and question the relationship I have with Barbie, and how much of a role Mattel has played in brainwashing me and other fans into seeing her as more than a doll. The attachment I feel, almost making me regard her as a human being, makes me wonder if I am being abusive by mutilating her.

Having Ewan Atkinson and Dr. Allison Thompson visiting me on the platform has also been very influential on how I should continue to pursue my artwork. As I continue my journey post Fresh Milk, I will keep destroying Barbie and what she stands for gradually, whether it’s by bandage, melting, or vandalizing her actual body.

I want to give a huge thank you to The Central Bank of Barbados for creating this opportunity and allowing artists like myself to be able to share and interact with one another. Even though this opportunity has come to an end, I know that this won’t be my last time at Fresh Milk.

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CBB Logo White & Black TextThis residency is sponsored by the Central Bank of Barbados

Raquel Marshall’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Barbadian visual artist Raquel Marshall writes about the final week of her Fresh Milk residency, which she describes as coming to a “bittersweet end.” Despite losing some time due to what was at the time Tropical Storm Matthew, Raquel has exceeded her expected output for the residency, and takes us through the development and realisation of a number of pieces she has worked on for the last month. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more below:

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The final week at Fresh Milk was filled with excitement and disappointment.

I completed the large 3 dimensional piece that I started last week. This was definitely one of my highlights. I hand stitched about 70 egg-shaped sinkers and three large hooks onto the tentacles. Although I thought the work to be finished, I was unsure and asked Annalee for her insight. Her response was, “I am thinking it could have a little more.” Having recalled Ida Applebroog’s quote ‘with art it either has to be too much or not enough’, Annalee’s response confirmed for me that I was indeed finished. That quote has not left me since I heard it, and it has shifted the way I look at art generally and at my own work, having a huge impact on my decision making during the creative process.

In my opinion, this work poetically fulfills all the expectations I had of it from its inception. It is inviting, cozy and fun, yet dangerous to play with, heavy and somewhat burdensome; large and striking, obvious yet ambiguous.

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Another highlight of the week was that Leann and I watched the birth of a calf. It was quite an ordeal because the calf was too big and had to be helped out. It took a team of people to help the cow and calf make it through without harm coming to either of them. I have found being here in the “country” and on a farm quite interesting. One night there was an amazing perfume aroma similar to that of tuberose. Apparently, it was a green flower in bloom on a tree. I believe it is a Ylang-Ylang tree. Here, I am surrounded by scenes and smells that I do not see regularly, so I feel like I am truly “away”.

This week Tropical Storm Matthew swirled by and the country was on lock down, so that meant I lost a day at the studio and an important meeting was postponed to October. I had planned to do a few more clay vessels, but I was unable to due to this, and so continued with the other plans I had for the rest of the week.

Before leaving the residency I wanted to make one more pattern in another seat belt. Ironically, the first seat belt I found was grey, which I painted a significant blood red, but the recent ones I found were already red. I still had to paint them though, as I discovered while creating the first one that the paint helped to stiffen the fabric to stay in folded positions. I cut the belt into a pattern of people holding hands; it’s a common pattern kids use when creating these in paper. I decided to paint each person a colour – white, light brown, dark brown, black and red. The colour was a reference to the many races that make up our culture and that all are affected by the overuse of alcohol; however I did not like the aesthetic, and decided it was unnecessary to have all the colours as the monochrome red referred to all people without making it obvious. So I started again from scratch, and am way more satisfied with the outcome. I honestly love when the fabric shears and comes apart. I don’t wish for that to happen too often, but treasure when it does and I try as best I can to preserve it.

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While here, I also worked on a few other concepts which I have not yet mentioned: a work using bottle caps, a video and sound compilation and another with found objects. Only one of those is fully realised and completed, and that is the video and sound compilation. Knowing that I would be doing this residency, I had decided to record a sound to bring with me in case I wanted to use it. At the time, I was totally unaware of what would become of it. The sound is a memory, a classical conditioning. After I left home, and for many years since, when I heard an ice tray crack and the ice hit the glass, my whole body would tense. My body was automatically responding to a sound that brought unease and signalled it was time to tread carefully. It’s been seventeen years, and the residue is still there. I have always been aware and amazed by it, and for some strange reason I wanted to record the sound and do something with it in an art piece one day.

I had never done anything like this before so I asked a dear friend of mine, Simon Pipe, who is an accomplished musician and song writer and who has his own recording studio, if he would do the recording. It was quite a different experience being in his studio, and I realised quite suddenly that sound was becoming my medium the same way I use objects or paint. We cracked ice (this we had to do over and over again, as it had to sound exactly right), dropped ice into the glass (also a specific pitch and a special glass had to be bought), we broke the tin seal, twisted the cap and poured the liquid. Now listening more intently, each sound had a beauty I didn’t notice before. And through its creation I found my reaction to what I heard changing.

Around the same time, I had a totally separate thought picturing a video I wanted to produce, but similarly wanted to bring the video with me to the residency in case I should want to develop the idea. I called on another creative friend, Adam Taylor, who is a photographer, graphic designer, and now music video producer. I needed him to record my feet crushing eggs; if anyone knows my work, walking on eggshells has been a revisited theme. I knew exactly where it had to be shot and how it had to look. So with a dozen eggs and some black velvet, we met at the parquet floor for the shoot. I crushed egg by egg with my feet, the yolk and the thick clear albumen oozing between my toes, slimy and gooey and quite therapeutic. It was gross and exhilarating at the same time. At some points in life, we just need to stop tip toeing and just let the eggs break. It’s messy but it’s authentic and it’s necessary. The video came out perfectly with only a little editing needed.

With no clear way forward individually for the two pieces, I decided to put them together. It was absolutely riveting. The sound of the egg crunching mirrored the sound of the ice cracking and the liquid pouring into the glass juxtaposed with the splashing of the liquescent egg was intense. I had unintentionally – and yet intentionally – made something very sensuous.

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And so I come to a bittersweet end to my residency.

What’s next? I am not ready to leave. Here, I have found my “voice” again as I set out to do, accomplished the development of various ideas, and managed to complete more than one piece which is more than I anticipated. My new challenge is how do I maintain this momentum when I return to my “normal” life?

Thank you to the Barbados Central Bank for making this residency possible. I am truly grateful for the opportunity. Thank you for recognising the potential that the Fresh Milk platform can bring to the national development of our island.

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CBB Logo White & Black TextThis residency is sponsored by the Central Bank of Barbados

Leann Edghill’s Residency – Week 2 & 3 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Leann Edghill blogs about the second and third weeks of her Fresh Milk residency. These two weeks have seen an increase in Leann’s studio hours and level of productivity, with studio visits from art historian and curator Dr. Allison Thompson and visual artist Ewan Atkinson helping her to think more about her concepts, and encouraging her to consider pushing her boundaries to move out of her comfort zone. This residency is generously supported by the Central Bank of Barbados. Read more here:

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My second and third weeks on the farm were very productive. I managed to start creating my first piece of artwork, and getting into the process of painting has been delightful. At first, I was off to a rough start, trying to figure out the composition of the piece, but I had a little help from Katherine Kennedy, Fresh Milk’s Communications & Operations Manager, and also my friend Shomari Harrison, who visited me on the platform for a week.

I spent a lot of my time painting in the spacious Colleen Lewis Reading Room, as well as having interesting discussions regarding the different activities that go on here at Fresh Milk and gaining some insight into how the space operates. I also extended my studio hours this week, giving myself time to dig deeper into the development of my work; more ideas keep coming to mind, and I can’t seem to get all of them on paper!

After being at Fresh Milk these past few weeks, and having studio visits with art historian and curator Dr. Allison Thompson and visual artist Ewan Atkinson, both of whom I knew from their roles at Barbados Community College, I am realizing the importance of taking several different approaches to my work and process. Being here has really made me challenge my thoughts and relationship with Barbie, which has been somewhat love-hate for many years. In a way, she is one of my best friends; we have been through a lot together (feminist backlash, issues around careers, family, friends etc.). We did everything together – or was that what Mattel wanted me to believe? Being here has allowed me to consider the doll’s status as an icon, and to reevaluate my connection to Barbie and the corporate powerhouse behind her.

Even though this icon has had major backlash for over fifty years, she still remains an idol to many young girls. I started to illustrate Barbie through simplistic line paintings. Using a minimal colour scheme, I created a different side of her, shifting the focus from just her beauty. I have an obsession with Barbie’s blue eyes and the way that her artificial stare captivates many, including me. I am playing with the contradictory ways her eyes can be read, ranging from innocent to sinister.

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By creating melting patterns and distortion on Barbie, I want to question her classic features, and why it is that Mattel has kept this reoccurring imagery to the present day. Although Mattel has shifted with the times to some extent while keeping up with Barbie’s appearance, they have managed to always maintain those baby blue eyes. As I dig deeper into her construction, I realize that my fondness for her compels me to keep her signature look intact, even when attempting to distort her to reveal a different side to her image. It is this nostalgia that prevents me from disfiguring the actual doll; even destroying her as a painting is hard. Perhaps this is an area in which I need to challenge myself personally and artistically, considering the depth of this connection and what might happen if I sever it.

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CBB Logo White & Black TextThis residency is sponsored by the Central Bank of Barbados