Kraig Yearwood’s Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Kraig Yearwood shares his third blog post about his Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Residency. Things began to come together both materially and conceptually for Kraig this week, having investigated the properties of concrete and experimented with how it behaves both on its own as well as in combination with other elements.  He also had the opportunity to have a studio visit with Natalie McGuire, manager at the Barbados branch of Gallery NuEdge, where he expanded on his ideas around consumption, mass manufacturing and materialism. Read more below:

A detailed view of Aquifer

Week number 3 at Fresh Milk has been a mixed bag; and if I’m being totally honest, a bit disjointed.

Happily, I’ve really started to get a handle on how the concrete reacts, and as such a better understanding of its characteristics, possibilities and limitations. While I’m loving all its various textural nuances and the ability to embed various materials, getting accustomed to the materials’ prep and drying times has been a challenge since I am not used to using mediums with long drying times. Perhaps this stems from primarily utilizing a hairdryer for most of my acrylic works. This is my preferred method of hurrying the drying process, out of a little impatience and eagerness to allow additions to be made to artwork. However, I am getting used to the wait.

In addition, I’m gaining more clarity conceptually, relative to overall directions I wish to take, on individual pieces I’m working to resolve, and those I have yet to get started on. On Saturday, I was privileged to have a studio visit with Natalie McGuire, Gallery Manager at Gallery NuEdge, where we discussed the themes that I’m currently working on.  I’m interested in using a broader theme of “the shifting philosophies of the traditional Caribbean landscape to one which is littered not only physically but figuratively as well.” The land is becoming a mirror for the mindsets of our people. This main theme of interest is accompanied by satellite themes of consumption, mass manufacturing and materialism.

Work in progress Aquifer

It’s amazing how time flies. At the onset, a month seemed a long time, but with one week left I’ve constantly been feeling like I need to do more. This week I’ve found it hard to balance my output and expectations with all the other projects and commitments outside of the residency. It was only after a chat with an art colleague, that I was reminded that we are artists and not machines, that sometimes things happen in their own time.

So…it’s with that timely reminder that I go into my final week with renewed energy and a plan to focus on things that can realistically be completed by week’s end; with the knowledge that as the residency comes to a close, that the exploration has only just begun.


Idyllic Caribbean garden on the grounds of Fresh Milk

‘A thought on Mediating Matter(s) in Arab and Caribbean Contemporary Art’ by Natalie McGuire

Fresh Milk board member and contributor Natalie McGuire shares a review of the recent exhibition The Place of Silence at the Stal Gallery, Oman. While this show featured work by Middle Eastern artists, McGuire parallels their work with that coming out of the Caribbean, particularly between Iraqi-British artist Estabrak Al-Ansari and regional artists Nadia Huggins and James Cooper, all of whom deal with the materiality and implications of water as a medium. Read more below: 

Stal Gallery, Muscat, Oman. Photo credit: Natalie McGuire.

Stal Gallery, Muscat, Oman. Photo credit: Natalie McGuire.

Not work, taut, deaf, monotonous as a sea, endlessly sculpted—but
eruptions yielding to earth’s effervescence—that expose the heart, beyond
worry anguishes, to a stridency of beaches—always dislocated, always
recovered, and beyond completion—not works but matter itself through
which the work navigates—attached to and quickly discarded by some
plan—first cries, innocent rumors, tired forms—untimely witnesses to this
endeavor—perfectly fusing as their imperfections meet—persuading one to
stop at the uncertain—that which trembles, wavers, and ceaselessly
becomes—like a devastated land—scattered.

– Edouard Glissant, Poem for the World

Standing in the Stal Gallery, Muscat, in March 2015, the exhibition The Place of Silence exhumed an atmosphere so familiar to that of Caribbean art spaces. The works of six Middle Eastern artists commanded attention in the three enclave-spaced gallery, saturated in context and concepts that brought to mind Glissant’s phrase: “Not works, but matter itself through which the work navigates.” From Dada-inspired installations reviewing existence and death (Raiya Al Rawahi’s Life, Being and Death) to an unearthing of self-reflection, a photographic self-portrait mirrored and repeated almost to geometric abstraction (Ahmed Al Mullahi’s Gazing Through the Divine), there were challenging thoughts and narratives seeping through every pore of the walls. The exhibition was physically navigating through the matter of an upscale avenue in the heart of the city, sitting on Al Inshirah Street, a British Council Service Road.

Raiya Al Rawahi,  Life, Being and Death (detail). Installation: photographs, IV bags/stands, headphones, charts. Stal Gallery, 2015.

Raiya Al Rawahi, Life, Being and Death (detail). Installation: photographs, IV bags/stands, headphones, charts. Stal Gallery, 2015.

One in particular was the piece Sayed, a component of the series ‘Omani’s Under Water’, by Estabrak Al-Ansari, an Iraqi-British new media artist and filmmaker, who is currently at the centre of a surging movement in Omani contemporary art. The photograph depicts an underwater view of half the figure of an Omani man in his dishdasha, submerged and poised on the reef. The white gown plays with being transparent in the sunlight that penetrates the water, and clings to the backs of his legs and lower torso. In the accompanying wall text, Al-Ansari emphasized her exploration of “taboo concepts such as sexuality, privilege, oppression, power and understanding.” By having the body of her subject submerged in water, in this realm of nature that becomes somewhat abstracted from the landscape of society, she can unpack the restraints around its presentation and movement. Implementing her concepts ‘under the surface’, the discourse she wishes to raise is mediated by this matter. For Sayed, no conservative Omani could accuse Al-Ansari of presenting him in an immodest manner; it was a natural reflection of the current of the ocean she photographed him in. She later stated, “I might direct a person, an image with my camera, but natural elements like water take over, and the element of the water plays with what I want to convey.”

Estabrak Al-Ansari, ‘Sayed’, Omani’s Under Water. Limited Edition Photographic Prints, Stal Gallery, 2015.

Estabrak Al-Ansari, ‘Sayed’, Omani’s Under Water. Limited Edition Photographic Prints, Stal Gallery, 2015.

I had a chance to visit Al-Ansari at her sea-front studio in Al Bustan, and as she shared with me her thoughts about functioning in a Middle Eastern creative space, the familiarity of her new found artistic community with that of my own Caribbean one was undeniable.

Being her first exhibition in Oman, Al-Ansari believed some movements of the body encompassing a relationship with the sea would be acceptable for display outside of the water. At the opening of The Place of Silence, she presented her live projection painting piece Djinn and Motion. She explained:

Djinn is huge here. It’s in the Qur’an and states that Djinn do exist, it is like the ‘other’, a spiritual world. In countries there can be voodoo, and in Oman there is a big history of that. One reason why the title Djinn and Motion came to me is because I live by the sea within the mountains…and I have friends who refuse to visit me, because the belief is that the Djinn prefer to chill out by the sea, especially at night. Whether or not you believe in it is irrelevant, to me this is all myth and story, and this is the part I enjoy, that has been translated in all of my work.

Live projection painting originated in Al-Ansari’s London work with the group Thre3 Strokes, and stemmed from a desire to connect oneself and one’s viewers with an alternate space of reality. And although response to the medium was positive, the Muscat-based audience had difficulty accepting the title Djinn and Motion. Al-Ansari elaborates, “I had an interview with a guy from one of the newspapers here who was fine with discussing Omani’s Under Water, but as soon as I talked about Djinn and Motion he refused to talk to me, he walked away. He didn’t want anything to do with it. It was weird because for me, I was just normalizing what is here and what people talk about.”

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Kwame Slusher, writer and current team leader of Fresh Milk Books, shares a review of our final event for 2014, FRESH MILK XVII which took place on December 19. The event featured presentations by resident artists, overviews of past and upcoming projects & activities, and a potluck celebration dinner to close out our year. 

All photography by Dondré Trotman.


…so we jewel the edges of his body

With shattered bottles, then bear him
to the foot of the casuarinas in order that his born
silhouette may freely flash and prance—

– Christian Campbell
Goodmans Bay II

The game described in Campbell’s poem, which he read at the event FRESH MILK XVII that took place on December 19, 2014, is known as Moon Shine Baby/Dolly—a traditional game played by children in the Caribbean and West Africa. One person is chosen or chooses to be the ‘baby/dolly’ and they lie down on the ground, while the other children outline the ‘baby/dolly’ with limestone and broken shards of glass. When the other children are finished, ‘baby/dolly’ gets up and their silhouette of found things would glitter in the moonlight. The game in Campbell’s poem is reminiscent of the Ancient Greek girl that wanted to preserve the memory of her lover who, after a time, had to return to his homeland. As the story goes, she made her lover stand still while she traced the outline of his shadow, then later, got her father to fill it in with clay. Inadvertently, like the game in Campbell’s poem, she not only created a space to remember someone by, but where something new can be developed.

FRESH MILK XVII was not just a space for the latest two resident artists to formally present on their work and experiences, but also an opportunity for members of the Fresh Milk platform to recount recent activities and to look to the future. In the wake of not having a National Art Gallery, Fresh Milk’s director Annalee Davis stated in her opening remarks that “…we live in an era necessarily of self-organization. Civil society must self-organize and build the spaces we want and need for ourselves.” Like the gathered bits of limestone and glass on the beach and the outline of the lost lover, Fresh Milk is  attempting to reimagine a historical space that fosters creativity.

The first presenter, Barbadian arts writer Natalie McGuire, spoke about the Transoceanic Visual Exchange, which is a project Fresh Milk is working on in conjunction with two other art communities: RM in New Zealand and Video Art Network (VAN) Lagos in Nigeria. McGuire said that the project was about upending traditional notions of geo-political space and cultural exchanges. The project is looking for submissions from filmmakers, video artists or artists that work between these spaces—those whose works don’t quite qualify to be shown in a gallery or in a cinema —to go about creating a digital sphere where these cultural exchanges can take place.

Barbadian visual artist and writer Katherine Kennedy then spoke about her experiences at Akadamie Schloss Solitude in Germany, where she had been selected to participate in the ResSupport Fellowship Programme offered by Res Artis on behalf of Fresh Milk from September 1st to December 1st. In her presentation, Kennedy looked at the different connections and encounters that she made with a diverse cross-section of people from around the world. In addition to the interconnection of ideas in a single space, she said that it was good to be able to find the familiar in an unfamiliar environment. She spoke about attending the opening of an exhibition in Memmingen, which focused on carnival, and seeing the work of Trinidadian visual artists Marlon Griffith and Barbadian visual artist Ewan Atkinson. Kennedy pointed out that what was interesting about the exhibition is while the theme was carnival, it was looking at both European and Caribbean depictions instead of just focusing on one locale.

In the second half of the evening, the two artists in residence – Toronto-Based, Bajan-Jamaican industrial designer and visual artist Kara Springer and Toronto-based, Trinidadian-Bahamian poet and cultural critic Christian Campbell – presented their work and what they had accomplished during the residency. Kara talked about her project, Repositioned Objects, which involved the building of 4x4x4ft wooden structures that create tension between the controlled and the uncontrollable. Kara, with the assistance of Christian, went around different points of the island installing the cubes and photographing them. In some cases the structures were left overnight, and in others she only had a short time to construct, photograph and break the structures back down again. What she did not expect was to not only have to deal with destructive natural elements, but also with people who went out of their way to destroy her structures. She was forced to then contend with the intersection of creation and destruction; the difficulty of trying to create order in a chaotic environment.

The final address was given by Christian Campbell, who began by speaking a little about the workshop he led titled ‘The Art of the Essay/The Essay on Art’. The workshop focused on ekphrasis, which has traditionally been a creatively written description on a visual work of art, however for the purposes of the workshop the definition was expanded to include any art form responding to another. Christian’s presentation, unlike the others, was really a series of readings. The first was Martin Carter’s Till I Collect to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Martin Carter’s death, which would have been on the second and last day of the critical writing workshops, held on December 13th. He also read Till I Collect because the last two lines of the poem, “till I collect my scattered skeleton/till I collect…” seemed to correlate with Jean Michel Basquiat’s X-Ray-like self portrait. Campbell read what he considered the ‘most important’ thing that he achieved during the residency, an essay on Jean Michel Basquiat, before adding to the selection with three poems from his own collection ‘Running the Dusk’: Goodmans Bay II, Curry Powder and Iguana. The last poem he read was one of his newer pieces, Names.

In his piece on Basquiat, Campbell read that the Haitian-American artist tried to collect everything, “…the way the Caribbean is the cross-cultural crossroads for the whole damn world”. In many ways that represents what art communities such as Fresh Milk, RM and VAN Lagos are and try to be with projects like the Transoceanic Visual Exchange; to create spaces with what is there, so that something new can develop. This makes it possible for artists like Katherine to go to places like Akadamie Schloss Solitude to work with and connect with other artists from all over the world.

After the presentations were over, and the rain that threatened to drown them had petered out, everyone gathered on the veranda to partake in the Christmas Potluck; to create a new space filled with the holiday spirit and hope for the New Year.


Check out our video from FRESH MILK XVII, which took place on December 19, 2014 at The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados.

FRESH MILK XVII was our last public event for 2014, and featured visual artist Kara Springer and poet / critical writer Christian Campbell speaking about their residency experiences, Katherine Kennedy sharing news about her three month fellowship at Akadamie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany and Natalie McGuire addressing TVE – a Transoceanic Visual Exchange between Barbados, Nigeria and New Zealand.

Thanks to Sammy Davis for shooting and editing this video!


Fresh Milk XVII

Join us on December 19th, 2014, from 6:30 to 8pm for FRESH MILK XVII. Visual artist Kara Springer and poet / critical writer Christian Campbell will speak about their residency experiences; Katherine Kennedy will share news about her recently completed three month Fellowship at Akadamie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany while Natalie McGuire will join us by Skype to speak about TVE – a Transoceanic Visual Exchange between Barbados, Nigeria and New Zealand.

It’s the last Fresh Milk event for 2014. We’ll close out the year with a Pot Luck. Bring food, drink and good cheer!

This event is free and open to the public.

Visit for directions to Fresh Milk

Kara Springer

Kara Springer

Kara Springer is an industrial designer and visual artist.  Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, she currently lives and works between Toronto and Detroit.  Her interdisciplinary practice explores the intersections of the body and industrial modes of production through sculpture, photography and designed objects. Kara completed an Hon.B.Sc. in Life Sciences from the University of Toronto concurrent to a B.Des. in Industrial Design from the Ontario College of Art & Design.  She received her M.A. in New Media and Contemporary Technology from ENSCI Les Ateliers in Paris in 2007. Her work has been exhibited at the Frankfurt Museum of Applied Arts in Germany, the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, the Cultural Center of Belem in Portugal, and is currently included in the 2014 Jamaica Biennial.

Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell is a Trinidadian-Bahamian poet and cultural critic. His widely acclaimed first book, Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was a finalist for the Forward Prize for the Best First Collection, among many other awards. Running the Dusk was also named one of the best books of 2010 by the Caribbean Review of Books,Horizon Review and Poetry International. In 2015 Running the Dusk will be translated into Spanish and published as Correr el Crepúsculo by Ediciones Santiago in Cuba. His poetry and essays have been published widely in journals and newspapers such as Callaloo, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Small Axe and Wasafiri.  He studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and currently teaches at the University of Toronto.

Katherine Kennedy

Katherine Kennedy

Katherine Kennedy (Born April 4, 1990, Barbados) graduated from Lancaster University, UK with a degree in Creative Arts (2008-2011) after winning a Barbados Government Scholarship for tertiary education. Her combined major of Fine Art and Creative Writing developed her interests in visual and literary pursuits. She has won awards for her artwork and writing in her home Barbados, and exhibited locally and internationally. She currently works as the Assistant to Director with both The Fresh Milk Art Platform, an artist-led initiative and residency programme, and ARC Magazine for contemporary Caribbean art. Her visual practice is heavily tied to a sense of place, and uses interplay between found organic and inorganic objects to assert cultural identity in different environments.

Katherine travelled to the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), Curaçao in November 2012 to conduct ‘Creatives in Conversation’, a collaboration between the IBB and Fresh Milk. She received a full fellowship from the Reed Foundation for a residency at The Vermont Studio Center in May 2013. In September 2013, she took part in ‘fresh casa’, a short, intensive mentorship programme at Casa Tomada, São Paulo, Brazil.

Natalie McGuire

Photograph by Dondre Trotman

Photograph by Dondre Trotman

Natalie McGuire is a Barbadian Art Writer who has recently completed her MA at The University of Auckland, NZ, with a thesis deconstructing Caribbean diasporic representation in museums. She is on the board of the Fresh Milk Arts Platform in Barbados, the committee of the West Indian Society in Auckland, and has contributed to publications such as ARC Magazine and AICA Southern Caribbean. Recently she has given papers on Caribbean visual language in digital art mediums at the Small Axe Caribbean Digital Conference and Otago University’s Space Race and Bodies conference.