Aliyah Hasinah’s Fresh Milk Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

UK-based writer and curator of Bajan and Jamaican heritage, Aliyah Hasinah, shares her third blog post about her Fresh Milk international residency. Aliyah continues to speak with Barbados-based cultural practitioners to form impressions about the island, its social landscape and stratification that exists in the space, in addition to visiting centres such as the Ngozi Farm and Cultural Sanctuary and the UWI Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. Read more below:


This week’s residency was a meaningful one. I’ve spent a lot of time in conversations learning and listening so haven’t read as much as I would have liked. Nevertheless, it’s been another enriching week in Barbados.

My Monday started with an Interview being recorded of me for the Small Axe Podcast. Upon finishing this interview, I asked if the new series by Steve McQueen was to be aired in the Caribbean because I couldn’t watch it on iPlayer. I was met with an ‘I’m not sure actually’.

From this moment, the thing that has sat with me starkly this past week is the disconnect between the islands and diaspora and the very intentional legislation and governing bodies that enforce this as a progression from enslavement and colourist class stratification. Additionally, the 2nd or 3rd generation diaspora’s disconnect from the politics or culture of the lands they hail from, in not creating content or sharing it outside of the global north, also creates problems.

For the large part the Windrush experience is not taught in the school curriculum of the Island and the modern day Bajan political and cultural is not felt or bridged abroad. This disconnect and information exclusion means that a very intentional chasm is created purely from the absence of information and exchange. Steve Mcqueen’s ‘Small Axe’ not being available in the Caribbean is one such example. It is easy to then imagine the resentment that can begin to develop towards those who have left and the rose-tinted nostalgia or misunderstanding of the Island’s they knew of the diaspora. This dialogue between contexts is crucial in the art world, to both enrich the nuanced perspectives of Caribbeanness and likewise shift the axis from representation mainly being from the diaspora or of the light skin and white artists on the Island.

In Aaron Kamugisha’s essay on ‘Rihanna & Bajan Respectability’ under the section on the Caribbean Middle Classes, he recalls James Baldwin’s insights:

James’s analysis of the new elites closes with the ominoir observation that “the ordinary people of the west indies…. Do not want to substitute new masters for old. They want no masters at all… history will take its course, only too often a bloody one.’’ Over thirty years into a global neo-liberal project that has seen appalling levels of martial impoverishment for citizens of the global South, and soaring rates of violence in these societies, James’s warning appears more prescient than he could have ever imagined.’’

The function of the middle class in Barbados (as one of the largest of the Caribbean islands) has an intentional implementation to absolve the white ruling class and also white capitalists who sought a quick buck from buying up much of the island to further exploit the newly independent nation (through hotels and tourism). This class is very much segregated, almost apartheid like, on the Island. My British accent and redskin has made some of those I’ve interacted with a little too comfortable in the false assumption of my middle classness and acceptance of the status quo. The disdain for Black Bajan artists is abhorrent and I have to thank my elders Ras Ishi and Ras Akyem for their work and writing in the RA Journal in 1993 and how it still stands prophetic of what I have witnessed on the land my grandparents left almost 60 years ago.

I’m learning that there is a perception that Fresh Milk is elitist and inaccessible for most on the Island. Which I was unaware of prior to my residency. It got me thinking about the international intrigue of how blackness, where I grew up in Birmingham UK, was always more acceptable in gallery contexts when the black artist wasn’t from that place. Hence meaning white curators and institutions needn’t think about their complicity in upholding racist gatekeeping, because they’d distanced themselves from it but still represented blackness in an international context.

My plan when I came to do my residency was to focus solely on Black West Indian Art History and culture in the Caribbean. However, I have been confronted quite violently with the colonial history and enslavement period’s remnants in legislation and artist communities that have led to the unsustainable arts infrastructure on the Island. As a result I have delved deeper into this in order to understand the conditions and context the art I’m studying was moulded by. I hope to focus more on dreaming and making work in the last week of my residency, but believe my whole time here has been an immersive learning of Caribbean epistemology as well as embodied experiences – all of which will embolden my curatorial practice and projects.

This week I also met with Russell Watson at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, to look at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. It’s an exciting space that I’m sure will continue to do some incredible work in supporting the critical discourse within the art scene of Barbados. We also spoke about the responsibility and place of healing in the development of artists’ careers here in Barbados. This video of George Lamming for the NCF is an apt example of the arts’ importance in Barbados’ future and present.

I also had the honour of going to Ngozi Farm and Cultural Sanctuary with Pascale, Dr Yanique Hume and my friend Amyra.

I was very moved by Ireka Jelani and her weaving practice and how she built her farm and sanctuary piece by piece. The love she showed us was testament of her power and I wrote something short after the visit.

SISTER IREKA

She stared through me with a soft urgency
Commanding of me a spirit I had quietened.
The asking in her eyes said –
let it out
Let us free up
Say what needs must sweetgirl

‘This whole Island was once plantation’

Remember you are of the land as much as of mind,
Tend to both.

Her Cassava fingertips have mended broken backs they say.
How we soothe wholesome spirit
With time
With air
In rain
With bush
With needs must
With love
‘Cuh me ah sey we is a humble people’

We forged in this limestone,
a life led by our spirits’ soft urgency.

Have a great week and thanks for reading my tangential thoughts.

Aliyah x

Pascale Faublas’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the third blog post by Haitian resident artist Pascale Faublas, who is joining us as part of an artist exchange programme with Le Centre d’Art, Haiti, to create opportunities for women arts practitioners. Pascale focuses this week on interactions with fellow creatives, cultural practitioners and spiritual women, who have inspired the creation of new pieces during her time in the studio. This programme is supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFDC) and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL). Read more below:


En français

Semaine 3

Partager le  Fresh Milk studio avec Aliyah Hasinah , une écrivaine trentenaire, commissaire d’art contemporain , de parents de la Barbades et de la Jamaique , qui vit et travaille à Londres ; a été l’occasion  pour nous de nombreuses discussions , notamment sur les sujets se rapportant à la condition féminine. Avec elle, j’ai pu donc découvrir le concept de Pop féminisme . Un féminisme  contemporain, subversif, qui campe une femme confiante, assumant son corps et sa sexualité, une femme sujet de son destin.

Ainsi est née Fanm se Poto Mitan #1.

Grace à la mise en contact  par Annalee Davis ,  j’ai pu , au courant de cette troisième semaine de résidence à FreshMilk , rencontrer trois Fanm Poto Mitan , d’age mur, d’origine caribéenne ( St. Vincent et Jamaïque) , qui résident et travaillent en Barbade.  Toutes les trois des êtres spirituels ( Manbo ou initiée, diplômée dans des domaines créatifs et de développement culturels ou social.

  1. Dr. Yanique Hume: Manbo, danseuse chorégraphe , chercheuse en anthropologie culturelle, études et performances avec un focus sur la Caraïbes, l’Amérique latine et la diaspora africaine.
  2. Ireka Jelani: Manbo, médecin traditionnel, entrepreneure et directrice de sa compagnie de vannerie Roots and Grasses, une plasticienne et  étudiante doctorante a l’université des West Indies.
  3. Taitu Heron: écrivaine et Directrice de la faculté  Women and Development  de l’université des West Indies.

Avec elles j’ai pu découvrir  non seulement la Barbade mais aussi  l’existence d’une  Caraïbe anglophone et l’étroite connexion (économique, sociale, culturelle) entre les différentes iles qui la composent. Nous avons pu discuter de la condition des femmes et des filles, discuter des  différences et ressemblances culturelles entre Haïti et cette caraïbe anglophone et de la nécessite de construire des liens pouvant unifier la grande Caraïbes.

Fanm se Kajou est née de ces passionnantes rencontres.


In English

Week 3

Sharing the Fresh Milk studio with Aliyah Hasinah, a 30-something writer and curator of contemporary art living and working in London and whose parents are from Barbados and Jamaica, was the occasion for many discussions; especially on matters relating to the status of women. With her, I was able to discover the concept of Pop Feminism – a contemporary, subversive feminism, which encapsulates a confident woman, assuming her body and her sexuality, a woman subject to her destiny.

Thus was born Fanm se Poto Mitan # 1.

Thanks to the contacts made by Annalee Davis, I was able during this third week of residency at Fresh Milk, to meet three Fanm Poto Mitans, middle aged and of Caribbean origin (St. Vincent and Jamaica), who reside and work in Barbados. All three are spiritual beings (Manbo or initiate, graduate in creative fields and cultural or social development).

1. Dr. Yanique Hume: Manbo, dancer, choreographer, researcher in cultural anthropology, studies and performances with a focus on the Caribbean, Latin America and the African diaspora.
2. Ireka Jelani: Manbo, traditional doctor, entrepreneur and director of her basketry company Roots and Grasses, plastic artist and doctoral student at the University of the West Indies.
3. Taitu Heron: Writer and Director of the Women and Development Faculty of the University of the West Indies.

With them I was able to discover not only Barbados, but also the existence of an English-speaking Caribbean and the close connection (economic, social, cultural) between the different islands that make it up. We were able to discuss the condition of women and girls, discuss the differences and cultural similarities between Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean, and the need to build links that can unify the greater Caribbean.

Fanm se Kajou was born from these fascinating encounters.


About Le Centre d’Art:

Le Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince is an institution that works towards promoting artistic creations by Haitian practitioners on the basis of preserved heritage values. Since its creation in 1944, this atypical space with multiple missions has been at the heart of societal and artistic evolutions. As the major protagonist in the reconfiguration of the fine arts realm in Haiti, Le Centre d’Art has been paving the way for several schools and artistic movements.

Despite the destruction of the infrastructure during the earthquake of 2010, Le Centre d’Art managed to save more than 5000 works and 3000 archive files, which are today preserved and valued. Since the reopening in 2014, Le Centre d’Art has once again become an essential part of Haitian culture.

Its mission is to support artists and their creations, and to conserve and disseminate Haitian visual arts. It is a resource space for artists, art students, art lovers, collectors and researchers alike.

Aliyah Hasinah’s Fresh Milk Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

UK-based writer and curator of Bajan and Jamaican heritage, Aliyah Hasinah, shares her second blog post about her Fresh Milk international residency. This week has seen Aliyah continue her research into the history of Barbados, as well as make her own observations on the dynamics of the space regarding issues around race and class, and how contemporary realities connect with this history. She has also continued to meet and have studio visits with Barbadian artists, and is gathering ideas to work towards holding a workshop before the end of her residency. Read more below:


It’s been another week at Fresh Milk and I’m definitely learning so much about the structuring of Barbados’ economy, class system and art communities.

This week’s been one full of meetings, socials, studio visits and many an emotion. Firstly my homie Amyra Leon flew in from New York to see me and that in itself has been a huge blessing and spiritual moment.

At Fresh Milk I started the week off by focusing on learning more history of the African presence on the Island and so watched Hilary Beckles’ Ermie Bourne lecture.

I’ve summarised my learnings in this tweet.

Understanding the rebellious history and brutal quashings of Africans in Barbados has really brought me to a space of understanding some of the dynamics I see play out on the Island today.

The White presence on this Island is very interesting and precarious to me. It feels like I am back in Britain when I’m in spaces White people occupy here. The segregation and power still held by the colonial plantocratic society here scares me, but I also know it well having been surrounded by Whiteness in England my whole life. The way in which White People in Barbados inhibit space and the way I have seen some of them talk of Black Bajans in my presence disgusts me. History makes perfect sense in this regard. I am even more motivated to only centre Black Art and knowledge production in my curatorial practice. I have no time for pandering to whiteness or solution making for white people whilst I am on this Island, knowing the extent to which they segregate and benefit from the reparations of enslavement to this day.

Moving forward, on Wednesday I met the incredible Versia Harris, we spoke of contexts, dreams and installations of a fantastical nature. I’m very honoured to have met her and hope to work with her in the future. I also got the opportunity to meet some of the artists Fresh Milk suggested at Mojos this Wednesday.

On Thursday I dropped into one of Annalee’s classes at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill and heard some of the ways we can map out cultural sectors on the island and what is needed for young artists to thrive. Annalee also gave a brief synopsis of the touristification of the island too, and how Brand Barbados has created a new dependency on foreign investment. Colonisers started the culture of external imports to the point where most food on the Island today is imported despite the wealth of agriculture on the land. Also interesting to find out that Palm trees were not native to the island and were planted in place of deforested Mahogany.

On Friday I had a lovely studio visit from Kraig Yearwood. We spoke about all sorts of things and I got the chance to see some of his work and catalogue. Amyra also captured some of this which I’ll be sure to share at some point.

I have treasured my conversations with fellow resident Pascale Faublas and learnt a lot about Haiti’s resistance culture and spiritual practices being indicative of the earlier period of decolonisation through the Haitian Revolution. Pascale reminds me that ‘Haiti is a lot more African in spirit’, which makes sense in alignment with their history.

This week I’ll be planning shoots, writing up my learnings, reading more and visiting more artists. I’ll also be organising a workshop before I finish my residency with my friend Amyra Léon to work with Black Artists on the Island on dreaming about futures, artistic possibilities and securing the bag. Stay tuned.

Thanks so much and I’ll see you next week

Aliyah x

Pascale Faublas’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the second blog post by Haitian resident artist Pascale Faublas, who is joining us as part of an artist exchange programme with Le Centre d’Art, Haiti, to create opportunities for women arts practitioners. Pascale has had a productive second week, meeting a number of Barbadian creatives and having stimulating discussions about the regional art scene, as well as beginning to dive in to creating her own work in the Fresh Milk studio. This programme is supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFDC) and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL). Read more below:


En français

Semaine 2

Fresh Milk Barbados est une ruche effervescente, une plateforme dynamique favorisant les rencontres, échanges  entre les  créatifs de la Barbade et d’ailleurs.  En effet,  ma deuxième semaine de résidence a été riche  en  rencontres, dialogues et discussions sur la réalité, et les problématiques spécifiques aux créateurs de la Caraïbes, leurs inspirations, aspirations, perspectives de création et de diffusion de l’art de la région.  Apres avoir visité l’exposition individuelle  «This is how our garden grows » de l’artiste barbadien Kraig Yearwood, celui ci nous a rendu visite a FreshMilk ou il nous a fait une brève et intéressante présentation de son travail et de son parcours, s’est entretenu avec ma co résidente, la conservatrice Aliyah Hasinah sur la situation de la présence de l’art de la Barbade localement, dans la région et sur la scène internationale, discuter de la nécessité de la décolonisation des Arts de la région caraïbes.

Un cocktail « Meet and Greet » organisé par FreshMilk m’a permis de rencontrer plusieurs milléniaux créatifs de la Barbade et de planifier des visites d’atelier pour la semaine a venir.

Au courant de cette 2eme semaine de résidence, riche de ces échanges, et mise à disposition de son atelier de rêve, j’ai  heureusement entamé ma première création artistique que j’ai hâte de vous présenter.


In English

Week 2

Fresh Milk Barbados is an effervescent hive, a dynamic platform promoting meetings and exchanges between creatives from Barbados and elsewhere. Indeed, my second week of the residency was rich in meetings, dialogues and discussions on our realities, and the specific issues of Caribbean creators, their inspirations, aspirations, perspectives of creation and dissemination of the art of the region. After visiting the solo exhibition ‘This is how our garden grows’ by Barbadian artist Kraig Yearwood, he visited us at Fresh Milk where he gave us a brief and interesting presentation of his work and his career. He spoke with my co-resident, curator Aliyah Hasinah about the status of Barbados’ art presence locally, in the region and on the international stage, discussing the need for the decolonization of the arts in the Caribbean.

A ‘Meet and Greet’ cocktail hosted by Fresh Milk allowed me to meet several creative Barbadian millennials and plan studio visits for the coming week.

During this 2nd week, rich in these exchanges made available in this dream studio, I fortunately started my first artistic creation, which I can’t wait to present to you.


About Le Centre d’Art:

Le Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince is an institution that works towards promoting artistic creations by Haitian practitioners on the basis of preserved heritage values. Since its creation in 1944, this atypical space with multiple missions has been at the heart of societal and artistic evolutions. As the major protagonist in the reconfiguration of the fine arts realm in Haiti, Le Centre d’Art has been paving the way for several schools and artistic movements.

Despite the destruction of the infrastructure during the earthquake of 2010, Le Centre d’Art managed to save more than 5000 works and 3000 archive files, which are today preserved and valued. Since the reopening in 2014, Le Centre d’Art has once again become an essential part of Haitian culture.

Its mission is to support artists and their creations, and to conserve and disseminate Haitian visual arts. It is a resource space for artists, art students, art lovers, collectors and researchers alike.

Pascale Faublas’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the first blog post by Haitian resident artist Pascale Faublas, who is joining us as part of an artist exchange programme with Le Centre d’Art, Haiti, to create opportunities for women arts practitioners. In her first week, Pascale introduces us to the experience of coming to Barbados during these challenging times, following travel protocols and transitioning into the start of her residency. This programme is supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFDC) and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL). Read more below:


En français

Semaine 1

A année exceptionnelle, décisions exceptionnelles! En cette année 2020 marquée par la pandémie du Covid 19, ma résidence artistique a Fresh Milk en Barbades a été exceptionnellement coordonnée par Le Centre d’Art en Haïti et Fresh Milk en Barbades avec le support de l’Unesco et de la Fokal dans l’objectif de rapprocher les artistes de la Caraïbe et d’’offrir des opportunités aux femmes artistes en particulier.

Arrivée en Barbades le 1er Novembre, et suivant les mesures  imposées par le gouvernement, les 6 premiers jours de mon séjour seront conditionnés par ce virus, confinée dans une chambre d’hôtel désigné a cet effet , avec interdiction de prendre contact physique avec quiquonque pas avant les résultats négatifs d’un test Covid PCR pris au 2eme jour et un report de température tous les jours 2 fois par jour pendant 14 jours. 

Je serai donc accueillie a distance par Annalee Davis, qui généreusement me pourvoira en  livres provenant de la bibliothèque de Fresh Milk , traitant de la culture, de l’art dans la Caraïbe et la Barbades, me mettra en contact avec des personnes ressources telles que Dr. Tonya Haynes and Taitu Heron pour une mise en contexte de mon projet de résidence : Fanm se poto mitan.

C’est ainsi que,  le 6 Novembre, je suis reçue par Anna Lee Davis et Katherine Kennedy a Fresh Milk sur son site la  Walkers Dairy , une ancienne plantation coloniale aujourd’hui convertie en ferme ou se trouve l’atelier et la résidence d’artistes.


In ENGLISH

Week 1

In an exceptional year, exceptional actions! In this year, 2020, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, my artistic residency at Fresh Milk in Barbados was exceptionally coordinated by Le Centre d’Art in Haiti and Fresh Milk in Barbados with the support of UNESCO and Fokal with the objective of bringing artists from the Caribbean closer together, and to offer opportunities to women artists in particular.

I arrived in Barbados on November 1, and following the measures imposed by the government, the first 6 days of my stay were conditioned by this virus. I was confined in a hotel room designated for this purpose, with a ban on making physical contact with anyone before the negative results of a Covid PCR test taken on the 2nd day and a temperature report every day twice a day for 14 days.

I was greeted at a distance by Annalee Davis, who generously provided me with books dealing with culture, art in the Caribbean and Barbados, all from the Colleen Lewis Reading Room at Fresh Milk. Fresh Milk put me in contact with Dr. Tonya Haynes (Institute for Gender & Development Studies at the University of the West Indies) and Taitu Heron (Director of the UWI Women and Development Unit, University of the West Indies) for me to contextualize my residency project: Fanm se poto mitan.

On November 6, I was received by Annalee Davis and Katherine Kennedy at Fresh Milk on their site at Walkers Dairy, a former colonial plantation now converted into a farm, which hosts workshops and artist residencies.


About Le Centre d’Art:

Le Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince is an institution that works towards promoting artistic creations by Haitian practitioners on the basis of preserved heritage values. Since its creation in 1944, this atypical space with multiple missions has been at the heart of societal and artistic evolutions. As the major protagonist in the reconfiguration of the fine arts realm in Haiti, Le Centre d’Art has been paving the way for several schools and artistic movements.

Despite the destruction of the infrastructure during the earthquake of 2010, Le Centre d’Art managed to save more than 5000 works and 3000 archive files, which are today preserved and valued. Since the reopening in 2014, Le Centre d’Art has once again become an essential part of Haitian culture.

Its mission is to support artists and their creations, and to conserve and disseminate Haitian visual arts. It is a resource space for artists, art students, art lovers, collectors and researchers alike.