Fresh Milk Mural Project at St. George Primary School by Evan Avery

Fresh Milk was very excited to have the opportunity to carry out this community mural project on the water tower at St. George Primary School in Barbados! Barbadian artist Evan Avery has beautified the school with his original characters, which were co-designed with input from some of the Class 4 students.

Thanks so much to Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd. for their sponsorship, and to Infra Equipment Rentals Ltd. for generously donating the scaffolding for the project!

The Fresh Milk ArtBoard 2017 featuring work by David Gumbs

Fresh Milk is thrilled to announce that, after reviewing a number of fantastic submissions to our open call for this year’s Fresh Milk ArtBoard and having input from an advisory group of creative professionals around the region, our team has selected an image by Saint-Martin born, Martinique based artist David Gumbs to be displayed. Congratulations, David!

David Gumbs, Offscreen (still image from interactive video piece) on the Fresh Milk ArtBoard

Artist statement:

David Gumbs is a multimedia artist from the island of Saint-Martin. His research investigates the spectator’s perception and mental landscape.

David Gumbs’ artistic approach is based on a famous quotation from XVIIth century French philosopher and chemist Antoine Lavoisier: « Mass is neither gained nor lost, merely transformed ». Thus, life’s cycle, infinite scale, memory, and the Sacred, are themes that emerge from larger topics of interest such as inner/outer landscape, and offscreen. These immersed spaces reveal personal inner projections from the unconscious, thus emerging this « Mental Archeology » through spectator’s perception. His research focuses on the different feelings, emotions, and stimulations that build memory.

Discovering the Martinican and Cuban flora triggered a vivid passion for mythical forest Gods in island cultures. This was the beginning of an identity quest through the exploration of topics dealing with the offscreen of perception, and rhizome graphical macroscopic universes.

His polymorphic art reveals the interbreeding and hybridization process in the collective and individual unconsciousness in Caribbean imagination.

The presented works are from the Offscreen and the Blossoms realtime interactive and generative video series. These images are created in realtime by using fractal data and user intervention that creates and transforms the patterns on the fly. The Blossoms series was created during David’s Davidoff Art Initiative Beijing residency in 2016, where tropical flora was used as a metaphor of air purification while the random animated patterns were growing and expanding on the city walls.

About the artist:

The Blossoms interactive installation was invited to be shown as part of the Special Projects of the Jamaica Biennial 2017. The « Water & Dreams » video was selected for the Relational Undercurrents exhibition at MOLAA, and was also shown at the Digital exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

In 2016, David Gumbs was selected as the Davidoff Art Initiative artist in residence in Beijing China, where he exhibited at the World Art Museum / China Millenium Monument, and Aotu Studio independent art space.

His « Offscreen of Perception » videos have been shown at Video Islands in New York, the opening exhibition of the Memorial Acte Museum (Macte) in Guadeloupe and Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE) in Barbados in 2015; at the trinidad + tobago film festival – New Media, Transforming Spaces – Bahamas and the Beep Bop Boop New Media Festival – Florida in 2014; at the BIAC Biennal – Martinique and Art Bémao New media selection – Guadeloupe in 2013; at Happy Island Project Biennal – Aruba in 2012; and at the prestigious Latitudes, Paris City Hall in 2009.

He has taking part in numerous new media festivals in Europe and in France, for example the Aborescence Festival in Aix-en-Provence. David’s work is regularly shown all over the world and in the Caribbean.

(L-R) Shanice Smith & Dominique Hunter, For your Viewing Pleasure, 2017; Leasho Johnson, How to kill a soundboy, 2017; Oneika Russell, A bit of what you fancy, Detail of a still from the video, 2017

Fresh Milk would also like to announce that three pieces were selected as runners-up for this edition: For your Viewing Pleasure by Shanice Smith (Trinidad) and Dominique Hunter (Guyana); How to kill a soundboy by Leasho Johnson (Jamaica); and A bit of what you fancy by Oneika Russell (Jamaica). These pieces are featured in our small exhibition Resonance, which continues from August 28-31, 2017 in the Fresh Milk studio.

Finally, to take a look at all of the other submissions we received, check out our online exhibition of the work, celebrating the positive response we received to this call. We are so pleased to be able to share work from around the Caribbean, especially as Barbados is the host of this year’s CARIFESTA XIII festival, and encourage you to come see all of the works in person!

‘Hardears Universe’ at Barbados Community College

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Fresh Milk  and Adopt A Stop are excited to conclude this edition of the the Fresh Stops collaborative project, ending on Matthew Clarke’s piece titled ‘Hardears Universe’.

In an attempt to bring art into the public space, six artists were commissioned to produce original artwork for benches that have appeared at varied locations around the island. ‘Hardears Universe’ has been installed just outside Barbados Community College, Eyrie Howells’ Road, St. Michael.

Huge thanks to Adopt A Stop for partnering with us on this project over the past year to support emerging Barbadian artists and introduce more artwork into the local environment; it has been a wonderful experience!

The other participating artists included Evan AveryVersia HarrisMark King and  Simone Padmore. This project aimed to create visibility for the work of emerging creatives, allowing the public to encounter and interact with their pieces in everyday life, generating interest and inviting dialogue  about their practices.

See the full suite of works on our Fresh Stops project page here.

About ‘Hardears Universe’:

Hardears Universe showcases a collection of characters from the ‘Hardears World’ featured in my graphic novels. It is a place of fantasy populated by characters from Caribbean folklore.

About Matthew Clarke:

Matthew Clarke portrait

Matthew Clarke‘s passion for art started at a young age, and he began participating in the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) while attending St. Michael’s School. Through the Festival, he achieved bronze, silver, gold and incentive awards, and went on to be the recipient of the Prime Minster’s Scholarship for Visual Art in 2003. Clarke completed his Associate Degree in Visual Art at the Barbados Community College (BCC) which earned him a Barbados Exhibition for tertiary studies, and in 2009 he obtained a Bachelor Degree with honours in Graphic Design at the same institution. He has freelanced for various design agencies (Virgo, 809, RED Advertising, G and A Communication, RCA) and worked at the Nation Publishing Company on the Attitude Magazine, creating its logo and design. He has also worked at Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), where he was appointed Internal Web Designer in charge of the Banks Beer website.

In addition to working on independent projects, he has been working as a graphic designer at RED Advertising and PR Agency as of 2011, where he is currently Deputy Creative Director. He is the co-owner and principle of a Caribbean comic company called Beyond Publishing, which has published over 22 books sold digitally and in print, both locally and internationally.

Ronald Williams shares a statement about ‘Alpha’

There has been some recent media coverage in the Nation Newspaper in Barbados surrounding a public art piece by local artist Ronald Williams, which was commissioned by Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop as part of their collaborative Fresh Stops project.

Fresh Milk is very pleased to be able to share a comprehensive statement by Ronald about his artwork entitled Alpha, which can be seen on a bench in Independence Square, Bridgetown. Alpha combines imagery and references from contemporary black culture, based on the artist’s own observations from everyday life, with classic figures from Greek mythology to challenge Western standards of beauty.

We are proud to be supporting Ronald’s thought provoking work, and hope that the attention it is receiving will lead to further dialogue and understanding about contemporary art, its role in society and its value for our culture and environment.

Ronald Williams with his bench entitled 'Alpha'

Ronald Williams with his bench entitled ‘Alpha’

Alpha attempts to question traditionally dominant Western beauty standards. It injects a black consciousness alongside, and at times instead of, the established images found in Classical Greek, Renaissance and Baroque eras.

In appropriating the revered iconography from these eras, I sought to challenge the Western ideals which are so dominant in our culture and mind-sets. The characters are based on five of the Olympians from Greek Mythology (tales which were dominant in my own psyche as those were the first stories I remember really liking as a child).

While I removed the mythical Greek icons from their pedestals, the aim was to also critically investigate black culture and present a Barbadian/Caribbean existence in a new light. Therefore, I used ordinary people and mundane personalities as my inspiration. As a result the five characters take the form of the pretty boy, the party animal, the conscious one, the bad boy and the trickster.

The work, viewed as a collective, reflects African, European and East Asian influences, highlighting that even though we are a predominantly black county/region, it is the intermingling of these various cultures which has caused the Caribbean to be a unique space.

Apollo - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Apollo – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Apollo, described as the most beautiful Olympian and a ‘God’ of the arts, becomes the pretty boy. He is the personification of modern male fashion, which often goes beyond metrosexual and into effeminate/homosexual realms. The character sports a white face on a black body, highlighting the skin bleaching phenomenon (seen as a beautification process), which is prevalent in the black population in the Caribbean.

Dionysus - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Dionysus – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Dionysus, the ‘God’ of alcohol, drunken revelry and ecstasy is the party animal. Dressed as a Kadooment/Carnival masquerader holding a bottle of brandy and set against a smoky marijuana background, the character appears intoxicated and moody. The piece as a whole aims to underline the use of controlled substances when we ‘play mas’ or celebrate, while it simultaneously hints at the darker mood swings which can be a side effect of drug abuse.

Zeus - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Zeus – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Zeus, the supreme Olympian, takes the role of the conscious/spiritual one. He represents a state of serenity and oneness (an ideal level of consciousness many religious/spiritual teachings uphold that one should strive for). His modest natural wood frame (in comparison to the other metallic embellished frames) symbolizes a sense of purity and an immaterial view of the world.

Ares - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Ares – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

‘God’ of war Ares naturally becomes the ‘bad’ boy. The aim of this piece is to exude an aggressive, violent vibe. The character’s ‘tattoos’, made from graffiti, his skull scarf and his horned mask all help to paint the picture of a sinister ‘gangsta’, while the red scarf background and the frame made from bullets sell the idea of a dangerous yet strangely glamorous lifestyle many from poor ‘ghettos’ seem to aspire to.

Hermes - Detail of 'Alpha' by Ronald Williams

Hermes – Detail of ‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams

Hermes, the mischievous ‘God’ of trade, thieves and wanderers is the trickster. He has a clownish appearance, but the background of optical illusions and card suits indicate that there is some level of deception and gamesmanship involved. While Apollo haughtily wears his white mask, Hermes insincerely revels in his. He is the personification of a role many in the black population (Caribbean and worldwide) feel is necessary to play; a conformity to a dominant white culture.

Ronald Williams, Alpha, 2015

Ronald Williams, Alpha, 2015

Thank you to Ronald for sharing his work, to Adopt A Stop for entering into this partnership with us, and to all of the artists participating in the Fresh Stops project. You can learn more about their pieces here.

Re: Controversy around Bench in the ‘Fresh Stops’ Project

There has been some recent controversy in the local  Barbados media surrounding one of the benches commissioned by Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop as part of our collaborative Fresh Stops Project.

'Alpha' by Ronald Williams.

‘Alpha’ by Ronald Williams, featured on a bench currently located in Independence Square, Barbados

Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop have been involved in a dynamic partnership since 2014, creating opportunities for young Barbadian contemporary visual artists to produce new artworks in public spaces. To date we have commissioned five artists to produce images for benches which have been popping up around the island, including sites at River Bay, Bathsheba, Hunte’s Gardens, the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) and Independence Square. The final bench in this current series is set to be released soon, and will be placed at the Barbados Community College (BCC). You can see more about the innovative project here.

The article published in the Nation Newspaper on Friday, 18th September, 2015.

The article published in the Nation Newspaper on Friday, 18th September, 2015.*

In the Friday, September 18th edition of the Nation Newspaper, there was an article referring to one of the benches featuring artwork by BCC Graduate, Ronald Williams, expressing concern about the nature of the images in the piece. Since being a student of the BFA programme at BCC, Ronald has been producing a body of work looking at stereotypical representations of black culture. Here is his statement for Alpha, the piece on the back of the bench in question:

Alpha attempts to question traditionally dominant Western beauty standards. It injects a black consciousness alongside, and at times instead of, the established images found in Classical Greek, Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Fresh Milk is also currently showing Ronald’s work in our public gallery space called the Fresh Milk ArtBoard.

full bench alpha

Ronald Williams, Alpha, 2015.

We have been in touch with the Nation in order to clear up this matter. The artist and representatives from Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop are happy to discuss the work and the project further to generate a healthy discourse around contemporary art in Barbados.

*Please note that the bench was not, as stated in the newspaper article, donated by Massy United Insurance, and that they are not affiliated with the project.