Rayanne Bushell’s Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

During October 2015, Rayanne Bushell a Glasgow-based artist of Jamaican and Barbadian descent – is volunteering with Fresh Milk, working with our archive of documentation and images from the last four years of activities. In her first blog, she shares what it has been like to experience Barbados for the first time in fourteen years, visiting family and reflecting on the personal archives we accumulate in life, while reckoning with the history of the space. 

Looking through family photo albums

I have to admit that when I dreamed of returning to my ancestral home, until very recently, it was never Barbados that I had in mind. I lived with my mother and so while objectively I knew I had Bajan heritage and had even visited with my father in 2001, it had always been my Jamaican side that I clung to. In hindsight, I wonder why I never explored my Bajan heritage further. My grandmother who was born here is also one of my closest friends. But I guess I knew more about Jamaican history and culture and my family’s life there, so it was easier to claim.

In the end it was art that brought me back to Barbados. In the summer of 2014 I was struggling with and against a homogenous, white, eurocentric arts education, institution and history. Around this time I met Tiffany Boyle and Jessica Carden of the curatorial duo Mother Tongue when they gave a lecture at the Glasgow School of Art on Maud Sulter and Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé, two artists who were absent from the “Glasgow Miracle” narrative despite being active, based in Glasgow and exhibiting widely at the time. Sulter is a huge influence to me and is part of what inspires my small endeavours into countering the continued under-representation of black and person of colour artists in the West. Mother Tongue have been a wonderful support of my research and practice, and it is through them that I found out about International Artists Initiated at the David Dale Gallery, a programme of exhibitions and events that coincided with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games. Fresh Milk was one of the six participating artist organisations and upon seeing that they were based in Barbados, I contacted Annalee. As a result, I ended up assisting in the install and photographing of the exhibition and ultimately started a chain of events which led me to Monday at Grantley Adams International Airport, looking up at huge poster of Rihanna welcoming me to Barbados.

On Tuesday, Katherine and Natalie showed Nadijah and I the Fresh Milk studio and offered a brief introduction to the Colleen Lewis Reading Room where I found two zines that I hope to add to my POC Zine Archive. Explorations of the reading room for my own research come at intermittent breaks from working through the Fresh Milk archive over the following few days. Through the process of organising and cataloguing thousands of files from various projects such as Tilting Axis, Fresh Performance and the Caribbean Art Map, I’ve been able to familiarise myself with the work that Fresh Milk does and so have a greater sense and understanding of the contemporary artistic activity on the island and wider Caribbean region. Sorting through folders relating to artists both international and local who have undertaken residencies at Fresh Milk has been an informative and inspirational process which also led to a continuous sense of déjà vu when I met members of the creative community irl when we attended the opening of Russell Watson’s Phylum at the Morningside Gallery at BCC.

After 5 days on Walker’s Dairy, Nadijah and I used the weekend as a chance to see a bit more of the island. Friday night was spent at Oistins. My father insisted I should go and it turned out to be a site quite relevant to my current research around tourism, souvenirs and authenticity. On Saturday, we wandered through Bridgetown, attempted to visit the Nidḥe Israel Synagogue and managed to avoid the worst of the rain.

Today, we both visited our respective families on the Island. Sunday bus services are a joke no matter where you are in the world, after waiting 50 minutes, I made it to my great uncle’s house in Black Rock, St Michael where my grandad is also staying. Lunch with familiar faces was a welcome change after a week of firsts. Hanging on the walls of my uncle Derwin’s house are an odd but complimentary mix of family photos, art prints and souvenirs. It’s started me thinking again about the photo album as artefact, family home as a living museum and the home-maker as curator. I’m not yet sure where it’ll lead this time, but the environment had me obsessively taking photographs which wasn’t happened in a while.

I’ve been here 6 days, if I’m honest the greatest cultural conflict thus far, is the transition from city life to country living. Fresh Milk is situated on Walker’s Dairy, a farm that used to be a plantation. I understood what this would mean in theory, but in practice I wasn’t quite prepared for the lizards, frogs, cockroaches or mixed emotions conjured up from my location on a plantation; and reflections on my ancestors’ exponentially more violent experience of such a locale. There’s a lot to make sense of and get used to, I doubt 4 weeks is enough but I’ll take what I can get before returning to a no doubt grim Glasgow in November.

Fresh Milk welcomes Rayanne Bushell and Nadijah Robinson to the platform

Fresh Milk is excited to welcome Rayanne Bushell and Nadijah Robinson to the platform as our next artists in residence from October 5 – 30, 2015.

Rayanne, who we first connected with in Glasgow while participating in the International Artist Initiated project in 2014, will be volunteering at Fresh Milk and working with our growing archive of images, while Nadijah, a Canadian artist of Barbadian heritage, will be reconnecting with her extended family to explore her roots and the notion of ‘home’ in Barbados through her artistic practice, including using mixed media collage and fabric work.


About Rayanne:

Rayanne Bushell is a Black British visual artist currently based in Glasgow. Bushell’s work uses photography, text and various printing techniques to reconstruct her family history, using this as a prism through which to investigate post-colonial identities, christianity and community. Research into the history of Black arts in Britain and the lack of representation of Black artists underpins Bushell’s practice; in November 2014 she founded Motherlands a zine for POC artists and writers and in August 2015 she started a pop-up POC Zine Library.

Motherlands was recently included in Visions of the Future: Women, Publishing & Autonomy, Islamic Human Rights Centre, London 2015. In 2015 Bushell collaborated with artist Isaac Kariuki on Shft+Ctrl+Save exploring how marginalised people utilise the internet and social medias as means of creating safe spaces and communities,Shft+Ctrl+Save was shown at Meta Gallery, Miami in May 2015.

Nadijah Robinson

About Nadijah:

Nadijah Robinson is an artist and educator based in Toronto, currently working in the media of Collage, Painting, Performance and Installation. She received her BFA from the University of Ottawa and a BEd from OISE University of Toronto. Working with skills developed from practices such as sewing, silkscreen printing, batik making, filmmaking, collage, painting, and graphic design, her work combines what is needed to construct a particular affecting image, object or experience. A refusal of the premise of a white canvas, or a blank slate, the use of found fabrics, images and other materials acknowledges that no thing comes from nothing. The history, cultural references, and sensory implications of the materials, and sources of the stories she tells all lend their particular significance to the larger artwork.

Nadijah Robinson’s work aims to reflect and archive the stories of communities in which she is strongly rooted, and which are not often represented in conventional art spaces. Through the practice of conducting interviews with community members, Nadijah is able to identify important themes, to highlight significant stories, and to learn directly from community members what they would like to see in artwork that presents itself as being for and about them.

Recent projects include a The Mourning Dress for Trans Black Women featured in Pride in Toronto 2015, a mural completed a mural as part of the Church Street Mural Project in preparation for World Pride 2014, and the curation of a photographic archive of Black musicians and entertainers from the 1930s-70s for the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund. She has shown work with the Art Gallery of York University, Gladstone Hotel, Daniels Spectrum, with Nia Centre for the Arts, and as part of the Mayworks Festival for Working People and the Arts.

Mapping the Commonwealth with “Glasgow’s Finest”

Alberta Whittle shares her thoughts on the recent International Artist Initiated (IAI) project in Glasgow, presented by the David Dale Gallery & Studios as part of The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme which took place alongside this year’s Commonwealth Games. Read more below:

Photograph by Rayanne Bushell

Representatives of Clark House Initiative, RM, Video Network Lagos, Fresh Milk; Alberta Whittle and Rayanne Bushell

 “In 1884 the Earl of Rosebery visits Australia and asks, ”Does the fact of your being a nation… imply separation from the Empire? God forbid! There is no need for any new nation, however great, leaving the Empire, because the Empire is a Commonwealth of Nations“.”[1]

In the summer of 2014, the Commonwealth Games arrived in Glasgow. Much like any travelling circus, the Games brought believers, performers, participants and an audience. Like any participant, I came to Glasgow with my own expectations. Having lived in the city for many years, but failing to assimilate completely, I still feigned the confidence that comes so easily for those who know the area. Sharing a taxi ride, with the self-proclaimed “Glasgow’s Finest”, the driver quizzed me on my knowledge of the city’s geography, asking me where roads connected, easily highlighting my failure to truly belong to Glasgow. The driver insisted on informing me that Glasgow’s taxi drivers were always known as “Glasgow’s Finest”, and I was not allowed to forget it.

During this trip, over many conversations with “Glasgow’s Finest”, a discourse of belonging and not belonging readily emerged. The drivers often assumed Barbadian artist, Annalee Davis and I were Americans, our accents blurring into a vague sense of foreign-ness. They asked why we were here, and when we explained about our project as part of the Commonwealth Games, they in turn spoke of how the Games were not for Glaswegians. The Games’ faux presentation of multiculturalism and the promotion of the idea that we are all in this together confronts the reality that, for many Glaswegians, there is a disconnect between their participation on home soil and the participation of the athletes and visitors flown in to contribute to the spectacle of imagined unity. The notion of unity between us, members of a former British colony, and Glaswegians, a nation grappling with securing their own independence, came from an unlikely direction. Driving through the Merchant City we passed roads such as St. Vincent Street and Jamaica Street; easy reminders of Glasgow’s active role within the slave trade as members of the plantocracy and as indentured servants. However, “Glasgow’s Finest” posited the belief that Caribbean and Scottish nations must be united against the English, advocating the belief that Scots also faced “oppression” from England. This supposition did not entirely surprise me, given the political climate surrounding the upcoming Scottish Referendum.

From the banners, traffic diversions and the odd, green mascot called Clyde dotted across the city, the aura of the Commonwealth seeped into Glasgow’s public spaces. As part of the celebrations, the David Dale Gallery in Glasgow’s East End invited artist-run spaces from across the Commonwealth:  Fillip (Canada),  RM (New Zealand), Cyprus Dossier (Cyprus), Fresh Milk (Barbados), Video Art Network Lagos (Nigeria) and Clark House Initiative (India) to participate in their International Artist Initiated programme.

As part of the Fresh Milk platform, Mark King, Ronald Williams and myself presented a series of interventions. Responding to the commercial nature of the area, we crafted three individual presentations. The location of the David Dale Gallery within the heart of the East End of Glasgow – once a thriving industrial boomtown – seems peculiarly apt, mirroring the substantial role of production Britain’s former colonies assumed, laying the foundation for the industrial revolution. These same former colonies are now re-positioned as independent nations, members of the Commonwealth, exhibiting artwork in their own image. The recent deterioration of Glasgow’s prominence in manufacturing, where production is now outsourced to these former colonies, lends symmetry to the proceedings.

 “Internet ultimately offers both the seductions and subductions of a postmodern “world.”’ [2]

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International Artist Initiated


Fresh Milk was very excited to travel to Glasgow this July to participate in the International Artist Initiated (IAI) project, presented by the David Dale Gallery & Studios as part of The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme which took place alongside this year’s Commonwealth Games. See below for more information and images from the project.

All photos taken by Rayanne Bushell.

About IAI:

International Artist Initiated is a programme of exhibitions and events devised by David Dale Gallery to coincide with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Developed over the past year, the project acted as a catalyst for discussion and collaboration between artist initiated projects internationally. The structure of the project was designed to be malleable and open source, in that it can be taken and applied elsewhere with different organisations.

Working with artist initiated, or focussed, organisations from across the six Commonwealth territories, the programme consisted of a series of exhibitions and events by the invited organisations that responded to either the context of the Commonwealth Games within Glasgow, or was representative of contemporary culture within their nation through the lens of an artist-led organisation.

The contributors to the programme were:

Fresh Milk, Barbados
Fillip, Canada
Cyprus Dossier, Cyprus
Clark House Initiative, India
RM, New Zealand
Video Art Network Lagos, Nigeria

Take a look at some picture from the opening night of IAI here:

Fresh Milk’s contribution to IAI was in two parts. The first saw the installation of works by three emerging artists on billboards, on railings and on the surface of the sidewalk. The artists include a recent graduate from the Barbados Community College, Ronald Williams, whose crisp digital montages critique the stereotype of the black athlete and were installed on an extended billboard, while Mark King’s temporal, geometric, site specific work was installed on a pavement. Alberta Whittle’s fête (party) posters show the artist masquerading as both man and woman in her critique of gender stereotypes through her engagement with the local fête posters often seen posted throughout Bridgetown, Barbados’ capital city. The posters were reproduced and displayed throughout the streets of Glasgow.

Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams’ Artist Statements:

My collages investigate the role that sports and the black athlete play in society. I manipulate popular based imagery to compose computer-generated images that explore sports, perceptions, stereotypes and fantasies about the black athlete or figure, conceptually becoming deliberately self-contradictory as the stereotype is simultaneously celebrated and criticized. The work is designed as a large-scale poster to be installed on a billboard as an adhesive decal similar to how the image of the modern sportsman is represented. The titles of the three images being exhibited are Swagga, The Phenomenon and Wild Thing.


Sprinter Usain Bolt provides the inspiration for Swagga, a piece meant to capture the frivolous and boastful nature of celebration. The boa, hat, glasses and shoes combine to promote this ‘showy’ spectacle but are also linked to the Jamaican bling culture. While the animal skins on the legs hint at the relationship to fashion, it also indicates an inherent animalistic/ physically superior nature. The shirt, deliberately muted and understated, bears a statement from Marcus Garvey about knowledge of oneself and identity. As the African mask is obscured by the bright glasses and hat, the true significance of important sporting events—such as those of the Olympic Games which were of supreme importance in ancient Greece to a sporting hero as well as his city—is often lost amongst the glamorous festivity which accompanies it.

The Phenomenon

Jessie Owens’ performances at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were the catalyst for this piece. Owens defied Hitler’s claims about Aryan supremacy and the attitudes towards blacks in his own country by winning four gold medals. In America, the infirm and mortality rates of black children were high due to their lack of proper health care and social structure, but the common notion was that the blacks were just diseased and weaker in general. With Owens’ victory the narrative soon changed, and the now widely accepted stereotype of blacks being more athletically and physically gifted emerged. The idea of blacks being super or sub-human alternated between those two points and Owens was subjected to various tests to find what the secret was. To reflect this change, the head of the character and its arms indicate a non human entity with the study of eugenics paramount to the discussion. To highlight the use of the ‘sub-human’ black body for scientific and medical use, the Tuskegee experiments are included. Attached to the leg of the sprinter is the anti-slavery coin ‘Am I Not A Man And A Brother’ which serves as an anchor ball and chain. It symbolises the apparently never ending struggle for the black person to bee seen as equal, not super nor sub-human.

Wild Thing

Serena Williams’ bold fashion choices and trailblazing attitude helped inspire Wild Thing. Her 2002 attire, dubbed ‘the catsuit’, was such a huge talking point that it overshadowed the tennis being played. Comments about her ample curves, bulging muscles and inhuman speed and agility placed her in a highly sexualized yet animalsitic category. The character wears an exaggerated version of a catsuit, referencing the stereotypical association between African women and felines, while images of the Hottentot Venus place the fascination with her body to the fore. The black power racket and raised middle finger is a testament to her uncompromising and at times aggressive attitude, which is occasionally adverse to the demure nature of the sport.


Mark King

Mark King’s Artist Statement:

My contribution to the Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme is a site-specific work made possible by the access provided by technology. Through virtual and interactive maps I embarked upon an exercise in way-finding from a computer thousands of miles away in Barbados. Through mechanisms such as Google Maps I selected forms present in the architecture and manipulated them to create artworks that draw upon the location where my work will be presented.

I have chosen chalk as my medium due to its ephemeral qualities. The resulting artwork is temporary much like the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. My hope is that spectators from across the globe will come into direct contact with the piece with chalk from the artwork sticking to their shoes and hitching a ride to the neighboring sports venues. The combination of the elements and foot traffic will slowly eat away at the pigment and ultimately return the site to a state prior to my temporary intervention.

It is unknown whether the work will last for an hour, a day or the duration of the Commonwealth Games.


Alberta Whittle

Alberta Whittle’s Artist Statement

I am interested in the conflict between historical images of the Other and the African Diaspora’s notions of the Self. The spectacle of racial differences relies on a language of bleak oppositions to confirm stereotypes. In Black Skin / White Masks, Frantz Fanon, observed that in colonial discourse “native” peoples are not positioned within the psychoanalytic structure of the Self and Other, but are relegated to the universe of objects, where they remain beyond the limits of cultural intelligibility.Focusing on the concept of subjective portraiture, both as art historical genre and public identity, my research has prompted me to interrogate the potential of Barbadian fete posters as a means of regaining subjectivity.

Whilst undertaking a residency at Fresh Milk in 2012, I began a series of digital collages, exploring the production and distribution of fete posters in Barbados. Fete posters are a platform for social commentary, highlighting the acute disparity between gender roles in Barbados, where these representations appear frozen. The posters advertising these “fetes” set the tone and introduce the hosts / hostesses.  Each poster must present a selection of portraits of the hosts / hostesses, who enact a series of set poses, often sexually provocative or stereotypically hypermasculine. There are exceptions to this trope, where we are presented with more family-oriented fetes or fetes, which present a more Afro-centric or Rastafarian ideology. However, despite attempts to present themselves as rigidly heterosexual, there are elements of homoeroticism, identified through pose, adornment and dress. Designed to reflect certain ideals, these posters have evolved to reflect a specific format, which typically utilises certain poses, typography, set design and phrases, presenting a fantastical landscape punctuated with exotic animals, signifiers of wealth, including mansions, enormous bundles of cash money, expensive liquor, cars and motorbikes. They are papered on walls throughout the urban and pastoral landscape and also use Facebook as a stage. Drawing from Dancehall and Hip Hop culture, they have become sites to define identity and project capitalist ideals.


Fresh Milk’s second contribution was a discursive project called “Notions of common/wealth versus single/wealth”. This dialogical component provided a platform for representatives of the seven specially invited networks to participate in conversations with each other and the Glaswegian audience. The aim of the conversations was, in part, to unpack ideas related to the Commonwealth of Nations – the association under which countries gather every four years to celebrate sport in Glasgow in the summer of 2014. The intention was to explore the context of the IAI, as a gathering of Commonwealth Nations, and delve into how that relates to the work we all do as artist led initiatives. The concern was to investigate the Commonwealth as a macro, historical entity and understand our relationship to it, if any, and all that entails. Interrelated are ideas about the definition of wealth and value, both single and common, in our local contexts.

View the panel discussion archived online here.