Alex Kelly’s Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Trinbagonian artist Alex Kelly shares a third blog post about his Fresh Milk residency, which took place earlier this year in March. Looking at his last night in Barbados, spent liming with some of the people he encountered while in the island, Alex reflects on some of the collective aspects of the Caribbean experience he has noticed, and the fine line between comforting familiarity and complacency around regional issues. Read more below:

It’s the last lime before I leave Barbados. I’m having a chat with my Bahamian flatmate and her friend, a fellow Bahamian who’s lived in Barbados since she was a child. There is a bowl of chips and two bowls of dip on the coffee table in front of us. A fly lands on one of the chips and begins to survey the bowl. We continue having our conversation.

Someone gets up and, paying no attention to the fly, takes a chip out of the bowl, scoops up some dip and returns to their seat to enjoy. The fly has of course exited the conversation at this point, but that just happened, and we all let it. In that moment, I once again felt strangely at home in Barbados.

It’s not that we’re particularly fond of flies in TT, in fact I’m sure that the average person, including myself on another day, would have hastily gotten rid of the fly before it could ever desecrate the surface of a single chip; we love we belly. But there was something so unpretentious and confident about the imagined Caribbean that I learned to appreciate, and while on an average day I feel that I am constantly surrounded by actors playing out a role or as Chang might have said, artists more interested in their title than in the work, in that moment I saw an image of that Caribbean. No one pretended to be offended by the presence of that fly.

I am aware that this is an odd and, perhaps for some, off putting example, but I went to Barbados hoping to find a way that my own Caribbean experience could connect to others. I found it yet again in those moments. In that interaction, I was reminded of all the tension that I experience in my work; a practice that examines a way of life that is deeply troublesome and often dangerous, but one that is full of little subversions that make life so much more beautifully subtle and complex.

The frightening question that I am now comforted by, after having been reminded that it is our breaking of the rules that often makes life so nice, is how does a people manage to keep their beautiful conversation going, with that fly still in the bowl, and yet avoid all of the horrors associated with its kind. I believe that we can find a better way, but I’m not sure that I ever want that way to include fussing over a bowl of imported chips. What doh kill does fatten.



This residency is supported by Tridium Caribbean Limited

Alex Kelly’s Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Fresh Milk resident artist Alex Kelly shares some reflections from his second week in Barbados. In looking at some of the connections and common threads he has noticed in the region, he has revisited his use of a shipping pallet as a symbol of our reliance on imported goods. He has also been looking at the similarities and issues within the Caribbean’s educational systems, and the importance of encouraging critical thinking to avoid perpetuating unproductive cycles of action and thought. Read more here:

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I’ve discovered for the second time how a change of environment can help to refocus my thoughts about work and about the space that I am discussing. I suppose the conscious act of applying for and participating in a residency is a way of surrendering myself to possibility. I become more in tune to the elements that potentially connect to define Caribbean people and their environment.

Within the boundaries of this particular space, where you can find water from Jamaica, films from the USA, dried seasonings from Puerto Rico and I shop in a supermarket chain from Trinidad and Tobago, the wooden shipping pallet that I had been working with since last August becomes significant yet again. It is a symbol of dependence on imported goods and cultural influences. In a moment of economic and political uncertainty, the lack of self reliance suggested by the pallet is noteworthy. It is quite striking that this symbol would be the one to connect my practice in three separate Caribbean territories.

What has also struck me as significant is the shared education system and the role it plays in shaping the kind of citizens that individuals become. A conversation I recently had has  reminded me that the education systems of many Anglophone Caribbean islands are ultimately geared towards the same goal. So that each of the countries are equally influenced by a curriculum that was not designed to foster critical and creative thought or to nurture citizens capable of shaping the kind of environment that they desire. We are sitting in a rocking chair, moving vigorously back and forth, but making no progress. It begs the question, what effect might decades of this kind of action have on a people and their culture.


Still, in spite of these and other similarities I have discovered, I find that my work represents a reality of life that seems frightfully specific to Trinidad and Tobago. In questioning how this work might be relevant in a wider Caribbean context I can only hope that a possible answer is, that it acts as an account of how we made it to where we are and as such provides a means by which other territories might avoid such a fate.



This residency is supported by Tridium Caribbean Limited

Fresh Milk welcomes Sonia Farmer and Alex Kelly to the Platform

Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome Bahamian artist and writer Sonia Farmer and Trinbagonian artist Alex Kelly to the platform for the month of March, 2016.

Sonia will spend her time at Fresh Milk working on two main projects—one a personal creative project, and the second a wider community endeavour.

The personal writing project will be a series of experimental poems with the working title ‘The Best Estimation in the World’. Sonia will work with transcriptions gathered from interviews conducted during her work in the art department at Baha Mar, the mutli-million resort development in Nassau. Using a voice recognition software, she has collected dense blocks of mostly indistinguishable text rife with errors from these interactions. Part erasure and part found text, she will comb through the material to identify phrases and words, and separate and re-structure them into poetry. Though completely void of all content and subject matter from the original interview, the poems based on the mistranslations would nonetheless develop around an unsettling alternate reality of the tourism model in The Bahamas.

Additionally, she will establish a relationship between Fresh Milk and her larger creative endeavour, Poinciana Paper Press, by conducting a series of workshops on book-binding and design entitled The Art of the Book.

Alex’s work explores the “how come” of life in Trinidad and Tobago. By applying an understanding of human nature, considering the population as both a community and as an individual in a larger global community and by utilising images from the past and the present that act as culturally specific ideograms, he examines cultural, social and historical circumstances that have lead to the development of the present realities of life in Trinidad and Tobago.

His work intends to engage the public by providing familiar points of reference while calling into question prevailing assumptions about Caribbean life that often serve as cushioning from harsh realities. The intention is to confront the audience with a more honest discourse about Trinbagonian culture.

Alex’s aim is that this residency will facilitate the expansion of the scope of his work, building on links established during his participation in the Caribbean Linked III residency in Aruba. This experience reignited a desire to participate in solving problems surrounding Caribbean life and Caribbean connectivity.



About Sonia Farmer:

A Bahamian writer who uses the crafts of book binding, letterpress printing, hand papermaking and printmaking, Sonia’s work is intimately tied to the Caribbean landscape and identity. Often her work engages with contemporary Bahamian society through the lens of history and mythology, specifically in the realms of feminism and the tourism industry. She is the founder of Poinciana Paper Press, a small and independent press located in Nassau, The Bahamas, which produces handmade and limited edition chapbooks of Caribbean literature and promotes the crafts of book arts through workshops and creative collaborations. Her artwork has been exhibited throughout Nassau including at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Doongalik Studios, The Hub, & the Central Bank Art Gallery. Her poetry has won the 2011 Prize in the Small Axe Literary Competition and has appeared in tongues of the ocean, The Caribbean Writer, Poui, The WomanSpeak Journal, and Moko Magazine. She holds a BFA in Writing from Pratt institute. Visit to learn more.


Alex Kelly

About Alex Kelly:

Alex Kelly is a contemporary artist living and working in Trinidad and Tobago. Kelly recently graduated from The University of the West Indies, St Augustine with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts. Over the period of his study at the university Kelly participated in several public art projects. Among them are the mural “Hope” at the Family Development and Children’s Research Centre, St Augustine, for which he acted as co-facilitator; an art outreach program at Mayaro Government Primary School, Trinidad and Tobago, which formed part of a collaboration between The University of the West Indies and the Bridge Foundation; and a collaboration with the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago designing a fundraising campaign for the creation of new student bursaries at the institution. Kelly has exhibited in three group shows with The University of the West Indies and in 2012 produced the mural “Slave” at the Night Gallery in Woodbrook, Port of Spain.

In 2015 he began occupying a studio space at Granderson Lab, a project of Alice Yard. In August of that year Kelly participated in the Caribbean Linked III artist residency and exhibition in Aruba, where he spent three weeks producing original works and participating in engagements that have expanded the scope of his practice from a national focus to a regional one. In September of 2015 he began working with the University of The West Indies, St Augustine as a guest lecturer and visual arts demonstrator. Kelly is currently interested in facilitating further integration of contemporary art into the national consciousness and public policy, and in providing opportunities for greater connectivity between art communities in the Caribbean.