Anisah Wood is a visual artist based in Barbados. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Barbados Community College with a major in Studio Art in 2016, where she was the recipient of the Lesley’s Legacy Foundation Award for the top student in her class. Her practice involves video art, digital photography, and installation. She has had the privilege of exhibiting the results of her practice at the Punch Creative Arena, The National Arts Council Barbados and at various national arts competitions.
As a recent graduate, entering the art arena can seem quite daunting. While some prefer to plunge right in, my preference was to wet my feet first and make gradual strides into deep end of this art world. And they literally got wet on the first day of my My Time Local Residency at Fresh Milk by the torrential rain that drenched the island. Showers of blessing they call it, ringing in the island’s rainy season and my first residency.
During the days that followed I enjoyed making use of the Colleen Lewis Reading Room in my search for inspiration. Another joy was meeting Torika Bolatagici and her wonderful family. As she relayed to me the ins and outs of her home country and the Pacific Islands I was intrigued by the striking similarities between that region and the Caribbean. Another highlight of the week was the first session of the Quid Pro Quo skills exchange. For that session, I shared my knowledge of the game warri and photography. I must admit that I was a bit anxious about taking on the role of host for this session, and about providing a fair exchange of information. However, based on the feedback, the session went well *phew* and I was glad to make two new acquaintances from very diverse backgrounds. I eagerly look forward to informative exchanges over the upcoming weeks.
Now that I have settled in I am hoping for an increase in momentum and intensify my work production. I am intrigued to see how a change in location will inform my work. These next few weeks will be exciting as I make my way to the deep end of the art arena.
Quid Pro Quo was indeed one of the highlights of the week. This particular session was hosted by Sheena Weekes, who enlightened us on the process of a medical examination. As we in the audience keenly listened and participated in the session, we also witnessed Sheena’s visible eagerness to extend her knowledge of the medical field to us. It was that enthusiasm shown by both parties coupled with the feeling of satisfaction having learned something new and practical, that convinced me that Quid Pro Quo was indeed a great idea that will benefit all involved.
I also had my first Hasselblad experience thanks to Torika Bolatagici. That was a heavy piece of equipment, but the experience of peering into the view finder at a flipped frame dwarfs the digital live view any day. However, I eventually returned to the digital world as my means of production. I’ve started editing another video to add to my body of work. As I engaged in this process, I found myself frequently contemplating on how my work can better address the peculiarities of the Caribbean space, and the various relationships as well as tensions that exist within it. What really is the Caribbean space? How is it on one hand interconnected and on the other hand fragmented? Inviting yet hostile? And how can my observations of these enquiries be represented? … I am still turning these thoughts over in my head and with each turn I unearth a new possibility.
Week 3 flew by leaving only fragments for contemplation. Much of these scattered pieces revolved around the possibilities for my next step. It could be that it finally dawned upon me that I have only one week remaining in this residency, or maybe it was the looming deadline to apply for a teaching position. But then again, do I really want to teach within the governmental system? Furthermore, how will I balance a productive artistic career while working any 9-5 job? Or will my young artistic career fall onto the back-burner and be reduced to a thing of the past? Nah, I don’t think so. I’m determined to continue. And if I don’t, I humbly ask you, reader, to kindly remind me of this testimonial.
Moreover Akhaji provided some timely suggestions during her Quid Pro Quo session. She kindly gave us the opportunity to list our concerns and potential challenges and provided ways in which these can be countered. It was definitely the encouragement that I needed to go forth and conquer. I also received further encouragement observing Renelde, a recent addition to the residents, take on the 2 week Emerging Directors Residency. It was so great being able to converse with someone within another aspect of the artistic sector and to observe their process.
Now I’m about to enter my final week. I can already tell its going to be hectic with a public presentation in addition to the final Quid Pro Quo experience back to back. Nevertheless I will savor these last days at Fresh Milk.
Monday – the FRESH MILK XIX public event.
Tuesday – the final Quid Pro Quo session hosted by Torika.
Wednesday – the presentation for participants in a UNESCO Workshop.
Thursday – positioned myself in front of Torika’s camera as part of her project in response to her time in Barbados
Yup, clearly the final week of this residency was eventful, hectic, yet enjoyable. These events allowed for an expansion in my network, an interchange of thoughts and ideas, and collaborations with a fellow artist.
During the in-between moments I decided to peruse the text Caribbean: Art at the Crossroads of the World. Within this comprehensive book I stumbled across a work by Dominic Serres entitled The Capture of Havana, 1762. The English Battery Before Morro Castle, c. 1775. This painting pays homage to the epic battle between Spain and Britain towards the end of the Seven Years’ War. In fact this was the last major episode of the Seven Years’ War, which so happened to be meted out in Caribbean waters and involved the capture of Havana.
The Islands as a battleground. The site of Euro-American conflicts and ambitions. Colonialism and territoriality.
Continually I am amazed at the fact that global contemporary issues involving borders, territory and migration are concerns that have affected the Caribbean for centuries, indelibly shaping the region’s identity. So then what are the effects of these events on the contemporary Caribbean? And how can this territorial history and the current manifestation of this history and concerns within the region add to the global debate regarding borders?
On a lighter note, I crocheted a small bag as a parting gift to the Bolatagici family. I also got a chance to observe Renelde take charge as she directed the actors for the play she had taken on board for her residency. It was actually quite riveting to observe the methods of production within another artistic field. I also commenced on a small project in response to the thoughts I have been reading, and enjoyed small eats with fellow Quid Pro Quo participants.
Now My Time at Fresh Milk as a resident is up. It is a bitter sweet moment knowing that those who were residents with me, along with those who willingly volunteered to be part of the Quid Pro Quo programme, will be parting ways. But how wonderful it was to have been able to make the acquaintance of such interesting and passionate people. And as I pack my Georgie bundle and contemplate on my time spent here, I feel satisfied and grateful for this experience. Now it’s time for my next step towards the deep end of the art world.
Thank you to the Fresh Milk team, Torika Bolatagici and her family, Sheena Weekes, Akhaji Zakiya, all those who came out and supported the FRESH MILK XIX public event, and all others who consistently demonstrated their support during my time at Fresh Milk.