About Ronald Williams:
Ronald Williams is a digital artist, born, raised and working in Barbados. His digital collages; created through the manipulation of photographs, print and online media as well as computer generated images, investigate race, class and culture; particularly representations of ‘blackness’.
Since earning his BFA in Fine Arts from The Barbados Community College, Williams has participated in various local, regional and international group exhibitions.
A new old space. That’s how this familiar environment feels. I’m used to the wind chimes, the mahogany pods licking shots on the roof intermittently and the moo-mooing along with the rest of nature, but something‘s different in this country atmosphere. It’s not a sense of purpose, as I’ve always felt that here, nor would I call it pressure; but maybe it’s an accountability/responsibility to get cracking and produce as much as possible in these four weeks. This is perhaps/most definitely driven by the fact that I’ve got a certain goal by the end of the year. More on that later.
My initial plan was to gather as much potential reading material from the Colleen Lewis Reading Room and start doing some research in this space that I’m sharing with the quiet (as far as I can tell) and quite nice international resident artist Daisy Diamond. Given her focus on Judaism in Barbados and my ideas of decadence, materialism, mortality and their relation to religion/spirituality, I think there are interesting things to come.
I must confess to veering from my plan, as Sonia Farmer’s extremely dope work and setup kept calling for my attention. As a result, I put more of my energy into working on a piece I’d laid the foundation for just before the residency started. My time since has been split unevenly between producing and research.
Then Friday came, and with it Amanda Haynes who was setting up for Fresh Milk’s reading room open day. And the critical conversations started, with it the jokes came too, and it was a throwback…no, a Flashback Friday if you will. An old face in an old space where new things are happening.
Since week 1 didn’t go exactly as planned, week 2 was spent playing catch up on the research I wanted to do the prior week. In my mind that leaves me square with where I wanted to be at this point when the residency started. In reality, I’m probably quite a ways off the mark, but I won’t realise that until later when I can’t do anything about it. No sweat, right?
The highlight of the week was definitely my field trips to the St. James and St. George Parish churches. I intended to do St. John’s as well but time didn’t permit. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend. Those spaces felt like an alternate reality; the contrast from the draining heat outside to the refreshing chill inside, the various sounds of life outside to the deafening silence of reverence.
There’s something to be said, for me at least, about the energy in the Parish churches when you’re completely alone. There was a pressure I can’t quite describe; I felt small, like who I am was insignificant in the light of those grandiose stained glass renderings. Maybe I am.
I understand the effect those structures are meant to have—and boy do they work—but it’s my knowledge of this that makes it hard for me to ignore the fact that the churches were built in the 1600s, that in their pomp and circumstance are enduring symbols of colonialism and imperialism.
The architecture, which carries specific elements which have endured through every great period of history was also very interesting to me. That led me to do some research on sacred geometry and the symbolism of shapes.
As it is, I believe I’ve got enough pieces to play with so it’s time to make this work. I think this week will be good.