Simone Asia

April 2015

About Simone:

Simone Padmore, also known as Simone Asia, is an illustrator who was born on May 2nd, 1990 in Bridgetown, Barbados. From 2006-2011, Simone attended the Barbados Community College (BCC) where she received her Associate’s Degree in Visual Arts and her Bachelor’s of Fine Art. Attending BCC exposed Simone to many different art forms, techniques and experimentation where she developed a stronger sensibility for drawing and a love for pen and ink.

After college, Simone continued her independent practice and has exhibited in art shows, including The Place Between Here and Therean exhibition of contemporary Barbadian art taking place at The Frame & Art Co. between April 17 – May 16, 2015. She won an incentive award at NIFCA in 2011 and was featured in ARC Magazine, FuriaMag and Caribbean Beat, along with a few online fanzines.

Simone has participated in three residencies to date: a one week residency at Fresh Milk (Barbados) in 2012, one with Projects & Space (Barbados) and one with Alice Yard (Trinidad) in 2014.

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Week 1

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My first week here at Fresh Milk was bittersweet. The space itself is a familiar one, but I had not explored it as thoroughly as I have in the last few days.

I was sharing the space with international resident artist, Jordan Clarke, whom I found to be delightful. She was very quiet – in contrast to me – but that helped to balance of the energy within the space. Jordan was on the final week of her residency, and I found that she and her work was an inspiration for me. She did very beautiful self portraiture drawings and paintings. I would offer my feedback on her drawings whenever I could. She also sketched a lot – something I wish I did more. Additionally, there was great material in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room to source inspiration from.

I did not have a solid plan for my work on the farm, but I knew I wanted to do some experimental drawings. I usually do portraiture as well, but I wanted to put my energy toward creating strictly abstract drawings. I surveyed the land, observing patterns, textures, colour and layering. The various types of plants, animals and sounds made me feel more connected to my nature-loving side. I was particularly drawn to the layering on vines upon tree trunks and fallen leaves and twigs piled on the grass, as well as the patterns and vibrant colours that certain plants possessed. From these observations I was compelled to work with colour.

Working with colour is not totally foreign to me, but it is something I am insecure about. I am accustomed to creating monochromatic abstract drawings so I knew that using colour would be out of my comfort zone. Spilling the first two colours of ink and trying to manipulate them made my anxiety and self-doubt kick in. I even tried drawing on top of red paper with black ink, but it still felt weird. I remembered what I had learnt from my last two residencies and open studio at Projects and Space, Alice Yard and Punch Creative Arena, respectively – I need to trust the process, let the concept come afterwards and play.

My first day went well until close to the end of that evening, when all of my devices were submerged in water. It was a tragic start to my week, causing only stress and anxiety. Despite all the drama, the rest of the week went along smoothly – exchanging stories with Jordan and members from the Fresh Milk Books team and visitors – Aieron, Jordan’s husband, and Australian resident artists Willoh, James and baby Equa, who I found to be a very musical child.

I have claimed a cow on the farm as my own; she does not know it yet. Her ear tag is number 503. I call her ‘Bambee’. She got that name because Jordan and I were discussing how beautiful and deer-like she was so I named her to suit.

I got to reflect while being there. I found it ironic how much I loved nature, yet I was very dependent on electronic devices to record my findings. I totally neglected the process of sketching. For months I had been telling myself I would like to sketch more. I got my wish. Sadly, I still used Jordan’s camera and did minimal sketching, but I found myself storing images in my memory. I think for me it takes a while to get into the groove of sketching.

On Friday I spent a couple hours with Jordan and her husband. It was Jordan’s last day in residence at Fresh Milk and Annalee was very busy that day. I found myself alone in the afternoon. The rain poured as if to complement my mood. I will miss Jordan’s presence in the space. While sitting alone looking in the mirror, reflecting on the week as the rain poured in St. George, something came to me. I think I am going to do a portrait even though I wanted to avoid doing one. An idea is brewing.

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Week 2

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Another week of the residency has passed and this one was very hectic. Yes, I started the portrait, but I did not get as much done as I would have liked due to a very busy schedule. Most days I got on site in the afternoons which only allowed me four or five hours to work as opposed to the seven or nine I did most days last week.

Nonetheless this week was interesting. My two phones have been restored and I sourced an old iPod nano to occupy my ears with music and thus quieten my thoughts. Yes, I’m back with the technology, but I will say I paid little attention to them and focused more on the natural elements around me. I did a couple more experimental drawings and reflected on what happened last week to gather inspiration for the portrait. I also explored the land for textures and patterns in nature and observed the happenings on the farm with my two furry pals Rico and Mica. On my breaks they would accompany me while I relaxed and gathered my thoughts.

I had a couple of frights this week – I was attacked by bats when I was leaving Fresh Milk on Wednesday.  I think they were trying to intimidate me by flying at my face. On Friday, I nearly sliced opened my face with a retractable box cutter trying to renew the blade. They never mention these hazards in the instructions for awkward people like me.

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This week, my attention was shifted to the animals like the bats, a lizard who I named Komodo because of his large size, the local visitors – the troop of green monkeys who would pass through on afternoons looking for food and swinging on trees (I am afraid of monkeys so these visits were usually uncomfortable), the birds – especially the dove who always tries to build a nest inside the Colleen Lewis Reading Room, and the cows.

I got to see the cows being brought out from the milking stations to the fields. It may not sound like much but I thought it was a spectacular sight. I watched as the herd with their heavy udders huddled and strolled down the path. A flock of egrets flew out of nowhere, seeming to accompany them. I watched this majestic sight in awe because I have never seen anything like it. I have not seen Bambee this week. I wonder if she is avoiding me, or has she noticed me yet?

Over the weekend I bought some more art materials. Since I have started the portrait, I am now eager to try out collages; not full blown collages, just minimal ones for now. This week, even though I did not spend as much time as I would like, I still managed to write down a few ideas there.

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Week 3

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The third week is now over and I feel like I did not do anything; it feels as though I spent less time on site this week than I did last week, and my hectic days still continue. I found myself having to rush from Fresh Milk most days to go to the University of the West Indies (UWI) because I was assisting my friend and fellow artist, Versia Harris, in painting sets for the graduating theatre students. It was a job that came up at the last minute, but being independent artists, we have to do things like this so we can earn income. It was really hard because I do not drive and I had to travel by bus. By car, UWI is close, but by bus it takes a while because you have to go into Bridgetown then take another bus.

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There were two bank holidays this week as well – Heroes Day on Tuesday and Labour Day on Friday. However, I came to the farm on both days because I needed to make up for lost time. I did not do as much as I would have liked, but I managed to finish most of the portrait. I was also behind on emails and other work I had to do outside of UWI and Fresh Milk.

I wanted to start some more pieces because I still brainstormed and wrote a lot of ideas despite my limited time. Other plans included a wall drawing, but I am feeling hesitant about that now. I feel as though I need to act on my ideas before my brain explodes. This week was tiring.

My birthday fell on the 2nd of May and due to all the overlapping projects, I did not have much time to relax and unwind. Despite feeling partially like a robot, I still found small moments of peace to admire nature when I was travelling on those busy days.

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Week 4

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This was the final week of the residency, and overall I think I have benefited from this experience.

I did not go ahead with a wall drawing this time around. However, I experimented with shapes that I cut out to use as minimal collages. I wanted to explore the theme of elements that affected me either positively or negatively while I was here on site. These elements were water, earth and wind.

My thought process was initiated by the element of water. It affected my life by damaging most of my devices, while the rain affected my mood and joints. On a positive note, my experience at Fresh Milk led me to be more connected to nature (the element of earth) which is my elemental sign. I appreciated my natural environment more which made me feel calm and collected. The third was the element of air. The wind played games with me. Some days I would feel its lack of presence while other days its presence was overwhelming, knocking down all of my work on the wall which became very frustrating when I wanted to focus.

In order to express these elements, I referenced the platonic solids: the icosahedron, the cube and the octahedron, which represent the elements water, earth and wind respectively. I wondered if I should have used the element of fire – the tetrahedron – because I was affected a bit by fire later in the week. It is the dry season now and many fires happen. The presence of smoke affects my sinuses a lot and I was having issues all week. The pyromaniacs come out around this year, they use the sun as an excuse to burn the cane trash and bushy areas, but ironically most fires happen at night. Maybe I should have introduced the element of fire in my drawings… I feel perplexed. I always stress over small things.

I tried creating on vellum for the first time and found out it is a very tricky surface to use. Pigment liners, ink and vellum do not have a solid and stable marriage. The vellum does not allow any type of ink to dry onto its surface, so many times my hand would smudge the lines I made. I tried to avoid touching the parts I drew and I went as far as leaving it overnight so it would dry. The next day the marks and lines I made literally melted on the vellum – it was bizarre. I did not like it at first because I like to control the things I create, but afterwards I grew fond of the melted marks and smudges. It worked well with the drawing, giving a nice contrast where the water sign lay. It suited it more than what I had originally done. I did other abstract drawings utilizing the symbols, and I liked them a lot. I grew very fond of this work I made here in the studio. I think I am becoming more comfortable with using colour.

To my surprise, I saw Bambee this week. We stared at each other for a while as she lay in the dirt. I stood beyond the electric line, not getting too close. I had not seen her in a while. I think I saw some sadness in her eyes; maybe she will miss me. Maybe I am just delusional. This is a cow who does not share these thoughts. Oh well…

Overall I think my four weeks at the farm were productive. I enjoyed meeting all the international resident artists and other local visitors. I enjoyed the conversations with the Fresh Milk members and volunteers. My experimentation with colour and collage is a start to a new segment of my artistic journey.

I am happy with my progress. I want to thank Annalee Davis and the entire Fresh Milk team for the opportunity.

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