CREATIVE SPACE #13 OF 2022 (Uploaded June 29th 2022)
CREATIVE SPACE is an award-winning series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published exclusively in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 as a blog series and syndicated as of 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It has its first print run in the paper every other Wednesday, with the online extended edition with EXTRAS running here on the blog and full interviews and extras on AntiguanWriter on YouTube. In 2021, the two–part CREATIVE SPACE mini-series on marine culture placed third in the OECS clean oceans journalists challenge. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared in the Daily Observer newspaper on June 29th 2022:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with EXTRAS.
CREATIVE SPACE: GALLERY SPACE
I remember attending a meeting some years ago in a room in downtown St. John’s where we discussed the need for a national gallery – something for which artists continue to lobby. That’s perhaps why plans for a Sir Selvyn Walter Art Gallery (named for the late writer and art collector) at government house caught my eye. Not a national gallery, maybe, but a start.
I was in the gallery area shortly before the month-long exhibition featuring works by Mark Brown, Shanahan Gillon, Carol Gordon Goodwin, Anson Henry, Kelly Hull, Aminata Joseph, Zhane Joseph, Vincent Pryce/Nkoye Zifah, and Rhonda Williams/Indira Wills closed. The exhibition was put on by the Halo Foundation, after it engaged up to 23 local artist-teachers in a three-month certification course. Halo, a non-profit run by the governor general’s wife, Lady Williams, operates out of government house – I caught the show while there to drop-off copies of two of my books (With Grace and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure) requested for an auction in London. Some students were there at the same time touring and discussing the art with a teacher which was good to see.
I like galleries, they are a bit of an oasis from the crashing and chaos outside, which is not to say the art they house are ‘just’ pretty pictures – no knock against pretty pictures, but art also often invites us to contend with that crashing and chaos. As the world churns, artists create; and in so doing confront, making art that can be but is not simply escape.
This exhibition, which included flyers for each exhibiting artist, was a reminder of this spectrum. Brown’s flyer noted that his “figures disturb and interrupt conventional expressions of Caribbean art and portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation, masculinity, femininity, and the complexities of defining self within a post-colonial West Indian space.” His ‘Woman of the Soil’ was the winning painting from the course and was auctioned in London.
By contrast, there’s joyful wonder in art by Aminata Joseph, who works in multiple mediums, physical to digital, and enjoys creating “fun cartoon characters”. Her exhibition piece was a 16’ x 20’ oil on canvas ‘Island Dreams’. She said, “My art speaks the language of mostly joyful realism.” The Princess Margaret School teacher noted that this sense of curiousity and wonder extends to her teaching style, which is “one of exploration, mixed with drawing fundamentals.”
I asked Joseph (and the various exhibiting artists all of whom I reached out to) about her wish for the local art community, and she said it’s to get to know that community better; “it would be good to be a part of a community that is supportive of each other and inspirational to others.”
As a non-visual artist, I would in time also like to see a national gallery which would be a gift to the nation as the core of visual art, art education, and culture with potentially a permanent collection, special programmes and exhibitions, acquisitions and installations, art research and publications, workshops and discourse. Maybe even art merchandizing (auctions and shops, art prints and artist commissions, funded workshops and residencies, maybe a food galleria); after all, I want artists to benefit – because art is not a hobby and we need to realize that.
Mentioned artists previously included in CREATIVE SPACE are Rhonda Williams/Indira Wills in CREATIVE SPACE 20 of 2020 (Her ‘Good Hair’ addresses colourism/shadeism/texturism in the Black community, while pieces like ‘Untethered’ and ‘The universe in her Eyes’ are womanist) & Mark Brown in CREATIVE SPACE 8 of 2022 & CREATIVE SPACE 9 OF 2021.
Artists’ social media links:
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