CREATIVE SPACE #8 of 2022 (uploaded April 19th 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 April 20th 2022:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with EXTRAS.
CREATIVE SPACE #8 OF 2022: CARIBBEAN ARTS TOUR
Just before Easter, I presented on ‘writing dialogue as a storyteller’ at the United States Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair. I had last read during the festival, also virtually, in 2020, but this was my first time back as part of the official line-up since I had been flown to St. Croix in 2015 (for panels, readings, and a schools tour). It was nice to be back and, and, as ever, I felt the desire to share. So was born this week’s column of arts news from around the Caribbean.
US-based Jamaican artist Jacqueline Bishop’s ‘History at the Dinner Table’ series, being acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University. The bone China plates are displayed (as untouchable house ware was in the Caribbean) in a glass and mahogany cabinet and tell stories from, as Bishop put it, “the darker sides of our history.”
The series by the writer-artist-academic has been featured in the Financial Times, House and Garden, BBC, and other media. “Her work absolutely has as its central facet ‘making the invisible visible’ …so she’s been taking historical images…and horticultural imagery from the Caribbean…and creating new collages that make the realities of slavery absolutely real…aesthetically it had parallels with the tableware that inspired it, so these are beautifully wrought things, but they’re showing some very uncomfortable history…a wonderful set of 18 plates.” – Clare Wood, artistic director of British Ceramics Biennial at which Bishop’s work was featured, speaking on BBC’s ‘Front Row’.
Antigua and Barbuda’s own Mark Brown showing in Guadeloupe. As reported in France-Antilles, “He has been part of the United karibean artists (UKA) collective since the very beginning and has already had the opportunity to show his work in Guadeloupe, but never on an exhibition of this magnitude, with large format works. An exceptional solo show at Kafé de l’Arawak.”
Brown has been a major part of the local art scene since ‘Angel in Crisis’ in the early aughts; this is his first solo show in the French West Indies. It remains open to April 29th.
One last interesting note in the world of visual art – Jamaica’s Kingston Creative’s ‘Paint the City’ series – commissioned murals “with the ultimate mission of making Downtown Kingston an art district”. A cool idea that should be modelled in the region. With backing from the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the project is inviting bids from artists and looking at the bid documents for Paint the City III – ‘Whole heap a Culture: Celebrating Diversity in Jamaican Arts’, it’s clear that the goal is to capture the fullness of Jamaican culture, its history, its arts, its folks, its lore.
Kingston Creative has conducted walking tours of Water Lane for viewing of the murals. And this is just a small part of what they do; they are also co-responsible for providing Catapult arts grants to Caribbean creatives (like me), 2020 to present.
Two major Caribbean literary arts events this April. I’ll end with the first one, the one I started with, but first let’s go to Trinidad for the upcoming Bocas Lit Fest*. A big part of its appeal is that it is the hub of a number of literary prizes including the coveted Bocas prize for the best book of the year. This year’s finalists** are Jamaican poet Jason Allen-Paisant (Thinking with Trees), Jamaican non-fiction writer Kei Miller (Things I have Withheld), and Trinidad and Tobago fiction writer Celeste Mohammed (Pleasantview).
The winner will be announced during the April 28th – May 1st festival, which will also feature readings by a who’s who of established and emerging Caribbean literature, and discussions at the intersection of literature and society. Having attended as a Burt Award finalist in 2014, I can attest to the vibrancy of this festival, which you can have a front row seat to virtually as it happens.
I also found particularly vibrant during this year’s USVI Lit Fest discussions (on setting) between Grenada-raised/US-based bestselling fantasy author Tobias S. Buckell and Paris-based/Jamaican writer Alecia McKenzie, and (on Black history in the Americas) involving curator of the Pulitzer winning 1619 Project American journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones, and Caribbean-American academics Drs. Hadiya Sewer and Natasha Lightfoot – the latter of Antigua and Barbuda. That conversation can be viewed on the festival’s facebook page and should be.
I could go on as there is always something happening in the world of Caribbean art (e.g. the April 23rd -24th Caribbean Cinematic and Arts Festival) but I’ll end with this final thing. Two Caribbean writers (TnT’s Lisa Allen-Agostini/The Bread The Devil Knead and Jamaica’s Leone Ross/One Sky Day aka Popisho) were among 16 long listed for the 2022 UK-based Women’s Prize for Fiction. I imagine they are awash with anticipation ahead of the April 27th announcement of the short list.
(All images used in this post are from the respective artist’s social media and/or articles of the reported events – linked; no copyright infringement is intended)
*Bocas organizes activities year round including the Bios and Bookmarks conversations series and workshops, one of which I had the opportunity to present in 2021.
**Allen-Paisant has three pieces in the current issue of British Virgin Islands based online literary journal, Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, which is worth checking out. One of this issues’ features is writing in the fantasy Caribbean Sky Islands fantasy series, which includes my story ‘Ixie and Izzy’, in addition to Haitian-American writer Fabrice Guerrer, who is also the founder of the speculative fiction production house Syllble responsible for this world, and Virgin Islander Celeste Rita Baker.
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