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Contemporary Arts Residency in the Swiss Alps – 34 days to go

Thoughts have a way of coalescing in my head when the rest of me is (reasonably) quiet. My mind has been indexing and cross-checking, searching for more things Swiss from my childhood, things to help orient me to my next painting destination. For some reason Tobago kept popping into my mind, but for the love of everything chocolate, I could not make the connection.

About 3 this afternoon, I was washing the dishes, and staring out to the mountains looking for signs of rain. Wash, rinse, next dish, repeat, when it hit me rapid-fire: Tobago. Robinson Crusoe. Swiss Family Robinson. Childhood books, badly dog-eared.


The Swiss Family Robinson is a famous story about a Swiss family shipwrecked in the East Indies, written by a Swiss pastor for the encyclopaedic amusement of his children. Edification, even.

Re-visiting this after at least 40 years, I realised that apart from the obvious creative licence taken — ‘the disagreeable scream of some penguins and flamingos’ — on a tropical island no less — the story could well have been of a Swiss family shipwrecked in the West Indies, what with the multiple mentions of sugarcane, the sole iguana they somehow knew ‘the flesh was good for eating’, as well as the lone agouti the boys managed to shoot, and the defiant lobster that fought back.

The story has over 30 mentions of the word coconut (spelled cocoa-nut), which I assumed was not the fruit with beans since ‘a teacupful of milk’ was twice wished for, until I came upon ‘a breakfast of fruits, cold meat, and chocolate of our own making.’ So perhaps there were 2 kinds of nuts, or did the family’s daughter really find an ingenious way to produce chocolate from coconut?

The wonders of fiction. (Note to self, google recipes ‘chocolate from coconut,’ you never know.)

Whichever way it was, the story provided a good similarity to the Eastern Caribbean: bananas, guavas, oranges and nutmeg, hummingbirds, parrots and flamingos. The dwarf ‘figs’ called ‘yellow mangoes’ may have been fruit from a Julie mango tree (which apparently originated as a dwarf tree on Réunion island in the Indian Ocean). Who knew?

I reserve comment on the ‘fritters made from guava apples and sweetmeats of cinnamon preserved in sugar.’

Johann David Wyss, the author of Swiss Family Robinson (published 1812) was inspired by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (published in 1719) set on a deserted island remote tropical desert island (Tobago allegedly, but could be Grenada) near Trinidad. Robinson Crusoe, after almost 30 years, finally left his tropical island on 19 December 1686, a Thursday, with his man, Friday. Depending on which version you read, after 10 years of being shipwrecked, some of the Swiss Robinsons remained on their island, while others returned to presumably, Swiss civilisation.

What does all of this rambling have to do with Switzerland and me? I live on a tropical island that could have been the source of inspiration, I cut my teeth on Julie mangoes, 19 December is my birthdate, and I begin my Swiss residency on a Friday. Coincidence?

34 days until I begin my contemporary arts residency at Open Spaces in the Swiss Alps. Please visit my blogpost with a Paypal link — and help offset airfare and basic expenses for my stay. I’d really like you to join me on this journey, and receive at the end, an original made-in-Switzerland-by me artwork of your very own. Of course, along the way, you get to follow my blog (online or via email), and see progress reports.


As a reward for your generous support, I will send an original painting made-in-Switzerland-by-me to you at the end of the residency, as below:

  • USD $50 support: (acid free mixed media paper, 6×8 inches.) Still available #27
  • USD $100 support: (acid free mixed media paper 9×12 inches.) Still available #18
  • USD $200 support: (handmade South Indian paper A4.) Still available #9

I will also provide daily updates about my journey on my blog as well as a special pdf diary of works in progress and extensive studio photos. BONUS: I’ll also send select digital images from my extensive Grenada Traditional Masquerade series, direct to your email address.

PS if the link does not work, OPEN IT IN YOUR BROWSER or please email me at artstung@gmail.com or inbox your email to https://www.facebook.com/artstungingrenada/ and I will email you a Paypal invoice. For persons who wish to donate outside of Paypal (in Grenada or in Trinidad or anywhere else) whatsapp me at 14734561953 for instructions.

Thank you to my family, friends, OLD and NEW collectors of my work!