Ten years is a long time to search for something. When I woke on the morning of 8 September 2004 (I and probably the rest of the nation had not really slept much the night before) I decided that as soon as I could get back into my house/studio that I would lose no more time getting back into paint.
It’s been ten years since that personal declaration, and I am blessed to be living here and using my artform to explore Grenada’s history and culture. I have been fortunate to be able to exhibit the results of my explorations here at home, and abroad, starting with my first shows in 2005 and 2006 at Trinidad’s oldest commercial art gallery – Art Creators Gallery in Saint Ann’s.
I formed two lasting friendships there – Carol Khan (with whom I celebrate the same birthday) and Ilka Hilton Clarke. My time at Art Creators was well spent. I learned the ins and outs of the gallery business, from cold-calling artists, curating and hanging shows, schmoozing with clients and after-sales service. All of this held me in good stead when I returned to Grenada and rejoined the Grenada Arts Council, adding to my gallerist experience until 2012.
Ilka connected me to Paul Greenhall, and to my first artwork grant from The Greenhalls Trust, which allowed me to create the series ‘In The Bag.’ These artworks spoke to the culture shock I experienced, coming from a small island capital where people still said hello and good morning in the streets and asked after your family, to the hustle of Port of Spain where I was faced with a single-minded stubborn unwillingness by store clerks to assist you to spend your money, and by persons looking at me askance when I ventured ‘good morning’ on entering an establishment. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ also seemed to be a devalued foreign currency. My work has also benefitted from grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation USA and The Prince Claus Fund, the Netherlands.
After that first showing in Trinidad, I went on to create several different bodies of work, producing series of paintings and the occasional installation reflecting my observations of Grenadiana, ie things Grenadian. The largest series by far, has been my ongoing engagments with the ShortKnee, Vecco, Jab and the rest of the characters which make up Grenada’s Traditional Masquerade – some of whom have been introduced to audiences in Europe and China. Locally I have exhibited with Yellow Poui Art Gallery (Grenada’s oldest commercial art gallery); the Grenada Arts Council; the Grenada National Museum; the Gallery at the Caribbean art project; Art Upstairs and Art and Soul Gallery.
I also have been very fortunate to be able to travel to a handful of residencies (Andorra, Slovenia, Romania, Haiti) expanding my knowledge of art, learning from colleagues, engaging in cultural exchange and being an unofficial ambassador for Grenada and its visual art. I always, always have a presentation at hand about art in Grenada, and use every opportunity to showcase artists from our small island space.
As I begin my next decade of creation, I look forward to engaging more with the history and culture of the place in which I live, and taking my explorations out into the wider world.