My flight landed Monday 21st August, just at the peak of that day’s solar eclipse, 3:49 pm and yes, I did look, just for a second, well maybe two. Our delegation, from St. Kitts-Nevis was finally in Barbados, despite our own, pre-departure hiccups.
Tuesday morning we arrived at the Grand Market and got our first taste of what others had experienced, mis-informed decision making. Because our arrival was late, the Carifesta crew, - who had organized our transportation from the airport the night before and sent a Liaison Officer to our hotel at 7am that morning - thought we were not coming, so there wasn’t a booth for our country. By end of day Tuesday we had two. The convention management team were fantastic in the way they picked up many a slack! Allison and Isreal were always on top of everthing!
As a self taught artist, I wanted to see the visual arts presentations. So with the coordination of our Liaison Officer Joycelyn Blackman, and bus driver Gregory John, off I went to see the Regional and National Art Exhibition.
Well the work did not disappoint however, I was deeply moved by the art on show for the Haitian art team. Upon entering the room marked Haiti I saw the same 4 or 5 large white panels that every other country had used for their presentation. This time though the artwork was of a different nature. Instead of a showing of pieces in different styles about different subject matter in an assortment of realistic and abstract, these white panels had cardboard pieces attached. Some were painted with such tension and emotion that the blue paint they used spilled onto the panels while the last presentation had cardboard pieces with bare dabs of paint as a mark of an exhaustion of the emotion as well as the materials. This work was hurriedly done, but, it was in the regional show of Carifesta, a showcase of the best the Caribbean had to offer. Can this be right? I looked back at the pieces as I left the room, unsure of what to think. I even saw blue paint in the outer area where it seemed they worked.
You have probably guessed by now what I found out afterwards, the intended art did not arrive. However, instead of being absent from the exhibition, the artists announced their presence in a very bold way. The only way they could, with their medium of choice, and the emotion of the moment. They were literally Blue Vex and they wanted you to know it.
Without that presentation Haiti wouldn’t have hung on the door of a room. They most likely wouldn’t have been missed. After all there were only 5 rooms dedicated to a country, while 25 countries were present at Carifesta XIII. No, the determined Haitians, who hosted Carifesta XII 2 years before said, we are here and we will be seen. Their insistence on being present, being seen, being heard even, brought tears to my eyes.
Later that same day I tried to use a bathroom where the floor was still visibly damp from cleaning. The young attendant stopped me. I said, I will take responsibility if I fall but I need to go. Without skipping a beat, framing her words as we do in the Caribbean she said, “You’re not supposed to leave footprints.”
It’s because the Haitians refused to entertain that thought process why I felt their presence at Carifesta XIII. This area of the Caribbean has always stood for resistance, determination, resourcefulness. At Carifesta XIII, this meant they were leaving footprints.
Well done Haiti! Well done to Barbados for allowing Carifesta to come in and leave its footprints. Well done my delegation, despite setbacks and push backs we made our presence known and left our footprints at CarifestaXIII. Well done Caribbean for showing up, well done indeed, well done.
This may seem normal because I manage a small Art Gallery in Charlestown, Nevis, and it is normal that I'm surrounded by Art. This past weekend I changed two installations. One installation is in a Fine Dining restaurant, the other at the gallery. Working with the pieces, preparing the shows and hanging them this time, highlighted a connection for me.
There is much dismay around the world about the US President-elect. To say that the election captured the attention of political pundits the world over is an understatement.
In my island home many are in disbelief that a country such as America will 'allow' such a person to become nominated much less elected. It's like a joke on the world standards of political leadership. It appears to make it right to hate, divide and belittle.
The fact that almost 15 million votes were counted and the decision known before 2 am is in sharp contrast to my island home. A place where in the last two elections corruption in the electoral office kept us without this information for 12 hours in the first instance and 2 days in the second. Theirs is the standard of professionalism the world has come to expect and take guidance from; until now.
In reality, it is the standards of professionalism of the US, Britain, Canada and other first world countries to which the rest of the world tries to adhere. So now, our small island states and other countries of the world are in a holding pattern to see the effects of this disruption to the norm.
There are protest marches and boycotts as the time draws closer to when 'elect' is dropped from the title. However, I believe that the majority of us are silently hoping that some good will come out of this. I predicted his victory simply because he campaigned so forcefully against the status quo. I predicted too that as a result of his victory we will see much more politics of cause, activism and protestations during his time in office.
While my protest actions in the 70's did not by themselves free Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis. Huey Newton or Steven Biko, my participation in these activities supported my belief that I could influence change. So it is fitting that a presidential campaign fought vehemently on breaking with tradition will endure protests and calls for action from its inauguration until we see the good of it.
Disruption for disruption sake does little to advance us, is there a strategic plan somewhere? If so, when will it be revealed, and will it also be protested against?
Last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week and small business, it is said, is the engine of an economy. Well it is here that you often come face to face with creativity. Many of our current businesses exist today because there was a problem to solve, a void to fill, a flaw that could be fixed.
My own business was started to fill a void, products on the market were primarily imports. I thought that I could use what I had a lot of to make a high quality local product, and so I began stitching my fabric scraps together.
At about the same time, the universe sent a woman to me who wanted 4 large art pieces for her home. I held meetings with her, created sample drawings, obtained agreement on the proposed work which would use my newly discovered fabric technique, acquired a part payment and got started on art piece number 1. Then I froze. As the chief cook and bottle washer in my business, it would be very difficult for me to get this project done and still have time to make new things for the general public, without additional help. I had to move quickly from thinking and being self-employed to thinking like and being a business owner. I needed to hire someone.
That was a big hurdle for me and I had much anxiety about it. With the help of my daughter, a Human Resources manager we identified the tasks I wanted this person to do; the skills they needed to have to help the business achieve success; and what I would have to do differently in order to feel comfortable in the new role of manager to staff in my own business. As a self-employed person, I'd always counted on my own resources, managing someone was a new way of being. As I was setting myself up to be responsible for an individual and her goals I had to quickly review how I worked and what my role required after I brought someone on board.
In this economy, only 1 person responded to the job call, and she was the right person. Now it was time to do other things differently, like start thinking like a business person. I engaged an accountant to review my data with me, share insight and make projections. I engaged someone with marketing experience to help lay out a plan to get the business known and remembered. I didn't consider it then, but now I see that I was building a creative business.
I believe we can all be creative. I also believe that we live in a world where it is important to be creative. The challenges we face can't be pigeonholed, most require creative thinking. So to solve them we need to build on our creativity. Start where you are, ask insight gaining questions, and challenge yourself.
I make things for a living – and direct others in the work of making for a living.
Every day I get up, walk into my studio and decide what’s getting made that day. As a ‘maker/creator’ I am in a minority group in my community and this is something I would like to change.
I believe that mine is a community of followers. The people who want to be in the group that has the largest amount of other people. The people who prefer to be in style not creating style; who seem afraid to be or do different than what the others are doing.
In my experience makers are people who tinker, explore and discover. People who use their skills and a certain mindset to make a way, where there was none before. Makers ask questions like “What if?” and “How can I?” They aren’t afraid to dress differently, are not turned off after making a mistake and welcome new opportunities and the chance to solve problems.
So as a maker trying to change my world I ask myself the following: What if I did like the UN and set MDGs, Maker Development Goals? What kind of action would I have to take that would contribute to a community of makers?
After some self-analysis I came up with the following list.
Support education in trade skills
Seek to create a sub-culture that celebrates the individual
Identify policies that would support MSME development
Encourage lifelong learning
Promote the acquisition of assets over commodities
Foster creative thinking and real world problem solving
To be sure, I don't yet have a plan to act on the list, but I think big thinking like this must happen to bring much needed change to my community. What are you doing to be the change you want to see in your world?
Can you sew? Do you like combining colours? Would you like to use your sewing skills in an artistic way?
Island Living, a small innovative company on Nevis, is seeking a Production Assistant to help us create visual art pieces using fabric. Feel free to browse through our website to learn more about what we do....
What we are looking for...
As a member of our team your behaviour demonstrates:
- Curiousity – you ask “What if? or How can we?” you say “Let’s try.”
- Teamwork & respect: you function well within a collaborative environment; you are willing to listen to and act on different ideas
- Proactive thinking – you plan your work to manage your duties
Our Production Assistant has these key duties and responsibilities:
- Assist with the selection of colours for assigned products
- Measure & cut fabric for designs
- Use a steam iron, pins and scissors.
- Cut and sew small and large appliqué items
- Select and pin together several small pieces of fabric
- Lift boxes or bolts of fabric
- Maintain cleanliness of workspace within the Island Living studio
- Assist in other projects as assigned
- You can sew, experience using an industrial machine is welcomed
- You have a High School Diploma. Passing grade/certification in Clothing & Textiles; Fashion Design or similar program is welcomed
- You have knowledge of fabrics including care, storage and cleaning
- You have an interest in integrating art and sewing skills
- You can work in a collaborative, creative environment
Deadline to apply: September 30th
For the third year in a row the Charlestown Gallery offers an opportunity for visitors to find local artwork in one place in the heart of Charlestown.
The display includes fabric art of Island Living Studio, photography by Nevis’ Photographer of the Year Sylvester Meade, stone sculpture by Marvin Chapman; other prominent and emerging artists like Pierre Liburd; Sasha Herbert, Dexter Fassale, Juniour “Loada” Versailles and Keith Pemberton and the sculpture of Ras Laro. These artists, some more accomplished than others, have work that must be seen.
'Good things are happening in Nevis' says Deputy Premier of the island Hon. Mark Brantley.
The Gallery is located in Charlestown, obliquely opposite the Nevis Tourism Authority office. The show runs from July 20th until August 12th and can be viewed between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm Monday to Saturday except Monday August 1st.
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For more information contact Deborah Tyrell here
Several years ago, I settled in Nevis and started a family. I quickly realized that if I wanted interesting work, I would have to create it. So when my son stopped me from sewing shirts for him because they were not what the other kids were wearing, I started a gift shop.
Starting my own business used all of me and felt like the best job I could have. Without a boss, every issue that came up was mine to solve. I operated a bricks and mortar store, I had one person in the shop and one person at my home studio working to produce the sewn items. This meant that my shop could be open longer hours and production didn't depend only on me. It also meant that my little business was giving 3 women access to a better life, job satisfaction and greater independence.
Beginning in 2008 I started to use fabrics in a new way. I call it making cloth from cloth. By stitching small pieces of cloth on top of each other my team and I make a new cloth. The things we make are unique, even if you call them by the same name. So my clutch purses and art pieces may very well be something you've never seen or never would have conceived, and each one is different because it depends on the cloth we have on hand. See photos on the website www.nevisislandliving.
I often reflect on the fact that Trinidadians created an instrument and an industry from cast away oil drums. We have as excellent an opportunity in the Caribbean as anyone to build our creative sector. To create meaningful employment, link cultures, satisfy customers, expand our exports, learn new skills and build something new and different. At Island Living we are doing our part, one stitch at a time. I'd love to hear from you, if you too are in a creative industry or seeking to increase your involvement in the industry.
Where I live the local radio station has a birthday or special occasion greeting show every morning, 6 days a week. This morning the show was live and it went on for a longer period of time. It was nice to hear the live voices calling to congratulate for birthdays and graduations. I have a birthday this month and the best wishes are already coming in.
I want to pause in gratitude though, "Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe." Deepak Chopra.
I'm grateful for the flamboyant trees that bloom so fully each July, the mangoes that also abound, the love from my daughter that shows in the handwriting on the envelope of my birthday card and the very emotional card she chose. Each birthday is an opportunity to pause and reflect, to revise the bucket list and acknowledge the grey hairs. A chance to review the course I'm on and make any adjustments. So many things I want to do, when will I find the time?
I'm grateful for this life and all the twists and turns that have brought me to this moment. Humbled by the blessings and strengthened by the challenges. Grateful for the gifts I have to use, the people who come into my life to teach me how to use them and even the ones who leave or who I must leave. This year I will be the same age as the last two digits in the year I was born! Thank you Spirit, Father, God or Goddess, for this my life!
The gallery, manned by the artists, is open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday to Saturday and can be found in the all stone building adjacent to the Taxi Stand, and across from the Nevis Tourism Authority, in Charlestown.
Art is seeing, and helping others to see. As one of the artists I do hope you can stop in to see what we have produced and that you will choose a piece for your home or office or both.
My youngest granddaughter and her mother @riridimples just left after a two week visit. Needless to say, the pleasure was all mine. Of course they got a break from the chilly fall temperatures, had a chance to swim in the buoyant salt water, experience new sites make new friends and eat island food, (you should have seen this 6 month old with Sugar Cane and coconut jelly, she was a natural). But I got to cuddle with those chubby cheeks, chunky arms and legs, smell like a baby, sing lullabies and hear the giggle of a tiny person. Imagine that!
My friends and associates often remark that I’m creative when they see my original fabric art work. I’m always appreciative of that feedback yet the ‘you’re creative’ comment seems to be followed silently by “but I’m not.” Of course I never used the word to describe myself when I was growing up. I just did things that would get ridiculed for its non-conformity, then I found a ‘safe’ place – sewing; but little did I know where sewing would lead.
Where I live we are currently in the season of storms. We recently experienced 2 which behaved different to the other and also different to what the experts predicted. While I wouldn’t say they were custom made they reminded me of the reason why I am an artist.