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Arting around

1 creative 1 images from the exhibition
Images from the exhibition from the Art in Antigua Facebook page

CREATIVE SPACE is an award winning column spotlighting Antigua-Barbuda & Caribbean art and culture. It is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Read the extended edition with EXTRAS at https://jhohadli.wordpress.com/creative-space. Watch full interviews and extras in the CREATIVE SPACE playlist at https://www.youtube.com/user/AntiguanWriter 

Try to do some of that this season. Even if you can’t afford to contribute to the creation of or purchase art which is the reality for many, being in an art space feeds the cultural ecosystem and – bonus – can lift your spirits.

Spilling Ink has returned to live sessions of its popular Poetry in the Park series, with a number of young poets speaking their hearts in to the open mic at the 90s Lounge on High Street. I was especially happy at the November session to catch featured singer Laikan, whose EP is The Lore. She performed all of my favourites – “Who Then?”, “Jus Kool”, “Haunted”, “New Kinda Sun”, and in her assured set even gave me a new appreciation for her personal favourite, “Red Light Special”.

The teacher and student by day in the in-between banter tickled and impressed the audience with reflections on the challenges of being an artiste in Antigua and the rapid fire creation of her songs. Sometimes live performances fail to deliver; not the case here. Laikan is not a belter but her smoky range was perfect for the intimate setting, her voice sounded much like it does on the recording, but with the personality you can only truly get from a live set; and what a set of catchy songs (shout out to Island Trap). The Lore should be streaming and selling high numbers.

Shout out, too, to the various artists – Mark Brown, Candi Coates, Guava de Artist, Emile Hill, Bert Kirchner, and Dylan Philips – featured this November in the Art in Antigua Exhibition staged at Catherine’s Café at Pigeon Point. I enjoyed this event because it was my first visual arts outing in a while – second of the pandemic era after Heather Doram’s show last December – with another one scheduled for December 18th 2022.

I enjoyed the Art in Antigua show for the discoveries, as I was not familiar with Dylan’s darkly fantastical imagery, nor Candi’s meditations on enslavement and freedom for Afro-Antiguans, and had not seen Bert’s work live. I enjoyed it for the opportunity to visit with the work of artists whose work I have previously appreciated (Emile, Guava, Mark) and to catch up with the artists: with Emile about the inspiration (the art of costume designer Kevon Moitt), intricate detail (various sea elements) and ferocious impact (she is a goddess) of “Protector”; with Guava, who said, “I like to mess around with sci-fi and futurism”, as seen in eco-art “Ocean Sewage” in which a turtle, from whom much symbolism can be extracted, literally carries man’s waste on his back and in afro-futurist “Being” which integrates traditional African aesthetic with future ideas and visuals – in his cartoon-esque style.

I enjoyed it for the way art haunts you – literally. “That picture by Mark Brown is still haunting me,” my friend said days after we had attended the show. That picture was “Blunted”, a striking portrait, created in just three days, that, as Mark explained, blended hard and soft. The artist, just back from a showing in France, said: “I am evolving as the work demands it.”

If I’ve teased your interest for some local art, Emile informed me of a student and teacher art exhibition on at the Multipurpose Centre to December 2 and if you’re online, follow the social media of the various artists and Art in Antigua and Barbuda, organisers of the event – which has another show scheduled for December 11 at Lucky Eddi’s, also in English Harbour.

Finally, I stopped briefly by Genre Day, a creative initiative by the English department, at Sir Novelle Richards Academy – observing the students and teachers engaged in character cosplay, and presentations of song and dance of different genres, before sharing briefly from my Caribbean faerie tale With Grace. Such excitement; I wish I had pictures to share.