This body of work takes its focus from the concerns about governance. I have done work on domestic violence and violence in boys as they grow to adulthood. But what about the emotional violence that is heaped on society when leaders go astray? That question led to Patrimony.
Trinidad and Tobago is a country of great wealth. Apart from oil and gas, we are bountiful. We can grow sugar, cocoa, coffee, chocolate. We are capable of doing so much, and yet, so many people in the country have terrible water problems, issues for good, affordable housing and other basic needs.
For everyone who flashes their Porshe or House and LandRover, there is a person waiting for a red band maxi.
The Coat of Arms relate to Trinidad and Tobago as a very strong symbol, and I have been working with it for several years. Recently the artist Nicholai Noel (whom I taught) has been working with it too. It is always interesting to see another perspective of something you have focused on, coming from someone else.
For Patrimony, I look at governance. The colours of our flag, our coat of arms, traditions and the 2020 vision expressed by the prime minister. I plan to have a live coubeaux as one of my pieces. That took some serious research, and then I found someone who has a tame one as a pet.
I looked at the green, meanly small garbage cans as a work, draped in national colour bunting, and then someone put a bomb in one of those trashcans in 2005 and spooked me with my vision.
What it shows is that there are ideas out in the ether ripe for the picking.
Those bins were a symbol for me, of the lack of vision of our leaders, even to create a receptacle for its citizens on busy streets. I was very, very shaken, as most of the country was, when the bombing happened. What was happening to us! Should we have a state of emergency! That seemed to be the obvious direction we were heading to.
People were hurt. A lady lost her leg! What the hell was going on! This isn’t the home I know and love! Can art help this madness? Should I even be doing work like this now, when I feel that we are spiraling out of control as a nation? All of these these thoughts came to me. What is the purpose of art? Why this sort of work at this time?
The coubeaux stumped me. I took forever to find out how to use a live one, and again, I was shut out for a show at the museum that year. It begins to sound suspicious that I just can’t seem to get a show. But the museum and other gallery spaces have their choices. An artist working in the way that I do, isn’t selling pretty pictures, and the museum is run by the government, and would want me to tone down alot of what I planned for this show. I use the flag in my work, and that and the coat of arms have strict rules of representation.
On the one hand, over the last few years, working in my sketchbooks, showing abroad and making work elsewhere has happened by force of will. Yet, not being able to show in my own country has been deeply frustrating for me. However, I do not give up. I continue to find alternative means to work and to show.