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A Botanical of Grief

Problematizing our ties to the land and the neat boxes that traditionalists might wish to shove the vast world of poetry into, are the unapologetic works of Yasmin Glinton and Charlotte Henay.

“A Botanical of Grief” (2018), displayed in subtle silver script bearing powerful words of great weight, exists between – like so many of us in the Caribbean. The work is between voices: of the authors, of their ancestors, of poet and of artist, but it also exists in a liminal space physically as it spans the high walls of the stairwell of the 1860’s-old bones that make up the Villa Doyle. Stairs are between places, and so are we as children of the Caribbean. We are between Africa and Europe, between India and China, we come from Arawaks, Tainos and Caribs with difficult access to those mother tongues – and most importantly, we are an amalgam of any and all combinations of these continents.

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Participating artists announced for National Exhibition 9

The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB) will open the Ninth National Exhibition (NE9) on Thursday, December 13th, 2018, from 6- 9 p.m. For the past 15 years, the NAGB has committed itself to the nurturing and fostering of a healthy creative ecosystem, and it continues to push the frontiers and foundations of cultural value and consciousness across the nation and its diasporas.

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The power of imprisonment through Language

As 2017 passed into memory this last week, it seems important to think about how we see ourselves in the future. Spirituality could play a large part in this vision, or we could simply choose to continue along what seems to be a road paved with consumerist joy.

The paradise myth is part and parcel of that consumerism: where beaches and bodies of paradise that we need to survive can be bought, sold, bartered, negotiated away and given to other sovereign states for their own devices. The opening of “Medium: Practices and Routes of Spirituality and Mysticism” at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) on December 14, 2017 presented a moment for reflection, but also for a new focus. When we can celebrate Bahamian ‘masters’ Tony McKay aka “Exuma” or “The Obeah Man,” Amos Ferguson, Wellington Bridgewater and Netica “Nettie” Symonette, along with a boat-load — used intentionally — of other artists, we are saying that perhaps we are changing the way we see ourselves.

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Feminist Art Conference

In your artist biography, you mention your written focus on “cultural memory and grandmothers’ gardens” as vehicles for your (de)colonial, Indigenous, and Afro-futuristic activism. Can you speak further to your interest in gardens, whether literal or figurative? What is the relationship, for you, between an act like gardening and your political engagement with feminist, Indigenous and Black identities?

In centering Black and Indigenous wimmin’s voices and stories, it’s crucial that we find ourselves, our grandmothers and our memories where they are, in our places. My grandmother’s garden is one of the spaces to which my memories are connected. She had a relationship with her plants and her space that she didn’t have with many people. She gave her garden what she had left over of herself. Alice Walker, in her book In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, talks about our mothers and grandmothers as artists, repressed and creative in their survival, dreaming dreams they didn’t recognize and often couldn’t articulate. Their stories are their legacies and become our words. In re-telling them we re-write our histories. I re-member my grandmother’s garden as lush, intense, sustaining and beautiful. She was proud of it and it was as useful as it was exquisite. My interest in her garden as a story and a re-memory is both practical in that it connects me to her place, our place, my sometimes-place, and representative in that I can find her there. I can hear her voice there. This is a portal for me to sitting with the meaning of re-telling my mothers’ and grandmothers’ stories as a way of fitting my own pieces back together, where I live, in-between places, spaces and times. This re-claiming of ways of being, knowing and doing is integral to decolonizing our imaginations so we can vision ways of being that aren’t grounded in, and don’t repeat, the same structures that oppress us. This interest in gardens, which I wouldn’t call figurative, since it’s tied to a very real story of belonging and survival for me, is tied to my own hereandnow praxis of growing food not lawns. Gardens and lawns are interesting windows into how a large part of this Euro-dominant Western society spends inordinate amounts of time and money on reproducing superficial and disconnected standards of beauty, in grooming lawns for example. Instead, people could use the space, time and energy to grow food and then to share it. I also believe that the tending gardens, harvesting food and preparing/sharing it connects us to land, our responsibility to it, and to each other. I see the insistence upon that relationship and the living of it as part of Black and Indigenous feminist praxis.

We care for each other, for the land, for ourselves.

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The Blank Canvas: January 11th – Charlotte Henay and Angelique V. Nixon

Taking over from our regular host, Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett will be filling on the “Blank Canvas” to interview Charlotte Henay (left) and Dr. Angelique V. Nixon (right), who both have work in the current National Exhibition (N8), which this year includes not only visual artists but also writers and poets.


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The NAGB announces events for NE8

The NAGB will also open the NE8 Offsite showcase at Hillside House on December 17th, 2016 at 6:00 pm.

During the opening of the National Exhibition 8 at Hillside House on Saturday, December 17, visitors will be treated to a presentation, performance and conversation between four of the NE8 participating artists: Angelique V. Nixon, Charlotte Henay, Researcher in Residence: Hilary Booker, and Yasmin Glinton.

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Sitting With The Dead

Tie a black piece of cotton around the child’s wrist.
Don’t walk outside at night without covering the child’s head.
Be careful how you come into the house at night.
Wipe your feet off well.
Cover the mirrors with cloth. 
Open the house if the coffin comes by, let the spirit travel through.
Rosemary helps keep away bad-minded things.

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