Art & Design

Afflicted Yard X Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival – Peter Dean Rickards Tribute RIP

StudioFilmClub's Peter Doig and The Afflicted Yard's Peter Dean Rickards

For Pete’s sake… StudioFilmClub’s Peter Doig (left) and Peter Dean Rickards of The Afflicted Yard.

Five years back, Peter was invited to this same venue (Studio Film Club, Port of Spain) and to be honest he was a little apprehensive about visiting Trinidad. You see like any goood red-blooded Jamaican man, he couldn’t stand soca.


Yet just hours after touching down he sends this message: “Yow! The dancehall! All they play is dancehall…but way, way better selection than in Kingston!”

So when the Jamaica Film Festival doesn’t invite you; yet the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival does – maybe there’s a pattern…that perhaps you value our island’s creativity more than we do.

So thank you for this opportunity to be here to show and give a brief talk about Peter’s work, which has influenced the work of others throughout the Caribbean and inspired those from outside to visit our small island.

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Art & Design, First

National Gallery of Jamaica X FIRST

The Art A[u]ction for Haiti Committee, in association with the Edna Manley Foundation, the National Gallery of Jamaica, Hi-Qo Galleries, Harmony Hall, the Mutual Gallery and Art Centre, and Roktowa, is pleased to present: Art A[u]ction for Haiti, a fundraiser to assist with the recovery of the Haitian art world.

Included in the auction will be prints by FIRST photographers Peter Dean Rickards and Marlon ‘Biggybigz’ Reid.

The proceeds of this benefit will support the reconstruction and revival of the Centre d’Art, and the sculptors’ collective of the Grand Rue inner city community, which had in December 2009 hosted the Ghetto Biennale in which Jamaica’s Ebony Patterson participated. A portion of the proceeds will also go the upcoming residency of nine Haitian artists, including three Grand Rue sculptors, at the Roktowa studio facility in West Kingston.

The sale section consists of works of art that will be offered at fixed price and that will be on view at the National Gallery, along with the auction preview, from Wednesday, April 14 to Sunday, April 18. Viewing and sales hours are: Wednesday and Thursday: 10 am to 4:30 pm, Friday: 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 am to 3 pm, Sunday: 11 am to 3 pm.

See the National Gallery of Jamaica blog for the full catalogue.

Art & Design, Reportage

Into the Trembling Heart: Five hours in Port-au-Prince

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – walking around in the rubble on Grand Rue, one gets the distinct feeling that people are putting on a brave face. Three months after the earthquake that took the lives of more than 200,000 people, life continues despite the indescribable destruction as its residents continue the painstaking process of rebuilding the capital – arguably the most important cultural and historical city in the Caribbean.

Coming from Kingston, the scenes of poverty are not entirely alien, and yet, despite its obvious economic disadvantages there’s something distinctly developed about the Haitian people. Amid the piles of broken concrete, trash and flattened buildings, there’s no begging, no wailing, no time for anything but digging upward and outward for the inhabitants of this rebel nation.

On Grand Rue I follow the unconquerable Melinda Brown to the studio of her fellow artist Andre Eugene. Brown’s got some bad news to tell the sculptors who’ve gathered there: their visa applications to visit Jamaica have been rejected. While Brown has received no official explanation (yet) as to why some of Haiti’s most respected visual artists were denied entry to Jamaica, one can’t help but feel a sense of shame as she relates the news to the disappointed faces.

“We’ll find out why and try again in June,” Brown tells the artists she handpicked to create a one-of-a-kind testimonial to the Haitian cataclysm aptly titled The Trembling Heart.

The Australian-born Brown is no stranger to the process of rebuilding places that most people would never tread. Back when the Meatpacking district in New York City still had rampant crime, fish guts and beef blood running in the streets, Brown was running Bombora House. Years later she arrived in downtown Kingston where she set about doing the same in places like Church Street and Rose Town.

Months before the earthquake, Brown had been noticeably missing from the Kingston landscape as she had begun working with sculptors and artists from Port-au-Prince and Grand Rue. For Brown, the Haitian earthquake was no ‘hot charity’ – she was in the narrow alleys of Grand Rue long before the tragedy of January 12.

Back into the streets I follow Zaka, a 22-year-old filmmaker (and primary translator for us hopelessly monolingual Jamaicans) who was just granted a US$10,000 artist residency at the prestigious Vermont Studio Centre in the United States.

As we walk through a tent city and the remnants of a destroyed church, Zaka tells me about the people he lost and the chance for renewal: “Grand Rue can be a symbol to world,” he says with almost bizarre confidence, “a chance to show how the people of Haiti can create good from so much destruction.”

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