Join Robert and Linda, the editors of ArtsEtc, as they offer personal takes and twists on culture in Barbados and beyond... Stage Right, Stage Left continues a journey started seven years ago in ArtsEtc: The Premier Cultural Guide to Barbados, their groundbreaking print newsletter. Follow the rest of the adventure online at www.artsetcbarbados.com.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Booklovers walk the talk on October 2

THE Barbados Association of Reading (BAR) is staging a WALK FOR LITERACY on Saturday, October 2. The start time is 7:30 a.m. outside the National Library in Independence Square, Bridgetown, and the walk route takes participants through Nelson Street, Bayville and Beckles Road, ending with breakfast, readings and games on Browne's Beach. The association has come up with the fun idea of inviting walkers to dress as characters from their favourite stories and novels.

ArtsEtc asked Cheryl Williams, BAR’s public relations officer, which fictional character she would dress as, and why? She also shared her views on literacy in Barbados:

ArtsEtc: So, who would you walk as?

Cheryl Williams: I'm thinking of Mary Poppins. I've always loved her, and of course there is always a teacher's fantasy of getting some of your naughtier pupils to behave. Ms Poppins is a nanny, but she sticks around for cool adventures where everyday experiences seem magical.

AE: What are the main objectives of the Literacy Walk on October 2?

CW: As an International Reading Association Caribbean affiliate, we are charged with raising literacy awareness within the community. The Barbados Association of Reading’s Literacy Walk is a community literacy initiative designed to highlight the importance of literacy within urban communities. It aims to mobilize BAR membership, writers, librarians, schools, churches, and community groups in the area to make a public statement on the importance of reading.

AE: The walk route covers areas that have been immortalised in print by some of our Barbadian writers. Will there be readings from such works at strategic points on the day?

CW: Yes, we will do our best to bring out Barbadian writers, particularly those who write for children or who are from the area, such as the immortal Kamau. The readings will be on Browne's Beach.

AE: What other ways would you suggest interested groups (writers, bookstores, teachers, communities, etc.) get involved in an ongoing basis to promote literacy in Barbados?

CW: Try a less traditional approach. Everyone wants to give remedial lessons, but many kids are reminded of the failures of school and go to these reluctantly. But the kid who likes football will probably read a book on Cristiano Ronaldo or one on the finer points of football. My sister who hated to read at school is now a deacon in her church; now in our house we fall over books by TD Jakes and on Christian theology. She will probably never read many of the “classics,” but she reads a great deal!

AE: Tell us briefly a bit more about BAR.

CW: The Barbados Association of Reading is a non-profit, charitable organisation established to promote literacy in Barbados. It is a Caribbean affiliate of the International Reading Association headquartered in the United States. Membership consists of literacy professionals and volunteers who meet monthly for educational sessions and discussions on literacy issues. The organisation also encourages and supports literacy projects in the classroom and community, and provides networking and training opportunities for literacy professionals.

AE: What is your major bugbear about literature in schools?

CW: Most reading is done outside of the English classroom, and a lot of subject teachers refuse to encourage good reading skills. They think it's not their issue.

Also, I am always incensed at what the powers-that-be choose for young people to read. One of my classes was up in arms because it felt that the poems in their poetry books were boring and macabre (my word). To keep their interest, I had to assign them the task of putting together an anthology for kids.

AE: What are you currently reading?

CW: Actually, I am reading several books. I'm relaxing with The Naked Baron, a Victorian bodice ripper. For work, I'm introducing the kids to The Silver Sword and A Kestrel for a Knave.

ArtsEtc encourages everyone to come out and support the Barbados Walk for Literacy on October 2. For more information, visit BAR’s website. – LMD

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who would YOU come dressed as?

September is the month of Literacy Awareness; October is Education Month. ArtsEtc marks both with a series of blogs on literature and literacy, beginning with a fun idea from the Barbados Association of Reading.


COME dressed as a character from your favourite storybook or novel!

The invitation from the Barbados Association of Reading (BAR) regarding its Walk for Literacy, now being held on Saturday, October 2, is just too sweet to resist.

My daughter wants to go as Ruby – the smart, fun-loving heroine of the popular children’s series Ruby and the Booker Boys. Her cousin was planning to go as Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz. The spokesperson for the reading association fancies herself as Mary Poppins!

Me — I’m still deciding. I’ve always thought that Timothy Callender’s novel How Music Came to the Ainchan People would make an excellent theme for a costume band (back in the day when more bandleaders did stuff like that.) Certainly would be a great way to promote homegrown literature. (Maybe the folks at Diasporic Arts could tackle Ainchan on stage after they get through with The It So Happen Suite which is also based on Callender’s writing.) On October 2, though, I might walk as Armienne—Callender’s no-nonsense, turtle shell-stringed instrument of Ainchan harmony. We shall see...

But who would YOU dress up and walk as, given the chance? A character from the books you enjoyed as a child or from something you’ve read lately?

Meanwhile, please make a note of the Walk. It starts opposite the Public Library, Independence Square, Bridgetown, at 7:30 a.m. Walkers will travel through Nelson Street, Bayville and Beckles Road ending up on Browne’s Beach for breakfast, readings and games. It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness about reading, the love of books and the need to promote and protect this aspect of our cultural heritage. ArtsEtc will be walking...


Something is happening with the Bajan novel...

ArtsEtc co-editor Robert Edison Sandiford and Redemption in Indigo author Karen Lord at her book launch in August. (Launch photograph courtesy Days Books.)

OVER the last decade in Barbados, we’ve seen the publication of novels by Thomas Armstrong, Nicole Blades, Austin Clarke, Alvin Cummins, Nailah Folami Imojah, Margaret Knight, Glenville Lovell, Arnold Ward, to name a few of our more familiar writers in this form. This summer, Karen Lord’s name was added to that not-so-short list. Something, it seems, is happening again with the Barbadian novel, and her Redemption in Indigo, recently released from Small Beer Press, is very much part of that event.

What the books by these writers have in common is an attempt to reinterpret the situation of a people, namely Caribbean, and remind them of the significance of their experience, of its value and currency, to them and their wider community. Where Redemption in Indigo stands somewhat apart is in its use of fantasy to tell its tale, and, to a lesser extent, in its own preoccupations with the nature of choice, free will, fate, and chance.

One of the many pleasures of Lord’s debut novel is its protagonists: we watch both Paama (the girl married to a fatally licorish husband) and the indigo lord (the man with the magic coucou stick) grow in strength and humility and understanding of their humanity. Karen’s commitment to the redemptive powers of storytelling, and to the hope our stories can inspire, is uncompromising, fierce. This is from the end of the book:

“…there are those who utterly, utterly fear the dreaded Moral of a Story. They consider it an affront to their sensibilities and a painful presumption on the part of the storyteller. They are put off by the idea that a story might have anything useful to say and, as a result, all the other joys a tale has to offer them are immediately soured. I save my most scathing remarks for them. Do you go through life with your eyes blindfolded and your ears stopped? Everything teaches, everyone preaches, all have a gospel to sell! Better the one who is honest and open in declaring an agenda than the one who fools you into believing that they are only spinning a pretty fancy for beauty’s sake.”

Let me repeat: there is something happening in Barbadian arts. It’s as if our writers—on the page, stage and in film—are attempting to reboot our literature. Lamming’s last novel was Natives of My Person in 1972. Austin Clarke’s been producing, but there has been a sense of overworking old themes in recent, award-winning novels. In-between, Timothy Callender gave us How Music Came to the Ainchan People; that was in 1979…. The markers are a little arbitrary, but you get the drift.

Whatever’s happening, it’s easy to be part of it: by buying Redemption in Indigo, reading it, talking about it, passing it on, and then checking out all the other authors mentioned above (and those not) from our canon. There’s a vision our writers have of us, or for us, that’s once more emerging: one that encompasses Barbados yesterday, today and especially tomorrow.

Robert Edison Sandiford (Adapted from opening remarks made at the launch of Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo at Ocean Spray, Barbados, August 6, 2010. This blog entry is part of ArtsEtc’s series on literature and literacy for September, Literacy Awareness Month.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

“...don’ care where ya come from...” — This Thursday at the Museum

Read-IN! is the NCF’s monthly, parish-by-parish spotlight for writers.

Every Crop-Over it kicks up a notch and transforms into an “Event”—one of very few enabling literary artists to showcase nationally in front of a larger, wider audience.

Last year, the NCF took things a step further. There was a soiree-Cohobblopot type ambiance. There was art and craft and food and wine. And the featured writers, backed by musicians, used richly-crafted written word to shape performances that really pushed boundaries between stage and page. (Click here to read part of ArtsEtc’s 2009 Stage vs Page debate.)

This year, Crop-Over Read-IN!’s focus is specifically spoken word and performance. It should be exciting to see where boundaries get pushed this time around.

“…don’ care where ya come from… is the tagline, and the headliners are Comrade Fatso, a young poet from Zimbabwe, and celebrated US-based, Ghanaian artiste, Heru.

They will be guest-supported by Winston Farrell, and fellow Barbadians, Sonia Williams, Amanda Hoyos-Cummins, DJ Simmons, AZ-Man, Anthony Kellman, Sun Rokk, and Trina Headley. Choreography is by Renee Blackman, music by C4, Pride of Wilson Hill Folk Group, and the Pompasetters Tuk Band. M.C. is Adrian Green.

For those who always lament after missing literary events, “if only I’d known beforehand…” jot this on your calendar right now: Crop-Over Read-IN! 2010, tomorrow, Thursday, July 22, Barbados Museum, 8 p.m.

For ticket and box office information, call the NCF on (246) 424-0909 ext. 232.


Meanwhile: Also check out updates to ArtsEtc’s website, including the brand new AE Studios. For those who missed our print issues (and for those who still miss our print issues) you can delve into our online archives.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When I need to escape,
I always think of lying
flat on my stomach
near the edge of the
cliff at River Bay in
St Lucy. There is no
noise there (but the
waves’), and the view
and experience of the
ocean spray are beyond
words. It is perfection.
I’ve lost the courage to
physically return there
now, but that mental
journey to the solace
and peace it once
provided me is almost
as gratifying.

As a boy growing up in

Six Men’s, I used to enjoy taking in the view of

sunsets from the location that is now being destroyed to make way for the rich and famous. Of course, I am speaking about the new

marina under construction just south of Six Men’s. This spot has remained my green spot for all these years ... the real memories will

always live on in my heart as I watch the daily destruction and ponder the price of progress.

My green space ...

my green oasis looks blue until it is evening and then, just when the birds go in

it startles softly,

revealing new beauty

and thoughts

go quiet then.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One way of relating to the environment is to understand it as a relationship between what a person sees and what a person hears...My recent poem “Barbados Night” started with the close observation of the way that the waves break at Batts Rock Beach day and night. This led me to think of the nearby urban features of Bridgetown as I sat in a café there one evening. What was I seeing? What sounds could I hear from where I sat? What were other people doing in the town at that moment?
(Picture courtesy Jane Bryce)
Frank Collymore wrote, “I shall always be remembering the sea,” a line that resonates with me, for the sea (not the beach!) is where I go for regular renewal. ... I am also much influenced by the other elements—earth, air, fire. And by concrete.
My oasis
is actually
an area of
rugged rock,
lush greenery
and bush
which I pass
when I go on
my frequent
morning jogs.
This scene
takes me back
to boyhood
days when I
often traversed
such areas. It
always instills
a sense of
peace and
in me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Green Readings 2010 — Where's your oasis?

ArtsEtc asked six writers to reveal their oasis, to share with us how the Barbadian environment influences and inspires them. Tell us about your Green spot, we said.

Well, Saturday, June 13, at the Boardwalk, Hastings, with the waves crashing behind them, Philip Nanton, Dorhonda Smith and Nailah Imoja (l-r above) not only shared, but startled and seduced the audience with their responses. As well as explaining their oases, the trio's works also dealt with the sights and sounds of our urban environment, concrete and even how our health is impacted by fogging.

If you were there to catch the words and to enjoy the ambience of the Boardwalk as the sun went down, to sip wine and sample the delicious fare of Chef Creig Greenidge afterward, then excellent. If you missed it, there was only one way to catch up: The very next Saturday, at the Esplanade, Speightstown, when Frank Gilkes, folk singer-songwriter Johnny Koeiman and Kenneth “Jack” Lewis
launched a stern northern response for Green Readings part two.

Rich on humour, political statement and muscular, nature-based imagery, all three performances were well received; Frank and Jack’s biting words and Johnny’s haunting folk song rewarding an audience that had braved bad weather to be there. Who would have thought that, after a day of dark skies and heavy rain, the Esplanade would end up bathed in glorious, late afternoon sunlight?

Clearly, not enough of us, that’s who. In the Q&A session that followed, calls were made to find ways to spread word of future Green Readings much farther afield to boost not only audience attendance but awareness of the environmental issues affecting all Barbadians.

ArtsEtc's Green Readings, now in its third year, is staged each June in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources & Drainage as part of the ministry’s activities for Environment Month. It's all about challenging ourselves, the way we regard and relate to our Barbadian surroundings. You can read about past Green Readings at artsetcbarbados.com.

And you can be a part of Green Readings 2010 by joining us in Speightstown on Saturday, and by posting a comment right here, right now, telling us where your Bajan oasis is.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Speightstown—the place to be! (Er, but bring your credit card...)

ENTER. Stage Right:

Let me first say, I am thrilled to see my beautiful Speightstown receiving a long deserved facelift.

I went to an urban school and constantly heard my peers make fun of how far and boring Speightstown is. Although I tried to defend my quaint hometown, I knew in my gut it was nothing compared to Barbados’ other, more lively and attractive towns. But, I knew deep down inside that, someday, Speightstown would be rejuvenated and become an area filled once more with life and activity.

These thoughts ran through my mind one Sunday at a recent NCF Read-In. I sat under the beautiful night sky listening to the words of some of our talented griots, the sound of breaking waves acting as their back-up vocals. There was also Danny “Diallo” Hinds and his young drummers beating rhythm into our souls, inspiring us to get up and dance. (Yeah, right!) It was such a lovely setting for a cultural event, and I could not help but think this is what makes Speightstown unique: The other towns do not possess the serenity to host such an event; they lack the ambiance that makes a literary reading extra special. Sitting there at that candlelit table on the beach opposite the Old Pharmacy Gallery, I had a strong urge to run home and post on my Facebook page: “Speightstown is the place to be!”

At the end of the performances, I was feeling a little parched and decided to go over to the drinks table to purchase something for me and my group, and was most shocked to hear that a Coke or a Sprite cost $5. I’m like, “What the…?!” So, no thanks, I’ll get a juice from the other table instead; probably better for me than a fizzy drink, anyway. Guess what? A CUP of juice cost $5, too. Hmmmm. So, no drinks. Let’s get something to eat, then. I point out what looks like half a roti to the lady behind the table, who informs me that it is a “wrap” and that the price is $8. Has the world gone completely mad? Is this exploitation at its fullest, or am I just cheap? Maybe they should have put that in the advertising email: Walk with your VISA card; pricey foodstuff on sale!

Well, I moaned about it for a little while with my group. And just when I felt a little calmer, a guy, who I assumed to be the curator of the gallery, came over and invited us to “movie night.” He painted such a lovely picture: romantic table for two, complimentary bottle of wine and an interesting film—all against the backdrop of a beautiful moonlit beach. Price? $100 for 2 people. Oh, and bring your own food. WHA’?! Do I get to take the table and chairs home after?

Here’s my own version of this movie night: DVD – $5; wine – $20; table – free; moonlit beach – priceless.

I should probably wait until the recession is over before I post that invitation to “cultural Speightstown” on Facebook—I doubt many people will be able to afford the art, talent or beauty there any time soon. Exit: Stage Left. — Sharifa Medford.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Haiku for a New Year...

Carolle Bourne is an
award-winning poet and
author of Saraband:
The Incomplete Works
of Caroline Ravenspeare

• To read more haiku, or to submit your own, visit the ArtsEtc Haiku Gallery.

A reshaping of shadows

SAMBO. Nigger. Nig-nog. Golliwog. These epithets, and others, cast long shadows over my childhood and I have kept safe and unsafe distances from them ever since.

But in her latest collection of poetry, Ship Shape (Peepal Tree, 2008), Dorothea Smartt forces a bridging of distances by boldly reimagining the story behind one of those names. And if ArtsEtc offered prizes for forceful bridging and bold reimagination (hey, and maybe we should!) then one would go to this Brit-born Bajan international, as Kamau has dubbed her.

Dorothea Smartt
at the launch
of Ship Shape.

Samboo (the spelling Smartt opts for) is reintroduced to us as ‘Bilal’, an eight year-old slave boy. In one telling poem, we meet him in Barbados, frightened and alone, contemplating his fate and a lunar eclipse on the eve of his ship’s departure. If the hurt of names hurled across school playgrounds estranged me from the truths behind them, and from other dark aspects of slave and racial heritage, then Smartt’s poem had me racing back, arms wide in a protective, even maternal, embrace towards Bilal.

The poems evolved from Smartt’s own research: a commissioned delving into the real history of an African named Samboo, who died shortly after his arrival in 18th century Lancaster, England, and is buried there. The book is split into two: Bilal’s story counter-weighed by, but also loosely connected to a second part dealing with contemporary themes of Caribbean families and migration.

The Barbados launch of Ship Shape was held at the Waterfront Café (left) in January, with Smartt sharing her stage with local writers Philip Nanton, Linda M. Deane and recent Colly winner, Karen Lord. — LMD

L’Ouverture, in Dreams

I glimpse but don’t fully grasp

the reason for the haunting

or why David’s chanting shangos

in and out my head. Unsung

Jacobins extend their reach

into my exile, across dark

unending chapters they grip

tight. I turn the news, again,

flick through, pick

through rubble spanning ages

and stumble upon beauty,

like a fortress, facing me;

The features akin to mine,

that might have been (and

might have been)

for kinks in Geography

and History twisting

triangles and dreams.

© Linda M. Deane. (Read as a prayer for Haiti at the launch of Dorothea Smartt’s Ship Shape at the Waterfront Café, January 16, 2010.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

And the winners are...

ArtsEtc extends hot congrats to the winners of the 2009 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment. The awards ceremony was held at the Grand Salle, Central Bank in Bridgetown on Saturday, January 9, 2010.

L-r: Ag. Chair of the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Committee, Boo Rudder, Governor of the Central Bank Mr. DeLisle Worrell, recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award, Lance Bannister, first prizewinner Karen Lord, third prizewinner Heather Barker, and Mrs. DeLisle Worrell. (Absent is second prizewinner, Glenville Lovell who lives overseas.)

Dr. Karen Lord, has set a precedent by becoming the first writer ever to win the top prize two years in a row. Last year, as a newcomer, she won for the speculative fiction novel Redemption in Indigo (due to be published this year). Now she has followed up that triumph with something of similar sci-fi nature, with a romantic twist: The Best of All Possible Worlds. Second place went to novellist and playwright Glenville Lovell for the play Sodom. Third was Heather Barker for the short story collection The Millipede Eats the Mongoose. Dr. Lance Bannister won the Prime Minister’s prize for a short story collection submitted as Barbados Evergreen.

If the winners weren't already fired up by the prospect of their success on the night then they certainly would have been by Dr. George Lamming’s feature address. It was lengthy, but that kind of made up for the fact that we don't see him often enough. We reckon he ought to be out and about a lot more, and addressing younger and non-literary audiences, too.

Anyway, he engaged the Colly crowd and was, by turns, lighthearted, fierce, challenging, humorous; full of dramatic gestures and emphasis as he explained, for example, why reading is a political act. Literature is never just literature, he intoned: it is politics, economics, philosophy, sociology. The 8 hours a day he spends reading are spent not just reading, but understanding and analysing—a lesson taught to him by Frank Collymore himself. Lamming also illustrated how Caribbean writers such as Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott and others have confronted the language of the coloniser face on, turned it on its head to create a new, conquering statements of their own. (No illustrations offered from younger pens, however.)

But he did urge younger writers to engage the “elusive Barbadian audience” where and whenever they can.

The Collys are now in their 12th year. Perhaps it’s time the Endowment Committee considered marking this milestone by publishing an anthology of winning work thus far – and maybe capturing a bit of that elusive audience into the bargain.— LMD

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to get chucked out of an art gallery – musings on a packed cultural weekend

EVERY once in a while, you get a crazy weekend. There's ink scrawled all over Saturday and Sunday on your desk calendar, a spaghetti junction of arrows, venues and times. You think, ‘Hell, if it looks that messy on paper, what's it's gonna be like for real?’ This January, without even going anywhere near the Barbados Jazz Festival or the Barbados Music Awards, I found out.

Enter. Stage right. Saturday, January 9. The Grande Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre, Bridgetown.

This was the 12th Annual Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Awards, or what is affectionately known as “The Collys”. I regard it as our literary equivalent of the Oscars or Grammys. There's not a lot of mass celebration of the writing and writers in Barbados, so I reckon it’s the one true time each year we get to put on a bit of ritz. Me, I get myself gladded up and I go to support our own. The guest speakers of recent years have been rousing and I find the awards a perfect way to start the new year with renewed focus; it’s a chance to rekindle the flame and faith that keeps us on that tightrope without a net a.k.a being a writer.

I guess there was lots of rekindling going on this year because the Grande Salle was packed. There's always a sizeable crowd, but never enough bodies, it seems, to stop the AC from producing goose-flesh as you sit through the feature address. This year, though, there were bodies galore. People turned out en masse. Standing room only, the ushers were telling latecomers and so it was: friends I bumped into afterward said they were sitting out in the lobby! And I could have left my pashmina at home.

Maybe it was the drawing card of George Lamming as guest speaker that brought folk out. Sure he spoke long, but it was gripping, and I reckon if this year’s winners weren't already fired up at the prospect of their own success on the night they certainly would have been by George's verbal flame-throwing. Anyway, warm congrats to Karen, Glenville, Heather and Lance from ArtsEtc.

We just love this photo
of a delighted Heather,
by the way!

Afterwards, the Collys spilled out, as it always does, into the lobby, into the coolness of the courtyard or out through the glass doors and onto the steps leading up to the nearby Frank Collymore Hall. It's then that, over a glass of wine and a hors d’oeuvre, you get to swap notes with your fellow suspects — the usual ones, new ones, or a potential one, as the case may be. It's lively, relaxed, friendly. Across the space you might spot someone gesticulating at you. You look behind you, just in case it's someone else they're hailing. But no! It's you, so you raise your glass in a toast to them above the heads of the other minglers, and work your way towards each other. More note swapping.


Now, Sunday, January 10 of this chocka weekend saw several of the same suspects up in Speightstown for the visual arts equivalent of a pub crawl, the highlight of which was Ras Ishi Butcher's Secret Diaries at the newly refurbished Old Pharmacy. Roger Chubb of Lancaster House was the maverick behind this crawl, or Arts Promenade. It started officially at Lancaster House in St. James where two of Ishi's outsized canvases that couldn't fit into the Old Pharmacy were on show along with other work by Lyman Whittaker, Patty Boyd and Bob Kiss.

Arrive in Speightstown, and what I cannot help but call ye olde worlde charm of this northern fishing town just seeps warmly into the spirit in a way that St. Lawrence and Oistins to the south and Bridgetown just... don’t! Visitors to the exhibition are spilling out of the Old Pharmacy and into the street with their drinks. Inside, there's room to swing a kitten maybe. Audio-visually, it's bright and loud, and it takes a moment or two to realise that it is Ishi's remarkable canvases that closely line the walls and not some interior designer's mural fantasy.

Diario secreto seis,
Ras Ishi Butcher,
mixed media, 2008
57 ins x 60 ins

That is how Ishi's Diaries struck me, in that intimate Pharmacy setting—like a maze of inter-related murals - to be viewed (or read, or decoded even?) in entirety rather than to be sold and enjoyed individually. Not that we don't wish him heaping success with the red tags, of course! Each diary “entry” is a large canvas square upon which the artist has expressed himself hieroglyphically and big, or through a series of smaller, more intricate squares. A very handsome catalogue-style publication accompanies the show.

Close the Diary for a while and step outside. Across the street there is live jazz at the Star Bar. Listen for a bit before continuing the crawl a short way up Queen’s Street to the Northern Business Centre which houses a number of gallery spaces including the Gallery of Caribbean Art.

There, American artist and graphic illustrator Fran Scott Attaway brings an ethereal and attuned outsider’s spin to the Barbadian landscape: Oistins at night, fishing boats, fish pots, egrets, hummingbirds, the moon on the ocean, decaying plantation houses where mongooses dance in the basement. (Click here for links to her artist page at the Gallery of Caribbean Art.) Fran's pieces look like rich illustrations for a magic storybook but they work well on a wall, too. Meanwhile, there's other activity in the business centre: more paintings in the space immediately next door, and downstairs, in The Constant Gallery, promenaders leave their shoes at the door and check out a dizzying floor-to-ceiling display of Persian rugs.

Back to the Old Pharmacy with its wooden flooring and shabby chic, where people are still arriving at something to 10 p.m. There's fresh mingling, waving of wine glasses and swapping of notes: an idea for a cross-cultural something on the beach; a jazz thing here; a book launch and some open mic there.

Earlier I’d spotted the acting curator of Queen's Park Gallery and given her an apologetic smile. That's where my evening had begun, not at Lancaster House, but in Bridgetown, at QPG where Art Beyond the Sea, an exhibition of Barbadian work that has been featured at major shows overseas, is on until February 20. It threw up some gems and so, even though I'd arrived ridiculously close to chucking out time, I found myself very leisurely browsing the walls.

Clockwise from top,
some of the Bajan art
that’s been ‘beyond the sea’: Ann Dodson’s
The Sacrifice;
Natalie Atkins-Hinds’ The Separation;
Sowing Seeds Reaping Leaves
by Wayne Hinds;
ceramic tile by Juliana Inniss;
and Onkphra’s mahogany sculpture
De Musician.

I've never had a curator come up to me before, handbag over shoulder, keys in hand trying to usher me out. “We have to close up now if we're going to make it to Speightstown for Ishi's show,” she said, eyes firmly on the door and with an invitation to return next week if necessary. I scuttled around the room, taking a few last notes, and skipped out before she called the bouncers. Good to know we both made it to Speightstown, Alberta! And thanks for crossing off something I never knew was on my bucket list: I now know How to get Chucked out of an Art Gallery. Like I said, every now and again, you get one of those weekends.

[For detailed listings on shows mentioned and other events, click here.]

Exit. Stage Left. — LMD