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We Jammin’ Still

It started with restlessness.

It was time for CHANGE.

It was time to make my art scream for me.

It’s time to notice that while Caribbean women are still standing strong and powerful and beautiful after generations and generations of violence and abuse, we ALL need to stop jammin’ still and deal with it.

 

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It started with restlessness.

I had quite a few sledgehammers slam into my life in 2016 and I wouldn’t say they broke me. Oh I cried and bawled my eyes out, but once that excess of emotion was gone I was left in a state of numbness, or so I thought.  Turns out it was really deep introspection. I managed only one painting and a handful of doodles in 7 months. I just couldn’t find the will the paint. It took 1 year, 4 life changing events, a trailer-load of lower-level angst, and me paying a lot of attention to my instincts to finally figure it out.

It was time for CHANGE.

Things started popping up on my radar.

Violence
Rape culture
Social injustice
Lack of empathy
Hate mongering
Dirty politics
Hate crimes
Sex crimes
Refugee crises
Abuse
The number of educated capable women at home
The way politicians speak to each other and us
‘News’ with an agenda, usually divisive
The rising need for welfare
The Haves & the Have-nots

And the list goes on…

Stuff I paid little or sporadic attention to before, or if I’m honest, stuff I worked hard to ignore started getting in my head space and it wouldn’t leave. My era of blissful (sometimes wilful) ignorance was well and truly over and I hated what I was seeing.

There was no way I could paint flowers and landscapes and do carefree doodles when my rose-tinted glasses were gone. I come from a Caribbean island where the mas’ (masquerade) is an artform that speaks each individual’s truth. Calypso, kaiso and ole mas’ used to be THE newspapers of my people. (Here’s an example) Pretty art is pretty but powerful art is unforgettable and life changing.

And so it began…

The news coming out of my little birth place wasn’t great. Women and girls going missing, turning up raped, murdered, or worse. I dare not read online news for fear of seeing some mother begging for help to find her missing child, or bawling over said child’s dead body. I was reading enough of it on Facebook. Here in the UK, reports were released showing that more school girls than ever were wearing shorts under their school skirts to avoid sexual harassment in school. Isn’t school a controlled environment?! Over in the US, the Stanford rape case had me spellbound. Oh the lengths the “good old boys club” will go to save one man’s “potential” Olympic career, after he violently exploded one young woman’s entire life. Meanwhile, people all over the world are fleeing for their lives to wealthy ‘comfortable’ countries that are doing everything to keep them out because they need to protect their lifestyle. It was like no one had the ability to realise that today you might be on top, but tomorrow you could be the one on the bottom so show some mercy and compassion to others.

Heavily influenced by Fiona Compton’s #NotAskingForItOfficial and #SinceItsNudesYouLike social media campaigns, I started to channel my anger into my art. And suddenly I couldn’t stop painting! The block was gone.

We Jammin’ Still is the first to come out of this understanding that it was time to get back to my roots and make my art scream for me. The name comes from the chorus of Full Extreme, the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Road March (most popular song on the road) for 2017 by Ultimate Rejects. It plays to the double entendre, which is so prevalent in most aspects of Caribbean life, especially Carnival.  Yes Trinbagonians are happy joyful people that carry on in the face of adversity BUT, we are also people who will bury our noses in our back yards and so long as our party is still going we will ignore everything that is falling down around us. Our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness.

And this is true on pretty much every issue, including violence towards women, which is not new in the Caribbean. It’s been going on since slavery days and has continued to leave its nasty mark more and more. Maybe it’s just that we report it more, or see it more with social media and ‘news’ everywhere. Honestly I don’t care what the reason is, it’s time to notice that while Caribbean women are still standing strong and powerful and beautiful after generations and generations of violence and abuse, we ALL need to stop jammin’ still and deal with it.

The painting background consists that powerful letter from the Stanford rape case survivor and way too many daunting statistics about violence against women in the Caribbean. Standing on top of that, as if to say “I will not be cowed” is the traditional Caribbean woman in her madras, and the modern Caribbean women in her bikini mas’. Both are strapping looking women with generous curves. The modern Caribbean woman is holding their banner and mantra – We Jammin’ Still – up high and seems to be revelling despite the shadows that are creeping in.

Additional information

Materials

Mixed media on canvas

Dimensions

610mm x 508mm

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