Culture

Cultural Warrior Honoured at St.John's

April 25, 2015

St. John’s College Alumnus Raphael Munnings, leader of the famous ‘Beginning of the End’ band of “Funky Nassau” fame was honoured at a Special Assembly at the school on Thursday morning...

read more »

Reaching the community

April 24, 2015

Transforming another space
Passersby may have noticed the absence of the wooden structure explored during the 2015 Transforming Spaces tour, formerly located on the lawn of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
A collaborative effort of College of The Bahamas architecture and art students, the structure was an art pavilion designed to be an evolving space. With no overarching Transforming Spaces theme this year, participating artists were instead encouraged to consider the surrounding history and environment of the spaces they were asked to transform. Like Villa Doyle - the historic mansion where the NAGB is based - the building was designed with the elements in mind. Open panels ensured a consistent source of light and air flow and a slight elevation protected the lawn underneath from being destroyed. The work was only the beginning of what is intended to be a series of similar constructions situated throughout the inner city community.
The art pavilion has now found and, quite literally, made a new home in Grant's Town, on Lewis Street. For months, the property's occupant had been living in a wooden shack that was partly destroyed by fire in 2014. With the help of community activists Uli Voges and Valentino "Scrooge" Brown, the pavilion was transformed to a more comfortable temporary housing structure on the property while the property's resident awaits a permanent and secure home of concrete block.

Spoken word
C.R. Walker students are also doing their part to spread positivity in the community. The students will be sharing their works at a spoken word night at the NAGB on Friday, May 1.
In February, more than 50 C.R. Walker students completed a five-day workshop with American activist, poet and conscious rapper Omekongo Dibinga, of UPstander International, co-facilitated by the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. Leading under the theme "Think before you speak. Write before you fight," Dibinga emphasized fostering a sense of communal pride while demonstrating the transformative effects language can have on the individual. Throughout the workshop 10th, 11th and 12th graders were encouraged to find their voices in addressing contentious social issues like gang violence and sexual abuse.
The workshop culminated with a performance night titled "Power of the spoken word" at Bahamas Harvest Church on February 6. On the evening, students recited poignant personal works to an audience of young Elizabeth Estates residents, U.S. Embassy Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Neda Brown, Bahamas Harvest Church Pastor Mario Moxey and C.R. Walker Principal Nicola McKay. Omekongo Dibinga and local poet Leshea "Sapphire" Jones closed out the evening with powerful performances from a selection of their own classic poems.
On Friday, May 1, the bright minds and empowered voices will again have a chance to share their works at the National Art Gallery. The performances will start at 6:30 p.m. at the NAGB.

read more »

Migration, culture and consumerism: Blaming the people

April 24, 2015

Potter's Cay was once a booming center of commerce on New Providence. It housed markets as well as mail boats. Today, it remains one of the arteries of life in The Bahamas, though few choose to see it as such. Years ago, the market range was a hectic, vibrant, place where the Caribbean met The Bahamas. The market there provided locals with produce from the islands, when there were still large functioning farms there, and Cuba and Haiti, yet we have forgotten that. Haitian sloops would dock there as they sold produce and took on other goods. Years later, we have forgotten this. We no longer see Haitian sloops that were once such a prevalent fixture on the Bahamian seascape. We have come to associate all sloops now with human smuggling, which is not the case. We have closed off these cultural avenues and opened up a gateway to the east. This gateway allows cheap goods to be imported and to swamp our small handcraft market. This we embrace.
Ironically, we still wish to claim our cultural identity while selling only imported crafts. Yet we are also blind to our surroundings. Have you walked on a beach lately and seen all the old shoes? Shoes and more shoes; we are surrounded by shoes. Ironic in a place where one time ago, many years ago, people would walk to school barefoot, shoes in hand, so as not to mess them up because they knew they couldn't afford more. I would walk to the shop every few days with my great grandmother who was seven feet tall, at least she seemed that way when I was a child. She taught me many things, but one huge lesson was respect for people. No matter who it was, we would walk past and speak. She was adamant about that. She also said to treat all things with respect. Everything had a purpose and could feel.
We, as a society, have apparently forgotten this. We seem to think that our dreams are the only dreams that matter. Our shoes are the best shoes and no one else's can compare. Yet there are still others who glorify, cherish the one pair of shoes they have. The less they have, the more they appreciate what they have. We buy 10 to the dozen and still wish for more. Thus has our culture changed.
As a part of the 2015 Transforming Spaces Art Tour that showcased the art being produced in the country, the group visited The D'Aguilar Art Foundation on Virginia Street. The exhibition spoke of cultural transformation over time. We are no longer the people we were in 1973, nor are we the same people we will be in 2030. We are continuing to grow. Sadly, many of us have the idea that we, as Bahamians, are fixed. We will not change. Our art can only be one way. We can only speak one way. We can only look one way.
What does a Bahamian look like? This was a question that was asked two years ago in NE6, and people would say, "You don't look like a Bahamian". People say they know what a Bahamian looks like. Who says that there is a pattern that cannot change with time? A dressmaker must change his/her pattern from time to time to keep clients. As more people move to the country, people change their faces, their noses and their eyes. They cannot look the same way someone did 30 years ago. Gone are the Obeah trees and Obeah men of yester year. Gone is a rich understanding of the Bahamian past.
Everything changes. Even shoes change and the experiences of walking in those shoes change as well. During the Holocaust, did the Jewish people who were being wiped out by Hitler's forces think that they would all be the same in the future? How many of them survived? Hitler's idea was to completely wipe out the Jewish people. The shoes in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, for example, are a reminder of their suffering. Bahamians tend to forget this kind of suffering. We think that nothing compares to the problems we have today. Sadly, there are many who have it worse than we do. Art really does provide an escape valve when things are bad. When society is crumbling and the economy is strangling people, art allows them to see at least some joy in their lives, in their days. This helps to reduce crime, violence and suicide.

Change
Art voices these horrors, these nightmares of exploitation and devastation. When Duvalier was in power in Haiti, thousands of Haitians were forced to flee for their lives. They were tortured and/or killed before they left. They created fabulous art. People do not leave the home of love and peace to risk death on unsafe boats in shark-infested seas with no food or water. They come here and then we treat them like dogs. Our humanity loses its way. It may be painful, but best not to forget the tragedies of the past, so as not to repeat them in the future.
Shoes walk miles and carry the memories of those journeys. Though they may no longer be made to last more than one season, shoes hold memories still. Memories cover our shoes like the scars that cover our bodies and our hearts. We say that slavery happened in a distant place, not here and in a distant time far away from this time, unrelated to our sufferings. Yet, the Haitian people often show how quickly a country can arise from the shackles of slavery only to be banned from the table. The French and the Americans made sure that Haiti, could not participate in international talks; they were not deemed to be a country. They were too black, too inferior. Sound familiar? We are now choosing to repeat history. The shoes can tell the stories.
As The Bahamas becomes a multicultural space, not because people want it to, but because time passes and people move and that cannot be controlled, the faces of the people change. We speak differently, yet we are Bahamian. We have Australian, German, Swiss. We now have parents from Guatemala, Honduras and Argentina, whose children are born and bred here. They are Bahamian, even though they have other passports they can use. They are registered in both countries at birth. We still, though, refuse to allow Haitians to have children here, even when they are married to Bahamians who we will call Bahamian. We choose to deny these people their humanity. Art shows the need for humanity, the importance of beauty and the need to allow God and inspiration to come into our lives in real ways.
While our culture disappears to the pleasures of the Internet and the economies of scale, the economies of desire take over, we are sold into financial servitude, yet we cannot accept those neighbors from the south. When we talk about silencing the past, we talk about knocking down memories and stories that talk about who we are, our connections that go beyond the trip to Miami.
Our culture, or the culture we now embrace, is plastic and unloving. We choose to seek what we think is the promise of development in the north. The power of consumerism and having more but cheaper things has blinded us to the importance of family and home, of being together and meals at a table. It has blinded us to simple joys of life. Those are replaced by the 60-inch, flat-screen television with surround sound. We can watch The Bahamas being featured in an ad on that TV, but we cannot participate in that space the ad shows because the walls are too high and the prices too steep for us to get in.
We talk about wanting to be first world, but what does that mean? Does it mean that we wash out our colored clothes in bleachy water and leave them to dry on limestone rocks so the sun can finish the bleach job? Does it mean believing the government's promises while living a totally unrelated experience of environmental destruction, more jobs leaving the country, more banks letting people go and more airlines outsourcing and downsizing their workforce? What about the contamination in ground water that the government denies, covers up and lies about when questioned directly, but to the very people who are affected by it they remain silent? When all is said and done, we blame the Haitians. Why?
Our navel strings are buried here. Yet we choose not to see the damage being done to the little home we have. Once our country is sold, torn down and sanitized, where shall we go? Do we wish to become another immigrant in the great big melting pot to the north? Many plan to do this, yet they choose not to see how immigrants are treated there. They choose not to see where the lines are drawn nor how quickly they become hard and fast.
Globalization may be a reality, but it is a reality that allows some people to move as opposed to others. Capital can fly across borders and services can be supplied from the north to the south, but people moving from the south to the north find it harder every day to get accepted, to get in and to survive. In fact, globally, migration or the desire to flee the pain and suffering of home, often caused by decades of colonization is worsening. And once the colonizers leave, they do not bequeath economic control to us, but rather hold it in trust for their corporations, leaving us in constant and perpetual state of wage labor. And we blame the Haitians.
Migration and immigration did not change our culture. Life and time change our culture; hotels change our culture; the Internet changes our culture. Our reality, if we are not careful, will be so utterly eroded that we will soon have no place that belongs to us that we can survive in. That is not because there is invasion from the south, but because of devastation from within. Let us open our eyes and see the rich diversity of our home before it is gone, before Potter's Cay no longer exists or Arawak Cay becomes an exclusive tourist attraction empty of Bahamian soul. Our shoes tell many stories.

read more »

The BNFC Welcomes Music Masters 'Fantastic Finalists' into Last Phase of Competition
The BNFC Welcomes Music Masters 'Fantastic Finalists' into Last Phase of Competition

April 23, 2015

Grand success’ in Grand Bahama as thousands flock to Cultural Village in support...

read more »

DPM Takes in Festivities at Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in Grand Bahama

April 21, 2015

Music, culture, food and festivities were the main ingredients of the successful launch of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival at Taino Beach on Friday and Saturday nights...

read more »

Grand Bahama's Junkanoo Carnival Team says 'Heartfelt Thanks'

April 21, 2015

A Heartfelt Thanks Press Conference was held at the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Carnival Headquarters on Monday, April 20, 2015 to convey appreciation to everyone who gave so much of themselves to make the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival kickoff at Taino Beach on the weekend a wonderful success...

read more »

Officials say 30,000 attended Junkanoo Carnival weekend
Officials say 30,000 attended Junkanoo Carnival weekend

April 21, 2015

BAHAMAS National Commission Chairman Paul Major said the Junkanoo Carnival's kick off in Grand Bahama over the weekend was "extraordinarily successful" with officials pegging the turnout at an estimated 30,000 over the two-day period...

read more »

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, A Treat for Bahamians and Visitors Alike

April 21, 2015

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival fun for Bahamians and visitors alike, in Freeport, Grand Bahama at the weekend launch. There will be Junkanoo carnival fanfare in Nassau, May 7-9...

read more »

Govt. Thanks GB for supposrting Carnival Event
Govt. Thanks GB for supposrting Carnival Event

April 21, 2015

I join the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie and colleague ministers in expressing our profound thanks to the Bahamian people for their leap of faith and unshakable belief in themselves and their ability to execute a world class show and perform on a world stage before a global audience...

read more »

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival Pictorial

April 21, 2015

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival launched with a happy splash on Friday night and continued into Saturday with Bahamians and visitors alike still talking about the great time they had...

read more »

Collage of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in Grand Bahama

April 20, 2015

Great music was just one of the things to enjoy at the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival launch at Taino Beach in Freeport, Grand Bahama over the weekend. Other than the Bahamian food and cultural fanfare – the Song Competition added to the excitement. The Semi-Finalists are pictured in this collage...

read more »

CROWDS COME OUT FOR CARNIVAL
CROWDS COME OUT FOR CARNIVAL

April 20, 2015

THOUSANDS of revellers flocked to Taino Beach for two days of fun and live cultural performances, including the Music Masters semi-finals and All Star-Bahamian concert, as the first Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival got off to a successful start in Grand Bahama...

read more »

Grand Bahama still buzz about Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival and Wanting More

April 20, 2015

Two days following the closure of the opening segment of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival 2015, residents on Grand Bahama and in fact many visitors to the island were talking about the success of the event...

read more »

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, along with the Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, toured the Junkanoo Carnival Headquarters in Freeport, Grand Bahama

April 20, 2015

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, along with the Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, toured the Junkanoo Carnival Headquarters in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Friday April 17, 2015 the first day of Junkanoo Carnival on Grand Bahama. The Prime Minister had the opportunity to view, inspect and model few of the costumes on display...

read more »

First Bahamas Carnival Launches in 2015: Experience Culture
First Bahamas Carnival Launches in 2015: Experience Culture

April 20, 2015

Music Concerts and Road Fever parade to draw thousands in festival of fun and unity...

read more »

Junkanoo Carnival Launches in Freeport, Grand Bahama

April 20, 2015

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie addressed the launch of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival at Taino Beach in Freeport on Friday night. Joining the Prime Minister at the successful launch were from left: Minister of Tourism the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson, CEO of BTC Leon Williams, Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, and Saxons Leader Percy ‘Vola’ Francis. Other photos show some of the good times and performers...

read more »

Bahamas Government thanks the Bahamian people on Grand Bahama Carnival

April 20, 2015

I join the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie and colleague ministers in expressing our profound thanks to the Bahamian people for their leap of faith and unshakable belief in themselves and their ability to execute a world class show and perform on a world stage before a global audience...

read more »

What's on at the NAGB

April 17, 2015

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) is pleased to announce more new and upcoming events on its jam-packed calendar.

NE7 catalogues and panel discussion
First up is the recent arrival of catalogues for the Seventh National Exhibition, Antillean: an Ecology (NE7). The exhibition, which opened on December 11, 2014, has gotten tongues wagging and brains whirring with its subtle and not-so-subtle examinations of the issues surrounding race, class, economy and gender. Antillean: an Ecology will be on display at the NAGB until May 10, after which date the exhibition's curators hope to see the show travel outside of The Bahamas.
Those who want to remember the groundbreaking show are encouraged to pick up a copy of the NE7 catalogues, which were freshly delivered last week. The four-color, 147-page catalogues feature addresses by NE7 Co-curators Holly Bynoe and Michael Edwards as well as NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, images of all the show's works, artist biographies and essays by literary artists. The never-before-seen essays include: "The Haitian As Unspeakable Blackness in the Bahamian Imagination", by College of The Bahamas (COB) Assistant Professor of English Craig Smith; "Remapping Blackness", by COB Dean of Liberal and Fine Arts Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett; "What Is Not Yet Can Be Born", by Helen Klonaris; "Bahamian Identity: Reshaping the Narrative of Belonging", by COB Associate Professor in the School of English Marie Sairsingh; and poems by Obediah Michael Smith.
They can be purchased from the Mixed Media gift shop at the NAGB for $35 (inclusive of VAT) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Linking their recent installation to the Seventh National Exhibition, cousins Nicolette and Margot Bethel, along with architect Anthony Jervis, will be hosting an artists' talk at the NAGB on April 21. The installation - titled "If" - which currently occupies the PS room at the NAGB, was originally intended to be a part of Antillean: an Ecology, but was instead installed for the 2015 Transforming Spaces Tour. The work is a re-membering of the Bethels' grandmother's home, and ventures into territories of class and race, Bahamian architecture and landscape and identity.
The cousins spent much of their childhood on the East Bay Street property, where both their fathers grew up. After their grandmother's death, they began the process of renovation, only to suddenly find it demolished inexplicably and without permission in 2005. To this day, they have no idea who was responsible for the demolition.
"I like the idea that the three panelists can bring different, yet complementary perspectives to a very layered social, political or personal drama," explained Margot Bethel. "I hope we are successful in conveying that. And I also hope that some unexpected discussion is generated. I am looking forward to hearing what Tony has to say about this from the perspective of his field as an architect whose practice is concerned with restoration."
Those who want to hear the Bethels' personal accounts of the tragedy first-hand are encouraged to attend the talk, which begins at 6:30 p.m. COB Dean and NE7 artist Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett will be moderating the panel discussion.

Mixed Media Summer Camp
In the throes of preparation for what is sure to be a summer camp to remember, the NAGB's education and curatorial teams are readying themselves to select the winners of the mural "paint by numbers" and "writing on the wall" competitions. Still open to submissions, the competition asks visual artists to submit proposals of mural designs and literary artists to send in entries of poetry or prose of 50 words or less to be splashed across outdoor wall spaces by the NAGB's 2015 summer campers. Both the imagery and poetry or prose should respond to keywords including "mixed media", "kids", "art", "camp", "colorful", "fun", "community", "dynamic" and "on the hill". Those interested in entering the competition are encouraged to submit their proposals to Abby Smith, at asmith@nagb.org.bs, or Corinne Lampkin, at clampkin@nagb.org.bs this week.
On that note, registration for both sessions of the 2015 NAGB Mixed Media Summer Camp is open, and families are encouraged to sign their kids up as soon as possible to reserve their spots. The camp is divided into two three-week sessions. The first takes place from June 22 to July 9; the second will be held from July 13 to 31. Early bird registrants who sign up and pay before April 27 receive a discount of more than 15 percent per session. The cost of the camp includes tuition for three weeks, materials, two T-shirts per camper, field trips and events and a snack and drink each day. To find out more about registering for the camp, contact Abby Smith or Corinne Lampkin at the NAGB.

Next month at the NAGB
Next month, things to look out for at the NAGB include a spoken word night with C.R. Walker Senior High School students and American poet and motivational speaker Omekongo Dibinga on May 1, the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival exhibition in the PS room and the Central Bank collection exhibition titled "40 Years of Commitment to the Arts", which opens on May 28.

read more »

Recalling Malone's vibrant influence at Hillside House

April 17, 2015

Adding splashes of vibrancy and movement to the walls at Hillside House, artist and art teacher Marco Mullings is currently starring in a solo show at the historic mansion on Cumberland Street. Titled Rhythm... Feel the Beat, the exhibition opened on April 1 and features works inspired by Mullings' passion for music.
"It captures everything from jazz to Junkanoo to Rake 'n' Scrape," explained Mullings. "I really wanted to focus on the passion musicians have, which is very similar to the passion I have for painting."
In fact, Mullings has made it his life's work to demonstrate to young Bahamians the benefits of using visual art as a "positive outlet". Acknowledging the critical role visual art continues to play in the social and historical arena, the educator hopes that the field grows in popularity and respect - particularly for its cathartic ability to be used in self-expression. This can be especially significant in a country struggling with violent crime rates and widespread frustrations regarding the availability of jobs.
"I don't think art will change social ills, but it can raise awareness and have the ability to impact
consciousness," he explained.
When he isn't teaching visual art's, benefits, history and techniques to students at St. Augustine's College or making fine art himself, Mullings is an avid Junkanooer. In fact, it was his beginnings in the Junkanoo shack that inspired him to study fine art. His works are reminiscent of the colorful parades and have been heavily influenced by Brent Malone's legacy.
Known for being one of the first Bahamian artists to capture the spirit of Junkanoo through fine art, Malone inspired a number of later generations through his use of color and classic imagery.
"I try to capture things in my own way using my style. I love color, so my work is typically very vibrant, even though some of the works have a darker feel," said Mullings. "I really love Brent Malone and the work he did, so I wanted to capture that similar essence of some of his work."
Rhythm... Feel the Beat showcases 25 pieces curated by artist and studio owner Antonius Roberts. Though it is his first exhibition hosted at Hillside House, the art instructor is no stranger to showing his work; his pieces have been exhibited throughout The Bahamas for almost 20 years.
"I had requested from last year to use the space because it is so personal," Mullings recalled. "I love the intimate feeling of the old house. Also, I wanted to use another space that I had not shown my work at before, so I am very appreciative for being given the opportunity."
Mullings' work will be on display at Hillside House until the end of April. Next month, his work can be found at the Artist Pavilion as part of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.

read more »

South Florida Radio Station Promoting Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival
South Florida Radio Station Promoting Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival

April 16, 2015

A Liberty City, Miami, based Social Worker and his wife, will travel to Grand Bahama with Hot 105 FM’s Radio Personality, “James T” this weekend to enjoy the festivities, excitement and celebrations of the first ever Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival...

read more »