Charting a new course
Barbadian independent visual artist and director of the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., Annalee Davis, was recently appointed Caribbean Arts Manager by the British Council Americas. This new post was created after the Council recognized the need to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the UK and the Caribbean through the exchange of art and culture. More specifically, emphasis will be placed on project building in countries where the Council already has a physical presence, as they forge ahead with plans to establish networks with other countries within the region.
The British Council is a cultural relations organization that creates opportunities for persons worldwide to share their expertise on charting innovative solutions for sustaining cultural exchange. With art as the cornerstone of their mission, the Council is constantly working towards creating a friendly environment where knowledge of the creative sectors between the two regions could be appreciated and developed even further.
Since its establishment in 1934, the British Council has (through various programmes) done work in over 100 hundred countries, connecting millions of people worldwide. In fact, between the years 2014 and 2015 the Council has connected almost 13 million people, with an additional 4.7 million being connected via broadcast media. On average, the Council organizes about 500 exhibitions and events every year, spanning a diverse selection of creative disciplines including literary, performance and visual arts.
Following her appointment in this new role as Caribbean Arts Manager, Davis has been liaising with British Council art colleagues from Bogotá, Colombia; the UK in Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff and London; Havana, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica; and Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Speaking on her experiences thus far, Davis had the following to say:
“One month in to the post and I have enjoyed meeting an amazing team of arts experts in Bogotá and across the UK with Luisa Michelsen, my counterpart from Lima. The British Council has an inspiring band of smart, passionate staff doing fantastic work in all of the Arts. My induction trip included seeing the best of British Dance at the British Dance Edition in Cardiff, experimental music in Belfast, a dramatic work performed in a church converted into a theatre in Glasgow and the screening of a queer film in Parliament in London! My Caribbean induction includes the launch of Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta’s first season of dance in his newly formed company, Acosta Danza, in Havana, the launch of Calabash in Kingston and the Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain. It feels like an enormous privilege and honour to engage with all of these very talented artists and to have the opportunity to shape an arts strategy for the British Council in the Caribbean. I am excited about being able to create visibility for creatives working on both sides of the pond and to bring some of the best talent from the UK and the Caribbean together will be thrilling!”
Davis is the founding director of the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., a not for profit artist-led initiative located on a working dairy farm and former sugar cane plantation that nurtures the creative practices of local, regional and international contemporary artists. She lectures part-time in the BFA program at the Barbados Community College, and is on the board for ARC Magazine. Davis is also the co-founder of Caribbean Linked (an annual three-week residency program in Aruba that is geared towards connecting emerging artists within the region). In addition to her work on those platforms she has also co-developed the framework for Tilting Axis, a traveling project that supports the development of the Caribbean’s creative infrastructure.
Davis received her BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art and an M.F.A. from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She has been actively producing and exhibiting her work regionally and internationally since the early nineties, with a range that has been expanded to include installation, video, sound work, printmaking, drawing and painting.
Dominique Hunter is an independent visual artist who recently graduated from the Barbados Community College with a Bachelor of Fine Art (First Class Honours).
This article was first published in the Pepperpot magazine of the Sunday Chronicle newspaper on April 24, 2016. Click on the link to be redirected to their website: