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Performing Trinidad in Butetown: Carnival, Community and Belonging – Dr Adeola Dewis – MLANG Guest Lecture 30.03.17

Dr Adeola Dewis is a Visual Artist and Researcher. Originally from Trinidad, Adeola completed PhD research at Cardiff University. Her current research is focussed on Trinidad Carnival performance and the translation of its self-empowering effects for art making and art presentation within the UK. This presentation engages her research into the Trinidad Carnival performance and its various crossings – including the crossing and translation of this performance in a Cardiff space. Having worked extensively with Trinidadian artists myself ( Tricia Lee Kelshall and Jointpop ) I am aware of  the critical importance of carnival to Trinidad. I always attend St Pauls Carnival in Bristol which is one of the biggest Afro-Caribbean events in the UK. I was keen to learn more about the Butetown Carnival and also felt that Adeola’s presentation would compliment my current focus on Haitian Kanaval in the ‘Imaging The Islands‘ Francophone Caribbean course that is part of my undergraduate Translation (BA) degree at Cardiff University. [Wez G]   Adeola began her talk by focussing on her native land. Trinidad has a world-renowned Carnival which is regarded highly as one of the best in the world. Her upbringing in this Carnival culture therefore places her as an ‘expert’. Trinidad was first colonised by the Spanish in 1498 yet it was the French planters that really brought Carnival to the island in 1783. The French never officially ruled Trinidad, although they were de-facto rulers, culturally and socially due to the large Francophone population there that governed the plantations and brought many of the enslaved Africans to work the cane-fields. There were Spanish laws and Trinidad was a Spanish colony for 300 years until handed over to Britain in 1797… Adeola brought forward the idea of a ‘collective individual body memory’, part of the essence of Carnival, and this dates back to the plantation culture. Performance undeniably has its roots in West Africa, and manifests in Carnival through Masquerade and Ritual. In Trinidad there was much difference between the different African languages, cultures and customs. This was added to the European values and cultural differences, later followed by the cultural input of Chinese and Indian indentured workers who migrated to the island, adding to the creolisation of Trinidadian culture. Mentioning some theoreticians of Theatre performance in the West Indies, Adeola spoke of how the Plantation, Maroons and Carnival were all inextricably linked. There is RECALL, RESISTANCE, REMAKING and RESTITUTION….

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‘Imaging The Islands’ trip to Bristol 25.03.17 – Slave Trade Trail & Lubaina Himid Art Exhibition at Spike Island

I am doing a course in Cardiff University called ‘Imaging The Islands’. The course is about the Francophone Caribbean and the various ways in which it is represented. The course has its own tumblr page here – Led by our teacher, Charlotte Hammond , a group of students headed over to Bristol. It was sunny and hot and we started off our day by undertaking the Bristol Slave Trade trail. Bristol was an important slaving port of the British Empire and the remnants of this controversial trade can still be seen today in monuments throughout the city centre. We downloaded the Slave Trade Trail audio tour guide and plugged in our headphones and set out on a long walk across the town. Although we only managed to complete about half of the full trail, here are some photos of our adventures.                                 That was as far as we got on the slave trade trail – we covered about half of it so will have to finish the rest on another occasion. It was truly enlightening just to see how much of the city had been built up on the slave industry. Now, It was on to the Harbour for a quick bit to eat…. Managed to find a plaque commemorating slavery… And then, just in time for the start of a guided tour we arrived at Spike Island…. We had come to visit the exhibition by Lubaina Himid. Lubaina was a member of the Black Arts Movement of the 1980s, her work tackles questions of race, gender and class. This exhibition draws together paintings and installations from the late 1990s to the present day to consider issues of labour, migration and creativity. We were interested in her representations of slavery and her artistic thinking as we consider artistic representations of the Francophone Caribbean. I took two videos of the bigger exhibits and photos of the rest…. Lubaina Himid – Naming the Money A post shared by Wesley Gerrard (@djwezg) on Mar 25, 2017 at 7:59am PDT   Lubaina Himid- ‘Cotton.com’ A post shared by Wesley Gerrard (@djwezg) on Mar 25, 2017 at 8:12am PDT                           The art was very awe-inspiring and a good day out culminated in us all getting some good insight into the ways that…

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