Saturday, November 25, 2017

Martin Solymar: Loud Silence

Wednesday 29 November, 2017, from 7 pm, at Alice Yard

Artist Martin Solymar has been at residence at Alice Yard for the past two weeks. On the evening of Wednesday 29 November, he will present a series of new works created in Trinidad, and give an informal talk.

All are invited.

Interests in music, nature, mythology, ghosts, and the construction of narratives are all at play in Solymar’s works. During his stay in Trinidad — divided between Port of Spain and Blanchisseuse — he has spent much of his time observing people and their interactions with social spaces and each other. He considers the resulting artworks to be “person to person” conversations with meanings encrypted by experiences and memory. His fascination with intersections between his own Norse heritage and Caribbean folklore takes form in a series of runes — not carved in stone, but constructed from natural found materials — installed at Alice Yard alongside painting and sculptures.

About the artist:

Martin Solymar (b. 1981) is a Swedish artist who operates within the fields of painting and sculpture. He took his Masters in Fine Arts at the Valand Academy in 2012, and is based in Gothenburg. He has a keen interest in the Caribbean and trying to find focal points in Norse mythology and Caribbean folklore.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Erika DeFreitas: Don’t you feel like it’s been far too long?

Saturday 12 August, 2017, from 7 pm, at Alice Yard

Erika DeFreitas, works in progress, 2017

Artist Erika DeFreitas has been in residence at Alice Yard since late July 2017. On the evening of Saturday 12 August, she will present works in various media created during her time in Port of Spain.

All are invited.

The artist writes:

“I have been troubled by an inherent feeling of belonging whenever I set foot on an island in the Caribbean; and that feeling did not subside once I landed in Trinidad, the island where my estranged father was born and resided before immigrating to Canada in the 1970s. My practice normally reflects on varying forms of loss. At times this reflection is based on my mother’s diasporic narrative; a narrative about a teenaged woman who left her home in Guyana to immigrate to Canada on her own.

“While participating in this residency at Alice Yard, I have been wrestling with an anxiety that arose when attempting to understand how I can feel so grounded on a land that has never been ‘home’. For years I have thought of my relationship to the Caribbean and South America as one that is imagined and learned. I often think about the concept of inherited memories. Perhaps this intuitive feeling is one that is inherited, and any attempt to explain it will result in further apprehension. Perhaps it is time for me to understand this complicated relationship as a haunting.

“I have created a number of works while at Alice Yard, ranging from sculpture to text-based installation and video. In each work, I’m reckoning with imagined geographies and landscapes, repetition, the relationship between the body and in-between spaces, omens, and the act of writing to record, archive and map.”

Erika DeFreitas, I am not tragically colored (after Zora Neale Hurston) (detail), 2013-2014

Erika DeFreitas is multidisciplinary conceptual artist based in Scarborough, Ontario. Placing an emphasis on process, gesture, and documentation, her work explores the influence of language, loss, and culture on the formation of identity, with the use of textile-based works and performative actions, which are photographed. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as Project Row Houses (Houston), Gallery 44 (Toronto), Angell Gallery (Toronto), Pollock Gallery (Dallas), Platform Centre for Photographic & Digital Arts (Winnipeg), and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Longlisted for the 2017 Sobey Art Award, a recipient of the Toronto Friends of Visual Arts’ 2016 Finalist Artist Prize and the 2016 John Hartman Award, DeFreitas holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. Her work can be seen at

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Memorandum of Understanding

Shanice Smith (L), Dominique Hunter (R) 

Alice Yard is pleased to welcome, and be in dialogue, with the project M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding,) initiated by Shanice Smith and Dominique Hunter.  Similar to, Projects & Space, initiated by Barbadian artist, Sheena Rose, Smith invited fellow artist, Hunter, to her family home, in Arouca, where they will continue to develop individual and joint projects to present in collaboration with Alice Yard’s network over the next few weeks. 
“….M.O.U. is a collaborative residency initiative conceptualized and developed by Trinidadian artist Shanice Smith and Guyanese artist Dominique Hunter after the two met during the fourth iteration of the Caribbean Linked Residency in Aruba in 2016.  This part of the residency, will take place in Trinidad & Tobago, and was designed to strengthen new and existing connections between creative practitioners working in the two countries. In addition to creating a platform for Smith and Hunter to expand their individual portfolios, the long-term vision is to continue explorations between both artists and to foster a continued engagement with local artists and artist spaces such as Alice Yard…“

See more information here

Monday, June 26, 2017

A conversation with Emilie Boone

The Terms of Emergence: How Photography from the African Diaspora Comes into Public View
Thursday 29 June, 2016, 7.00 pm, at Alice Yard

This informal public presentation/workshop will consider how collections of photographs from the African Diaspora have gained their importance and relevance within museums and the field of art history. Emilie will consider case studies related to her research. In addition, she will discuss the limitations and challenges of studying this particular history of photography.

Anonymous, Casimir Photo Studio, Port-au-Prince Haiti, 1986. Hand colored gelatin silver print. 3.5 x 5.5 in. Courtesy of a Private Collection

Emilie Boone focuses on the art and photography of the African Diaspora. She has written for the History of Photography and African Arts journals in addition to institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago and the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. She is an Assistant Professor at CUNY New York City College of Technology, which is an appointment that followed a Mellon Curatorial Fellowship at the Williams College Museum of Art and the completion of her PhD in Northwestern University’s Department of Art History.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dennis de Caires: A Tree in the Savannah

Thursday 25 May, 2017, from 7.30 pm, at Alice Yard

Artist Dennis de Caires is currently in residence at Alice Yard, gathering source material for future paintings, and also working on a monochromatic mural that will cover the walls in the Alice Yard Box, A Tree in the Savannah.

On the evening of Thursday 25 May, and daily until Saturday 27 May, the public is invited to to meet the artist and to view, experience, and discuss this work in progress as it unfolds and develops.

Dennis de Caires was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1957. He studied painting at Medway College of Art, Winchester School of Art, the Royal College of Art, and Cité Internationale in Paris. He has taught at a number of institutions since graduating, including De Montfort University, the University of Georgia, and Winchester School of Art, and he was Head of the Visual Arts Studio Programme at Barbados Community College from 2003 to 2005. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Richmond The American University in London and External Examiner for the Burrowes School of Art, Guyana.

His primary practice is painting and printmaking, with a focus on the critical relationship between the roles that drawing and colour play in these disciplines. He has exhibited extensively, and his most recent solo exhibition, A Morning at the Office, was held at the Zari Gallery in London last year. He lives and works in London and Barbados.

All are invited.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Joanna Helfer: works in progress

Tuesday 2 May, 2017, from 7 pm, at Alice Yard

Scottish artist Joanna Helfer has been in residence at Alice Yard since early March, as part of the British Council’s Transatlantic Artists Residency Exchange (#BCTAARE). On Tuesday 2 May, she will present works in progress from her time in Port of Spain.

During her residency, Helfer has been following various threads of enquiry initiated by investigative walks around the city. Responding to the city space and in conversation with the wide range of people passing through the yard, Joanna’s investigations branch off in a tangled array of directions, including examining Scottish connections within the postcolonial landscape, challenging narratives of dominance, power, shame and the gaze, ideas of nationhood and the role of the artist in nation-forming, and the history of photography and its role in the tropicalisation of the region.

Helfer will attempt to follow these threads to form some kind of conclusion through a presentation of video and photography work, writing, map-making and audio recordings. Rather than being a definitive completion of a conclusive residency programme, this presentation will attempt to describe work which marks the beginning of a larger enquiry and in various states of failure and success.

The artist writes:

“Creating work in this context has felt rather like attempting to erect a tent in the middle of a tornado — there are whirling winds which tear up the tent pegs as soon as you think you’ve found solid ground, and sometimes the tent blows away and you spend a few days trying to find it again. The important thing is you are not alone, there are lots of people around you: some are holding the ropes, others pass you pegs or suggest a suitable place to try again. Others advocate letting go of the tent altogether and simply standing still in the middle of the storm. In any case, I am extremely grateful to the generosity and patience shown to me by the artists and wider community of Alice Yard. This is a space where the definitions of failure and success become obscured and where definitions of relationship and community become clarified.”

All are invited.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Put Your Foot Down

Joanna Helfer’s residency journal, week one

On 6 March, 2017, Scottish artist Joanna Helfer began an eight-week stay at Alice Yard, as part of the British Council’s Transatlantic Artists Residency Exchange (#BCTAARE). During her time at Alice Yard, she is writing a weekly journal documenting her exploration of Trinidad and her work in progress.


Late last Monday night, after around thirty hours of travelling, I arrived at Alice Yard in the Woodbrook neighbourhood of Port of Spain, Trinidad, to begin my residency for the British Council’s Transatlantic Artists Residency Exchange (TAARE).

I left my house in Tayport at 3 pm on Sunday, got a taxi up to my studio on Tannadice Street, then down to the ceramics workshop to leave my keys and all my responsibilities behind. After another taxi to the station, I took the train to Edinburgh to fit in a visit to my grandparents before leaving, quickly sipping tea from antique willow pattern cups. At midnight, I caught the bus to Glasgow, another bus to the airport, then a lot of waiting. I tried to explain through my sleep-deprived muggy mind to friendly and inquisitive Glaswegians what on earth I was doing. I still don’t know. It was a short flight down to London with all the suited business folks on the way to a 9 am meeting in the city, followed by the long-haul from London, touchdown in St Lucia (where all the straw-hatted and linen-shirted tourists disembarked) and a short hop over to Port of Spain. After a simple immigration check (“What kinda art you make?”), I was here. The only thing obstructing my journey was the Trade Winds, causing a bad patch of turbulence across the Atlantic. Perhaps a portent of our times. 

The sense of displacement was profound. My apartment at Alice Yard is different to any space I have occupied before — there are sections cut out of the walls, holes to the outside which sound, smell, voices, and insects travel freely through. One wall is glass — a sheet of fabric barely shielding me from the gaze of all the visitors to the yard, gaps in the wooden slatted blinds rendering me immobile, utterly self-conscious, transparent. The boundaries between inside and outside are almost obliterated. It took me a few days to overcome my crushing anxiety and embrace the fluidity and tension of occupying a location which is a crossroads and citadel at the same time.

I am always where I am.

Port of Spain is listed in the top ten most dangerous cities in the world. I am repeatedly warned to be careful and to avoid walking alone, especially at night. In 2016, there were 478 murders in Trinidad and Tobago, and the recent grassroots mobilisation of activists across the Caribbean for women’s rights has recorded a disturbing rise in violence and harassment towards women and girls throughout the region. My proposal for this residency, which involves walking around the local region, takes on a whole new element, one which is overwhelmingly aware of the fragility and softness of my body, and otherness — my femininity, whiteness, privilege, and ignorance. There is virtually no public transport here, and cars are heavily relied upon for personal transportation, buoyed by the extraction of oil and natural gas in local waters, an industry which defines the island to a surprising (to me) degree.

On Saturday 11 March, six nations across the Caribbean engaged in a women’s rights demonstration to commemorate International Women’s Day. This sprung out of a movement which began in Barbados when women started to share their experiences of sexual harassment and institutionalised sexual and gender based violence using the hashtag #lifeinleggings. This quickly gained traction as women across the region shared their everyday encounters on social media. In Trinidad and Tobago, several activist groups worked together to organise the demonstration and march in Port of Spain. I found the event incredibly moving. There were many younger women and girls present, and the march around the Queen’s Park Savannah was led by all the girls under the age of ten, in a powerful gesture of intent — these girls should not grow up in a world where their rights and safety are compromised.

On Saturday morning, I joined fellow TAARE artist Josh Lu for a trip around Port of Spain (he will be travelling to London in May). Josh’s practice is concerned with the complex history and memory of space and he has conducted a lot of interesting research highlighting the connections between Scotland and Trinidad. The first place we visited was the Lapeyrouse Cemetery, just down the road from me in Woodbrook. The cemetery was used as the municipal dump during colonial times, and Josh has built up a sound knowledge of the various curios to be found there, from cast iron railings and crypt doors from long-lost Glasgow foundries to willow pattern crockery, just like my Granny’s, now reduced to fragments in the overturned earth. I found a piece of salt-glazed ceramic bottle from the H. Kennedy Barrowfield Pottery in Glasgow, a common find in colonial middens all over the island. The cemetery is divided up into various sections, with residents of Catholic, Presbyterian, and Anglican faiths. The gravestones and crypts are left to crumble and fade in the intense Caribbean heat, and are frequently raided for scrap metal, garden ornaments, and building materials. Many of the old crypts also house living occupants alongside the deceased, homeless folks who have used the available shelter to hide away from the harsh sun. Among the epitaphs are precious belongings, clothes drying in the sun, and scattered razor blades. 

One of the first questions I get asked by people is “Why weren’t you here for Carnival?” with a combination of pity and disbelief. Carnival is the must-see event of the year here in Trinidad and Tobago, and I missed it by a week. Most people were in a state of post-Carnival exhaustion when I first arrived, as a result of days and nights spent partying like the world was ending. There are a lot of different Carnival traditions that I’ve not quite got my head around yet, but it’s interesting to try to guess what happened from the collective hangover everyone is experiencing. I spent one afternoon walking to the Savannah, where the main event for Carnival takes place, collecting beads and trinkets left over from the elaborate Carnival costumes.

One Carnival tradition I have managed to get involved in through Alice Yard is stilt-walking. There is a traditional character called the Moko Jumbie — a masked mischief-maker on high stilts that was once a mainstay in Carnival and is now starting to make a comeback thanks to the innovations of local artists and groups. Local practitioners Josh Lu and Kriston Chen are collaborating to hold regular Moko Jumbie sessions beyond Carnival season, teaching the act of stilt-walking to beginners from all over T&T. On Sunday, we spent the afternoon in the yard of a traditional timber-frame house which has recently been renovated. Aspiring Moko Jumbies from all over Port of Spain and beyond came along to learn both stilt-walking and the history of the house, facilitated by a carefully curated intervention by Josh.

Over the past week, as my sense of place has altered, and I find myself less uncomfortable with my outsider status, I am drawn again to one of my favourite poems by the Scottish writer Norman MacCaig. MacCaig wrote of his experiences exploring the wild coastlines of western Scotland, but I think this poem travels with some resonance to Trinidad, and the wild urban landscape of Port of Spain.


I watch the lush moon fatly smirking down —
Where she might go, to skirt that smouldering cloud,
Is space enough to lose your image in.

Or, turn my head, between those islands run
Sandpapering currents that would scrub the dull
Picture away in suds and slaverings.

Even this grass, glowered at with force enough,
And listened to with lusting, would usurp,
In its beanstalk way, this walking, talking thing.

I choose it should not go. I turn for these
Paltering beautiful things, in case I see
Your image fade and myself fade with it —

A dissipation into actual light:
A dissolution in pure wave: a demise
In growth of green goodness, sappy and thick —

And think myself a foreigner in this scene,
The odd shape cramped on stone, the unbeastlike, clear
Of law and logos, with choices to commit …

Thump goes the wave then crisscross gabbles back —
As I do now till, wave to wander at,
I come again, to tower and lurch and spill.

From A Round of Applause (mostly 1959–61)


Joanna Helfer graduated with a BA (Hons.) in Time Based Art and Digital Film in 2009. The past eight years of her professional work have primarily consisted of setting up and facilitating community arts initiatives in Dundee, Scotland. These include Tin Roof, an artists’ collective serving the creative community of the city by providing collaborative opportunities, resources, and space to make work, and Hot Chocolate Trust, a youth work charity working with marginalised young people. Alongside these, her personal practice as a multidisciplinary artist includes filmmaking, photography, performance, sound art, printmaking, and installation. She combine themes found in her community work with her personal practice, particularly in trying to uncover hidden or suppressed histories of people and places through performative exploration and creating relationship-based interactive experiences. She is particularly inspired by the Situationist movement and the practice of the dérive, using walking as a recurring methodology to provoke new work.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

AY/24/7: Richard Mark Rawlins

A Dress to the Nation

From 3 to 8 March, 2017, a new work by artist Richard Mark Rawlins will be installed in the Alice Yard Box and accessible to viewers 24/7.

The artist writes:

This work, created for the occasion of my 50th birthday, is meant to symbolise my feelings about the trust, hope, security, and prayer that in my opinion have been expected of every one of our citizens over the course of my lifetime, but without any real sense of reciprocity.

From as early as I knew myself, I can recall the countless times we as a nation, certainly my parents, my brother, and I, would dash home so as not to miss an announced “Address to the Nation” by the prime minister, or in some cases the president, of the day. Today that is no longer required, and it does not hold such  pomp, circumstance, and authority, as everything is re-broadcast on social media.

While some addresses were often responses to public dissatisfaction over some perceived ill or another, and others still heralded political actions to be taken against an opposition member or sitting member of government (read: sacking), or on the odd occasion the announcement of a curfew or house arrest, for the most part I found them mystifying, in the sense that they left me no better off than before. In recent times they could even be described as befuddling, leaving all but the most sycophantic in a perpetual “WTF” moment.

Every time I hear the words “an address to the nation” now, I can’t help but hear the song from the musical Annie playing in my head. That cute-lily-white-milky-soppiness of sacchrine, that extolls the virtues of looking on to a brighter day. The sun will come out tomorrow. Again. Yeah, allyuh could wait for that....

About the artist:

Richard Mark Rawlins is a graphic designer and artist living and working in Trinidad and Tobago. He is the publisher of the online art magazine Draconian Switch, and collaborator in the Alice Yard contemporary art-space initiative. Noted exhibitions include the Bienal Internacional de Asuncion 2015 (Paraguay); the Jamaica Biennial 2014; Season of Renewal, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; The Global Africa Project, Museum of Art and Design (MAD), New York; The General Public, Alice Yard, Port of Spain; and NEO GLOBAL, AHFMB during Miami Artweek 2016. For the past ten years, he has been exploring the cultural poetics and politics of life in Trinidad and Tobago, notions of nationhood, and black identity as presented via a global lens.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rodell Warner: The Most Corrupting Notion Ever Captured in a Dream

Opens Thursday 16 February, 2017, from 7 pm, at Alice Yard

In recent months, artist Rodell Warner has been making a collection of painted objects exploring relationships between black and white, “as between off and on, living and non-living, figure and ground, the way 1 and 0 signal off and on in transistors / computer language.”

In mid February 2017, Warner will present The Most Corrupting Notion Ever Captured in a Dream, an installation of these new works at Alice Yard. The project opens on the evening of 16 February and runs until the 21st.

All are invited.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sofía Gallisá Muriente and Nimah Muwakil-Zakuri: Inabordable/Unapproachable

Tuesday 7 February, 2017, from 7 pm, at Alice Yard

Puerto Rican artist Sofía Gallisá Muriente, co-director of the art space Beta-Local, is currently artist in residence at Alice Yard, where she has been in conversation with curator and writer Nimah Muwakil-Zakuri. On 7 February, 2017, they will share their respective projects that engage with complex personal histories through affective archives. The evening’s events will include an installation of archival, visual, and video materials, and a public conversation.

All are invited.

About the projects:

Sofía Gallisá Muriente’s Searching for The Shadow (Buscando La Sombra) is a long-term effort to recover the historical and affective memory of Carlos “La Sombra” Torres Meléndez, founder of the Pro-Inmates Rights Association, or los “Ñetas”, organised in prisons throughout Puerto Rico and the world. The investigation is rooted in the memories of people who knew him, combining their stories and personal archives with documents from formal archives and video works produced during the research process to generate a portrait that incorporates subjectivities, languages, and forms. Through public events, exhibitions, publications and conversations, the project serves as resource and reference, while also amplifying the implications of the subject matter and form, from a current perspective.

Gallisá Muriente is a visual artist who works mainly with video, photography, text, and installation. She earned a BFA at New York University (2008) and has participated in experimental pedagogical projects such as Anhoek School and La Práctica at Beta-Local as student, tutor, and fellow. She was awarded an emerging artist grant from TEOR/éTica in Costa Rica, where she had a solo show in 2015. Her work has also been shown in the Bronx Latin American Art Biennial; San Juan Polygraphic Triennial; at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires; and the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis. She is currently one of the co-directors of Beta-Local, an organisation dedicated to supporting critical and aesthetic thought and practices in Puerto Rico.

Nimah Muwakil-Zakuri writes: “Twenty-seven years ago, a group of young Muslim men attempted to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Their story, that story, has been told and retold and told again, but always through the voices of the men involved (on both sides). These men, however, had wives whose stories have never really been told. They are a voiceless group who do have a story to tell. I want to explore ways in which that story can be explored and shared. How can this side of the story be told in a constructive and reconciliatory manner? What methods and approaches are best suited to exploring these difficult topics?”

Muwakil-Zakuri is an art history graduate from the Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, and also holds an MPhil in cultural studies from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. She held the post of Head Curator at Trinidad and Tobago’s National Museum and Art Gallery for three years, and is now the Curator of the Central Bank Money Museum and Art Collection (2013-present). She has an interest in art archiving as well as the development of museum and art education programmes that may be used to approach difficult social topics and histories.