Collective: A Photography Show At The Barbados Arts Council

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This post was first published by Gyal In A Gallery and reposted with kind permission on Bajan Art.

This week, I went to see “Collective”, a photographic art show at the Barbados Arts Council. The show actually opened October 9th, but since I was out of the country, I did not get to see it until now. This rich show features the work of Dr. Raymond Maughan, Hugh Walker, Andre Donawa, and Franz Phillips. There are many beautiful and skillful photographs among the 167 images, but I particularly enjoyed the epic landscapes of Barbados.

Going to See Collective

There were many photographs in the Art Council space. Some hung on the walls, others hung in rows on hanging lines (an aesthetic that I always enjoy.) Looking around at the show, I immediately noticed that there were no labels on the walls. Instead, visitors could look at the catalogue, which clearly listed the name, size, and photographer for each piece. It took a few minutes for me to find the right wall—the catalogue walls bore names like “North” and “East” and my geographical directions aren’t always that precise—but I sorted myself out eventually.

Not only did the catalogue tell me what piece was what, but it gave me some background on the show.Dr. Raymond Maughan stated that this would be his fourth solo show since 2007. However, he wanted to invite some friends to show some of their work, so Hugh Walker, Franz Phillips, and Andre Donawa each showed a few images in this show.

What the catalogue could not reveal was any particular order to how the show was hung. If there was an order, I could not decipher it. So I shall simply go through mentioning which pieces I liked.

Love Letters to the Landscape

Some of the pieces in the show were landscapes on the very grand scale. Maughan’s piece “Cliffs on River Bay” showcased the spectacular scenery in the north of Barbados. It appeared to be taken with a wide-angle lens, showing a far wider view than normally seen in an image. This photo showed the majesty of this familiar picnic spot.

Andre Donawa also contributed an excellent landscape image. “Drifting Long Pond” showed the scenery at Long Pond on the East Coast. Last time I went there was for an Environmental Science project, and I remember being knee-deep in mud. This photograph reminded me of how truly lovely this area is.

Notes on a Smaller Scale

Many images captured an epic view of the Barbadian scenery. However, some chose to focus on some smaller aspects. Hugh Walker’s piece “Serene Thoughts” looked like a strange exercise in texture from a distance. However, as I grew closer, I saw that it showed a tangle of reeds and some flat waterlily pads on a smooth river. The contrasts, set in the low lighting, did provide serenity.

As always, I particularly enjoyed images that made me look at familiar things in a new way. Maughan’s “Chattel in Red” clearly featured a local chattel house. However, rather than the usual view, it zoomed in on the sharp shadows that bright light cast on it. It went from being something typical to something dramatic.

Less Is…

There were many beautiful photographs in this show, almost an embarrassment of riches. However, the layout of the show did not always do each photograph due justice.

In some places, the images sat right next to each other, drawing my eye on in a steady and unbreakable line. I would have liked some blank space to allow my eyes to rest and focus on one image. This was especially the case with some of the grander landscapes. Such spectacular pieces deserved space to breathe, so that their full majesty could be properly appreciated.

Further, much like last time, I got a crick in the neck looking up at some of the images. I appreciated seeing so many pieces, but not when I could not look at them easily. The show felt much too big for the space that it was in. I wish it was either in a larger area, or that the very highlights had been shown.

An update: Dr. Maughan explained that due to budgetary constraints and other concerns, this layout was in fact necessary. As a reviewer, I am aware of the constraints facing the display of arts in Barbados, and can understand the need to maximise display space wherever possible–aesthetics or no aesthetics.

Andre Donawa also contributed an excellent landscape image. “Drifting Long Pond” showed the scenery at Long Pond on the East Coast. Last time I went there was for an Environmental Science project, and I remember being knee-deep in mud. This photograph reminded me of how truly lovely this area is.

Notes on a Smaller Scale

Many images captured an epic view of the Barbadian scenery. However, some chose to focus on some smaller aspects. Hugh Walker’s piece “Serene Thoughts” looked like a strange exercise in texture from a distance. However, as I grew closer, I saw that it showed a tangle of reeds and some flat waterlily pads on a smooth river. The contrasts, set in the low lighting, did provide serenity.

As always, I particularly enjoyed images that made me look at familiar things in a new way. Maughan’s “Chattel in Red” clearly featured a local chattel house. However, rather than the usual view, it zoomed in on the sharp shadows that bright light cast on it. It went from being something typical to something dramatic.

Less Is…

There were many beautiful photographs in this show, almost an embarrassment of riches. However, the layout of the show did not always do each photograph due justice.

In some places, the images sat right next to each other, drawing my eye on in a steady and unbreakable line. I would have liked some blank space to allow my eyes to rest and focus on one image. This was especially the case with some of the grander landscapes. Such spectacular pieces deserved space to breathe, so that their full majesty could be properly appreciated.

Further, much like last time, I got a crick in the neck looking up at some of the images. I appreciated seeing so many pieces, but not when I could not look at them easily. The show felt much too big for the space that it was in. I wish it was either in a larger area, or that the very highlights had been shown.

An update: Dr. Maughan explained that due to budgetary constraints and other concerns, this layout was in fact necessary. As a reviewer, I am aware of the constraints facing the display of arts in Barbados, and can understand the need to maximise display space wherever possible–aesthetics or no aesthetics.

Verdict

That said, there were a number of very beautiful pieces in this show. It’s very much worth the visit.

“Collective” will be at the Barbados Arts Council from October 9 to October 27. On Friday October 20, Dr. Raymond Maughan will be at the gallery from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to answer questions. Regular opening hours are Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.