Going back to find your forward

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The last few months have been tough! Being cooped up in the house in London, not connecting with family and friends, and being at the mercy of the British weather during COVID-19 has taken its toll. However, I had not realized how much it impacted my creativity until I decided to go back to Barbados. It's been a decade since I last lived here, and just stepping off that plane and feeling the Caribbean air against my skin reignited something in me that had been missing for the last ten years.

Connecting with the elements

My work-life balance has improved tremendously. Don’t get me wrong, I am still putting in a good 10 hours in the new home office and then shutting the laptop and painting well into the wee hours, but I now do most of this while surrounded by the sea. My home office is now mobile. I crunch numbers, create strategies, make connections, and conduct research while staring over the Caribbean ocean. Not only has my productivity increased, so has my creative eye. After a day of admin by the beach, it is even easier to pick up my paintbrush and express that sense of serenity that absorbing myself in nature has given me.

So what has this new environment given me?

Ironically it has changed what I paint! I never thought I would fool around with scenery and flowers, but It is hard not to when surrounded by natural beauty all day long.

This piece is called “Sankofa Guide” and I started the one on the left two years ago. Being on the island has made me revisit it and give it a new lease of life. Although this painting is still a work in progress, I now have the vision to come from an entirely new perspective. For months I battled on how to bring this to life and with just a few short weeks, being here has given me a plethora of ideas on how to take it to the next level.

 Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana, literally means “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” The Sankofa  is a part of the Andinkra symbols and stands for  a quest for knowledge. The implication is that the search is based on critical examination and intelligent and patient investigation.

This is why you can see her looking so intently at the Sankofa bird. Not only is she looking for guidance, but she is also asking for help from her ancestors. Being quarantined in a country that I no longer recognized made it impossible for me to find my way forward. However, leaving the UK’s heaviness behind unlocked what I needed to dig deep and start to bring this painting to life. So watch this space to see the finished versions.

What does this mean for me creatively?

Barbados will always be my spiritual home. No matter where I live on this globe, there will always be a deep sense of connection between myself and this island. Something magical happens to you creatively when you strip yourself of the weight that a problematic geographical location can have. When you take yourself away from all the things that bog you down living in a busy and disconnected city.

I am discovering new artistic opportunities every day and connecting with the art scene here. This piece is called “Bajan Serenity” and will form part of an upcoming exhibition in June at the Art Splash Cafe in Christ Church Barbados. The show is a fundraiser to lp our brothers and sisters in St Vincent. Follow @oyaarts for more information and dates.

 

Now I feel like I have a new creative lease of life that I can build on to grow my portfolio. Thanks to mother nature, my artistic block seems to be coming to an end, and I see things from a new perspective that has always been around me, but that I was too asleep to see.

Follow me on Instagram @oyaarts to watch my creative process while in paradise.

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