Sitting in a small stuffy darkened room with my fellow classmates, spots erupting on our chins and that thick smell of youth, we gaze aimlessly at the images projected on the screen. Our teacher, an erudite man with maybe a little too much enthusiasm for long boozy lunches rather than inspiring our dull minds, explains the erotic connection between food and art (particularly paintings with food and naked women!) Not even this salacious detail seems to awaken us from our teenage hormone-induced stupor.
He was talking that day about Manet’s ‘Le dejeuner Sur L’Herbe’ — a stunningly provocative picture in that day and age when female nudity was common in art, but
next to fully dressed men……the implication was blatant. One woman is washing herself in a pond in the background; the second woman engages the viewer’s
eyes directly. Lunch is carelessly in the foreground - another conscious reference to the enjoyment of the senses!
At the time, this painting was violently vilified by artists and critics alike. Today, looking beyond the now, slightly dated, overly familiar style of painting, the message in the picture is still incredibly contemporary and can be interpreted with issues pertinent to today’s world. Art has always pushed boundaries. This painting expresses truths that were uncomfortable then and even now.
As pointed out all those years ago at school, by my art teacher, the relationship between food and art is indelibly set in ink and paint, hence, maybe, my fervent enjoyment of any cuisine and all art! Last December on a deliciously breezy day, a day where the sun is just warm enough to balance the frisky cool of the wind, my good friends, Paula Boyd-Farrington, Robbin Whachell, and I met for lunch on an outside terrace overlooking the ocean.
The sun sparkling off the ocean and the salt breeze filling our nostrils, we chat over our delicious satay chicken salad. Paula’s eyes sparkle and Robbin pulls out her note pad, as I start to share my idea to put on another art show in Freeport
- a group themed show. I explain my vision for the theme, an idea that has long intrigued me - looking at the neglected aspects of life, society and self and finding the inherent
beauty there. We brainstorm till we coin the title ‘Ecstatic Shadows - The unexplored Beauty in life’
Fast forward five months later to a work table at the Freeport
Art Centre, which is littered with glue guns, paper, hammers, nails, and an assortment of other artistic debris, and there amongst the hardware and works of art is a neat space for a full plate of quiche and salad, a cup of iced tea, a hearty proportioned muffin and a steaming bowl of soup. My Dad, Richard Mackay, has just delivered an unasked for lunch. It is gratefully munched while hammering nails in walls and answering phone calls!
Every day for the set up of the show, my dad quietly picks up last minute items, get me lunch, and looks after my kids. Dad, I say to you, we could not do this show without your support: financial, emotional and practical.
The week before the show Robbin, Paula and I have a quick meeting to review what needs to be done. They have both been working tirelessly and never complain at the
extra burden of putting together an art show. I hold their hands and said Thank you - we could not do this show without your support, practical, financial and
Later, Paula appears like an angel with her exotically crisp signage. Together with her team at Freeport
Advertising and Printing, they excelled at producing everything from the sophisticated invitations, the signage, posters, guest book and quotation leaflets - all made possible by Greg and Paula Farrington and Fred Smith
's kind and generous sponsorship. The show could not have happened without their support and hard
Meanwhile, Robbin has been co-ordinating sponsorship, writing press releases, sending out invitations, and endlessly promoting the show on the website
. She is also responsible for smoothing out hiccups, and being endlessly supportive. The show needed her organising and administrative
skills - it couldn’t have happened without her.
Freeport Art Center's Lesley Duncomb and Sheldon Saint are there constantly during that busy week, to offer me advice and practical assistance; both have excellent experience of art shows and their help is invaluable. A generous donation from Mrs. Barbara Chester covered the cost of renting the gallery for the month. Their absolute support meant that ‘Ecstatic Shadows’ happened!
On the day of the show, Britton Clarke from Sparky’s Bar, Port Lucaya, shows up with her barely perceptible belly bump of baby Clarke, and efficiently and artfully organises the donated food from Gordon Hunsucker, Cappucino’s Restaurant, Natalie Koll (Taino
Beach Resort), Mary Silvera and Lawna Bethel. The tables look beautiful with her drapes, table cloths and the flowers donated from Flowerama and Caribbean Gardens.
Britton also provides Sparky’s Bar staff for the evening and organises the beer, donated by The Grand Bahama Brewery, and the wine donated by Bristol
& Spirits, and Eddie and Joanna Llambias. Britton’s kindness does not stop there- she also provides water, soft drinks, ice, cups, napkins, and most importantly: her unique ‘Sparkito’!! The show could not have happened and certainly would not have been as delicious without Britton’s and all the other incredible donations.
Teresa Langstaff, Loryn Blower and Scarlet Slaihem arrive and immediately start to work. Steven Vincent and Alla Kriman fill in small holes on the concrete walls and are constantly there to help whenever needed. Before the guests start to arrive, Ishbel Macdonald takes her place to welcome every guest in the foyer and invites them to sign the guest book. Kriston Culmer, as the DJ for the evening, creates an unmistakeable contemporary atmosphere. Chelsea Smith pops behind the bar to assist when needed. My children are safely sleeping over at Creena Millard’s house. The event would not have happened without their help.
Eventually the work is hung and the sculptures arranged in the open space. The slide show, by Omar Smith is ready and set up with the kind loan of the projector by The Lucaya International School. The artists - Kevin Bethel, Noah Bethel, Loryn Blower,
Alla Kriman, Fred Smith
, Omar Smith, and myself, all worked hard to produce the work that made up this show— for sure the show could not have happened without
them, or, indeed, the 300 plus people that came to see and support art in this small community.
In my debut role of curator I am very proud of the event, of the art work, and the theme presented. This show introduced a variety of "conceptual art" to the community — art that is more concerned with presenting an idea or concept - food for thought - and in that sense, some of the work may seem as provocative for its time as Manet’s ‘Le Dejeuner sur L’herbe’ was in its era. Irrespective of one’s personal interpretation of this ‘new’ genre of art, it is nourishment - a feast of visual and intellectual discoveries that shines light on our shared humanity.
Two weeks on, I am still excited by the discussions of future shows and the energy of potential.
The night was a success, and I feel extremely happy and humbled to have been a part of the huge network of people whose passion and generosity meant that it could happen. Each person in their unique way, were an absolute and integral part of ‘Ecstatic Shadows’
It takes a village to raise a child, so they say, and I would say that it takes a village to create an art show!
Thank you all.
Editor's Note: please note that IF you missed this show, the work is still available for viewing at the Freeport Art Centre. Ecstatic Shadows