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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Reinforcing connection

Holly Bynoe

NAGB chief curator looks for potential links for regional artists abroad!!

Chief Curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Holly Bynoe has been seeking new opportunities for local and regional artists abroad. Invited to take part in Caribbean Focus, the British Council’s international curatorial research trip, Bynoe traveled to Scotland, last month with a cohort of eight other curators and cultural workers from the Caribbean, South and North America and India for 10 days of researching and networking.

NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe presents an overview of her work at the British Council International Curatorial Research Trip. 

The connection with the British Council was made at a Tilting Axis conference held in February of this year at Fresh Milk Art Platform in Barbados. Bynoe is a co-founder of Tilting Axis, an ongoing series of conferences and discussions dedicated to developing infrastructure between independent art organizations across the Caribbean, U.S., E.U. and Asia. In hopes of engaging with the Caribbean cultural industry, British Council representatives attended the conference and returned to report to Juliet Dean, visual arts advisor at the British Council.

While the spring and summer months were filled with travels and changes, particularly as Bynoe joined the NAGB as chief curator, the British Council was set on returning the hospitality. In late September, Bynoe was invited to travel to Glasgow to share her work and mission with others from across the region and Atlantic.

“I think it’s good to figure out how the British Council wants to participate in the Caribbean cultural sphere,” said Bynoe. “When you are a post-independence Anglophone territory, it comes with a deep suspicion. But it seems as though they want to facilitate a connection between the UK, and the Caribbean. A stream to support exchanges, collaborations, mentorship programs and direct linkages with institutions within the Caribbean is what they want to achieve and build on.”

Sponsored entirely by the British Council, the trip was an exploratory one, and Bynoe hoped to see how the council’s interests would align with her own as curator of the NAGB. The group’s primary objective was finding out more about contemporary art practices and the creative sector in the UK, and in return, the curators presented individual overviews of their work.

Bynoe hopes more of Graham Fagen’s works like this, “The Slave’s Lament”, will travel throughout the Caribbean. 

Bynoe is well connected throughout the region. In addition to being the NAGB’s chief curator, she is editor-in-chief and founder of ARC Magazine, meaning that she has dedicated herself to travelling the region, fostering relationships with artists, curators and art institutions. This has been done in an effort to promote artists from the Caribbean and contemporary art movements in the region on a larger platform. Still, Bynoe knew no one other than artist and Alice Yard administrator Christopher Cozier, whom she met when he curated an exhibition showing some of her works. The trip offered her the chance to build new relationships from others with similar backgrounds. And with much of the work in the Caribbean focusing on a shared history of colonization and the tensions that come with it, a partnership with the British Council could be eye-opening for many on both sides of the pond.

“I just want to be able to show up and confirm commitment, because the British Council has a vast wealth of infrastructural knowledge and connections, which could be used in very specific ways to support either The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean. So that’s my interest – figuring out where I can intersect and develop collaborations,” Bynoe explained.

Graham Fagen is one example of the ways individual artists can benefit from the exchange. Fagen has already made a name for himself internationally, having represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale this year. His work now reflects his studies in the history of slavery and cultural trauma for those on both sides of the Pond. Fagen has been deconstructing the ways we contemplate and represent slavery and it is anticipated that his pieces will travel throughout the Caribbean region.

The Seventh National Exhibition, which opened last December at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, was curated by Holly Bynoe and Michael Edwards. 

According to Bynoe, the British Council’s interest in the visual art arena in the Caribbean should be viewed as something that local and regional artists should tap into.

The British Council showing an interest in the visual art industry in the Caribbean is a profitable moment for artists, as we will benefit from the council’s infrastructural support,” she said. “In a way, they are looking at a more holistic way to define their support… all granting organizations have their own inherent agendas, so defining our independence and agency within this is going to be crucial and challenging.”

For more information on the NAGB and the ways it is forging connections with international creative spaces, visit its website,

www.nagb.org.bs

, or Facebook page, or call 328-5800.