A Vision of Our Future:
Artists Stamp Their Names On History’s Page
Three Barbadian women have emerged as the winners in the FutureSPACES competition which posted a $30,000 prize purse and attracted dozens of entries. Using the moniker ‘A3’, the winning group is composed of Alanis Forde, Akilah Watts, and Anna Gibson.
The FutureSPACES competition attracted entries from a bevy of skilled artists who pitched progressively creative ideas to execute the concept of ‘What Barbados would look like in the future’. In addition to the monetary prize, the distinct opportunity is provided to paint the largest mural in the Eastern Caribbean.
While Watts, Forde and Gibson won as a team entry, they are individually accomplished artists with unique styles. The young women often work as a group and have completed murals at the Grantley Adams International Airport, the Barbados Community College, St Giles Primary, and for anti-bullying campaigns at several secondary schools.
James Edghill, the local developer who sponsored the prize and believes that Corporate Barbados needs to be more supportive of the creative economy, said it was an easy decision to come on board with the FutureSPACES initiative, affirming that “Creative industries need non-traditional forms of financing and support. More companies and individuals can be involved in a philanthropic way, to help support the creative industries to make something good. Smaller donations from companies or individuals can have a large impact on a neighbourhood, on a community, on a city.” Edghill added investment in the creative capital of the country’s artists can have longterm social benefits and economic impact.
When complete, the FutureSPACES mural measuring 60 feet by 30 feet will truly be no small feat as it adorns the exterior of the General Post Office.
At this size, it will surpass any other art installation produced in the Eastern Caribbean. In addition to Edghill, Berger Paints has sponsored the paints for the large space to allow for a vibrant and long-lasting work of art. To complete the mural, the A3 team will be working in tandem sunrise to sunset for a number of weeks starting February 14th, 2020.
The winning image is designed and will be imprinted to reflect the ethos of the General Post Office for decades to come. It combines a variety of artistic styles as well as symbols of past and future of Barbados. The group stated that they decided to use layers to examine the past and the present in order to build on the image that they thought the future would be.
The magnitude of this undertaking is not simply in its physical size, but also within its historical context. The significance of being selected as the team to create such an important public display is a point which is not lost on Watts, Forde and Gibson. Forde believes that although the public is not always exposed to public art, the best way to reach them is through visual media. She explains, “They will have an emotional connection to the imagery because it’s from where they are from. Everybody in this island has had some sort of cultural contact with an element of this piece and the imagery we use is important.”
Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King was pleased to see the many ways in which the FutureSPACES concept was interpreted and expressed satisfaction that the winning entry came from a team. “I know we have amazing creative talent in the visual arts. It’s good to see artists coming together and working within collectives.” Of the winning artwork that will be produced in the coming months, he added “It is very fitting given the location of the artwork, the GPO stands as an example of modern architecture in its time housing a service that has been important for centuries. Having this work of art added to the space in 2020 speaks to our past and heritage as well as our future.”
Watts agrees, adding “It’s also about what we want our outcome for the future to be. We want to be and financially stable. To be able to rely on our own people for the resources that we need.”
The group is also looking for volunteers to assist with various aspects of the mural.
A Vision of Our Future
When hearing the title ’A Vision of Our Future’ we couldn’t help but to look back at where our nation has come from, using that history as our foundation for future generations to stand upon. The foundation in our drawing is made up of important parts of our culture both past and present. Starting from the origins of Barbados using the chattel house, palm trees, local foods, our one cent, thriving rum industry and most importantly education, we show a upwards path to our future. These symbols all contribute to our tourism industry which will lead to a prosperous future for Barbados.
To illustrate this prosperous future the imagery follows the journey of youth. Taking reference from the coat of arms, a girl holds a piece of sugarcane that translates into a scale. To each side of the scale are elements used to represent a vision of economic stability, technology, solarium power and visionary ideas. With inspiration from old Barbadian stamps and the location of the mural we decided to encase the drawing within a stamp to bring everything together as one.