Second Generation Barbadian Artists Selected for Prestigious Biennials
The work of two second generation young Barbadian Artists, Ewan Atkinson and Alberta Whittle, will be featured at the Havana and Venice Biennials respectively next month. The Havana and Venice Biennials are two major international Art expositions.
The invitation to Ewan Atkinson to take part in the Havana Biennial came as a direct result of the visit of José Manuel Noceda Fernández to Barbados last year. José, a member of the curatorial team of the biennial, was on island at the request of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) as part of their efforts to gain some exposure for local contemporary artists.
Ewan, the son of Arthur Atkinson, Artist and his wife Hetty, a founding member of the Barbados Dance Theatre, was selected to exhibit at the 12th edition of the extremely prestigious Havana Biennial, the major biennial in the region.
In 2010, Ewan Atkinson, Ras Ishi Butcher and Ras Akyem Ramsay represented Barbados in the Liverpool Biennial, UK. And in 2015, his work is already set to be shown in more than one international exhibition, the other being the exhibition ‘Colonial Afterlives‘ which will be held at the Salamanca Arts Centre in Tasmania, Australia.
The other second generation artist, Alberta Whittle, daughter of artist Nick Whittle and Curator of the Queen’s Park Gallery, Janice Whittle, she’ll be the first Barbadian artist to be showcased in the Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale, which started in 1895, is the most influential of all the Biennials. Alberta and South African Artist Farieda Nazier will also present a performance piece, ‘Rite of Admission‘, in the Johannesburg Pavilion. Performance or film artists exclusively make up this Pavilion – a separate unit from the government funded South Africa National Pavilion.
Alberta’s dreams of success were recognised as early as 2010 in the Edinburgh College of Art Centenary Exhibition where she was chosen as one of the 25 Alumni making a significant contribution in the world of Art. Last year, she curated the Caribbean and South African artists for ‘FRAMES‘, Glasgow International. Her list of other international exhibitions in 2014 included ‘Transforming Spaces,’ at the National Gallery of the Bahamas, where she along with her father Nick Whittle, showcased a joint video.
During her participation in BOZAR, an International Biennial of Photography and Lens based Media, which also took place in 2014 in Brussels, Alberta was interviewed on French TV5. Later this year, she will be in a collaborative exhibition with Anna Christina Lorenzen and Dean Hutton in the Goethe Institute, Johannesburg.
The majority of Alberta’s solo exhibitions have been in Barbados. She successfully applied for funding from the Arts and Sports Promotion Fund administered by the Ministry of Finance for a triangular project which will involve Barbados, South Africa and the United Kingdom. She was acting curator of the Queen’s Park Gallery in 2009-10.
These accomplishments assure us that the investments of agencies such as the National Cultural Foundation, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, and the Ministry of Finance play a critical role in facilitating the growing international recognition of Barbadian Artists. With the recent proclamation of the Cultural Industries Development Act, such recognition is vital to creating a demand for Barbados’ intellectual and artistic products and services.