Adrian Elcock looking at submissions
Photographer: Charmaine Walker
Artists Alliance Barbados Inc. is the response to a decision to keep alive the energies of the visual arts community, mobilised and organised by Jennifer Oneka Small, to mount the exhibition, ‘We Pledge Allegiance’, that celebrated Barbadian artists - past, present and future – and their “visions of joy and pain, of struggles, triumphs, challenges and victories” during the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations in 2016.
'We Pledge Allegiance’ was organised by in just four weeks, “in the face of slights and oversights from government's planning committees that left visual artists out of any activities of significance” in celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of Independence.
It was recognized to be the most comprehensive art exhibition ever seen in Barbados. The exhibition covered 8000 sq. ft. at Building 2 Manor Lodge Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, and showcased 94 artists and more than 350 works.
There was a rich array of art exploring a myriad of approaches, styles and practices, both historical and contemporary; and by presenting the art of the past in proximity with art of the present, the connections across generations were exposed.
Originally scheduled to run from 15th November to 3rd December, it continued until 17th December. It was tremendously successful in numbers of visitors, volume of sales and depth of public appreciation.
On average 30 visitors attended daily, from 8 years to 86 years, engaged with the displays, asked lots of questions, enjoyed seeing elements of the “national collection” again and bought work.
‘We Pledge Allegiance’ was facilitated by the Elcock Group of Companies with sponsorship from Corporate Barbados and private individuals. Some 400 patrons attending the Opening Reception at which drummer Ashanti Trotman, MCed and Cos Players, and spoken-word artist Adrian Green performed. During an extended period, an Art and Fashion Fusion was held on 10th December which attracted another 500 people.
In addition, four education institutions, Combermere School, Queen’s College, The Codrington School, and Barbados Community College, used the exhibition for instruction.
I live by the motto “don’t complain, get up and do” and I give plenty thanks for being one of the many conduits that made it possible.
‘We Pledge Allegiance’ was an act of a higher order. The visual artists of Barbados put aside their differences and with private sector partnerships and support became part of the Golden Jubilee Independence Celebration of 2016.
I am delighted that 95 percent of our patrons were Barbadian and that Barbadians bought Barbadian art. It was with deep pride for Barbados that families of three generations together came to view the exhibition, and that grandparents brought their grandchildren because “it is important for them to learn to see”. I recognize its legacy when patrons returned two and three times “to enjoy one or two pieces again before they disappear”.
There is demand from both artists and patrons that ‘We Pledge Allegiance’ be staged as a national event every year around in November (Independence) or in February (National Heroes). We look forward to using the platform created to facilitate more and greater exposure for art and artists in Barbados.
Oneka Small | Co-ordinator
Juliana Inniss | Eternals
Nerys Rudder | Collections Management and Conservation
Kraig Yearwood | Generation Next
Graham Gill | New Media
Risee Chadderton | Photography
Jamonn Roberts | Film