October 17, 2021

Travelling Caribbean Art Exhibition

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National Gallery’s Assistant Curator and Artist Simon Tatum Featured in Travelling Caribbean Art Exhibition

To coincide with the opening of the International Museums Conference (7-10 November 2018), which was jointly hosted by Museums Association of the Caribbean, the University of the West Indies and the EU-LAC Museums Project, the Barbados Museum & Historical Society presented a new exhibition entitled Arrivants: Art and Migration in the Anglophone Caribbean. The National Gallery’s very own assistant curator and artist, Simon Tatum was one of 24 Caribbean artists represented in the exhibition, which was curated by Dr. Veerle Poupeye (Jamaica) and Allison Thompson (Barbados). Tatum is the youngest featured artist.

Arrivants explores the diasporic nature of Caribbean society as documented and interrogated through its artistic production. The focus is on the Anglophone Caribbean at different points in time from the mid twentieth century to the present day and on the cultural impact of migration from and to the United Kingdom, North America and Europe, as well as the movements within the Caribbean and Central American region.

Tropical Forms, work contributed by Tatum, is an array of monotone paintings designed to act as organisms by adapting to the dimensions of their exhibition space and incorporating materials and references from the various locations they travel. The concept was created by Tatum during a residency in Leipzig, Germany, which was supported by the National Gallery. While in Germany, he learned that male Cuban contract workers were sent to Leipzig to work within the spindle factories because of a trade deal between Cuba and the German Democratic Republic. The Cubans spent limited time in Leipzig, but several of them intermixed with German locals and had children.

Other work featured in the exhibition, which comprises of a series of interventions into the traditional museum environment at the Barbados Museums and Historical Society, include renown Caribbean ‘Masters’ such as Stanley Greaves, Aubrey Williams, Phillip Moore, James Boodhoo, Karl Broodhagen, Eddie Chambers, and Ras Ishi Butcher, as well as contemporary Caribbean artists: Ewan Atkinson, Paul Dash, Francis Griffith, Caroline Holder,  Nadia Huggins, Leasho Johnson, Marianne Keating, Winston Kellman, Kelley-Ann Lindo, Hew Locke, Kishan Munroe, Lynn Parrotti, Keith Piper, Sheena Rose, Veronica Ryan, Golde White and Cosmo Whyte.
Exhibition co-curator Dr. Veerle Poupeye became familiar with Tatum’s practice when she was invited by the National Gallery to explore the Caymanian art scene earlier this year. Speaking about the work she says, “Simon’s recent body of work,

Tropical Forms, reflects on a little-known aspect of Caribbean migration, the temporary migration of Cuban workers in East Germany. In addition to being formally interesting, as three-dimensional drawings, these works speak to themes of labour migration, belonging and displacement, and notions about the exotic and were a natural fit for Arrivants. Arrivants also reflects on the issues involved in exhibition-making in the Caribbean, and the need for capacity-building. We were also interested in Simon’s work as a young curator who will no doubt help to shape the future course of art in the Caribbean, so we invited him to serve as a curatorial intern and to contribute his reflections on the curatorial process to the project blog, .”

“We are extremely proud to see Simon Tatum included in this important regional exhibition and to have the Cayman Islands represented in regional arts dialogue through this project. It’s a very big achievement for a young artist at the start of his professional career,” says Natalie Urquhart, NGCI Director who was in Barbados to present a plenary session at the International Museums Conference, and who attended the opening reception of the exhibition.

She continued, “We have been working hard to increase opportunities for Caymanian artists regionally for the past several years which has included inviting curators and leading Caribbean artists to the Cayman Islands to engage with our local art scene, as well as supporting network opportunities, residencies and artists exchanges.

The National Gallery supported Tatum’s travel to Barbados as part of the NGCI Creative Careers programme, where he had the opportunity to train with exhibition curators and the installation team and to meet other featured artists.

This exhibition is funded within the scope of the Horizon2020 EU-LAC-MUSEUMS project and facilitated by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. Plans are now underway to showcase the exhibition in the UK, before exploring opportunities to travel the collection within the region.

IMAGES:
Photo: Simon Tatum (Cayman Islands) – Tropical Form (2018), wall-based drawing installation – photograph Jonathan Tatum

Photo: Simon Tatum installs Tropical Form at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (photograph courtesy Karen Brown)

Photo: Arrivants opening reception (l-r): Jessica Taylor (Head of Programmes, International Curators Forum, UK), Allison Thompson (co-curator), Paola Amadei (Director, EU-LAC Foundation), Alissandra Cummins (Director, Barbados Museum and Historical Society), Simon Tatum, the Hon. Mia Mottley (Prime Minister of Barbados), Dr. Veerle Poupeye (co-curator) and Natalie Urquhart (NGCI Director/MAC President)

Artist Bio
Simon Tatum was born in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, in 1995, and is also based there. He was educated at the University of Missouri (BA, 2017). His solo exhibitions to date are Discover and Rediscover (2016), at the University of Missouri and Looking Back and Thinking Ahead (2017), in the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Various group exhibitions include Open Air Prisons (2016), LACE Gallery in Los Angeles, California, and Sense of Place (2018), Spinnerei Halle 18 in Leipzig Germany. He was part of the Caribbean Linked IV (2016) residency programme in Oranjestad, Aruba. Moreover, he currently serves as Assistant Curator at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.
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About the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands
Established in 1997, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) is the country’s leading visual arts museum, exhibition facility and education centre, charged with promoting and encouraging the appreciation and practice of the visual arts in the Cayman Islands. This mission is achieved through exhibitions, education/outreach programmes, school tours, community festivals, and ongoing research projects. Holding up to six exhibitions annually at their central exhibition space and satellite venues around Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands, the curatorial team strives to create a balance between exhibitions of quality Caymanian artwork and collaborations with artists from further afield. This is achieved by working with a broad cross-section of artists and ranging from site-specific work to more traditional gallery-based projects.

NGCI is at the forefront of visual arts education in the Cayman Islands hosting over 60 public programmes monthly, across all three islands. These programmes capture every age group from the youngest preschoolers to senior citizens, as well as marginalized members of our community. They combine art education with enriching creative experiences to foster creativity, help build self-esteem, and provide effective and invaluable explorations of cultural heritage, national identity and community values.

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