Five hundred and twenty-three (523) entries were adjudged in the Fine Arts and Craft categories of the 2019 National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Visual Arts competition. According to Rodney Ifill, Cultural Officer for Visual Arts and the coordinator of the NIFCA Visual Arts competition, this was a healthy response with the largest contribution of work in this year’s exhibition being submitted from the primary and secondary schools and HMP Dodds. There was a general increase in entries in the young adult category with consistent entrants from the Barbados Community College (BCC).
Judging began last Monday, October 21 and the results are expected to be officially announced on Tuesday, November 12, the morning after the exhibition opens to the public. In the early analysis, the judges mentioned that the overall standard was of good quality with a high showing in the areas of art & craft, where they identified techniques and finishes in the use of media, and demonstrated skills especially in ceramics, textiles, jewellery, colour pencil and painting.
This year’s main exhibition will be centrally located in the old Mutual building on lower Broad Street, a welcomed partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus. Ifill added that the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) had also collaborated with a number of Government and private entities, a move which he explained was intended to take the exhibitions into various high traffic areas in the community. In addition to the Mutual building, he identified some of the other venues as First Citizens Bank, Broad Street; the General Post Office, Cheapside; the Supreme Court, Whitepark Road; and the Eric Holder Municipal Centre, St. Joseph.
As with the other disciplines in the festival, Trinidadian Makemba Kunle is on island to add his expertise to the qualified and knowledgeable team of local judges for Visual Arts which includes Irene Banfield, Chief Judge; Gloria Chung; Susan Alleyne-Forde; Ayissa Burnett; Althea Wood; and Kerry-Ann Holder.
Chief Cultural Officer, Andrea Wells recently stated that an essential part of these arrangements with the overseas judges is to provide training through workshops, and she confirmed that Kunle conducted a presentation and discussion of his work to first year BCC students yesterday, Monday, October 28 between 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the Queens Park Gallery.
The Edmund Gill Retrospective which is the current featured exhibition in the Gallery also formed part of his discussions as he focused on the artist’s work in the context of some common subject areas as well as the differences in their practice.
Makemba Kunle’s bio described him as always having a burning desire for expression via the medium of visual arts and stated that from the early 70s he emerged as one of the most progressive visual artists in the Caribbean.
Kunle has contributed to the formation and administration of artistic institutions such as the Caribbean Arts Community and Studio 66 Art Support Community as Artist-in-Residence and Creative Director of the latter.
In 2014, he was honoured with a Retrospective at the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago and his works are in some important collections in the Caribbean.
He uses acrylic and oil on canvas and paper, and Carnival is his point of reference. His works have been described as innovative with much masking, double-meaning, patterning and decoration, invoking ancestral memory, retention and comments on society. It is considered self-revealing, spiritual and intriguing.
He has also created stage and set designs, carnival costume designs, portraits, graphic illustrations and cover designs for leading Caribbean writers. More recently, Kunle was set designer for Theatre overseas judge Rawle Gibbons’ Ah Wanna Fall as well as set and costume designer for the closing ceremony of CARIFESTA XIV recently hosted in Trinidad.
Listed among his other interests, Kunle is an Assessor for CVQ Masquerade Design and Construction, and he has also ventured into the Literary Arts as the author of two books entitled A Collection of Illustrated Short Stories and The Caterpillar Who Wanted to Fly.