art in all its forms

art in all its forms




'Who am I?' You getting trapped. I not telling you your business but everybody try that in the school system and it flopped. You talking about work, and while you talking work something happens in the work. From the time you ask them kinda questions, is stereotype. You understand what I telling you?

The ministry fool people. In fact, they didn't like me because I used to mash it up. When the children used to come for them interviews--what you call it? Umm, to do an illustrated essay on a local artist; that was the early CXC people--I used to tell them point blank, 'Don't tell me dat chupidness. Ask questions about the art. We talking artwork. In the process of talking if those questions come up fine.' Because where you born ain't have nothing to do with what you become, to that extent. Who your parents were most of the time don't hold up, because the circumstances are frequently beyond their control.

If it was up to my parents, I would never be doing this. My parents knew what they make and one of the things that was difficult was when you tell me don't do that, I will find a way to do it because that is what I want to do.

Waldron. My parents' names were Mrs and Mrs William Waldron. I'm number 9 in 10 children, you understand? The process was knowing how to manipulate and the first training a child got in them days was how to get round the parent without being rude. You're being damned disobedient but you not being rude about it. And if you get caught you take the cutass and call that George. You don't get vex with them. I know what I'm saying. But if they catch you, you take your licks and it ain't nothing.


I do painting and what you can call assemblage. I frequently don't draw. I just walk up to the thing and start to work. I came out of the self-taught art area. I was a book binder at the Government Printery. After a while, you know you reach to work and you tired? The bell ring and it's time for you to leave?

I taught myself how to do things that was frequently not related. I started off as a writer, seeing drama and them kind of things. In my late teens I had already written about two small plays, and been part of putting them on the stage. So I understood this generating of structure. I'm the audience and that is the stage. Using that as a guideline, you come up with your own ideas. Then, according to Geoffrey MacLean, I use art as a story-teller does use words.

You arrive at colours when something in your head arrives at conclusions which you begin to play with until you find the balance. Sometimes it's one colour starts it, and then the next colour is either an opposing or complimentary colour or sometimes it's a juxtapox where there is two strong things at pull. I ain't boasting, but I am the guy that started a revolution in Trinidad. People used to always think of blends, they never wanted contradictions. I started to pull a black with a yellow and a red and maybe blue.


I have a studio here (at the Fernandes Industrial Estate). I work when I want. This is the beauty of being an artist. For the past 15 years I work when I want, sleep when I want. In other words, I ain't have no hours. And then that, even on occasion, was beneficial because I end up being a caretaker in a building. I come out and I gone round the corner and in five minutes I reach back. I come out and you ain't see me for a whole day but you don't know where and when I'm going to turn up. So I am not a reliable study because you have no idea what my activity is. All you know is he does be there painting 2 o'clock in the morning. Any hour of the day, any hour of the night.

The only thing that does slow you down is if you going to work heavy tools, you don't want to work that three o'clock in the morning with a neighbour nearby. And if a neighbour have a baby, you don't want to be working like that 8 o'clock in the night, because it have some lil children if you wake them up after they go to sleep half past seven, by nine o'clock if you wake them up dem ain't going back to sleep til two o'clock in the morning.


I am painting because art is my measuring tape. I can measure what I did all my life. It's about what I did with my lifetime. To me, art was like discovering myself, like discovering freedom. You can't reverse that decision. Any attempt to reverse that is going to destroy you so I stayed with it. Believe me it had more downs than ups in the start and I was an upstart who walked into the people place with no training. They used to call us primitives. Then David Boxor coined a phrase. He called us 'intuitives'.

All this is about that lifetime of art. So this is my own history talking. I am fortunate that I could use that to demonstrate what history in the making really is. Is to generate an interest in measuring what you're doing. We are outcome, input and results.


As I say, art is a way of measuring what you have accomplished or what you are trying to accomplish. It is a way or measuring what a whole community accomplished. So Trinidadians on a high for a long time from the time George Chambers mention to world that their inventorship was an instrument. That was a reflection of every Trinidadian like everything else. But with art, you also have to add something to it or establish new facets of it to the point where people keep reaching to you for it.


The question is, 'How do you look at the future of Trinidad and Tobago?'

It's kinda dismal, but we're a bright people. Now I know its a global thing that almost every country utilises foreign labour, but I am saying that Trinidad carried it a little too far. Because you have people here who, with the right kind of regimentation, it could work. But we have this problem-too much friendliness and the educated people wrong.

We came out of colonialism. Colonialism was, 'oh is dem white people in England doing we dat.' So anything you could do then, you did it because the employer was the enemy and the British government was your largest employer. And we still living with that. The employer is not your enemy. He may never be your friend but he is definitely not your enemy. You have to learn how to live with it. You have to know who he is because he is not there for your benefit, he is there for his benefit.


Embah (also known as Ancil Waldron and Emheyo Bahabba) has had twenty exhibitions. His latest, 'Measuring Tape', is currently enjoying an extended run at the Fernandes Industrial Centre, Laventille, Trinidad. This is what he looks like:

Paris, 2008. Photo courtesy the artist. Header photo of a Tragarete Road, Port of Spain, rum shop interior by Andre Bagoo.

FIND out more about Embah and see some of his paintings here. This/discourse/has/no/start(middle)nd is an interview series for Trinidad artists. Find out MORE about it here.

1 comment:

My Chutney Garden said...

I love this new blog. I'm really enjoying it.
Thanks for re-vamping the blog idea.

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