art in all its forms

art in all its forms


Unwritten stories

Wendy Nanan's 'Books and Stupas' at Medulla Art Gallery
The Sound of Ohm, papier-mache and acrylics, 40"x28"x5". Photo by Andre Bagoo.

THE BOOKMAN is one of the quieter traditional Carnival characters. But make no mistake, he speaks loudly.

Sometimes called Beelzebub, Gownman or Ruler, Bookman is a central character in devil mas portrayals.

He exists among a world of imps and beasts. His costume consists of Tudor-style gowns, richly embroidered; made of velvet and satin, with a pleated bodice and a flowing cape depicting biblical scenes.

It is an invocation of power, religious and political. On the Bookman’s head is a crown the shape of a large horned head: a pink-fleshed Satan mask.

Crucially, the Bookman is not only the silent puppeteer of the imps, but he carries a pen and a large book in which to write the names of the damned. It is a bulky book.

Wendy Nanan’s haunting show at the Medulla Art Gallery draws upon aspects of the character in order to, in equal parts, subvert and perpetuate the power of this form of old mas.

She places a microscope on the Bookman’s traditionally solid papier-mache pages, turning them into delicate tissues that reveal and mirror the reality of our society today. The pages are sculpture, painting and installation all in one.

They move, in unexpected ways, in the silence of the gallery space. Entering feels like an intrusion into a place where a group of people are already engaged in deep conversation.

READ full Newsday review here.

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