THE scenic southern village of Laborie once again played host to Paint The Village, an annual event organized by Labowi Promotions, a not-for-profit community-based organization that was established over fifteen years ago by a small group of people from Laborie.
The event was held last Saturday, with artists from all over the island in attendance — from far north as Gros Islet, all the way down to the host district of Laborie.
Yves Renard, one of the founders of Labowi Promotions, opened the proceedings, stating that it was the third edition of Paint the Village. The main objective of the event, he said, is to focus on a theme and paint. The theme for this year’s event was climate change.
Renard was born in France but raised in Guadeloupe and now resides in St. Lucia.
Why climate change?
“It is very topical,” said Renard about the choice of this year’s theme. “2017 was so dramatic in the Caribbean,” recalling last year’s catastrophic hurricane season and the damage it caused to islands like Dominica and the British Virgin Islands, clearly inferring that climate change had something to do with that.
Another of the event’s organizers described some of the effects of erosion taking place in Sapphire (pronounced Saffy) in the quarter of Laborie: “It’s difficult to imagine this bay changing, but if we were to go to Sapphire right now, it has changed quite a bit from what used to be a linear beach with two small coves next to it to now becoming two linear beaches.”
She attributed this change to “quite a lot of erosion”.
Collaborating with Jonathan Gladding and the History of the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ Painting
Saint Lucia-based American painter, Jonathan Gladding, as part of the run-up to the COP21 in Paris in 2015, painted a captivating image that highlighted the effects of climate change. The painting was exhibited at that international conference and also served as the inspiration for this year’s Paint the Village.
“I did that just before the climate change talks,” said Gladding about the aforementioned painting. “Yves told me about this and said, ‘You know, maybe you can come up with some painting’ and I gave it some thought. It was really a simple image but I guess it worked and people liked it.”
Providing a brief history on how it played a role at COP21, Gladding recalled that: “They printed it on little cards and distributed it around the talks in Paris”, adding that, “in a way it came to represent many of the small island nations, who are, in particular, (the brunt of the) threat of climate change and sea level rise, so I was happy about that.”
In describing the process in painting the “1.5 to Stay Alive” piece, Gladding recalled that his first thought was to do a realistic painting of what will happen with climate change with coastal villages under water. But then he thought that with all the little details, maybe something simple would be better.
“I thought of something which you won’t see in real life; you won’t see a little girl standing in the water, but it served as kind of as a metaphor or just something a little more iconic than a regular painting. The painting depicts a little girl slowly being submerged by water, with rising sea levels created by global warming.”
Explaining why he thought the painting gained such notoriety at the Convention, Gladding said: “Because it was (more) an iconic image in a landscape than a realistic depiction, it had a certain appeal. So that’s the story behind it.”
Not willing to take all of the credit, he said that “Yves deserved as much of the credit (for the painting).”
A Possible Art Exhibition and Future Plans
Speaking to the artists who were in attendance, Renard said that the idea was to get inspired and to get started on climate change paintings.
The Paint The Village just might become something bigger, with Renard stated that “maybe if we have interesting work coming out of this on the theme of climate change, (we can) work on an exhibition in three or four months.”
“Maybe in that case we can invite other people who are not here but might be interested in treating the same subject,” he said.
One of the artists who attended Paint The Village activity was DelthiaNaitram, the teacher attached to the TVET Unit in the Ministry of Education.
“It’s one of the things on my bucket list,” she said after being asked why she decided to take part in the event.
Touching on the type of art she does, Naitram said: “I do a lot more mixed media work, so I’m experimenting with pyrography.”
For the artistically challenged, pyrography is “the art or process of burning designs on wood or leather with heated tools.” She said she’s planning to utilize a mixture of painting and pyrography together as well as wanting “to explore a more sort of loose technique on canvas…almost like a water colour effect.”