thea: red

Last tuesday, Haben, Chris and I went to visit Kwynn's Red Project at the Soft Box Gallery. There was a comment form that detailed each aspect of the project and below are my responses. If you intend to see the show, I suggest you do so before reading this. Consider this the gallery show version of a spoiler alert.

My Responses:

Embroidered Images:
I am absolutely in awe of the immense amount of skill it took to "draw" with thread, especially in the case of the lips, the wine, and the Red Stripe Lager. I could not help but look at them over and over to check that I was seeing right and that they had really been done with thread.

Embroidered Texts:
Gets the true point about race across that could not have been conveyed otherwise. Provides a nice balance to the images and the array and choice of authors is fascinating.

I am not sure I completely understood all of the watercolors but I particularly enjoyed the POrt-of-Spain series as it's reference to violence was clear and the content (sort of) prepared me for the video.

Digital Screen Prints:
Initially underwhelming especialy when contrasted w/ the rest of the show, but once I got past that I actually enjoyed the calming visual repetition and the driving home of the "red" phrases. I would have preferred to see these stiched as well if only to provide continuity or perhaps displaying them in a non-wall context in order to fully shift away from the embroidery display.

3 Newspaper Collages
I get the point but they were simply not as visually stimulating as the rest of the show [perhaps if the actual newspaper clippings had been used it would have been more powerful]

Rose Installation:
This part of the show intrigues me. I am not sure what the intention here was but to me, dried roes imply accomplishments that have passed. A rose recieved upon graduation or the opening night of a play is one that is dried and kept, not for itself but for what it represents. Also, the roses bring the show into reality, without them, everything seems very sterile. Wait, just found the "get well soon" card. Hospital reference, ah.

Short Film: 'At a theater near you':
Graphic, gets the point across, STOMACH WRENCHING

The choice of red pen responses also shows the comprehensiveness of the red theme.


Needless to say, this was a really phenomenal, well executed, awesomely thought out show. I was glad that the concept of red was not extended to communism except for one small hammer and sickle image. It was sort of refreshing for the metaphor of "red" to be distanced from that cliche.

Maybe art students should do art critiques in T'dad's n/papers!
Instead of "I fine" and "I feel" . Nah, its part of our landscape, for now.

Hi Thea, many thanks to you also for taking time out to critique this work.

Indeed, it has been a way to present drawings via thread.
Moreover, to present mataphors of red with blood; blood-lines and blood shed.
The stitchery actually takes the same amount of time as do the watercolours.
The collages: I collected press clippings which I scanned and imported in an Ai file. This was done for conservation purposes, in that the spray I have to remove acid from paper is not as good as I thought, and I hope for this work to last a number of years, and too that I priced them. Not too sure if this is a good thing,
but these clippings from our newspapers are compiled in my journal, to which I will submit with my portfolio and thesis.
Someone also found the clippings were too neat as well. Also too, you did get it, yes the idea of flowers sent to a patient saying 'get well soon', also how it contrasts with the association of red roses and love.
However, the installation begun with fresh roses, to which I have seen them dry, which is what you saw.
So beautiful fresh red roses hanging upside down presented a different imagery to viewers in the opening week.
So I am happy to have been able to present two types of installations.
The film is a technical failure, I know, when I was about to render the transitional effects were not exporting etc, it is still the same. But it was a hell of an experience filiming in our A& E. Surgial suturing is so interesting, in terms of the causes, the stitchery, and the scar / marks left. Also too how contrasting it is for a male Doctor stitghing versus a female embroidering. But as you saw it was an attempt to tie the works together.
However, the singers in the film Dr Chevannes was part of a Socialist movement in the 70's in Jamaica.
So I actually did touch on communism, in that I asked him what he thought of when someone raises a red flag, and immediately he sung "Le internationale", the classic 19th cent socialist song.
But this was only obvious to Jamaican viewers and those familiar with that song. That's why I chose that music for the film. However in Trinidad a red flag is emblematic of nationalism, public protests, Soca Warriors (Nat football team), and also says 'danger on the beach'. yet another way Red is appropriated :-) Enjoy your stay here, maybe you can pop up to Maracas Bay and see all the red flags, try our Red mango preserves at the Maracas bay Lookout, and sip a Red-Rum and Coconut water. Hope all goes well with your research here, and thanks again. I will include your comments at as appendix to my writings as well. Kwynn Johnson


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