Artist in Residence: Ewan Atkinson
ICF invited Barbados-based artist Ewan Atkinson to undertake a three-week research residency in London in November 2017. Part of Ewan’s research involved visiting Munich to attend an ICF-supported conference at Haus der Kunst on the work of Guyanese painter Frank Bowling, and the remainder of his research was conducted in London.
At the end of his residency Ewan produced an exhibition of new and existing work in the Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea College of Art, which included a series of posters, installation and drawings. These pieces belong to an on-going body of work entitled The Neighbourhood Project.
“The Neighbourhood Project investigates the development of persona and character within the social boundaries that might define or confine a community. Conflicts between community and the individual are explored and interrogated. What value systems control idealized social roles and moral positions? Who keeps these ideals in place? Using The Neighbourhood as an object of study, I examine the production of meaning, and how it creates or hinders an individual’s sense of self.” – Ewan Atkinson
Only In Your Imagination is a series of posters produced by The Governing Body, The Neighbourhood Tourism Authority, to advertise The Neighbourhood as a viable tourist destination. The project enlisted the help of a few Neighbourhood residents, who dutifully attempted to play their part in aid of the greater good. While it must have been seen as an obvious move and a lucrative opportunity, the effectiveness of the initiative remains unmeasured. However, there is evidence that suggests at least some interest was expressed (see letter). There seem to have been attempts to reach a varied audience, the discovery of editions in languages other than English suggests this. However, awkward translations raise questions about the success of such efforts. Posters one through ten were found in early 2015. Later that year, posters eleven and twelve were discovered accidentally, along with rare bilingual versions featuring text in Spanish and Guarani. In 2017 an unidentified informant aided in the discovery of a Polish collection.
In addition to his series of posters, Ewan also exhibited another series entitled The Honesty Policy: Neighbourhood Election Ephemera, alongside postcards and a new series of drawings made while on the residency.
During his residency, Ewan held a masterclass for BA and MA Fine Art students at Chelsea College of Art and was invited to present a public lecture by TrAIN (The Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation), during which he discussed his practice and wider Neighbourhood Report project.
About the artist:
Ewan Atkinson was born in Barbados in 1975. He received a BFA in the U.S.A. from the Atlanta College of Art and an MA in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. He has exhibited in regional and international exhibitions including the 2015 Havana Biennial, the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, and “Infinite Islands”, a survey of contemporary Caribbean art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Atkinson has been an educator for over 15 years. He is currently the coordinator of the Studio Art BFA programme at the Barbados Community College and is a co-founder of Punch Creative Arena, an independent curatorial initiative.